A guide for building backyard homes in
Oakland, California

Learn about local zoning guidelines, financing options, and getting started with building a custom ADU in Oakland, California.

Type Five City Guide

It's Oakland. You can eat a taco here that will leave you speechless, desperate for more, until you have pork and leek dumplings and decide those are your gastronomic destiny. You can play an Atari 2600 in a museum and drink a beer under a wall of skulls before listening to live some of the nation's freshest hip-hop.

Bring your family, friends, and neighbors closer with a beautiful backyard home.

Quick ADU Facts

for Oakland, California

You can build an ADU by right in your backyard

An ADU can increase the value of your home

An ADU is easy to finance using your home equity

Prefab vs. traditional built ADUs

Why Type Five offers you the best of both worlds

There are two methods to build a backyard home or ADU: traditional or prefabricated/modular construction. 

Traditional Construction: This is the most common type of construction and involves hiring a contractor to build your home from the ground up. The advantage of traditional construction is that you have more control over the design and construction process. The disadvantages of traditional construction are that it is usually more expensive and takes longer to build.

Prefabricated/Modular Construction: This type of construction involves building your home in a factory and then delivering it to your site. Prefab offers the advantages of faster build times and opportunities to reduce the overall cost of building. However, prefab doesn’t offer the breadth of customization and design flexibility to fit your preferences, the building codes, and the space available for you to build.

At Type Five, our approach combines the best of both worlds, offering you design flexibility with the cost savings and convenience of prefab. Here are some of the notable features:

  • Customizable: Every Type Five ADU is customizable online. You can select the size, color, layout, amenities, bedrooms, finishings, and more without paying thousands of dollars in design fees.

  • Turn-Key Service: Thanks to our streamlined process, you can ditch the chaos and stress of managing the complexities of building your backyard home. We’ll draw up your plans, get them approved by the city, and manage construction, so you don’t have to. Our platform allows us to be your project's architect and general contractor, saving you enormous time and money while giving you the peace of mind that you're getting an amazing service and product.

  • Fast Delivery: A Type Five ADU is usually ready to move in within 4-6 months. Our tightly integrated process from design to build means you can expect to own your ADU shortly after finishing your design. You can expect clear timelines, little to no back and forth, and weeks instead of months of construction on your property.

  • Upfront Guaranteed Pricing: We guarantee your price right in our design process before you even submit a deposit. You can say goodbye to financial surprises & unexpected “change orders” because every project comes with a guaranteed maximum price before the building starts. This means you can accurately budget for the other things in your life… like your retirement or that vacation you’ve been thinking about!

What’s the bottom line? If you want a backyard home but don’t want to deal with the hassle and expense of traditional construction, then prefabricated/modular construction is the way to go. And if you want the convenience of prefab with the flexibility of custom design, then we’ve got your back.

Type Five Pod
Design and customize your ADU online today.
Customizable to your needs
Our modular design system makes it possible to pick the right shape, size, colors, and features.
Move-in ready in 6-8 months
Our turnkey process handles everything from permitting to site work and construction.
Transparent, guaranteed pricing
We remove the abiguity in costs and stay true to your budget.

Experience a turn-key approach

We streamline everything from design to permitting and construction so we can focus on quality where it matters most.

Our Process
Designing an ADU
Configure your ADU with the size, shape, and amenities you want, all online. We’ll translate your design into plans and a guaranteed budget that work for you and your space.
My backyard was challenging to find the right design for, but Type Five was able to offer a number of options that worked for what my Mom was looking for her in her new home.
Michelle R., from Berkeley, California
Permitting an ADU
Our tools generate instant permit sets with unparalleled accuracy, allowing us breeze through your city’s permitting process and setting your project up for a seamless transition to construction.
I was initially dreading the permitting phase of our backyard home project, but Type Five's incredible accuracy and understanding of the local regulations turned it into a stress-free experience. Their team ensured that every detail met the highest standards, which really set my mind at ease. Thanks to them, we moved to construction without a single hitch.
Derek S. from Orinda, California
Building an ADU
As your general contractor, we orchestrate the entire building process using our vetted network of trusted, skilled contractors and sourcing dependable, renewable materials. And we keep our word: you’ll know the cost and timeline from the beginning.
From start to finish, Type Five was transparent and committed to excellence during the build of our ADU. Their network of skilled contractors and dedication to using renewable materials not only aligned with our values but also ensured a product we're proud to show off. Knowing the costs and timeline upfront made planning a breeze.
Ethan M, from San Anselmo, California
Living in an ADU
Our homes are engineered to last. We'll continue to partner with you on maintenance and improvements so that your ADU grows with you.
Our parents love their new ADU. The quality and durability of our Type Five home are apparent in every corner. It's reassuring to know that we have a partner ready to assist us with any maintenance or updates we need as our family's needs change.
Beverly S, from Albany, California

