Single-Family Home Turned Rental Complex: The Future of California Suburbs?


Instead of looking for straightforward home flips, Mr. Spicer stated, he’s looking out for houses on abnormally massive tons with a flat, uncared for yard that’s primed to start out constructing on. Anything with a pool is out of the query, he stated. A house with an elaborate backyard can work however prices additional to tear out.

“If it’s all dirt back there, that’s the golden ticket,” he stated.

Mr. Spicer’s flip of fortune was a byproduct of California’s efforts to fill its housing scarcity. Over the previous 5 years the Legislature has handed a half-dozen legal guidelines that make it vastly simpler to construct accent dwelling models (A.D.U.s) — a catchall time period for houses which can be extra colloquially often known as in-law models and granny flats.

Cities have misplaced most of their energy to forestall yard models from being constructed, and state legislators have tried to hurry building by lowering improvement charges, requiring cities to allow them inside a couple of weeks and prohibiting native governments from requiring devoted parking spots. In distinction to the battles over S.B. 9 — this yr’s duplex regulation, which was branded a invoice of “chaos” that might “destroy neighborhoods” and be “the beginning of the end of homeownership in California” — the A.D.U. legal guidelines handed with no comparable controversy.

“‘Granny units’ doesn’t sound intimidating,” stated Bob Wieckowski, a state senator from the Bay Area metropolis of Fremont, who has handed three A.D.U. payments since 2016.

Last yr, San Diego’s City Council voted unanimously to broaden on state regulation by permitting bonus models, typically as many as a half-dozen per lot, if a portion are put aside for moderate-income households. Development has exploded on cue.

California cities issued about 13,000 permits for accent models in 2020, which is a bit over 10 % of the state’s new housing inventory and up from lower than 1 % eight years in the past. The impact is already seen all through Southern California: four-unit buildings rising behind one-story bungalows; prefabricated studio flats being hoisted into backyards through crane; blocks the place a brand new front-yard residence sits throughout the road from a brand new yard residence down the best way from a brand new side-yard residence.

In response to the brand new laws, entrepreneurs have began a bunch of firms focusing on serving to individuals plan, design and construct yard models and the approaching wave of duplexes. Venture capitalists have put a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} into start-ups like Abodu, which relies in Redwood City, Calif., and builds yard models in a manufacturing facility, then delivers them on a truck. Until lately, their enterprise was pushed by owners constructing A.D.U.s on their property. But over the previous yr there was a surge in curiosity from upstart builders like Mr. Spicer, in accordance with interviews with planners, lenders and contractors.