Connecting Your ADU and Home

Some may think that any building could serve as an ADU. However, there is a big difference between an ADU and a shed, garage, or outbuilding. The difference is connecting your ADU and home.

An ADU is a full time dwelling unit and therefore it requires the complete connectivity to utilities that any home would need; Power, Water/Sewer and often time’s Natural Gas for heating.

What is unique about an ADU is that most cities require these utilities to connect to the utility services of your primary residence. They are not a separate metered connection. The city views an ADU as a separate extended living space to the home. Not a separate independent residence.

Power

Of these utilities, power is generally the simplest to extend from your house to the ADU. This could be extended above the ground extending from the house to the ADU. This extension would be similar to power lines that come into homes from power poles. The power may also be run to the ADU via and underground conduit.

Power will have to either be connected to your existing electrical panel or via a meter. Connecting with an existing electrical panel requires a property sized circuit breaker. The meter would need to be connected via an independent circuit breaker. These circuit breakers serve the purpose of limiting the amount of power drawn by the ADU protecting the electrical service at the primary residence.

The ADU will have its own circuit breaker panel. This would provide the distribution and protection as required to meet National Building Codes. Make sure when planning your ADU that a review of the power at the main house is included with your design plans. This will ensure that the amperage of service for both the home and the ADU can be provided by the existing meter service of your home. This may need to be replaced with a larger service to accommodate both the home and the ADU.

Natural Gas

Natural Gas is only required if you plan to use this fuel source for heating and or appliances that may be incorporated in the ADU. Many ADU’s are implemented without natural gas and utilize only electrical power for both heating and major appliances.

The electrical power service for heat can be significant and may require the main service at the primary residence to be increased in size to a larger amperage
service.

If Natural Gas is to be connected to the ADU it will be an underground connection. A trench for this connection will need to be created from the connection point at the primary residence to the insertion point at the ADU.

The sizing of the pipe and pressure will need to be specified to ensure proper gas service to the ADU without compromising the service to the primary residence. In general, this means the gas line will connect at the gas meter. If the gas line is of sufficient size the connection may be made in the utility room of the primary residence.

Make sure you use a qualified and certified provider for the integration of this Natural Gas service connection. Also, plan for a gas shut off valve to be incorporated at the ADU.

Water and Sewer

Separate connections for water and sewer must be planned and integrated into the ADU together.

The sewer is the most challenging connection. First of all, you must identify if your primary residence is connected to the city’s sewer system or if your home has a septic tank system for sewage waste.

If your home is on a septic system you will need to have a qualified septic engineering firm to determine if the current septic system will support the additional demand of the new ADU. If your primary residence is connected to a sewage system you will need to determine where you will connect into this system. It will be either somewhere in your home or between your home and the connection at the street.

Because the sewer lines use gravity to flow the water and waste out of the home and into the sewer system it is critical that you determine if there is enough fall from the sewage plan for the ADU.

How can you determine if this will work? You need to have your property inspected by a qualified company to determine the depth of your current sewer system as it relates to the planned placement of your ADU. You’ll also need to know if there is enough fall for the sewer to work properly.

Here is a couple of things to look at that will give you a good idea if your plans for an ADU will work.

  • If your home has a basement with a bathroom and the detached ADU has no basement
  • If the elevation of the land where the ADU is planned to be placed is 2ft – 3ft higher than the elevation of the land where the primary residence with no basement is located

We Can Help

An ADU Properly planned by a qualified team will easily connect to the utilities of your existing home. Make sure you take the time upfront to KNOW where and how each of these utility connections will be made to your home.

If you have more questions we would be happy to connect and answer these for you. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.

Here’s a great article about making the power connection. Click Here to Read.