Frequently asked questions

Find answers to our most asked questions, including building regulations, financial planning, construction, and more.


Getting Backyard

How long does it take to get Backyard?

Around 7 months, which typically covers unit permitting, manufacturing, and installation. The biggest variable to this schedule is the building permitting process which is dependent on your location and the unique characteristics of your property. Every Backyard proposal includes a projected timeline that is specific to your property and our property analysis findings so you have a more precise timeline to work with.

Is getting a Backyard faster than traditional site-built construction?

Backyard already has state-approved designs and is manufactured in parallel with the local permitting approval, our projects typically save you 4-6 months compared to traditional site-built construction.

How disruptive is the Backyard installation process?

The Backyard installation process is minimally disruptive to both your property and lives. The site construction portion of these projects will typically last for 4-6 weeks (instead of 4-6 months like most site-built construction). The largest disruption occurs when we deliver and crane Backyard into place. Reason? We will typically need to partially or fully shut down your street for the day but will provide ample notice of that date to you and your neighbors so everyone is prepared.

Is the Backyard installation process noisy?

All construction will have a degree of noise. However, the noisiest parts of the construction process are completed in our factory. That combined with the accelerated site construction timeline make this the least noisy way of adding an ADU to your property.

Paying for Backyard

Do I have to pay for the full cost of Backyard all at once?

No way. We purposefully have multiple milestone payments built into our timeline to manage the cost of your project. Since most ADUs are financed through lenders who provide home equity based loans, we don’t collect payment or start work until you’ve secured financing. This helps protect your finances in the event that you cannot secure financing.

What if I don’t have a finance lender?

Our team has relationships with multiple financing partners to aid you in the process if you haven’t found a financing partner already. Talk to your Project Specialist who can help.

What financing options are available for Backyard?

Samara works with multiple financing providers to help you secure financing for your Backyard. These are typically done through one of the following methods:

  • Cash-out refinance
  • Home equity line of credit
  • Home equity loan
  • Renovation or construction loan

Our team will outline the benefits and risks of each option to help you secure the right financing for your specific situation.

Installation Costs

What’s included in the base installation cost?

Our base installation cost includes enough scope to fit most sites and the final installation price will be tailored specifically for your property. Our base installation scope includes:

  • Full-time project management by our experienced operations team
  • An allowance for building permits and encroachment permits necessary for installation
  • General working conditions for our construction team including mobilization, a site toilet, protective barrier for the work zone, and the required storm water prevention methods to avoid storm water contamination
  • Surveying services required for a typical Backyard installation including a boundary survey and foundation survey
  • Clearing of the installation site including small bush and shrub removal
  • Re-routing of minor landscape irrigation in the location of your Backyard
  • Standard foundation installation which has been designed to address most sites within California
  • Equipment, labor, and material to provide the following utility connections: - 100’ of 3” Sanitary Sewer (typically connected in your front yard)
    • 75’ of 60A electrical conduit and wire (typically connected at your main electrical panel
    • 75’ of conduit for your teledata provider (left with a pull string in place so your provider can bring service to your Backyard)
    • 50’ of ¾” PVC water line (typically connected at the rear of your house)
  • A crane capable of lifting your Backyard at least 125’, traffic control, and safety barriers for delivery day
  • Installation of wooden entry stairs at the Backyard main entrance
  • Solar system on one side of the Backyard (size dependent on Backyard model)
  • All touchup and final cleaning of the Backyard after delivery
Are there any conditions that might lower the site installation price of Backyard?

Yes, but the conditions are site dependent. While we provide a base installation cost with an assumed scope at the configuration stage, each project will go through an in-depth project analysis to find the best location for your Backyard. If the final location doesn’t require all of the scope listed above, we will provide those credits in your final proposal document. We believe you should only pay for what is needed for your specific site.

What conditions might make my Backyard installation more expensive?

Our Property Analysis process typically allows us to identify additional costs early in the process to ensure there are no last-minute surprises when you receive your proposal. Our Project Specialist will suggest a few different locations for installation and the estimated cost differences for each. However, please be aware that the following conditions could lead to additional costs:

  • Remote properties that require significant travel for our construction crews
  • Additional permits and permitting services required by your local jurisdiction
  • Concrete or structure demolition required for Backyard installation
  • Exceptionally deep lots that require additional trenching, utilities, or a larger crane
  • Tree removal beyond minor shrubs and bushes
  • Electrical service upgrades - our unit is incredibly efficient and should be able to be added to most services without the need for an upgrade
  • Fire sprinklers and associated water upgrades
  • Sites with limited access (less than 4 foot access path) may require hand digging and could incur additional costs
  • Re-routing of more substantial irrigation lines encountered during excavation (>1” Line)
  • Unforeseen site conditions found when we begin excavating or going through the permitting process

Permitting

Does Backyard require a building permit?

Building permits are required for the construction of Backyard. However, our team will be responsible for obtaining all of those building permits to make your experience as hassle-free as possible.

Is it possible to get an expedited building permit?

Certain cities and counties do offer expedited permitting through a pre-approval process or use of third-party reviewers. Our team will work with you to understand your timeline goals and present the best option based on your property characteristics and location. Our proposal will include a preliminary timeline built specifically for your project that considers the factors highlighted above.

ADU Rules and Regulations

What is the maximum size of an ADU?