Oakland's ADU Guidelines

Frequently asked questions about what you can build in Oakland

Can I build an ADU on my property in Oakland?

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in Oakland are allowed under state law, and a single-family home may construct at least one ADU. Owner-occupied single-family properties may construct one ADU and one Junior ADU, while multi-family properties with four or more existing residential units may construct one ADU. ADUs may be either new construction or converted from existing space, and can be detached, attached, or junior.

Do I need a permit for an ADU in Oakland?

Yes, a permit is required to construct an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Oakland. The permit process will vary depending on the type of ADU you are constructing and the regulations in place in your specific location. At Type Five, we handle the entire permit process for you.

How long does it take to get a permit for an ADU in Oakland?

The maximum amount of time the city of Oakland has to review your permit application is within 60 days of submission. It is possible to get your permit approved within 30-90 days of submission so long as your designs were drawn with the local code in mind.

How many ADUs can I have in Oakland?

Under state law, a single-family home in Oakland may construct at least one Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). Owner-occupied single-family properties may also construct one ADU and one Junior ADU. Multi-family properties with four or more existing residential units may construct one ADU. However, the exact number of ADUs allowed on a property may vary depending on the specific regulations in place in your area. You should consult with the city of Oakland and your local zoning board to determine the specific number of ADUs allowed on your property.

Is there a minimum lot size for an ADU in Oakland?

There is no minimum lot size requirement for an ADU in Oakland. California state law also mentions that lot coverage requirements can’t preclude the creation of a statewide exemption ADU. A statewide exemption ADU is 800 square feet, with a height limitation of 16 feet and and 4 feet rear and side yard setbacks.

Is there a minimum and maximum size for an ADU in Oakland?

In Oakland, the size of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is determined by its category. Category 1 ADUs are limited to a floor area of either 50% of the existing primary residential facility or 800 square feet, whichever is greater. Category 2 ADUs have different size limitations depending on whether they are attached or detached. Attached Category 2 ADUs are limited to 50% of the floor area of the primary residential facility, or 850 square feet for one-bedroom units and 1,000 square feet for units with more than one bedroom, whichever is greater. Detached Category 2 ADUs are limited to a floor area of 1,200 square feet. Type Five's system can adapt to fit within these requirements, but most importantly to the available are you have to build.

Can you build a 2 story ADU in Oakland?

It is possible to construct a two-story Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Oakland, but it may be subject to certain limitations. The height of an ADU in Oakland is determined by its category and its location on the property. Category 1 ADUs do not have any height restrictions, while Category 2 ADUs must be subordinate in height to the primary dwelling and must comply with the height limits of the underlying zoning district.

Additionally, any attached or detached ADUs located outside required setbacks must be limited to the height of the primary dwelling, except in certain specific zoning districts. It is recommended that you consult with the city of Oakland and your local zoning board to determine the specific height requirements for your proposed ADU.

Type Five offers a two-story model that fits Oakland's requirements.

How many bedrooms can an ADU have in Oakland?

There is no limit to the number of bedrooms an ADU can have in the city of Oakland according to California state law. The California HCD ADU handbook states that a limit on the number of bedrooms could be construed as a discriminatory practice towards protected classes, such as familial status, and would be considered a constraint on the development of ADUs.

How close to the property line can I build an ADU in Oakland?

