Pittsburg ADU | Q&A with Ian Provan

QUESTION 1: Before diving into our Q&A, can you tell me a little bit about what an ADU is, what you are seeing with the increase in demand for ADUs and how the impact the most recent California law, AB1033, will have on future ADUs?

Ian Provan: An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is an area of a property that is a separate dwelling and living space from the main house on a property, similar to an apartment.  They can be located either inside of a single-family home or in a separate structure, but the key is that they are on a property with a separate primary residence.

The growing demand for ADUs is largely a response to the ongoing housing crisis affecting not only the Bay Area but many other urban areas. With housing affordability and availability being significant concerns, ADUs have emerged as a practical solution to address these pressing challenges. To cater to this rising demand, a few government agencies have taken steps to streamline the construction and permitting processes for ADUs, making it easier for property owners to create these additional living spaces on their properties.

A recent California law, AB1033, allows property owners to sell ADUs independently from the main property, effectively converting them into separate condominium units. This transition to condominium status comes with the requirement to adhere to all legal prerequisites and regulations governing condominium establishment in the state. One of the key advantages of AB1033 is the financial flexibility it offers homeowners, enabling them to generate additional income or unlock greater property value. This financial incentive not only encourages more homeowners to consider investing in ADUs but also contributes to the overall housing supply by expanding the availability of housing units, marking a significant step towards more sustainable and accessible housing solutions in California.

QUESTION 2: Can you share an overview of how the City of Pittsburg is addressing the ADU demand and what was ESE’s role in this?

Ian Provan: The City of Pittsburg and several other cities are developing a program to simplify the ADU building permitting process for homeowners.  They acknowledge the increasing demand for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and the associated complexities in obtaining construction permits. The building permit process can be confusing for people not familiar with what it requires as typically you would need several design professionals before you can even break ground on construction.

In response, the City of Pittsburg has taken proactive measures, partnering with design and engineering experts. Specifically, they have collaborated with Opticos Design Inc. and our team to develop standardized ADU drawings applicable to any property within the city. These pre-approved ADU plans are meticulously prepared to ensure adherence to local regulations and building codes. Homeowners can readily access these drawings, requiring approval from the City to commence construction.

This streamlined approach significantly expedites the process, mitigating barriers and uncertainties often associated with permitting, while offering a consistent and dependable framework for ADU construction. In addition, Pittsburg intends to make these pre-approved ADU plans available to homeowners at no cost, reducing the up-front cost burden that may be a barrier to ADU production for some residents.  This approach streamlines the process, making it more accessible and efficient for homeowners while upholding essential structural and safety standards.

ESE’s involvement guarantees that the structural aspects of these ADUs meet the highest standards, ensuring their safety, durability, and longevity while simplifying the ADU permitting process to accommodate the growing demand.

QUESTION 3: What structural considerations were important when designing an ADU standards with the City of Pittsburg to ensure ADUs met building code requirements and support any additional load?

Ian Provan: The main structural consideration when designing an ADU standard for an entire city is the foundation and lateral system. This aspect holds pivotal importance in assuring the stability and safety of ADUs, while being aware of the City of Pittsburg’s diverse and unique soil conditions and characteristics.

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