For some would-be home buyers or renters, even four walls and a roof are a distant dream thanks to a nationwide housing shortage of over 3.8 million units. So, if you have some space in your yard, building a casita is a good option for you. You’re bound to find a tenant in no time at all.

Likewise, if you have friends, relatives, or adult children who’ve been searching in vain for somewhere to say, a casita could help them out too. Here’s how you can go about doing your bit to relieve the housing crisis.

What Is a Casita?

A casita is a small home, also called an accessory dwelling unit, that’s constructed on a property with an existing dwelling on site. By definition, casitas are smaller than 1200 sq. Ft. or half the size of your existing home, whichever is smaller.

You can include as many rooms as space will allow when you build a casita. You can also use a casita as a home office, gym, or studio. 

It’s possible to rent your casita out to short-term renters or sign up with Airbnb if you live in a tourist area, but there are often very strict regulations regarding this, so check first. 

What Does It Cost to Build a Casita?

Depending on the finishes you choose, you can expect to pay between $100 and $500 per square foot to build a little home like a casita. Then there are additional costs of around $20,000 for permits, foundations, and installation. 

If you hire an architect, you can expect to pay around $200-$250 per square foot for their services. 

Steps Involved in Building a Casita

Everything hinges on your budget during a home construction project, so the first step is figuring out how much you can afford to spend. If necessary, you can take out a construction or renovation loan to pay for the costs of your ADU.

It can take up to two years to build a casita, due to the planning and paperwork involved, although the construction phase usually only lasts around six to twelve months. 

Planning the Build

The rules for building ADUs vary widely from place to place, so you need to determine what’s allowed in your neighborhood at the outset. Consult your local town planning council to determine all the legalities involved before you do anything else.

Next comes the fun part. You need to decide on the purpose of the casita and gather ideas about a suitable floor plan. Remember to keep the style of your existing home in mind during the planning phase.

Based on these requirements, you can start working on your casita building plans in earnest. 

Finalize the Paperwork

Once you’ve got your plans in hand, you’ll need to submit all the relevant paperwork to your city for approval before you can start your build. These things take at least twenty days to finalize, so you’ll need to exercise patience at this stage. 

As soon as you get the go-ahead from the city, you’ll need your neighbors’ approval, too. 

Clear the Site

You must clear a suitable space for your casita before construction begins. This may involve demolishing existing structures, removing trees, and leveling the ground. 

Slab the Foundation

At this stage, a surveyor will make the boundaries of your build. Your building contractor will perform any necessary excavation and lay the framework of the building by erecting piers and pouring the concrete slab. It’s a good idea to implement termite proofing at this stage, too. 

Erect the Frame and Enclose the Casita

When the slab is dry and set, your contractor will build a frame for your casita according to your building plan and erect the internal and external bearings. The next step involves setting up the guttering and vertical roof to enclose the structure and protect the build from rain. 

Install the Utilities

An electrician and plumber will arrive to set up your plumbing and electrical systems. At this stage, your builder installs plasterboard mounting and insulation, too. 

Adding the Finishing Touches

Finally, you can paint your casita and add the design elements to your casita. These include flooring, storage, kitchen cabinets, and any desired accessories. When you’ve got the basics in place, it’s time to put up curtains, move in the furniture and throw a welcome-to-the-neighborhood party for your new residents. 

Alternatives to Building a Casita From Scratch

Instead of demolishing an existing building to erect a casita, you should consider renovating it to suit your requirements. You’ll save a lot of time and money if you go this route. Another alternative is to buy a prefabricated ADU and have it set up in place, although this often works out more expensive overall. 

Attached ADUs refer to converted garages and attics (with an external staircase) and are another cheaper alternative. Remember, you might have to sacrifice your privacy when you opt for an attached ADU. Whichever type of ADU you choose, you must get approvals from the city before you get started. If you miss this step you could face a fine of $5,000 or more. 

Maximize Your Home With an ADU

When you build a casita, you can look forward to it paying for itself one way or another. An ADU increases the habitable area of your home and is an attractive feature for prospective homebuyers. In this way, it will increase the value of your home and can also help you sell your house faster.

Besides that, an ADU also adds convenience and is a potential source of income from long-term tenants, vacation rentals, or activities like yoga classes.  Are you interested in other home improvements that can boost your home’s value, comfort, and earning potential? Browse our website for all the best ideas.