ADUs – A Great Solution For Homeowners In Fire Torn Malibu And LA Counties
Malibu and Los Angeles counties have been a target for excessive fires in recent years. Some of the homeowners choose to sell their lots but many others are choosing to rebuild. Many people are choosing to build accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to live in until their larger main houses can be rebuilt.
California laws are now allowing ADUs to be built in the state as long as they are compliant with specific conditions – such as size, location, parking spaces, etc. In 2016 the state passed the statewide ADU reform in SB 1069, later amended in 2017 by SB 229 and AB 494. With the passage of this amended law the number of permit requests rose dramatically – from 299 in 2015 requests, to 3,818 in 2017 in LA. An additional ADU Ordinance, less restrictive, took effect on May 30, 2019. Requirements for ADUs, vary by location. Those in LA county can be half the square footage size of the main home, not exceeding 1200 square feet whereas the maximum size in Malibu County is 900 square feet.
In addition to site builders, several prefab companies are building ADUs that homeowners can live in until their family homes are rebuilt. These ADUs can be built quickly, are very comfortable and indistinguishable from site built constructions. Some of them are placed at a temporary location and later moved onto a permanent foundation on the homeowners’ property as an office, guest house or rental. Some are placed directly at the location where they will remain permanently.
Plant Prefab’s Sunset BUD LivingHome is a scalable prefab home created as a response to the special program by the City of Malibu allowing victims of the 2018 Woolsey Fire to install ADUs as a temporary housing solution; later the unit can be converted into an ADU on a permanent foundation once rebuilding is complete. More than a year after Woolsey, and in the midst of an ever-threatening wildfire season, the units come as a timely solution to those who want to re-inhabit their property while their primary home is rebuilt, but also as a way to add lasting property value. These structures can later be used as a guest house or office, or rented out as a separate housing unit. The Sunset BUD LivingHome was designed in collaboration with Malibu-based Architecture practice Burdge Architects and, as with all of their projects, the homes will be built using rigorous sustainability practices, minimizing the negative impact on energy, water, indoor air quality and material resources. The houses will be built in Plant’s own 62,000 square foot homebuilding factory. The homes are now available for purchase at the Plant Prefab website . The first Sunset BUD unit will be installed late Spring/early summer of this year.
US Modular is actively building ADUs along with their modular houses in Malibu and other areas of southern California. Several of their customers are building ADUs to live in temporarily and then having them build their permanent houses using prefab construction. US Modular offers their customers two different ADU options. The Bungalow, which meets federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) code is available in about 18 floor plans. They also offer the the California Cottage, in a large series of floor plans to meet the local building code. The Bungalow is a more economic option and almost identical in quality and finishes. US Modular will set their first ADU in Malibu in June.
This Bungalow, seen below, is a home from US Modular’s Custom Cottage Series. It is 426 square feet and has one bedroom one bath with a built-in porch. Their client in Malibu lost their 2,800 square foot home in the 2019 wildfires in Malibu and will be building The Bungalow to use as their home while US Modular rebuilds their primary home. Their lot is at the top of hill with panoramic ocean views. After their primary dwelling is rebuilt they will convert The Bungalow into an accessory dwelling unit (ADU).
By building this ADU to the Federal/HUD code, it eliminated the need for a solar system, as these are governed by Title 25 energy code, while all new site built or Modular homes (and ADUs) requires solar system, governed by Title 24 energy code. This helped them to save a good amount of money while not changing the quality and design of the structure.
Orbit Homes, is also building ADUs as temporary housing for some fire victims. According to owner Or Micchaelo, “With many friends and neighbors fighting insurance companies and living in uncomfortable situations, we asked the inevitable question ‘How could we easily get people back to their land while their homes are being rebuilt?’ We created our new model “Moon”, a 900 square foot two- bedroom, two-bathroom home, with the help of our team of architects, designers, and advisory board.
Their model, which is also their show home, at the Racquet Club in Malibu, meets two immediate challenges for the City of Malibu and other cities in California. These houses will get residents back on their land and, in time, add affordable housing units as rental. They say they are committed to quality, aesthetics, and sustainable materials. Orbit’s houses will be built in Corona, California, an hour and a half outside of LA. The model can be customized to the owners needs and delivered in six to eight weeks. Installation will take two to seven days at a cost of about $250 a square foot. Orbit Homes offers customers a site assessment for fire victims.