Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We understand our Green and Livable ADU Resource (GLADUR) brings up questions. We hope this information answers some of them. If we have not answered your question, please contact us at (650) 204-5640 or via email at [email protected].


  • What is GLADUR?
    • Thanks to climate protection funding from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), HEART developed the Green and Livable Accessible Dwelling Unit Resource (GLADUR) to make it easier and more affordable to build green Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) by providing designs that homeowners can download for free and build on their property. This also provides an excellent opportunity to reduce Greenhouse Gases as well as criteria pollutants while boosting affordable housing in San Mateo County.
    • Through GLADUR, HEART is offering free ADU designs, in the form of construction documents, and an accompanying free green ADU handbook. Additionally, HEART has piloted partnerships with a few Cities and continues to collaborate with other local jurisdictions to pre-review the GLADUR designs for a quicker permitting process.
  • Do you have materials in languages other than English?
    • Currently, we are able to offer the designs, handbook, and accompanying materials in English. We will update everyone if this changes.
  • Is there a cost involved in using HEART’s GLADUR designs and/or handbook?
    • HEART provides these designs and a handbook to you at no cost. All of the items offered by GLADUR can be downloaded from HEART’s website completely for free to remove the early obstacles of time and money in creating design templates. However, the homeowner is responsible for all costs after that point, such as designing and construction.


  • What are the designs?
    • HEART has produced four designs:
      • a studio – 400 sq ft;
      • a rectangle 1-bedroom – 575 sq ft;
      • a square 1-bedroom – 745 sq ft; and
      • a 2-bedroom – 800 sq ft. 
    • Each design also includes multiple architectural styles (post-war, craftsman, and modern) and aesthetic variations to fit the homeowner’s ADU style preferences. This customization allows the new ADU to better fit the existing aesthetic of the primary structure and neighborhood.
    • The designs are provided via construction documents that can be downloaded for free through HEART’s website.
  • Can I use these anywhere?
    • These designs can be used anywhere in California as they have been created to meet all current State building codes, including Title 24. They have even been created with future codes in mind, so that they do not become obsolete.
    • Always check with your local jurisdiction as to their regulations and guidelines to see what else you need to abide by for your ADU
  • Do you have more designs?
    • Due to the funding limits, we were only able to create 4 designs. If additional funding is obtained in the future, we will reassess if we are able to create more designs based on demand and capacity.
  • Do the ADU designs include natural gas?
    • The GLADUR designs will not include any natural gas hook-ups or appliances. The methane in natural gas is a highly potent greenhouse gas that has a greater effect on global climate change when it is released into the atmosphere. That is why we’re going all-electric.
  • What is the process to build an ADU?
    • For the exact process, please contact your local jurisdiction. However, for a general summary, the Second Unit Workbook explains the ADU development process from start to finish.
  • Are the designs ready to submit to building departments?
    • Although much of the GLADUR designs can be submitted without modification as a general plan, the site plan showing ADU placement and utility connections will have to be tailored to each parcel. An example site layout is provided in the GLADUR Handbook, but the property owner is responsible for providing their planning agency with an actual site plan.
    • Please also check with your local jurisdiction for any additional requirements and regulations (such as fire sprinklers, landscaping, set backs, and elevations) for your lot.


  • What does pre-review mean?
    • Working with a licensed architect as well as planners, and public officials from San Mateo County, HEART has partnered with several jurisdictions to have the GLADUR designs be pre-reviewed by city building and planning officials. This will make building an ADU even easier.
    • Pre-review means that the jurisdiction has already reviewed the designs for general items, and has signed off that they meet the State and local building codes. This will save homeowners time because, as long as there are no major changes to the plans, the jurisdiction will only be reviewing for site-specific items. Because of this, as well as due to the jurisdiction already having familiarity with the designs, the approval times will be faster and the permitting process streamlined.
  • What are the current cities that are on the pre-review list?
    • For a full list, as well as the city-specific requirements, please visit the Pre-Review webpage.
  • Will you add more cities to the pre-review list?
    • We are continually working with all jurisdictions within San Mateo County to pre-review the GLADUR designs. The timing and amount of jurisdictions added are based on HEART and City staff capacity as well as an available budget. We will provide updates as jurisdictions are added. 


  • How much will the ADU cost to build?
    • Talk to a professional who has experience with similar ADUs to figure out the current complete costs, as well as how certain green features will fit your plan for short-term costs vs long term savings. For an estimate on costs in San Mateo County, San Mateo County’s Second Unit Resources Center has a free ADU Calculator. As an ADU can cost up to $300,000 to build, most homeowners will have to look at financing it.
  • What if I need financial assistance?
    • We understand that most people will need to finance the construction of their ADU, and there are several, often confusing, loan options being offered. The San Mateo County Second Unit Workbook has a useful table which shows the main financing options to consider based on your income and the amount of equity you have in your home.
    • While HEART is not able to offer financial assistance, there are a variety of lenders who do. It is always recommended to speak with several to compare, read reviews, talk to homeowners who have used any of the products, as well as speaking with professional advisors. Some of the more known local lenders developing loan products for ADUs include San Mateo Credit Union and Umpqua Bank.


  • Do you offer project management or owner’s representative services?
    • Organizations that offer these services, in addition to others, are Hello Housing’s Hello Bright Program, Manzanita Works’ Housing Program, and Acton ADU
    • It is recommended that you always check reviews, references, and talk to a variety of places in order to make sure that you choose the best partner for yourself.