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Posted on: October 12, 2023

Nevada County Supervisors Approve Accessory Dwelling Unit Guidebook

ADU Guidebook Released, woodsided ADU with white trim and path leading to home

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday  approved the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Guidebook, the newest tool to guide property owners through the ADU process. The guidebook and other materials are available at

ADUs (also known as “granny flats” or “in-law units”) come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can range from the conversion of existing space to prefabricated units to brand-new additions. ADUs can be attached to or detached from the main home. They can range in size from a 150-square-foot studio to 1,200 square-foot unit with multiple bedrooms. 

“ADUs are a building block and provide many benefits to our community, including creating additional rentals or creating additional units for elderly family members. ADUs can be quite complex to add to a parcel, and this guidebook will allow residents to understand and have the questions they need to get answered before they embark on this process. The hope is to make the process easier and increase housing units here in Nevada County and throughout the region,” said District 2 Supervisor Ed Scofield.  

To encourage ADUs throughout the region, the guidebook and associated tools have been developed through the Mother Lode ADU, a partnership between the Counties of Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa, and Nevada. This project is funded by the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Regional Early Action Planning grant. 

The new Mother Lode ADU website,, will walk people through all the steps needed to build an ADU and includes a host of tools that will make the process easier. The tools available include the guidebook, cost calculator, website, contractor list, and floorplan gallery. In addition to the digital resources, the Planning Department will release the guidebook in print, available soon, in the Community Development Agency’s lobby at the Rood Center in Nevada City. 

“The ADU Guidebook will be a ‘living document,’ meaning the Planning Department will be able to update it as  ADU rules change at the County and State level. We want to have this tool available to residents as they work on exciting new projects on their property and create additional housing throughout the region,” explained Associate Planner Marie Maniscalco. 

The website and guidebook feature stories of local residents who have built ADUs to inspire homeowners to consider starting a project of their own. Sue, a Nevada County resident, shared her experience designing the perfect ADU for her mother, Kathy, "Mom loves to cook and bake, so the kitchen was the most important part of the ADU, and we planned details down to where to store cookie trays. We downsized a lot, but it was fun to get creative together." Their goal was to get Sue’s mother to Nevada County in maybe 10 years, but she came to visit and fell in love – a familiar story for many in Nevada County. Sue went on, “We wanted to try the ADU while we can enjoy time together, instead of when she’s (mom’s) much older and the experience is more difficult. That’s my advice: don’t wait, do it now!” As time goes on, Sue has a variety of ideas on how the ADU might support the family, “The ADU will give us flexibility throughout our whole lives (place for mom or extra rental income to support family). It’s been wonderful for our family, and I hope we build more in our community.” Visit the website,, to see photos and a virtual tour of Sue’s ADU. 

ADUs allow Nevada County to increase rural housing options for their children, parents, relatives, and hard-working individuals who need a home of their own. If you have considered building an ADU,  visit and to review the digital resources and learn more. If you have specific questions or concerns, email the Planning Department at or call (530)265-1222, option 2. 

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