Do I Have Room in My Backyard for an ADU?


            Prior to 2020, many California homeowners were restricted from building an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in their backyards because of setback requirements in local city ordinances. For example, at my house in Fremont, the setback requirements were 25 feet from the rear boundary and 6 feet from the side boundary.

            However, the new California ADU laws that went into effect on January 1, 2020 prohibit cities from having ADU setback requirements of more than 4 feet for both the rear and side yards. This allows homeowners to build a standalone ADU or an extension ADU as close as 4 feet from their property boundaries in the read and side yards. This change in the law makes it possible for many more property owners to add an ADU to their backyards!

Comments & Responses

2 Responses so far.

  1. David Young says:

    Is it possible to put the ADU front of the house so that it looks like part of the house but isn’t really and has separate door to the outside? What is the setback requirement from the front property boundary?

    • ron.c.chin@gmail.com says:

      Hi David,

      It is possible to add an attached ADU (extension ADU) at the front of the house. As you mentioned, the ADU will need to have a separate entrance. The California ADU laws do not specify a setback requirement for the front property boundary. Therefore, the front property setback is determined by your city’s laws.

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