About Accessory Dwelling Units

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Questions About Accessory Dwelling Units?

Please send any questions or inquiries to: CPC.ADU@sfgov.org


Looking for detail on the application process? Please visit this page.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also called secondary units, in-law units, or cottages, are units added to existing residential buildings.

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?"

Please note: due to recently-adopted Code changes to expand and improve the ADU program since completion of the ADU Handbook in 2015, some of the sections of this the Handbook are out-of-date – we are in the process of updating the ADU Handbook and anticipate publication of the revised version in early Fall 2018. Please direct any questions to the Planning Department using the contact information listed below.

  • 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. (see Note above regarding updating the handbook)
  • 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 www.accessorydwelling.org a one-stop website about accessory dwelling units

There are two programs for adding an ADU to your property, below are the updated handouts which reflect recent ADU legislation, effective September 10, 2018. After reviewing the FAQs below, please feel free to contact CPC.ADU@sfgov.org for additional details.

  • No Waiver ADUs - this program applies to single-family homes that do not require any waivers from the Planning Code, or 207(c)(6)
  • Waiver ADUs - this program applies to projects in multi-unit buildings and single-family homes that require waivers from the Planning Code to add the ADU, or 207(c)(4)
    • Draft Regulatory Agreement: If the existing building includes Rental Unit(s) (as defined by Section 37.2(r) of the Administrative Code), and Planning Code waivers are granted, the new unit will be subject to rent control. Generally speaking, these existing buildings are already subject to rent-control. A regulatory agreement will be created adding the new ADU under rent control. Please see a sample of the agreement here. The Regulatory agreement will be edited by Planning staff to reflect project specific conditions, and is required to be fully executed prior to permit issuance.

Legalize an existing unauthorized unit

In some cases an ADU already exists on the property without permits. 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: https://sfdbi.org/UnitLegalization.


Legislative Documents and Code Summary Updates

Want to make an appointment?

Visit the Planning Information Center or book online, find out more here.

For more information

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

Visit the Planning Information Center (PIC)
Planning Desk, Counter 38 (see Drop-in Hours above)
1660 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA

Kimia Haddadan

ADU Handbook