I often work with potential homebuyers, and their realtors, to do an analysis of homes they’re considering, exploring the feasibilty of additions or other improvements. For several clients I’ve looked at the possibility of adding a DADU (Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit, or Mother-in-Law apartment) to an existing lot.
For a small amount of work – sometimes only 2 1/2 to 3 hours – I can visit the site, measure the lot and the exterior of the house, do a bit of online research, sketch up a quick site plan, and show the potential homebuyers options for the property. Specifically I’ll look at things such as Code-required setbacks, limits on lot coverage, etc., and indicate on a site plan the amount of “buildable area” they could locate a DADU, or addition within. Based on this analysis they have a much better understanding of the potential value of the property for their needs.
In some instances, for example if the site has a lot of outbuildings, or a strange lot configuration, or elements that may or may not contribute to “lot coverage”, I may need to visit the City to review the property with a land use planner. If clients want to look at the feasibility of a major remodel to the existing house, I can do a more involved analysis, creating as-built drawings (or using realtor-supplied floor plans, which often are available), and doing some quick design studies.
In probably 25% of cases clients learn, in a cost-effective way, that they can’t do what they want with a property, and they continue their home search. But in the other 75% of cases, it’s determined that what they want to do is feasible, and they can comfortably proceed to make an offer on the house if they choose to do so. Often they then become clients I work with to bring their plans to fruition.