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Add a magic little place to your backyard space

Accessory Dwelling Units Find a Home With Savvy San Diego Homeowners

That tagline from John Arendsen of Crest ‘Backyard’ Homes captures the essence of accessory dwelling units or ADUs. You might know these manufactured homes as granny flats, mother-in-law flats, casitas, or pool cabanas.

ADUs appeared in the 1980s but it wasn’t until 2017 legislation that they took off commercially. Before that, consumers were far fewer and less informed.

“In 2018 we had 90% curiosity seekers to 10% informed buyers. Now, most have attended webinars, know what they want and are ready to buy,” said Arendsen.

 ADU specialists, especially developer-dealers with general contracting and manufactured home backgrounds like Arendsen, offer a comprehensive service—taking new ADU home buyers from planning and permitting to doing site work, connecting utilities, and adding final touches.

Perhaps surprisingly, anything you can do with a site-built home you can do with a manufactured ADU.

Buyers select from impressive standard design packages, including a variety of architectural motifs, siding, roofing, interior design options and other customizations. Companies like Crest are able to leverage the representation of multiple manufacturers with hundreds of floor plans to deliver virtually any solution buyers want (and provide solid warranties).

Manufactured ADUs even outstrip site-built options when it comes to construction. They’re built in a controlled indoor environment, which ensures higher quality materials and less waste.

For example, they use straight, kiln-dried wood whereas many site-built homes suffer because of warped, bent, green or wet wood. Manufactured is also safer and less costly because it’s protected from theft and vandalism.

The cost and turnaround time of manufactured ADU’s surprise people as well.

“Buyers will tell me, ‘That’s a lot less than other people said. How soon can you do it?’” said Arendsen. How much less? A site-built home runs $300 – $350 per square foot while a manufactured home is only $200 – $225 per square foot.

One reason manufactured ADUs are so affordable is the 2017 state legislation (SB 1069/AB 2299) that enabled homeowners to tie into the domestic grid on their property instead of relying on city or jurisdictional grids.

“Homeowners could spend up to $40,000 just for developmental and environmental impact fees for gas, meter and sewer hookups before they ever got a shovel in the ground,” said Arendsen. “That stifled the ADU business for decades. The new laws really brought the industry to life.”

One big market segment is property owners who want to age in place, downsizing into a manufactured ADU while renting their main house—and enjoying increased property value. Others install manufactured ADUs to house elderly relatives, guests, and health care providers.

Low costs and high ROI have also made manufactured ADUs popular with investors who want to increase revenue streams by adding rental units to their properties. Manufactured is the fastest and least expensive option for them to recoup capital outlay and generate revenue.

Financing historically has been a challenge because appraisers couldn’t find comparable homes—so used older, unsuitable models in nearby mobile home parks. Now, Fannie Mae allows manufactured homes to be appraised directly as real property.

Pre-COVID, a manufactured ADU could be installed in 4-6 months during the winter and 6-12 months from spring to early fall. Factors such as permitting delays, which companies can’t control, can alter the timeline, especially since COVID log-jammed the permit process.

Companies like Crest ‘Backyard’ Homes prove that deep experience and a turnkey solution make the manufactured ADU buying and building process easy.

“I was always passionate about affordable and small housing,” said Arendsen. “We’ve been in the manufactured home and ADU business since opening in 1986—my kids were brought up in the business and have lived in, owned, remodeled and re-sold manufactured homes.”

To learn more about manufactured ADUs, visit and fill out their easy intake form today. For immediate help, call John Arendsen directly, at 760-815-6977 or email info@crestbackyardhomes.