County of Marin - News Releases - Accessory Dwelling Units

For Immediate Release
March 01, 2023

Free Tech Assistance on Accessory Dwelling Units

County of Marin partners with Hello Housing to provide cost-saving service

San Rafael, CA – There is more help available for Marin County homeowners who are considering construction of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), sometimes called a second unit, on their property. And this help from trained professionals is free.

A smiling woman at left is listening to another woman at right with a counter between them.Customer service is a key motivation on the new partnership between Hello Housing and the County of Marin.

To help alleviate the local housing crisis, the County of Marin has launched an ADU Technical Assistance Pilot Program to offer expertise to participants on the design, permitting, financial feasibility, and project management involved with building an ADU or a junior ADU (JADU) in the unincorporated areas of the county.

HelloADU, a program of the nonprofit Hello Housing, offers support services to homeowners who are ready to take the next steps in building an ADU or JADU. Participants receive free project feasibility and project management support to help them navigate the complicated process of designing, constructing, and renting an ADU or JADU.

Immanuel Bereket, a senior planner with the Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA), said HelloADU will save applicants significant time, energy, and financial resources that often are paid to a third-party consultant. At no cost to homeowners, HelloADU’s team will perform a feasibility assessment of the property, estimate costs, evaluate qualified contractors, and shepherd the project through the permitting process. The starting point is the HelloADU webpage.

“This is a new resource for homeowners to educate themselves and determine if ADU development is attainable for them,” he said. “We see ADU development as a critical step in expanding options in a very tight and expensive housing market.”

The main difference between an ADU and a JADU is that ADUs have a more complete independent living setup with a full kitchen and bathroom. JADUs are converted from existing space, share central utility systems, have a smaller food preparation area, and sometimes shares a bathroom. Both types of units have entrances/exits separate from the property’s main entrance/exits.

Homeowner candidates thinking about second units are often going through a life transition – seniors transitioning to a fixed income, becoming empty nesters, looking for a solution to an overcrowded household, or seeking to create affordable housing for friends and family. An ADU or JADU can generate new rental income, help someone age in place, help a financially strapped college student or recently discharged military veteran, or just provide a community benefit of a new home for anyone in need.

Hello Housing views the opportunity as a way to “unlock the backyards of the North Bay to create new homes within the fabric of existing neighborhoods.”

The high cost of housing in Marin, considered a crisis by the Board of Supervisors, is regularly displacing people who have been priced out and preventing people who have jobs in Marin from living close to their workplaces. The recent COVID-19 pandemic only increased those challenges. ADUs and JADUs are considered one option to alleviate the crisis and provide more homes for people without greatly expanding existing building footprints.

Local designers, architects, builders, and contractors with ADU experience can join Hello Housing’s registry of ADU professionals and get connected with potential clients.

The best resources about ADUs and JADUs in Marin include the Make Room for Marin and ADUMarin webpages. Also, anyone may subscribe to receive e-mailed notifications from CDA about housing-related issues or subscribe to Hello Housing’s Bright Spot newsletter. For more information on the applicable standards and permit process for JADUs and ADUs, contact the Marin County Building and Safety office at (415) 473-6550 or check the Building and Safety Code Division webpage.


Immanuel Bereket
Senior Planner
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-2755
Email: Immanuel Bereket
Community Development website