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Since 2017, California has passed a slew of laws aimed at making it easier for homeowners to build accessory dwelling units on their properties.

The backyard units have become just one tool in the state’s battle to put a dent in the burgeoning housing crisis. But from red tape to a complicated permitting process and fees, the task can be daunting.

That’s where Caitlin Bigelow, CEO of Maxable, is looking to help.

She founded her ADU consulting company back in 2018 with the goal of helping homeowners through the process.

Q: Where did you get the idea for Maxable?

A: Both my parents are journalists. My mom was a journalist for the LA Times and my dad was a journalist for the San Diego Union-Tribune. When I was born and my mom stopped working temporarily on maternity, money was really tight, and they had purchased a property down in San Diego County that had this little tiny granny flat attached to the garage. It didn’t even have a kitchen, it just had living space, a closet and a little bathroom. But they rented that out as a way to help them pay the mortgage when we were a young family. I grew up firsthand understanding what a massive benefit these can bring families in terms of extra income, stability, social benefits like having grandparents being able to come visit long term or something like that. And then there was a huge ADU bill that was passed in 2017 that basically said every single family zoned property in the state of California can now build a second rentable unit called an accessory dwelling unit. I just thought, “wow this is going to be a complete game changer for California real estate.” The more I started to look into it, the more I discovered that it was difficult, complicated, lots of red tape, expensive and I felt like there needed to be resources for homeowners to help them navigate this process so that they could have what my family had growing up and that I saw was so unbelievably beneficial.

Q: How does it work? 

A: We have tons of free resources and tools on our website so homeowners can read studies and see cost breakdowns for units all over the Bay Area and the rest of California. The website is really education centered to get people the information that they need. We also offer planning calls so you can talk to our team about your project idea, your goals, what you’re looking for and get feedback. And then we offer a pro-tier, which we call Maxable Pro. It’s really a six month project planning where you are working one on one with someone on our team that’s guiding you through the process, helping you choose your designer, review your bids and access things like the CalHFA grant and get feedback on your construction bids. We’ve got a network of vetted designers, architects, pre-fab companies, builders that we’ve personally vetted and can help make recommendations based on what their project goals are, what they’re trying to accomplish where they live, that kind of thing.

Q: Where do you operate? 

A: Right now we’re operating in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles and the Bay Area. We’ve conducted site evaluations on more than 4,000 properties across California. We really have seen a lot.

Q: What makes Maxable different from other ADU companies?

A: I think at the end of the day there are a few things that make us different from other companies. We’re focused on education. I think that homeowners need to feel empowered and confident when they’re tackling a six figure project that has the potential to change their lives. It’s really important that they have all the information. I think the other thing is we’re not trying to sell anyone on a specific service. If you want a prefab, we can help you with prefab. If you want a custom unit, a beautiful high end design unit, we can help match you to resources there. If you’re on a budget and doing this because you need financial stability, we have resources we can connect you to. Beyond our concierge service where we really work one on one with people, you don’t have to pay us to get access to all these free tools and resources. I think we’ve built a really powerful community of followers that rely on our content, rely on our webinars.

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