In California, the largest an ADU can be is 1,200 square feet. However, ADUs larger than 750 square feet may trigger additional requirements such as impact and development fees or additional project scope. ADUs under 800 square feet, 16 feet in height, and 4 feet setback from the property lines are considered a “statewide exemption ADU” under state law.

What is a “statewide exemption ADU” in California?

A statewide exemption ADU is an ADU that’s up to 800 square feet, 16 feet in height, as potentially limited by a local agency, and with minimum 4 feet side and rear yard setbacks. ADU law requires that no lot coverage, floor area ratio, open space, or minimum lot size will preclude the construction of a statewide exemption ADU. Further, ADU law allows the construction of a detached new construction statewide exemption ADU to be combined on the same lot with a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) in a single-family residential zone. In addition, ADUs are allowed in any residential or mixed uses regardless of zoning and development standards imposed in an ordinance.

What are impact fees?

This usually refers to a fee levied by a local agency (the city, a school district, a department, or any number of institutions) in order to mitigate the effect of a development project. Impact fees do not apply to ADUs under 750 square feet.

Can I install more than one ADU on my property?

California law states that each single family home has the potential to add two ADUs. One is a detached ADU (like Backyard) and the other is a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) which isn’t detached. A JADU is a specific type of conversion of existing space that is contained entirely within an existing or proposed single-family residence. This cannot exceed 500 square feet.

Can I install Backyard on a property that doesn’t have an existing house on it?

Short answer: no. Backyard currently follows California's ADU law which allows quicker permit processing and ease of restrictions. The laws require these units be “Accessory” to a primary residence with little exceptions. It is possible to add Backyard on a new construction site if the ADU is completed before the primary residence.

Can I install an ADU in my front yard?

Front yard ADUs have historically been difficult to build with strict front yard set back requirements established by local municipalities. However, with the recent passage of “AB 2221”, California has removed the front setback requirement and front yard ADUs will be more easily permitted beginning in 2023.

What is SB9?

This is a California state law that allows the subdivision of a parcel in a single-family zone into two parcels.

Is solar required for ADUs?

While solar is not a requirement for ADUs, Backyard has solar renewable energy options to protect against rising electricity costs and maximize the value of your investment. Our team will help you understand the financial benefit of the solar output on your specific configuration and property location so it makes sense for your needs.

Are there restrictions on using ADUs as rental properties?

State law notes that ADU’s are intended to be rented as long-term housing with average rental timelines exceeding 30 days. That said, local jurisdictions may allow you to rent your ADU for shorter time frames. Our team can help you understand local rental rules based on your intended use case for your Backyard.

Financial Impact

Will adding an ADU to my property impact my property taxes?

Yes, adding an ADU will increase your property tax based on the value of the ADU but will not trigger a re-assessment of your primary residence. This is why ADUs are a tax efficient means of adding additional housing or building area to your existing property. ADUs can also provide many tax-related benefits depending on your Backyard use case, which our team of Project Specialists will guide you through understanding.

Does having an ADU affect my property value?

Yes, a permanent ADU can add to your property’s total square footage, bedroom and bathroom count, and increase its total value.

Is an ADU a good investment?

Detached ADUs can be a great investment, depending on your specific property and use case. Not only can they generate additional income from renters, but they can have a large positive impact on your existing property value and long-term appreciation. While we are not financial advisors, we will help lay out the potential long-term returns of adding Backyard to your property.

Glossary

What is an ADU?

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a legal and regulatory term for a secondary house or apartment that shares the building lot of a larger, primary home. ADUs are designated as occupiable living spaces, each fully equipped with a kitchen and bathroom. Sometimes they’re described as ‘granny flats’, in-law units, or backyard homes.terms for They are typically the quickest and lowest impact way of adding housing and maximizing value of existing properties for California homeowners. There are many terms used to describe ADUs such as Granny Flats, In-law units, or backyard homes

What is factory-built housing?

Factory-built housing (FBH) is a residential building or dwelling unit that is manufactured off-site and regulated by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). These housing units are approved and inspected on behalf of HCD by HCD-approved agencies and will bear an HCD “insignia of approval” upon completion. FBH typically refers to modular housing built and transported as one or more modular units and set on a permanent foundation.

What is a manufactured home?

Manufactured homes are also built off-site and delivered near completion but these are built to the Manufactured Home Construction Safety Standards (MHCSS) established by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. These may be permanently installed on foundations or they may be mounted on frames with wheels for mobility.

What are the advantages of factory-built housing?

Factory-built housing offers many advantages when compared to traditional site-built construction including: beautiful and thoughtful designs, a streamlined permitting process, accelerated project timelines, lower raw material waste, and a higher quality finished product. The manufacturing process allows for tighter quality standards to be monitored during the construction process as well. This method of construction may alleviate many of the pains felt by homeowners and their neighbors during traditional construction projects.

Is Backyard a manufactured or factory-built home?

While Backyard is manufactured off-site, they are considered factory-built housing.

Where should we build next?

Drop us your zip code and email to help us plan our expansion strategy. We’ll let you know when we get there.

Get in touch

What’s included in the all-in cost?
Everything.

Getting Backyard is easy. After you configure your unit, you won’t have to worry about filing permits, finding contractors, or any other part of the building process.


The base installation cost includes:

  • Project management
  • Permits and surveying
  • Site prep
  • Foundation installation
  • Utility trenching and hookup
  • Unit shipping and crane-in
  • Stair and deck installation
  • Touch up and final cleaning

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