ADU without kitchen?

I read in the Oakland zoning regulations that an ADU has to have a kitchen. Now, we want to build a detached little "cottage" in our backyard that only has a bedroom and a bathroom. It's just for when my mother or MIL visits for an extended time (new baby took over the guest room) and would not be rented out. Would that still be considered an ADU? Or does it have a different name? Does it have to be permitted as well? I mean, of course we could add a small kitchenette, but why invest in something that's not needed?

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RE: ADU without kitchen? ()

We built one in Berkeley but the learnings are likely the same for Oakland. The ADU's process is more streamlined than regular building permits because cities are trying to encourage building of ADUs for Long Term housing. You'd need a kitchen if someone wanted to rent it as their home, so for your building to be streamlined through the ADU process it has to have all the bells and whistles required for a long term rental. Even if you never plan on renting it, if you want to get the streamlined ADU process you'll have to abide by the ADU rules. You can always do one without the Kitchen, but you will be put into the regular permitting process and have to abide by a lot of extra regs. 

RE: ADU without kitchen? ()

My understanding is that regulations try to encourage building ADUs because they can be used as permanent housing, which we sorely need more of. (Even if you don't use it that way, a future owner could.) Not sure if Oakland is the same, but in Berkeley you can build an accessory building (I think it's called) without a kitchen - the permitting process is harder, but it can then be short-term rented (which an ADU cannot, at least in Berkeley). You could put in the most minimal kitchen possible just so it will pass inspection, and then remove it. Probably just requires a sink and some cooking surface. 

RE: ADU without kitchen? ()

Hi, it’s written pretty clearly in the Regs that a newly built ADU must have a kitchenette; in fact, that’s the one requirement that crosses over all types of ADU construction. So I doubt you would be able to build one without it.  I’d suggest that it may not be a bad idea at all; your use of the cottage may change over the years. And I strongly suggest hiring a licensed contractor. Very strongly. More info here:

Recently built ADU owner 

RE: ADU without kitchen? ()

Hi, I'm not well versed in Oakland's regulations but I am a city Planner in SF. ADU's are intended to add new independent dwelling units to help increase the housing stock in the Bay Area while allowing property owners to benefit from a unit that can cover the cost of investment over time. An in-law without the required facilities (kitchen/bath/etc) that make it livable on its own would render it a back yard addition subject to other aspects of the code.  It would absolutely need a permit. You might need to get a variance or other entitlements whereas ADU legislation is designed to streamline the process. I hope that helps to give some clarity!

RE: ADU without kitchen? ()

In order to qualify as an ADU, and the relaxed permitting and fees it allows, it will need to have a kitchen which has to at lease have a sink, small fridge and a cook top - that's about it, could easily be behind sliding doors in a closet.

If you don't put in a kitchen then it does not qualify and you will have to go through the full permitting process including getting your neighbors to chime in on the project.  And YES you still need a permit for what you are discribing.  The only time you do not need a permit is if you are putting in a "shed" which is 120 sq ft or less and has not plumbing or electricity.  Any other structure needs a permit.

Hope that helps.

Berkeley Little House