Most Frequent Questions about Accessory Dwelling Units in San Diego

FAQ ADU for San Diego by Sheiner Construction

As a seasoned contractor in the beautiful city of San Diego, I’ve heard countless questions about Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

If you’re considering building an ADU or simply curious about this hot topic, you’ve come to the right article.

In this informative FAQ, we’ll explore the ins and outs of ADUs, demystify the process, and answer the most frequent questions that tend to pop up along the way.

So, grab a cup of coffee, relax, and let’s dive into the world of ADUs in sunny San Diego.

By the time we’re done, you’ll feel like an ADU expert yourself!

Table of Contents

What is an ADU?

An ADU is a self-contained living space that exists on the same property as a primary residential unit. Think of it as a secondary home or an additional dwelling that can be attached to, integrated within, or detached from the main residence.

Accessory Dwelling Units San Diego

An Accessory Dwelling Unit is a versatile living space that offers a range of possibilities and benefits.

ADUs can come in various forms, such as a converted garage, a separate structure in the backyard, or even an added space within the existing home.

They typically include essential amenities like sleeping quarters, a bathroom, a kitchen, and living areas.

The beauty of an ADU lies in its flexibility. It can serve as a private living space for family members, providing independence and privacy while remaining close to the main residence.

Alternatively, ADUs can be rented out, offering an additional source of income for homeowners.

They also provide opportunities for multigenerational living, accommodating elderly parents, adult children, or extended family members.

ADUs are not only practical but also contribute to the overall value of a property.

They expand living options, promote sustainable development, and offer solutions to the growing need for affordable housing.

So, whether you’re seeking a versatile living arrangement, an income-generating opportunity, or a way to enhance the value of your property, an ADU stands as a beacon of possibility.

It’s a space where functionality, flexibility, and creativity intertwine, allowing you to create a living environment tailored to your unique needs and aspirations.


Most Frequent Questions About ADU In San Diego

San Diego residents have a lot of questions regarding ADU. Even I am surprised every time when my clients are asking. I am sure I cannot write down absolutely all of them, but I’ll do my best.

step-by-step list

What are the characteristics of ADU?

An ADU is like a hidden gem nestled within the realm of residential properties.


It’s an additional living area that stands proudly on its own, independent of the primary dwelling.


Picture it as a space that has been added to, created within, or even detached from the main one-unit dwelling.


As a ADU contractor, I can tell you that they are designed to offer a complete living experience.


Within these captivating spaces, you’ll find everything you need for comfortable living: a dedicated area for relaxing and socializing, a cozy sleeping nook for peaceful slumbers, a kitchen where culinary delights come to life, and of course, a bathroom to freshen up and rejuvenate.


It’s like having a miniature home within a home, where functionality and charm come together seamlessly.


Oh, and here’s a key detail: an ADU must be situated on the same parcel as the primary one-unit dwelling.


This ensures that it harmoniously blends with the existing property while providing an additional haven for residents or potential renters.


What are the rules for ADU in San Diego County?

Ah, the rules for ADUs in San Diego County, a topic close to my contractor’s heart!


So, here’s the scoop: if you’re looking to attach an ADU to your primary dwelling, you can make it as big as 50% of the size of your single-family residence.


That’s a pretty generous limit! But wait, there’s more! If you’re dreaming of a detached ADU, you can go up to a maximum of 1,200 square feet, regardless of the size of your residence.


It’s like having a separate cozy haven all to yourself. San Diego County sure knows how to accommodate our ADU aspirations!


What are the setbacks for a ADU in San Diego?

The ever-important setback requirements for Accessory Dwelling Units in sunny San Diego!

Let me break it down for you. When it comes to setbacks, ADUs in San Diego have some special perks.

They need to comply with the front yard setbacks just like any other structure.

But here’s where it gets interesting: for ADUs up to 16 feet in height, you can have a side yard and rear setback of 0 feet.

Yes, you read it right – you can technically build all the way up to the property line!

It’s like maximizing every inch of space and embracing the true potential of your property.

So, get ready to create an Accessory Dwelling Unit that beautifully fits into your San Diego landscape, with all the room you need to bring your vision to life!

