Why it’s so Hard to Find a Good ADU Contractor

Good contractors can make the construction process smooth and the final ADU beautiful, but it's difficult for individual homeowners to find, vet, and hire them!

Last updated 
July 11, 2022
Why it’s so Hard to Find a Good ADU Contractor

So you’ve decided to build an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) on your property to house family members or generate rental income. Maybe you’re interviewing architects or you have the designs already drawn up. No matter how beautiful those plans are, a granny flat is only as good as the quality of its construction. And construction quality is determined by the contractor.

In the following blog post, we’ll explain why it’s so difficult to find a good ADU contractor and how Otto ADU is able to hire the best ones.

What makes good ADU contractors so hard to find?

It’s difficult to find a good contractor in general, but particularly challenging to find the right contractor to build a guest house, in-law unit, or casita. There are a number of reasons for this. Here are a few of the biggest ones:

1. Smaller Pool of Qualified Contractors

ADU contractors are hard to find because there just aren’t that many of them! According to Los Angeles City permit data for 2016-2020, there are only 7 contractors who have built more than 10 ADUs. And fewer than 25 contractors have built over 5!

Accessory dwelling units are a specialized niche market. They’re more complex than a home renovation, yet less involved than a single-family house. Because of this, there’s a small group of contractors in any given area that specialize in garage conversions and ground-up ADUs who are prepared to take on that kind of project.

2. High Demand for ADUs

Since California passed legislation making ADUs legal throughout the state, backyard homes have been increasing steadily in popularity. In Los Angeles alone, more than 10,000 ADU permits were submitted between 2016 and 2020.

Because there are a limited number of contractors who specialize in ADU construction, the good ones are very busy and it can be difficult to secure their services. It’s often rare for experienced ADU builders to take on new clients. And when these specialized contractors do accept new clients, it’s generally from referrals.

3. Good Contractors Don’t Need to Advertise

A good contractor is often too busy building backyard cottages to spend time on advertising and marketing themselves. And contractors who do good work don’t need to advertise, because happy clients will refer them to friends and family. You’ll find that most good contractors are booked solid up to a year in advance.

4. Many Contractors Don’t Work Directly with Homeowners

Homeowner-led projects often have mid-build design changes or aren’t well designed to begin with. This can cause construction delays, and contractors end up losing money if they’re tied up for too long on a particular job. Because of this, contractors are more likely to accept the jobs they can complete quickly and efficiently so they can move on to the next one.

Many skilled contractors prefer to work with project management companies rather than the property owners themselves. Why? Because when a contractor works with a trusted company like Otto ADU, they know the job will be professional, the finish materials will be chosen and ready, and—most importantly—the timeline will be efficient.

A man and a woman look at architectural plans together in a huose under construction

Why do the Best Contractors want to Work with Otto ADU?

Experienced contractors love working with us because it gives them peace of mind.

When a contractor accepts a job managed by Otto ADU, they know they can count on the following:

1. Finalized Designs

Changing the design plans mid-build can drag out a construction project, preventing contractors from moving on to the next job. Our contractors know that Otto ADU's designs are always thorough and accurate from the get-go, which means they won’t have to waste time asking questions or making revisions.

2. Finish Materials On-site

When working directly with homeowners, contractors often have to make endless runs to Home Depot and get approval for every finish material they select. Our contractors appreciate that we source the finest construction materials for all of our projects. And by the time they arrive on-site, the high-quality materials are there waiting for them.

3. Shovel-ready Projects

We don’t call the contractors until permits are approved, materials are chosen, and construction is ready to begin. This saves our contractors time, which in turn saves them money.

4. No Fee

Unlike contractor matching companies, “ADU marketplaces”, or “ADU Concierges”, we don’t take a percentage of the contractor’s payment for a project. Working with Otto ADU is the best of both worlds: the contractor gets to keep their full pay and they have the added benefit of professional project management.


Finding the right contractor for your ADU project is not easy. When you work with Otto ADU, you can be confident that your contractor is up to the task. That’s because we thoroughly vet our contractors to the highest standards.

And remember, hiring a contractor is only one step in the ADU construction process. For most homeowners, hiring a full-service ADU company like Otto ADU is well worth the money. Otto ADU oversees every aspect of the project, from design to permitting to construction management. We can also help you determine which financing option is best for you.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact Otto ADU today for a free consultation with one of our ADU experts.

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