ADU Standard Plans Program

The City of Pasadena is proud to announce the launch of the ADU Standard Plans program offering several pre-approved ADU plans for homeowners in Pasadena ranging in size from studios to spacious two-bedroom units. The City is kicking-off the launch of this program by offering two plans designed in-house by the City. There will be several more plans added to the program in the coming months which are designed by licensed professionals, providing additional options to residents.

All plans featured as part of this program have been pre-approved by Building and Safety resulting in time-savings in both the design and permitting of an ADU. Note that modifications or customizations to pre-approved ADU plans are not allowed, regardless of how minor the changes are.

Plans that are designed by the City are available at no cost.  Refer to the Pre-Approved ADU Plan Submittal Process (below) and our handout on What is Not Pre-Approved?  as well as our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information.

Pre-Approved ADU Plan Submittal Process

To verify that a pre-approved ADU plan is compatible with your site, visit the Permit Center during walk-in hours or book a virtual appointment.  As a general guide, the property must meet all of the following criteria:

  • The lot is zoned to allow for residential use and contains an existing or proposed single-family home or multi-family structure
  • The property is not located on a slope, hillside or a site with expansive soil (a geotechnical report may be required)
  • In general, the location of the ADU must meet the following:
    • 6’ to other structures measured from eave-to-eave (unless the ADU is under 800 sq. ft.)
    • 4’ side-yard and 4’ rear-yard setbacks
    • Comply with the front-yard setback, lot coverage, floor area ratio and encroachment plane of the underlying zone
  • There are also ADU size limits in certain hillside areas and a limit to the number of ADUs you can build depending on the zone
  • There are also limits to how the ADU can be configured on your lot. In general, any walls with openings (such as windows or doors) cannot be closer than 5’ to the side or rear property lines

Additionally, the plans available may not suit your needs or be exactly what you are looking for. If you wish to modify any of the plans, you may do so only by contacting the designer (for plans designed by the City, you may modify them by hiring a licensed design professional). However, once modified, the plans will no longer be pre-approved and will require a standard full plan review and standard plan review fees.

Prepare a site plan that is drawn to scale, fully dimensioned and shows the following minimum information listed below. Additional information may be required on a case-by-case basis:

  • Sizes and locations of all structures on site
  • Dimensions to property lines
    • The ADU shall maintain a minimum 4-ft setbacks to side and rear property lines
    • Any exterior walls with openings, such as doors or windows, must maintain a minimum 5-ft setback to side and rear property lines
  • Dimensions to other structures on site measured eave-to-eave (a 6’ minimum separation is required for ADUs that are larger than 800 s.f. to other structures)
  • All paved areas including access into the site (driveway)
  • Locations of all trees on site
  • Addresses for all existing units on the property
  • A vicinity map demonstrating whether the property is located within one-half mile walking distance of a public transit stop
  • Proposed and existing location & size of electrical service panel & sub-panels
  • Location of proposed heating / cooling equipment per energy documentation serving the dwelling.
    • Associated mechanical equipment (ac condenser / heat pump) shall maintain a minimum 5-ft setback from property line and shall be screened from the public-right-of-way
  • Location of proposed water heater per energy documentation serving the dwelling
  • Sewer line route & connections
  • Site drainage away from the new foundation and direct site
  • Drainage to a storm sewer conveyance system, public street, or
  • Other approved point of collection.
  • Show relative or actual elevation points, slope, and/or direction of flow
  • Identify whether the primary residence has a fire sprinkler system or solar panels

The following may also be required, which may result in additional plans, fees and/or permits:

  • A solar photovoltaic energy system (Solar PV panels) pursuant to California Energy Code Section 150.1c.14.
  • A property line survey for new construction within 5-ft from property lines.
  • Fire Sprinkler system
  • A geo-technical report
  • A property line survey
  • Other permits and submittal requirements in compliance with state law and the Pasadena Municipal Code.

Completion of the City’s Hold Harmless Agreement is required for use of any of the pre-approved ADU plans.

  1. Visit the Pasadena Citizen Self-Service (CSS) Portal to electronically submit your ADU plans. You must first create an account, then select to apply for an accessory dwelling unit (select ‘Single-Family’ if the property has 1 or more detached units, or ‘Multi-Family’ if the property has 2 or more attached units).
  2. Upload the selected ADU Standard Plan, the site plan, the completed Hold Harmless Agreement, and supplemental plans (as may be required).

All ADUs must have their own separate address. To obtain an address for your ADU, you must complete an Address Application via the Pasadena Citizen Self-Service (CSS) Portal (search ‘Address Application’).  As part of your application, you must upload a site plan which complies with the following:

  • A site plan drawn to scale showing all streets, north arrow, the location of the driveway and any walkways, all structures on the property need to be identified and labeled, indicate main front door entrance the existing residence on the lot as well as the proposed accessory dwelling,  show the paved pedestrian path of travel from the sidewalk leading up to the main front door entrance into the existing residence as well as the proposed ADU.

Your plan submittal and Address Application will be reviewed for completeness within 1-2 business days of submittal. You will receive separate invoices for the plan review fees and address application. These fees must be paid in order for your addressing application and plans to be processed for review.

Your plans will then be routed for plan check review which takes approximately 3 to 4 weeks to complete. You will be notified via email if your plans have been approved or if corrections have been issued.

If corrections are issued, you must resubmit plans addressing the corrections, and provide a response sheet with responses to each correction. The review time for resubmittals is approximately 2 weeks.

If your plans have been approved, you will be notified via email with instructions on next steps for permit issuance.

Available Pre-Approved ADU Standard Plans

Prototype D: 2-Bedroom 1 Bath

682 sq. ft. 2-bdrm, 1-bath ADU
Estimated plan check and permit fees: $13,000
This excludes fire sprinkler permit, PV permit, encroachment or grading permit, demolition fees, etc. if required

Review the Plan

Prototype A: Studio

374 sq. ft. studio ADU
Estimated plan check and permit fees: $7,000
This excludes fire sprinkler permit, PV permit, encroachment or grading permit, demolition fees, etc. if required

Review the Plan

Adu 1-Bedroom 1-Bath Plans and Contact Info Image


560 sq. ft. 1-bdrm, 1 bath ADU
by Arterberry Cooke Architecture
Estimated plan check and permit fees: $12,000
This excludes fire sprinkler permit, PV permit, encroachment or grading permit, demolition fees, etc. if required

Review the Plan