Read also my full article about ADU setbacks in San Diego.

What are the benefits of an ADU in San Diego?

Hmm, the wonderful benefits of having an ADU in vibrant San Diego!


Trust me, the perks are aplenty.


Picture this: not only does an Accessory Dwelling Unit increase your property value, but it also brings in that sweet additional rental income.


It’s like having a money-making sidekick right in your backyard!


ADUs also give you the power of flexibility in living arrangements.


Whether you need a separate space for family, guests, or even a home office, an ADU offers a world of possibilities.


Let’s not forget about the importance of affordable housing options.


With an ADU, you can be part of the solution by providing a cozy and affordable living space for others.


It’s a win-win situation!


Oh, and did I mention the environmental benefits?


By utilizing existing space, Accessory Dwelling Units promote sustainable living and reduce carbon footprint.


So, imagine a world where your property value soars, your wallet feels a little fatter, and you’re making a positive impact on both people and the planet.


That’s the magic of having an Accessory Dwelling Unit in San Diego!


Does an ADU need a kitchen in California?

While it’s not mandatory, an ADU must have permanent provisions for all the essentials of living – that means a cozy spot for sleeping, a place to enjoy your meals, and of course, a kitchen to whip up your culinary masterpieces.


It’s all about creating a self-contained space right on the same property as your single-family or multifamily dwelling.


However, if you’re considering a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) and it doesn’t share kitchen facilities with the primary dwelling, the JADU must be equipped with its very own kitchen. Because, you know, a separate kitchen means separate cooking adventures!


So, whether you’re dreaming of a full-fledged ADU or a charming JADU, a kitchen is an essential part in creating your perfect living space.


How tall can an ADU be in San Diego?

Let me shed some light on this. Now, when it comes to attached or detached ADUs, the height restrictions can vary depending on the specific scenario.


Generally, a detached ADU is limited to a height of 25 feet at the moment of writing, with a few exceptions for multifamily complexes.


So, you have plenty of vertical space to play with and create a stunning Accessory Dwelling Unit that stands tall among the rest.


Now, here’s a cool trick: if you decide to tuck your ADU within an existing accessory structure, like a garage or a barn, and you’re not altering the overall footprint, then you may have even more flexibility with the height.


It’s like a hidden bonus that allows you to make the most of your existing structures.


So, get ready to dream big and build up, creating an ADU that not only adds value but also stands as a testament to your architectural prowess in beautiful San Diego!

Can you rent out an ADU in San Diego?

Uff, the excitement of ADU rental possibilities in San Diego!


Let me set the record straight for you.


The answer is a resounding “Yes!”


You absolutely have the green light to rent out your ADU.


In fact, it’s one of the fantastic benefits that come with having an ADU in this thriving city.


Just imagine the potential rental income flowing your way!


Here’s a little secret: if you happen to own a rental property, you can even go the extra mile and build an accessory unit specifically for ADU rental income.


It’s like having a double dose of rental goodness, maximizing your investment potential.


So, whether you’re a homeowner looking to rent out your ADU or a savvy investor capitalizing on the rental market, San Diego welcomes your ADU rental ventures with open arms.


Get ready to unlock the earning potential of your ADU while providing much-needed housing options in this sunny coastal paradise!


BUT!SANDIEGO.GOV says “ADUs are intended as permanent housing solutions and shall not be used for rental terms of less than 31 consecutive days“.


So, if you want to rent under 31 consecutive days, ask again the officials, or your San Diego contractor when building the Accessory Dwelling Unit.


How much are permit fees for ADU in San Diego?

There is no easy way to put it. It depends on what you need, and you will be guided by your Accessory Dwelling Unit contractor in San Diego


You can choose us for building your ADU, and we will guide you through everything. You can also get a FREE ESTIMATE.


Ask your contractor what you need to pay, when, and if you need more knowledge, why!


But to have a general answer for this question, see here the fees for Construction Permits – Structures (bottom of the pdf).

Can you build an ADU without a permit in California?

Tricky question.. Let me clarify this for you.


