Step-by-Step Process

Building a guest house with Snap ADU

This roadmap is designed to provide you with a clear overview of our tried-and-tested approach, from the initial brainstorming stage right through to the finishing touches on construction. Each step is expandable for deeper insights, and you’re welcome to reach out any time to jumpstart the process.


Our initial consultation phase aims to understand your site conditions, desired ADU size and design vision. This conversation helps us gauge which of our standard ADU plans might align best with your goals, or if we should create a custom design. After the call, we provide a high-level assessment of the project's feasibility and costs, along with answers to any questions you might have.

Request free Discovery Call


Already have your financing for the project lined up? Feel free to skip this step. Otherwise, now's the time to explore funding options. You will have an estimated all-in cost for your complete ADU project (design, permit, sitework, build), and we can recommend lenders specializing in ADU financing.

More on ADU Financing


We will provide a detailed proposal that outlines a comprehensive view of anticipated all-inclusive ADU costs. As part of our thorough approach, we review over 75 factors related to your property to ensure that we accurately scope and budget for the entire project in your proposal. Signing the proposal authorizes us to kick off your Feasibility Study (and we always bill after the work is done).

Detailed look at Feasibility Studies


Feasibility entails a detailed utility mapping, topographic survey, and full assessment of local requirements and site specifics. During this crucial phase, we also draft your floor plan and exterior elevations. We present all of this in a Feasibility Study along with a preliminary budget

Timing: 8-10 weeks (standard plan), 10-12 weeks (custom plan)

Detailed Look at Feasibility Studies


After your approval of the Feasibility Report, our drafting team will produce all the necessary architectural drawings, calculations, and reports for city permit applications, plus any required documents for your HOA or construction loan application. Producing construction documents includes a thorough constructability analysis to ensure all aspects of the design are feasible and compliant. Once the CDs are finalized, we present a Construction Estimate Agreement (CEA), locking in the price for up to 6 months during the permitting process.

Timing: 4-6 weeks

Our Price Guarantee


We submit plans to the city & pull required permits. We work closely with the building department to ensure submitted construction plans move as swiftly as possible through plan review & permitting processes. Our in-house permitting team will also let you know what plan check & permit fees must be paid.

Timing: 3-6 months

More on City Fees


We support our clients in making interior & exterior design selections early in the process to ensure we can keep your project on time and on budget. While the city is reviewing your plans, you’ll make your design choices. You can choose an included standard design from our Look Book or select finishes a la carte. We can also work with your provided materials.

See Our Designs


Once we have permits, construction can typically start moving within 2-4 weeks. We handle the entire process, all the way to the final punch list with you to make sure your ADU meets or surpasses your expectations. Timing on this phase will depend heavily on the responsiveness of the city inspectors and also the size of the unit (with two story units taking about 3-4 weeks longer).

Timing: 5-7 months

ADU Build Process

How long does it take to build an ADU?

The entire process of designing, permitting, and building a new construction accessory dwelling unit (ADU) will take 10-18 months depending on complexity of your design, the city in which you are located, and your site conditions. Design is roughly 3-4 months, permitting 3-8 months, and build out is 5-7 months (highly variable based on jurisdiction and also unit size). Read more about the ADU timeline.

Our unique price lock also incentivizes us to work efficiently throughout your project. Once the Construction Estimate is finalized, the pricing is locked in, making it in both our best interests to progress smoothly and swiftly to completion. This way, you’re not only assured of no hidden costs, but also a timely execution of your ADU project.

Watch our ADU 101 Webinar

Thinking about building an ADU and want to learn more about the whole process? We’d love to help make sure you know exactly how it all works in our on-demand webinar led by SnapADU co-founder, Whitney Hill.