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Preapproved ADU Program


Image Source: City of Concord Preapproved ADU Program and RRM Design Group


May 1, 2024 - The City of Santa Barbara is pleased to announce it is now accepting submissions for designer-owned preapproved plans for detached Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). These plans will be considered for preapproval by the City, with the goals of speeding up the review and approval process, guiding homeowners who may not know where to start, and ensuring that those homeowners work with qualified, experienced professionals. For more information on how to apply, please read the "For Designers" section below.



Preapproved plans are ADU designs submitted by designers, architects, builders, and other qualified professionals and vetted in advance by Planning and Building & Safety. Once preapproved, they can be selected for use by homeowners for their own ADU projects with an expedited review timeline and lower permitting costs. 

Having your ADU plans preapproved by the City is a great way to help your future clients move through the permitting process quickly and smoothly. All preapproved ADU plans will be featured on the City’s website to help connect you with homeowners who are interested in adding an ADU to their property. You will still retain your copyright to the preapproved design, so any homeowner who wishes to use the design must contract with you to do so. 

2024 Timeline

July 1 - Design Review Submission Deadline

Submit concepts for design review.

Mid-July - Design Review Hearings

Design Review at public hearing.

October 1 - Building Code Submission Deadline

Supply detailed plans for code review.

October 2 through January 27 - Building Code Review Period

Up to three rounds of plan review.

Jan 2025 - Preapproval Complete

Preapproved plans available on website.

This guide has been created to assist architects and designers in preparation of a submittal for ADU preapproved plans (Phase 1). Please follow the steps outlined below.

Advisory. These are not the steps for a building permit submittal. Homeowners must obtain a building permit from the Building & Safety Division for the construction of a preapproved ADU (Phase 2). For more information on how to apply for a building permit, please read the "For Homeowners" section below.

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Available in January 2025 – the City will launch the Preapproved ADU Program for homeowners to use. Homeowners can then reach out to the designer of the plan they select and work with them throughout the process. Browse the City’s list below – New plans coming soon!

How to Apply for a Building Permit
Preapproval does not mean that the designs already have their building permits, but rather that elements of the permitting process for your ADU will already be addressed upon application submittal. Pre-approved plans are around 70-80% complete but you will still be required to provide site-specific information. To use a preapproved ADU plan, you must:

  1. Contract with the designer responsible for the plan set. 
  2. Submit additional site-specific plans, studies, and engineering, as applicable.
  3. Obtain a building permit from the Building & Safety Division for the construction of a preapproved ADU. The full list of submittal requirements for a building permit are included below.

ADU Supplemental Application
Basic Site Plan Submittal Guide
Building Permit (BLD) Application
Project Plan Submittal Guide

The following plans have been preapproved by the City of Santa Barbara. To use a preapproved ADU plan, homeowners must contract with the designer responsible for the plan set. Contact information for designers with preapproved plans and sample photos of their ADU units are available below.

New plans coming soon!

Adu example Sample image

Disclaimer. Please note that the City of Santa Barbara has reviewed the above accessory dwelling unit plans and found them in conformance with all applicable zoning and building code requirements. Additionally, these plans do not require any discretionary design review. The preapproval of these plans does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any specific designer, contractor, or other design professional by the City.