While it’s true that cities and counties are mandated to permit ADUs and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs), it’s important to note that they are not obliged to adopt specific ADU and JADU ordinances.


However, here’s where things get interesting.


If a city or county does decide to adopt an ADU ordinance (which many of them do), they must submit the ordinance to the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) within 60 days.


So, what does this mean for you as someone looking to build an ADU?


Well, it means that most cities and counties have specific regulations and permit processes in place for ADUs.


It’s essential to check with your local jurisdiction to understand the requirements and obtain the necessary permits.


Trust me, as a ADU contractor in San Diego, navigating the permit landscape is an integral part of bringing your Accessory Dwelling Unit dreams to life.


So, while permits may be required, fear not! They serve as a vital step in ensuring that your ADU project meets all the necessary guidelines and regulations.


Together, let’s embark on this exciting journey of turning your ADU vision into a fully-permitted reality in the beautiful state of California!

What is the minimum lot size for ADU in California?

In the captivating state of California, ADUs can be built in all single-family residential zones, regardless of the lot size.


It means that no matter the size of your lot, you have the opportunity to embrace the magic of ADUs.


However, it’s important to keep in mind that specific cities and counties may have additional regulations or restrictions in place.


Now, let’s talk about the size of your ADU.


While the maximum size for an ADU is generally capped at 640 square feet, there’s a bit of flexibility when it comes to attached ADUs.


You can go up to 50% of the size of the primary dwelling if it’s attached.


It’s like having the freedom to design a perfectly proportioned ADU that complements your existing home.


Let’s not forget about parking. In most cases, one parking space is required for an ADU, unless certain state exemptions apply.


As a contractor who has worked on ADUs across California, I’ve seen firsthand the endless possibilities and creative solutions that arise within the diverse landscapes of this remarkable state.


So, whether you’re working with a large lot or a cozy one, California welcomes your ADU dreams with open arms.


To get the best answer for this question, you need to ask your ADU builder for an exact answer. It all depends on your zone.

Can an ADU be created from a basement California?

Absolutely! Prepare to dive into the depths of possibilities.


In the glorious California, you have the power to transform your basement into a fully functional living space, an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) to be exact.


It’s like unlocking a hidden gem beneath your home, a secret sanctuary waiting to be brought to life.


As a ADU contractor who has witnessed the transformation of numerous basements into stunning ADUs, let me assure you that the housing regulations in California are on your side.


They embrace the conversion of basements into independent living spaces, allowing you to maximize the potential of your property.


So, wave goodbye to unused basement spaces and say hello to a whole new world of living possibilities.


With the right design, craftsmanship, and a touch of creativity, your basement can evolve into a cozy, stylish, and functional ADU that will surely make a splash in the housing market.


How much value (for my property) an ADU brings in San Diego?

It’s widely acknowledged that homes with ADUs hold a special allure in the real estate market, fetching higher prices compared to standard homes.


It’s like adding a touch of magic to your property’s worth.


While the exact increase can vary depending on the state and specific market conditions, you can expect a significant boost of around 20% to 45% in property value when you have an ADU.


In San Diego for instance, where ADUs are in high demand, the potential value increase can be even more impressive, especially if your Accessory Dwelling Unit showcases exceptional quality and craftsmanship.


As a contractor in San Diego, I’ve seen firsthand how these additional living spaces can captivate potential buyers and elevate the desirability of a property.


So, get ready to reap the rewards of your investment, both financially and in terms of overall property value.


Whether you’re planning to sell your home or simply want to enjoy the long-term benefits, an Accessory Dwelling Unit is like a golden ticket to increased value and potential profits.


How long does it take to build an ADU in San Diego?

The duration of building an ADU in California, specifically in San Diego, can vary depending on a few factors.


The size and complexity of the unit, along with any permitting or zoning requirements, play a significant role in determining the timeline.


As a San Diego contractor with experience in ADU construction, my projects took roughly 3 months to complete on average.


However, it’s essential to keep in mind that some projects can extend up to 8 months, depending on various factors unique to your property and the specific requirements involved.


Let’s not forget about the crucial stage of plans and permits.


