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Old 06-03-2020, 10:45 AM
 
14 posts, read 5,253 times
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We're thinking of building a nicely finished shed. According to the city, a 200 sqft structure with no plumbing requires no permits. A few feet away we would put a composting toilet, outdoor shower, and sink. As far as I can tell, the shower should be okay, but composting toilets are not permitted if there is access to a sewer line within 100 feet. We might take the risk anyway.

If the floor area is greater than 200 sqft, or has plumbing, it would have to be permitted as an accessory structure. Still, it can only have a full bath OR a half bath and kitchen. If it has a full bath AND kitchen then it becomes an ADU. I've been told that even if the kitchen sink is outside, it is considered part of the structure. I'm not sure how that information will affect my above plan.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this, or examples where this kind of plan has gone well (or poorly)? FWIW, our neighborhood is very much *not* NIMBY.
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Old 06-03-2020, 10:49 AM
 
Location: SW Austin & Wimberley
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I would fully permit it and make it a "normal" ADU, else it will have zero resale value, and also a reduced functionality.
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Old 06-03-2020, 11:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austin-steve View Post
I would fully permit it and make it a "normal" ADU, else it will have zero resale value, and also a reduced functionality.
Thanks Steve. I would too, except that for a 400 sqft ADU we've been quoted at $100k+, which is a huge investment with uncertain returns. For a 200 sqft finished shed, the cost is more like $10k and requires no permitting. Worst case, the composting toilet has to be torn out. At least, that's what I can gather.
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Old 06-03-2020, 12:00 PM
 
6,779 posts, read 12,162,805 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyboy216 View Post
Thanks Steve. I would too, except that for a 400 sqft ADU we've been quoted at $100k+, which is a huge investment with uncertain returns. For a 200 sqft finished shed, the cost is more like $10k and requires no permitting. Worst case, the composting toilet has to be torn out. At least, that's what I can gather.
You need more quotes and to partially GC yourself. Contractors today are completely ridiculous. Tract home builders are still building at 130/sq ft.

The electrician with my GC gave an estimate of 10K bundled in, I was able to get the work done for about 800.

You might have to do the GCing yourself but I would think you can get a 400 sq ft ADU done for under 150/sq ft.
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Old 06-03-2020, 04:02 PM
 
Location: SW Austin & Wimberley
6,190 posts, read 15,901,043 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyboy216 View Post
Thanks Steve. I would too, except that for a 400 sqft ADU we've been quoted at $100k+, which is a huge investment with uncertain returns. For a 200 sqft finished shed, the cost is more like $10k and requires no permitting. Worst case, the composting toilet has to be torn out. At least, that's what I can gather.

What is the use case for the shed?
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by austin-steve View Post
What is the use case for the shed?
Mostly for lounging, occasionally as a guest house. Perhaps even long-term hippie renters if it makes sense.
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Old 06-03-2020, 06:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Austin97 View Post
You need more quotes and to partially GC yourself. Contractors today are completely ridiculous. Tract home builders are still building at 130/sq ft.

The electrician with my GC gave an estimate of 10K bundled in, I was able to get the work done for about 800.

You might have to do the GCing yourself but I would think you can get a 400 sq ft ADU done for under 150/sq ft.
I would, but I'm not sure I have the skills to coordinate contractors and be happy with the end product. Would you just hire contractors sequentially?

- Shed frame, doors, windows
- Roofing
- Plumbing & electrical
- Walls and flooring

Don't they need to interact? Who does the insulation? Etc. I suppose I could read some guides online, but I still fear I'd mess it up. And the end product will still cost $60k at $150/sqft. Alternatively, the shed builder can act as GC. He sounds trustworthy, and the end product will probably be better.

Last edited by flyboy216; 06-03-2020 at 06:35 PM..
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Old 06-03-2020, 10:29 PM
 
Location: Holly Neighborhood, Austin, Texas
3,757 posts, read 5,565,994 times
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I think eventually someone will call it in or a pass code enforcement inspector will notice. I mean how much will the smell be maintained? There was an ADU that was on the other side of the alleyway from me that was knocked down in less than 48 hours and someone called them in. Probably not a big deal for them to get a retroactive permit, but this case would be different.

The OP mentioned the plumbing end, but nothing about electricity. I don't think solar is going to cut it on overcast days, winter or summer.

I'm not sure how I feel on these types of topics. On the one hand the city makes things harder and more expensive than they need to be, but on the other there is this whole cottage industry of cutting corners while trying to cram as many people as possible onto urban lots. I have steadfastly said no to building a backyard ADU because of the cost, hassle and having to deal with incompetent, unscrupulous contractors.
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Old 06-04-2020, 06:30 AM
 
Location: Texas
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Do it right or dont do it all. Especially if your going to have a person staying in it.
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Old 06-04-2020, 09:43 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by verybadgnome View Post
I mean how much will the smell be maintained?
Negative-pressure composting toilets produce no smell, as far as I'm aware. And with proper procedure, they actually improve the health of the soil.

Quote:
The OP mentioned the plumbing end, but nothing about electricity. I don't think solar is going to cut it on overcast days, winter or summer.
It will have electricity.

Quote:
I'm not sure how I feel on these types of topics. On the one hand the city makes things harder and more expensive than they need to be, but on the other there is this whole cottage industry of cutting corners while trying to cram as many people as possible onto urban lots. I have steadfastly said no to building a backyard ADU because of the cost, hassle and having to deal with incompetent, unscrupulous contractors.
I feel the same. To get this permitted even as a non-dwelling accessory structure, in addition to the permit fees, hiring a company to help navigate them is itself something like $4k.

The shed company we're talking to has been building rock-solid sheds for decades in the area, so we're not worried about structural integrity. It would certainly be more dignified housing than the tents many people are sleeping in today (though, as I said, we're not planning to use it primarily, or perhaps even at all, for housing).
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