The need for affordable housing continues to grow. The good news: People are coming up with creative new ways to build housing quickly and efficiently, maintaining quality and controlling costs. 

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU)s are one form of alternative housing

The Napa Sonoma ADU Center is a local nonprofit committed to making the ADU building process as turnkey as possible for its homeowner market. The Napa Sonoma ADU Center’s website is a comprehensive resource for anyone who’s entertaining thoughts of building an ADU. There’s a workbook and an ADU calculator. You can review sample floorplans, receive a free feasibility study and listen to webinars that discuss the economics and realities of building an ADU.

Renée J. Schomp, J.D., is the Director of the Napa Sonoma ADU Center

A Sonoma County native with nearly a decade of experience in the legal aid and nonprofit sectors, Renee is a lawyer by education and nonprofit leader by trade. She is the first Director of Napa Sonoma ADU. Her team helps prospective owners with ADU questions and feasibility analyses and also partners with local government on ADU initiatives. Renee believes ADUs help address housing challenges in Napa and Sonoma. They’re a housing solution for teachers, first responders and other community members who otherwise face long commutes.

“I believe that in the next few years, we’re going to see many more ADUs being built throughout Napa and Sonoma counties. Thanks to state laws implemented in 2020, many homeowners are now eligible to build ADUs. There is increased interest in ADUs because they can fill housing needs for every stage of our lifecycles. Retirees can age in place, adult children can live close to home or a family can generate rental income.”

The response Renee most frequently gets from prospective ADU builders? 

It’s often about cost. Building an ADU is not cheap. The homeowner already owns the land, but the cost of building, of labor and materials in Napa and Sonoma counties, is high. The Napa Sonoma ADU Center helps homeowners think about realistic budgets and the longer-term ROI. The ADU’s online calculator helps homeowners do a cost-benefit analysis.

Specs for an ADU

  • An ADU is a fully independent residential dwelling unit located on the same lot as a standalone single-family home. 
  • An ADU comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be a detached unit (backyard cottage), an interior conversion (mother-in-law suite), an above-garage unit, a garage conversion, etc.
  • Depending on the jurisdiction and the size of the parcel, an ADU can be as large as 1,200 square feet and as small as 250 square feet or less.
  • You cannot sell an ADU separately from the main property.
  • ADUs can generate monthly income and increase the resale value of your property.
  • Adding an ADU can affect your property taxes. Your primary house will not be reassessed, and your property taxes will only increase based on the added value of your ADU. If you have low property taxes because you have owned your home for many years, your base assessment will not be affected. The assessor will only review the value of the improvement. Junior ADUs or interior conversions have much less effect on your taxes.
  • An ADU can be stick-built, modular or a manufactured home. 

Renee lives in an ADU in Sonoma County with her husband. The Napa Sonoma ADU Center is a fiscally sponsored project of Napa Valley Community Foundation with support from Community Foundation Sonoma County, the cities of Napa and Calistoga and the County of Napa, among others. Read more or contact Renee and her team about building an ADU.

our town st helena: ADU info at the Napa Sonoma ADU Center. Find out if an ADU is right for you

The response Renee most frequently gets from prospective ADU builders? 

It’s often about cost. Building an ADU is not cheap. The homeowner already owns the land, but the cost of building, of labor and materials in Napa and Sonoma counties, is high. The Napa Sonoma ADU Center helps homeowners think about realistic budgets and the longer-term ROI. The ADU’s online calculator helps homeowners do a cost-benefit analysis.

Specs for an ADU

  • An ADU is a fully independent residential dwelling unit located on the same lot as a standalone single-family home. 
  • An ADU comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be a detached unit (backyard cottage), an interior conversion (mother-in-law suite), an above-garage unit, a garage conversion, etc.
  • Depending on the jurisdiction and the size of the parcel, an ADU can be as large as 1,200 square feet and as small as 250 square feet or less.
  • You cannot sell an ADU separately from the main property.
  • ADUs can generate monthly income and increase the resale value of your property.
  • Adding an ADU can affect your property taxes. Your primary house will not be reassessed, and your property taxes will only increase based on the added value of your ADU. If you have low property taxes because you have owned your home for many years, your base assessment will not be affected. The assessor will only review the value of the improvement. Junior ADUs or interior conversions have much less effect on your taxes.
  • An ADU can be stick-built, modular or a manufactured home. 

Renee lives in an ADU in Sonoma County with her husband. The Napa Sonoma ADU Center is a fiscally sponsored project of Napa Valley Community Foundation with support from Community Foundation Sonoma County, the cities of Napa and Calistoga and the County of Napa, among others. Read more or contact Renee and her team about building an ADU.


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