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In 2022, the City of Tucson responded to the need for a larger, more varied and flexible housing supply by amending its development code to allow casitas (accessory dwelling units) on residential lots that have one or two existing homes.


In 2023, the City held a Casita Model Plan Design Competition, funded by an AARP Community Challenge Grant and in partnership with the American Institute of Architects. The competition’s goal was to encourage the construction of casitas by creating a Casita Model Plan Library of pre-approved plans available to property owners. The Tucson Casita was one of 10 designs selected from 63 entries.


Selecting a pre-approved design from the Casita Model Plan Library is intended to make the design and permitting process for a casita less expensive, quicker, and more predictable. Building permit review fees are waived, and the cost of the plans from the designer or architect can be significantly less than for a custom design.



Tucson Casita is designed to blend harmoniously with many of Tucson’s architectural styles. It is suitable for a broad range of potential residents, is adaptable to a variety of sites, and is energy efficient. The light-filled interior is wrapped with a porch and patio to encourage indoor-outdoor living. The compact plan balances a simple form with a richness of space and material. Tucson Casita features:


  • Thoughtful, contextual design by an award-winning architect

  • 576 SF floor plan + 69 SF utility room + front porch and patio

  • Suitable for many stages of life: young adult to old age

  • Simple form compatible with many architectural styles

  • Stucco & corrugated metal echo traditional materials

  • Open living / dining / kitchen area with 9’ ceilings

  • Windows on all sides for a light-filled interior

  • No-step, covered front entry

  • Bedroom large enough for a king size bed

  • Economical stick-frame (wood) walls and primary roof frame

  • Hybrid metal / wood porch and patio frames for durability

  • High-performance building envelope

  • High-SEER, ducted mini-split heat pump

  • Ducting within conditioned envelope

  • Heat pump water heater

  • “Cool Roof”

  • Space for optional roof-top photovoltaic array

  • Roof designed for optional rainwater harvesting






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The owner selects a pre-approved design from the Casita Model Plan Library, purchases the plans from the designer or architect, prepares a plot plan, and submits a building permit application. The plot plan shows conformance with site-specific standards such as zoning setbacks and utility locations that vary with lot. A plot plan is not included with the plans from Plan Library and can be prepared by the property owner or builder.


Fees are waived for the building permit review; the owner pays other applicable permit fees.


Tucson Casita is designed to be appropriate for a broad range of residential lots. However, all pre-approved Model Plans must meet the development regulations that are specific to a site, so you’ll want to make sure that Tucson Casita meets the constraints of your specific site. Utility locations and access points, topography, easements, and other potential encumbrances can affect feasibility.


Because the design of the heating-cooling system depends on the precise location and orientation of the Tucson Casita, the pre-approved plans stipulate a deferred submittal for the heating-cooling system. The deferred submittal will need to be prepared by the builder or heating-cooling subcontractor and submitted within 90 days of issuance of the building permit.



Rights for one-time use of Tucson Casita: $4,500.


Please review the Purchase Agreement carefully before purchasing the plans.


The plans include a full set of construction documents comprised of nine 24x36 drawings with architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing drawings, details, schedules, and notes. The plans are in PDF format.




695 S Main Avenue

Tucson, AZ 85701


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