Burbank, California

Burbank – Accessory Dwelling Units have the Green Light

With its generally flat residential blocks, Burbank is a prime area for Accessory Dwelling Unit development. Whether you’re closer to the airport or towards the Glendale side, Cottage has you covered. Reach out to our team to learn more.

General ADU requirements

Your property does not need to meet a minimum size requirement to start building an ADU in Burbank, but the smallest ADU allowed is 150 sq.ft., and this is true of the rest of California.

Detached, attached, conversion and Junior ADUs (JADUs) can be built wherever permitted, and the type of ADU you are building would determine its specific requirements. Generally speaking, however, you would need to match the design of your ADU to the design of your primary dwelling and keep roof forms, materials, and other architectural details similar.

ADUs must be equipped for independent living and have permanent facilities for:

  • Living
  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Sanitation
  • Cooking
  • Exterior access that is separate from the primary dwelling

ADU kitchens must also have:

  • A sink with running water
  • Countertops and cabinetry
  • A refrigerator
  • A permanent range/cooktop

Similar to attached ADUs, JADUs must have a separate entrance from that of the primary dwelling. However, JADUs may share bathroom/sanitation facilities with the primary dwelling.


All properties zoned for single-family and multi-family use may be eligible to build ADUs.


There are a number of fees associated with building your ADU and the exact amounts would depend on the scope of your project (among other factors). In some zoning areas, certain fees have been waived to reduce the overall cost of your project, so speak to your Cottage consultant to learn about how this applies to you.

Here are some of the fees you can expect to pay:

  • Plan check fees
  • Residential, building, and green code fees
  • City impact fees (for ADUs above 750 sq.ft.)
  • School impact fees
  • Permit fees

Number of units

Lots zoned for single-family use that have an existing dwelling are permitted to add one ADU and one Junior ADU (JADU).

Lots zoned for multi-family use are allowed to have two attached or detached ADUs.

Conversion ADUs are limited to 25% of the total number of dwellings on a multi-family lot.

While the above regulations are a general rule of thumb, the number of ADUs allowed would depend on the type of ADUs and number of dwellings on the property.

Building size

Maximum square footage is determined by your ADU type:

  • 500 sq.ft. for a Junior ADU (JADU)
  • Maximum of 850 sq.ft. for detached one bedroom/studio ADUs
  • ADUs between 850 and 1,000 sq.ft. must have at least two bedrooms
  • Maximum of 800 sq.ft. or 50% of the area of the primary dwelling (whichever is greater but not to exceed 1,000 sq.ft.) for an attached ADU
  • 800 sq.ft. maximum in the mountain fire zone.

If your ADU was built before December 2019, you may not take away square footage from your ADU’s floor area ratio (FAR) to facilitate additions to your main dwelling.

Fire Safety

If you weren’t required to add a sprinkler system to your primary dwelling, then you may not need to include one in your ADU. If you don’t have a sprinkler system in place, you may need to make other fire safety accommodations.

Building height

Attached ADUs have a height limit of 20 ft to the top of the plate and 30 ft to the top of the roof or its highest point.

Detached ADUs built on top of a garage, an accessory structure, or another ADU, are limited to 20 ft to top of plate and 23 ft to top of roof or its highest point.

Detached ADUs not built on top of another ADU are limited to one story with a maximum height of 12 ft to top of plate and 17 ft to the top of roof or its highest point.


Detached and attached ADUs require minimum setbacks of 4 ft from the side and rear lot lines. ADUs built on top of garages or other accessory structures require setbacks of 5 ft from the side and rear lot lines.

The walls of your ADU should be at least 5 ft apart from the walls of other structures, and the distance between roofs should be at least 4 ft from eave-to-eave.

Conversion ADUs can retain existing setbacks so long as they are legal and compliant with minimum setback requirements.

If a new ADU is constructed, its exterior walls must be 6 ft apart from the exterior walls of any adjacent dwellings.


If your ADU is not exempt from parking requirements, then one parking space, or a tandem parking space achieved through a mechanical parking lift, should be provided.

A mechanical parking lift counts as an accessory structure, and would have its own setback requirements. Such systems would need to be enclosed in a structure that meets these requirements.

On-site parking may be located anywhere on the property as long as it is further away from the front property line than the primary dwelling.

Parking facilities are not required for your ADU if:

  • Your property is located on a street that requires a parking permit
  • Your property is within walking distance (one half mile) of public transportation
  • An existing parking structure was removed to accommodate the ADU
  • Your property is under a block away from a car share area
  • Your property is located in an area of architectural or historical significance

Utility Connections

If your ADU requires a private sewage disposal system, you would need to get the approval of a local health officer before going ahead.


Owner occupancy is not a requirement for permitting an ADU from January 1, 2020 until January 1, 2025. This is a great opportunity for rental property owners to increase their yields in a cost-effective way. Owners are required to live on the property only if a JADU has been constructed on it.


While long-term rentals are permitted for ADUs, short-term rentals under a period of 30 days are not allowed in Burbank.


Do you have a utility easement over your property? Are you in a FEMA flood zone? Reach out to us and we’ll help you build a custom ADU to fit your unique property characteristics and local regulations!


What is the average cost of an ADU in Burbank?

The total cost of your ADU project would depend on multiple factors, such as the size of your ADU, the scope of your project, and its locale. You can expect to pay a few thousand dollars for development fees, permits and other admin tasks, and, as of early 2023, construction may cost approximately $200-$400 per sq.ft, depending on the characteristics of your project, the finishes you select, and other factors. While it is commonly believed that converting an existing structure can save on your per-square-foot project cost, this may or may not be true, depending on the state of your existing structure.

Can I build an ADU in my front yard in Burbank?

Detached ADUs are only allowed to be built in your home’s backyard. However, you may build an attached ADU on any side of your primary dwelling, as long as you’re complying with setback requirements.

Can I build two ADUs on my property in Burbank?

If you have an existing single-family home, you may be eligible to build up to two ADUs on your property. If you have a multi-family home, this number would depend on the type of ADUs you’re hoping to build and the number of dwellings already on the property.

Is building an ADU a good investment in Burbank?

Yes! It is a great return on investment for homeowners, as ADUs give you the opportunity to earn additional income through rent! The inclusion of an ADU can also increase your existing property value by as much as 35%.

How many bedrooms can an ADU have in Burbank?

If your ADU is more than 850 sq.ft., it is required to have at least two bedrooms. One bedroom and studio ADUs can be up to 850 sq.ft.

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