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Prefab 'Granny Units' Eliminate Red Tape For Homeowners Who Need More Space

REDWOOD CITY (CBS13) — Some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs say they may have a solution to the housing crisis, and it's right in your backyard.

"Really what we've done is we've boiled down the process in a homeowner's backyard to a simple two-week install process," said John Geary, co-founder of a new company called Abodu.

Their model ADU, on display in Redwood City, is a 500-square foot, one-bedroom home designed to be installed on an existing home site in about two weeks time, rather than the months required for normal construction.

"Our units come fully constructed on-site," said Geary. "The entire unit is finished in a factory, it comes on the back of a truck to a homeowner's location. We have a crane waiting there and install it in their backyard."

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The prefab units come with a modern kitchen, spacious bedroom, bathroom with a full-size shower and a comfortable living and dining room. But one thing missing is red tape. Abodu is working with City Planning Departments to make sure their units completely conform to all building requirements and San Jose, for one, has now designated Abodu's ADU as "pre-approved" so the permitting process can be done in a single day.

"So, really all the work that's needed in the homeowner's backyard before the unit is delivered is just two weeks of pouring the foundation and connecting it to the utilities required," Geary said. "And then we crane the unit onto the foundation, hook it up and we're out of their backyard."

Co-founder Eric McInerney says backyard homes are becoming popular with people who want to make space for their grown kids to live in, with the ADU becoming a retirement home later on.

"So they can move into it eventually and have smaller space that they can downsize, and then have their kids move into the main home and stay close to the family," he said.

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San Jose officials want to add 25,000 new units by 2022 and they believe the best place to do that is on land where homes already exist.

So, how does installing an ADU affect someone's property tax assessment? The home valuation will only be increased by the construction cost of the ADU which, Abodu estimates for its unit would increase taxes between $1,000 and $2,000 per year.

The company's founders say they're ready to begin construction of the first five units on order and they expect them to be completed and installed by the end of the year.

You can learn more about the company here on their website. 

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