Difference between an ADU and a “Tiny House”

san jose adu

adu san jose

The primary difference between an accessory dwelling unit and a tiny house is that ADUs serve you as an additional or second residence on a property, whereas tiny houses can be used for different purposes.

A tiny house can be the only structure on a piece of land or it can be an ADU unit also. There are several possibilities as far as a tiny house is concerned.

If you want to build an ADU in San Jose, then you should contact ADU Construction. Now, let us understand the difference between an ADU and a tiny house.

What is a Tiny House? 

A tiny house can be any residential dwelling that is smaller than about 400 sq. ft. Tiny homes can be built in many different shapes and styles. So, the size can vary significantly too.

Most tiny homes are built in the range of about 100 to 200 ft.². They are often built on foundations or wheels. The original tiny homes come in this size range and are built on trailers, which feature a more nomadic lifestyle.

What is an ADU?

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a separate house built on your property that you can use for your parents or caretakers of your house. Moreover, you can use this place for recreational purposes. Also, your guests can stay with you comfortably if you have an ADU unit on your property.

ADU is a separate house that has a bedroom, a kitchen unit, and a bathroom in it. It is not attached to the main residential unit. It can be built within a minimum distance of 4 feet from your main dwelling unit. It can be used as an office, guest house, or a dwelling unit for your parents.

Difference between a tiny house and an ADU

  • Tiny houses can be built in any setting. It can be designed on foundations or a trailer for higher mobility. Many places are also building parking lots for tiny houses and making them legal as long as they conform to the appropriate building or vehicle codes.
  • Accessory dwelling units are used for specific purposes. It helps to add additional living space for growing families. This type of housing is easier to build and less expensive.
  • A tiny house can be used as an accessory dwelling unit. AT places where ADUs are legal, the property owner can use any sort of typical tiny house design to build an ADU unit that fulfills specific square footage requirements of an ADU.
  • Both types of housing help increase the housing supply in general. They are less expensive to build than traditional homes and they fit into more spaces.
  • So, any ADU can also be a tiny house, but not all tiny houses can be called an ADU. Typically, an ADU refers to a single-family suburban home with a backyard. On the other hand, a tiny house is suitable for people who wish to forgo the typical trappings of a suburban single-family home of any size.
  • A tiny home gives rise to the possibility of forming a community of tiny home users that can exist in specific locations such as RV-style parks meant exclusively for tiny homes.
  • So, an ADU has a very specific purpose, whereas tiny houses offer a much wider variety of possibilities.


ADU can get you so many benefits if built with a proper plan abiding by the rules that apply to your location. If you want to build an ADU, our professionals will help you with all the required information.

Moreover, they will plan your ADU unit with maximum storage units so that you can make optimum use of the space. If you are unaware of the ADU rules, then our professionals will make you understand all the necessary information.

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