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Is a tiny home an ADU?

I heard something about cities allowing tiny homes for an ADU. Not sure if that’s true or not. I think I like look of the detached ADUs. Is there a quick way to identify lots where ADUs would more easily fit a detached ADU.


Are you in the state of California?

Yes, I’m in the Greater Sacramento area.

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Got it. Depending on the county and city, check-in with their building department. At this point, they should be able to direct you to the ordinance for the municipality. Some are allowing tiny homes as ADUs which is really interesting since a tony home is not real estate. There are tax implications there since it’s personal property. I keep joking with people I want to buy one and rent it out to rehabbers to house students. Create some cash flow while repairs are happening and also have someone on site making sure things are safe at night.

I typically start with 7,000 square feet as I asked a similar question. You can do searches for singe-story homes under a certain square footage and then match it to the 7k+ lot size. I did a quick search an in the city of Sacramento, there are 54k+ lots that fit that criteria. I did something similar for a talk in Palm Springs. If click the link it will show you the criteria I used.

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For CA, note that the state has been stripping local municipalities of their ability to regulate (ie stop) ADUs. For more see:


Tiny Homes on Wheels are NOT ADUs; they are regulated by the DMV like an RV. A ‘tiny home’ that is actually a home, either stick-built or HUD-certified prefab, is a real ADU. Does that make sense.

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Maybe a way to clarify is that some cities are allowing people to use tiny homes as part of their ADU ordinance and that’s where you’d most likely find it.

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