Phase 2

Learn the Rules

  • Learn what you can build on your property
  • Understand the rules and regulations in El Dorado County
  • Meet with local staff to discuss your project

Before you begin designing your ADU, you need to know what you’re allowed to build. This page will help you navigate the state and local laws that apply to your property.


Learning the Rules 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.

Learn the Rules


Keep in mind: Understanding how local and state rules apply to your project can feel like a lot at first. Remember: Local staff are here to help. Contact Planning staff to ask all your ADU questions!

Have you confirmed your location?

PLEASE NOTE: Not all properties with the 95667 ZIP code, including many with “Placerville” addresses, are within the incorporated City limits of Placerville. Use one or more of these tools to confirm if your property is within El Dorado County or Placerville’s jurisdiction:

Step 1

Learn About Your Property

First, confirm what jurisdiction your property is in – either Unincorporated El Dorado County or City of Placerville. An address including “Placerville” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re within City limits, so please use the tools listed above to confirm your location. 

Then, you’ll gather some basic information about your property:

  • Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN)
  • Lot size
  • Neighborhood zone
  • Special zones: Flood zone, seismic zone, snow load, fire districts, and more.

You may also want to verify your property lines – You may think your property ends at a fence or driveway, but these may have shifted over the years. The most accurate way to know where your land begins and ends is to hire a surveyor. They will make a detailed map with property lines, trees, and other information that may be needed for the design and to know what you can build. Your designer may ask for specific measurements or markings, so you may want to hire them first.

Resources and Tools

ADU Worksheets

Use our fillable PDFs (or print at home!) to take notes on all the details you’ll need. Use the tools below to find the information.

Can I Build tool

Use our Can I Build address lookup tool to see an aerial view of your property and basic informationa bout allowed uses and space available. 

El Dorado County Online Property Search

Search by APN or street address for:

  • APN
  • Lot size
  • Building size
  • Zoning
County Parcel Data and Design Criteria

Search by APN to see:

  • Zoning
  • Districts
  • Flood zone, seismic zone, wind speed, soil bearing, snow load, fire safe, and other information relevant to design characteristics
County GIS Map

Navigate to your location on the map (or use the Locate Address tool) and turn layers on and off and/or use the attribute table and click on Parcels and your parcel to find information including:

  • APN
  • Zoning
  • Special districts: water district, fire district, school districts, and more.
Placerville Zoning Lookup

Use street address to find zoning.

Step 2

Learn What You Can Build

Rules Overview

You can build it! According to state law, you can build up to an 800 square foot ADU, as long as rear and side setbacks are at least 4 feet and it is not above 16 feet tall. No room behind or next to your main home? You can build it in your front yard instead.

Step 3

Meet with Local Staff

One of the best things you can do is to talk to local staff early in the process about potential issues and rules that might apply.

Use our ADU Worksheets to help plan your conversation and take notes.This is also a good time to contact any utility service providers (waste, sewer, gas, electricity, etc.) to confirm requirements, timelines, and fees. See our Contact page for more details.

If your basic project details (size, number of bedrooms) change based on this meeting, it’s a good idea to adjust your estimated project budget.


Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about learning ADU rules.

FAQs about special zones

look up your property information

Try out our Can I Build tool


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. 

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