Accessory Dwelling Units

Curious about the benefits of adding an ADU to your property?
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Questions About Accessory Dwelling Units?

Please send any questions or inquiries to:


Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also called secondary units, in-law units, or cottages, are units added to existing residential buildings. In 2016, San Francisco’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Program became available Citywide in zoning districts that permit residential use.

Adding an ADU to your property can provide several benefits, such as providing housing for family members, simplifying your lifestyle, and increased financial flexibility. For more information on the benefits of ADUs, please see our video, “Are ADUs Right For You?

There are two programs for adding ADU(s) to your property:

  • Waiver ADUs - this program applies to projects in multi-unit buildings and sing-family homes that require waivers from the Planning Code to add the ADU, or 207(c)(4)
  • No Waiver ADUs - this program applies to single-family homes that do not require any waivers from the Planning Code, or 207(c)(6)

*If you're looking to legalize an existing unauthorized unit, please review San Francisco Planning's Fact Sheet on the Legailzation program. More information is also available on the Department of Building Inspection webpage here:

  • Video: Are ADUs Right For You?
  • cover image of handbookADU Handbook:** The San Francisco Planning Department and OpenScope Studio developed a handbook to serve as a guide for homeowners and contractors when adding a unit to an existing residential building.
    ** Please note: Due to recently adopted Code changes to expand and improve the ADU program since completion of this version of the ADU Handbook in 2015, some of the sections of this document may be out of date. We are the in process of updating the ADU Handbook and anticipate publication of the revised version in early 2018. The prototypes continue to be generally applicable, along with other general background information on ADUs, however the regulatory controls described under "Section 2: Zoning" are being updated. In addition, new laws may allow more flexibility and additional design options than discussed in this document. Please check back in early 2018 for the updated handbook. If you have questions, please contact the Planning Department using the contact information listed below.
  • An ADU financial calculator is available to estimate how many years it will take for an owner to break even on the costs of adding an ADU. Download the calculator here. | MS Excel file
    This calculator is originally from a one-stop website about accessory dwelling units

If you have questions about the program, please contact staff at:

Kimia Haddadan, Policy
Marcelle Boudreaux, Permits and
Program Implementation
Planning Information Center
1660 Mission Street, First Floor
San Francisco, CA


Legislative Documents and Code Summary Updates

Event Coordinator

If you would like staff to attend an upcoming neighborhood or organization meeting, please contact Kimia Haddadan,

ADU Handbook