First ‘Granny Flat’ Design Approved Under San Jose’s Fledgling ADU Master Plan

A week after San Jose unveiled a plan to expedite construction of backyard cottages, city officials have given their seal of pre-approval to one vendor’s 495-square-foot dwelling design. And building templates from two more vendors are close to follow.

Abodu announced on Thursday that the template for its $199,000-plus backyard unit was the first to be approved under San Jose’s accessory dwelling unit (ADU) Master Plan Program. The initiative aims to fast track the construction of ADUs—commonly referred to as backyard or granny units—by working with builders to pre-approve certain design plans. The idea is that homeowners who opts to build a backyard units from a pre-approved plan will spend less time and money on the project.

Rosalynn Hughey, San Jose’s planning director, said it can save people 60 to 90 days on the design process by opting for a pre-approved prefabricated unit. But by picking a plan from vendor’s like Abodu, homeowners can also save time on permitting.

“Because the city has already vetted and approved the structural plans, the applicant can use the city’s fastest, over-the-counter plan review service, obtaining the building permit in 60 to 90 minutes with proper submittal of the plans,” Hughey explained in an interview with San Jose Inside. “While some custom ADU designs that are small and simple may also move through our plan review process very quickly, pre-approved plans are, by nature, set up for fast review.”

Abodu’s units will come fully constructed—that includes plumbing and electric. The 495-square-feet includes a bedroom with a built-in wardrobe, a bathroom with a built-in vanity, a kitchen with a full-sized fridge and freezer, stovetop, oven, dishwasher and sink, as well as a living room.

Abodu’s 495 square foot unit will include a kitchen with full-sized appliances. (Photo Courtesy of Abodu)

“ADUs are great way to add low impact density in the Bay Area,” Abodu Co-founder John Geary said. “When you think about adding housing there’s a few typical ways you think about it. It’s building out, it’s building up.”

“What we really believe in is ADUs help us build housing in the areas that need it the most without building up or out,” he added.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo—who backed the city’s ADU Master Plan—praised Abodu’s involvement.

“We won’t solve our housing crisis $650,000 at a time—we have to bend the cost curve in order to build more housing,” Liccardo said. “We’re grateful for Abodu’s partnership in offering residents pre-approved ‘backyard homes’—which will help add critically-needed affordable housing to our city’s housing stock. I encourage others to follow their lead.”

Another organization, prefabADU, is also closing in on having its initial plan approved. Founder Steve Vallejos says that they will offer four different design.

“Our solutions are based on the idea that it’s a panelized product, they’re economical and we also include financing,” he said. “When you look at the whole picture with what we’re trying to do with the city of San Jose, we’re tying to make if faster and more affordable to reach people. I jokingly tell people that ADUs are an affluent product.”

Vallejos added that buying prefabricated backyard units that align with San Jose’s fast-track Master Plan could save people nearly $19,000 in expenses and six months in time that it would normally cost to design a unit.


  1. That’s a trailer! you can by those for less than $40K.
    It’s going to cost $150 k to put in water a sewer line and electricity. No wonder people are fleeing San Jose.

    • And it’s butt ugly on the outside, too. I wouldn’t want that glorified trailer in my back yard. Was it vetted by the same people who allowed Graham’s plastic turd in the Plaza de Cesar Chavez?

  2. so half the houses on your block get an ADU which will add another dozen cars to our streets/freeways every day – from one block! we do not have the mass transit infrastructure like NY or other big cities – perhaps this ADU thing is a good idea but ahead of its time. We’re going to be jammed in like rats. Bart is coming to downtown – but what will that do except bring in workers from other crowded areas along with greater crime rates. Oh, we get to pay more in taxes for supporting our leadership

    • I’m so glad in some ways that I have left San Jose. I’m 200 Mike’s away or 3 hours 1 way to visit family. You’d have to have a large lot for that. Ok for your older kids or parents but no way would I rent it out to strangers.

  3. Why hundreds of cities ever had ordinances restricting additional dwellings on single unit zoned properties is unfathomable. What were they thinking? Trying to keep their cities clean, uncrowded and with a better quality of life for their taxpaying residents? How barbaric.
    Fortunately today’s enlightened politicians are eager to abandon the values and goals meant to serve the interests of their supposed constituents in order to satisfy the more “progressive” goal of cramming more poor immigrants into San Jose.

    • > the more “progressive” goal of cramming more poor immigrants into San Jose.

      Poverty is contagious. Put nine poor people on a desert island with one guy with a garden. Result: No more garden and ten starving people.

  4. Ridiculous price , never heard of 1000usd per sf what you have solid gold counter tops lol I would build it for 300usd a sf .

  5. Wow. As an urban planner of 35 years and seeing what’s been successful (Portland is a leader is ADU) and whats going on at the State, I say shame on all your negative comments. This ranting and excessive individualism is so sad. It’s why the problem exists in the first place. My daughter of 26 is feeling the brunt. Sorry, but this is not constructive and rather banal. Where is the perspective of community values?

    • Always the same right wing bigoted nut jobs commenting! Just ignore them… they’re probably living in basements with mommy.

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