Why It’s So Hard to Find a Good ADU Contractor

By Alex
November 23, 2022

Finding the right person to build your ADU can be like finding a needle in a pile of needles. Hundreds of contractors are in your area, and choosing one can feel like a minefield. Those who are most trustworthy and who want to do amazing work are in high demand.

The best efficient method is to inquire about the contractor sales desk at a nearby lumberyard. Every day, customers complain about the contractors who damage their homes. Read to learn why finding a good accessory dwelling unit builder can be challenging.

There Aren’t Many 

Most contractors are general contractors who build the entire house or remodelers who specialize in fixing up existing homes. But for adding an ADU to your home, you’ll likely need an ADU contractor specializing in building new attached structures—and there aren’t many.


While the demand for ADUs is increasing, you may have to wait a long time for your project to be completed.

They’re Very Busy

ADUs are becoming increasingly popular, so more people are looking for an ADU contractor. The contractors get booked months in advance and won’t consider taking on new work until their schedule opens up again.

It means that when you call around to ask for quotes on your project, you might be put on hold or told that they’re too busy and have to get back to you. If you want to ensure that you get your quote in time for when your project is ready, start contacting them early.

The best ADU contractors have a lot of clients because of their reputation for quality craft and customer service. They work hard to ensure all their clients are satisfied with their finished product, which takes time.

Excessive Expectations from Clients

Excessive client expectations make it hard to find a good ADU contractor. When you hire a contractor, you expect them to know what they’re doing and for the project to go smoothly. It’s a reasonable expectation—you wouldn’t hire someone if you didn’t think they could deliver what you need! But when clients have too high of expectations, that can lead to problems down the line.

What kinds of things are “excessive expectations?” Here are a few examples:

  • The client expects the contractor to be 100% honest about everything that could go wrong during the project (including things like bad weather or other people’s schedules). 
  • The client expects that their contractor will fix any problem during construction without needing any extra materials or help from anyone else.
  • You want your ADU built in as little time as possible. Many contractors don’t work quickly enough. If you want your ADU completed quickly, tell your contractor this upfront, so they know what to expect.
  • You expect your contractor to do what they say they can, even if they haven’t done it before (or without experience).

They are Pricey

It’s going to be expensive no matter which contractor you choose. Building an ADU can be expensive because of the permits required for construction in most states. There are also architectural and engineering fees involved with getting plans approved, as well as inspections and other costs associated with building codes that vary from place to place.

Suppose you want to get around these additional costs. In that case, you’ll need to hire a contractor with experience working on projects like yours or someone who knows what they’re doing when it comes time for inspections by local authorities. 

It means they’ll charge more than someone new at their craft or not familiar with what needs doing when it comes time for those inspections. The average cost of an ADU installation is around $250- $300 per square foot.

Good ADU Contractors Don’t Market Themselves

Good contractors don’t have time for marketing campaigns because they already have plenty of business.

So how do you find one? Ask friends, family members, and neighbors for recommendations of contractors who’ve done quality work in the past. Or, check out online reviews of local contractors or talk with your local planning department.

Good ADU contractors are hard to come by. It always looks so easy: build a few walls, stick a few doors in, connect the plumbing, and viola – you have a new house. An ADU contractor is responsible for a lot of work that many people don’t consider. Besides all the carpentry, an ADU contractor must work with utility companies and the city on water and sewer services. They also need to design a structure that will meet rigorous building standards while creating an affordable living space. These tasks take years of training, so ensure you won’t waste money and resources.





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