The setbacks for building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Oakland will depend on the type and location of the ADU. Under state law, newly constructed detached ADUs can be as close as 4 feet from the rear and side property lines. Attached ADUs and conversions from existing space that are expanded must comply with the setbacks of the underlying zone.

Does an ADU need its own electrical panel, water meter, or gas meter in Oakalnd?

In Oakland, the requirements for utilities in an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) are determined by the category of the ADU. Category 1 ADUs do not require a new or separate utility connection. Category 2 ADUs may require a new or separate utility connection, but the connection fee or capacity charge must be proportionate to the burden of the ADU on the water or sewer system.

Are fire sprinklers required in an ADU in Oakland?

In most cases, fire sprinklers are not required in an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Oakland. An ADU is only required to provide fire sprinklers if sprinklers are required for the primary dwelling unit. However, the ADU must still meet other fire safety requirements, such as minimum fire flow and water pressure on the adjoining streets.

Is solar required on an ADU in Oakland?

You are required to install solar panels on your ADU in Oakland if your ADU is a newly constructed, non-manufactured, detached ADU.

How much can I rent an ADU for in Oakland?

You should be able to rent an ADU in Oakland for $1,975 which is the average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment so long as the rental term is longer than 30 days. There is no owner-occupancy requirement for ADUs built before December 31st, 2024.

Can an ADU be used as an AirBnB or short-term rental in Oakland?

You cannot use an ADU as an AirBnB in Oakland unless you are renting it out for a period longer than 30 days. California law states that ADUs created under subdivision (e) of Gov. Code, § 65852.2 cannot be rented for a period less than 30 days. This means you cannot use your ADU as a short-term rental in Oakland.

Can your HOA prevent your ADU build in Oakland?

Your local homeowners association (HOA) cannot prohibit the construction of an ADU or JADU in Oakland. Assembly Bill 670 (2019) and AB 3182 (2020) amended Section 4751, 4740, and 4741 of the Civil Code to preclude common interest developments from prohibiting or unreasonably restricting the construction or use, including the renting or leasing of, an ADU on a lot zoned for single-family residential use.

Covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that either effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the construction or use of an ADU or JADU on such lots are void and unenforceable or may be liable for actual damages and payment of a civil penalty.

How does an ADU affect property taxes in Oakland?

The city of Oakland will assess the value of your newly added ADU, typically by using the cost-bases method of appraisal, and multiply it by the property tax rate of 1%. So if your ADU in Oakland costs $217,053 to build, you can expect your annual property taxes to increase by $2,170.53 per year. Adding an ADU to your property will not trigger a reassessment of the value of your primary residence.

How much value does an ADU add in Oakland?

Adding an ADU to your property in Oakland typically adds value to your property, however, the exact amount depends on the appraisal method that your appraiser chooses to use. If an appraiser uses the cost-basis method & the cost of your ADU is $217,053, then you can expect your home value to appreciate by $217,053.

Another method that an appraiser can use is the sales comparison approach, where the value of the ADU addition is determined by recently sold properties in Oakland that included ADUs. However, this approach depends on the number of recently sold properties and there sometimes isn’t enough information to use this approach with ADUs. A back-of-the-envelope way to estimate the value yourself would be to multiply the existing price per square foot of your property by the square footage added by the ADU and compare it to the cost of your ADU. The appreciation is likely in between those two numbers.

How much does it cost to build an ADU in Oakland?

The average cost to build an ADU in Oakland is $217,053. Keep in mind there are a ton of factors to consider when estimating the cost of a project, many of which are unique to your property and sometimes require special surveys to identify. Examples of these factors include whether or not your property is flat or sloped and whether or not you need to upgrade your utilities.

It’s also important to note that converting an existing structure or converting your garage into an ADU isn’t necessarily cheaper than building a brand new detached ADU. You can get an in-depth overview about what goes into the costs of building an ADU in your city by starting to customize your ADU using Type Five's design tool.

Type Five Pod

Thoughtful design meets unparalleled flexibility.

Type Five brings architectural design and quality to your Oakland backyard at an unbeatable price.

Type Five makes thoughtfully designed and well-crafted homes for all kinds of life.
Designed in Berkeley, California.