Phase 1

Get Started

  • Clarify what you want
  • Find inspiration
  • Estimate project cost

Getting started is the fun part! Now’s the time to think about why you want to build an ADU, where it would fit on your property, and find layout and design inspiration.


Getting started is part of the planning phase, which typically takes 1-3 months. Most ADU projects take 12-18 months to complete, but some extend to 24 months or more.

Get Started


Before you begin: Make sure you understand that there are many types, sizes, and construction methods to consider. Visit ADU 101 to learn more.

Step 1

Think About Your Why

Start thinking about your short- and long-term goals and concerns for your ADU project and what kind of ADU is best for your needs. Our ADU Worksheets have a checklist to get you started. 

Good sources for inspiration:

Think about what it means to share space with tenants and if that impacts your design and layout. Keep in mind that your plans may change once you hrie a professional. Be flexible and open to the possibilities!

Step 2

Make an Informal Sketch

Make a rough sketch of your property, including the existing home, trees, driveways, large slopes, any other structures, and where you’d like your ADU. Use our ADU Worksheets and Can I Build address lookup tool to help you with this step. (Note: You can update this sketch or make new versions as you continue to learn about your property and what’s possible.)

Step 3

Estimate Project Cost

It’s never too early to plan your project budget. A rough placeholder to use is $260-300 per square foot, including construction and other costs (design, fees, etc.). The actual number can vary and depends on many factors.

See the Budget & Finance page for more information.


Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about getting started with your ADU. 

ADU layouts that fit your needs

Browse ADU layouts seen in CAlifornia


Tell us your thoughts!

Please give us feedback about ADUs in our area. If you leave your contact info, we may be able to get back to you with more information. 

If you’re looking for specific advice or information about your property and ADU, please use the contact information for El Dorado County or the City of Placerville at the bottom of this website. 

Skip to content