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Crisis Mode: How homeowners can help with the California housing shortage

M. Corbin Jones
February 20, 2023

Fact: People need affordable places to live.

Like food, water, and air, housing is an essential need for pretty much anyone. And it should not cost more than 30% of your income, as I'm sure most economist would agree is the accepted benchmark for how much of your annual income should go towards shelter.

Unfortunately, when my fiance and I moved to the Bay Area two years for work, we got hit in the face with the reality here:

Affordable places to rent are non-existent in the market and we would be forced to pay 50-60% of our income on housing...Welcome the Bay Area housing crisis

Frustrated and feeling defeated we had no choice but to get suck it up, get creative, and look for solutions. What I didn't know at the time was that two years later I would quit my job and start a business dedicating my professional life to helping solve this acute and challenging problem. At it's most basic level, what this all comes down to is really quite simple: find smarter ways to build more housing.

It’s not just the homelessness that becomes an issue with a housing shortage, it’s the crippling effect on the local workforce trying to establish a household, and families not being able to live closer to one another. Throw increasingly devastating wildfires on top of the already short supply of housing and California is a major crisis.  

California's accessory dwelling unit laws

Understanding the dire need for housing the State of California passed a series of laws in 2016 that made it a lot easier for a homeowner to build a second unit on their lot on their lot:

  • SB1069
  • AB2299
  • AB-2406

These laws essentially made it legal to build an accessory dwelling unit on residential properties across the entire state no matter what the local zoning laws say.  I was stunned. My imagination went wild thinking about the ways these little homes can positively impact our cities. So what are accessory dwelling units?

Also known as granny flats or in-law units, #accessorydwellingunits are second units that go on single-family lots that are fully equipped with their own living facilities (kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area).

The law went into effect in 2017, every single family lots in California is now allowed to build one. When you step back and look at the potential impact #ADUs have on state housing supply, we're talking hundreds of thousands of new homes. Even more interesting is that this housing is being built by a completely new source: individual residential property owners.

The big cost of small dwellings

Last week I had a chance to sit down with Blanca Torres with the #sanfranciscobusinesstimes to talk about what I've experienced on the front lines of the implementing the ADU law over the past year.

In Blanca's cover story, "The big cost of small dwellings: Secondary units face many hurdles, but new companies are trying to change that," OVID was one of the featured companies because of our Prefab Concierge service that offers customers a one-stop shop for all the work needed to get a prefab home onto a lot.

OVID was asked about the challenges and opportunities we encounter every day working on getting ADU projects planned, permitted, and built.  Some of the topics we covered included managing client's expectations, working with a property's constraints, project financing, land use and permitting approvals and working collaboratively with contractors.

Simply put, ADU projects have the same elements of a typical real estate development project, so the challenges and opportunities are really quite similar.

So for ADUs to really become a part of the housing solution, homeowners need to understand how to develop their land. This seems like a tall order

Integrating design and finances

This is where OVID [Design+Development] comes in. I invested heavily in learning critical skills for architecture and real estate development over the years.  I worked tirelessly to understand how architects and real estate developers think about space and how they go about envisioning and bringing to life the cities we live in.

The best projects were most often the ones where the architect and developer had a great working relationship, seeing eye-to-eye on a core set of goals.

OVID was born of the idea that linking a project’s design and finances is integral to achieving superior results when developing new buildings. I ’ve turned this idea into a practice and crafted that practice into a turnkey service for helping property owners development small residential housing projects from concept to completion.  The value property owners get with integrating design and development is simple: quality, high-value projects built with precision and ease.

Empowering property owners to develop their land

OVIDs approach is a market-driven solution for delivering more housing. The process we deploy for building new spaces fits extraordinary well with addressing issues #ADUs present to homeowners.

Fact: People need affordable places to live.

And if anyone who owns property can build additional housing they’ll certainly achieve a healthy return on their investment. Today, my mission for OVID is to empower everyday homeowners, investors, or anyone with residential land to develop new dwelling units on their land so they can generate income, take care of families, and provide homes for their community.

The California ADU legislation provides an unprecedented government-granted license to single-family homeowners, in the form of new "land use rights," that we believe represents a form of democratized housing development. OVID’s service is leading the charge with a tailored service that bridges the gap for owners by packaging key services needed to get a building designed, permitted and built.

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