This process typically takes an additional 2 to 6 months in most cases, ensuring that everything is in order before the construction begins.


If you choose us (Sheiner Construction), we will guide you every step of the way. We also offer free estimate and also share our knowledge regarding the ADU construction, permits, and everything you cannot find in this FAQ.

What is the best ADU size in San Diego?

Now, when it comes to building an ADU in San Diego, it’s natural to want to go big and bold.


However, based on my experience as a contractor, I highly recommend considering an ADU size under 750-800 square feet.


Why, you ask? Well, here’s the secret: ADUs under 750 square feet hold a special advantage.


They are exempt from certain development limits, such as bulk and massing restrictions.


This means that you can have more flexibility in terms of lot coverage, open space, and minimum lot size requirements.


It’s like unlocking a world of possibilities without being tied down by unnecessary limitations.


By keeping your ADU within this optimal size range, you can maximize your design options while ensuring compliance with local regulations.


It’s about finding that perfect balance between spaciousness and efficiency, where every square foot serves a purpose and enhances your living experience.


What is the ADU bonus program in San Diego?

The ADU bonus program is like a shimmering reward waiting to be embraced.


Here’s how it works: in exchange for building ADUs that are deed-restricted as affordable to very low-, low-, or moderate-income households for a generous duration of 15 years, you unlock a special bonus.


Within the Transit Priority Areas (TPA), a magical realm where transportation accessibility takes center stage, you have the opportunity to receive one bonus ADU for every affordable ADU you create.


That’s right, for every act of generosity and community-mindedness, you gain a chance to expand your ADU kingdom.


The beauty of this program lies in its limitless potential.


There is no cap on the total amount of ADUs you can build through the ADU bonus program.


It’s like witnessing the growth of an enchanted forest, with each affordable ADU paving the way for additional units, making a profound impact on the availability of housing options.


What is the most profitable ADU?

When it comes to maximizing the value of your property, a detached ADU or Granny Flat stands proudly at the forefront.


Picture it as a separate entity, distinct from the existing home, radiating its own charm and potential.


Now, let me share the secret behind its profitability.


The key lies in the precious gift of additional livable square footage.


By embracing a detached ADU, you’re not just creating a separate dwelling; you’re expanding the very essence of your property.


And guess what? Appraisers recognize and appreciate this remarkable feat.


They can use this added livable square footage to assess the value of your property, ultimately contributing to its worth.


It’s like adding a treasure chest filled with possibilities to your estate.


So, if you’re seeking the pinnacle of profitability, a detached ADU is your golden ticket.


It not only enhances the functionality of your property but also opens doors to greater financial rewards.


Together, we can unlock the full potential of your land and create a detached ADU that becomes an investment masterpiece.


Imagine the satisfaction of reaping the benefits, both in terms of value and versatility, while embracing the beauty of a well-crafted and independent living space.


How to get a loan for an ADU in California?

The California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) emerges as your beacon of hope, offering a remarkable grant program designed to assist homeowners like yourself in bringing their ADU dreams to life.


With this program, qualifying homeowners can unlock the potential of a grant of up to $40,000.


The golden opportunity to receive financial assistance to cover those essential predevelopment costs associated with ADU construction.


It’s like a helping hand extended just when you need it most.


Together, we can navigate the intricacies of this process, ensuring that you’re equipped with the knowledge and resources to tap into this incredible opportunity.


Picture yourself empowered, standing at the threshold of ADU creation, supported by a grant that paves the way for a smoother and more affordable journey.


Whether it’s conducting feasibility studies, obtaining architectural plans, or exploring construction-related expenses, this grant program becomes a valuable ally in your pursuit of ADU greatness.


If you choose us, we’ll explore the eligibility criteria, assist you in preparing the necessary documentation, and guide you through the application process.


With our collective expertise and the financial support of the CalHFA grant program, your ADU vision will have the solid foundation it needs to thrive.


Do you have to pay back California ADU grant?

Picture this: up to $40,000 bestowed upon you to cover the costs associated with your ADU project.


But here’s the best part: this is not a loan that must be repaid. This is a grant—a gift from the realms of opportunity.


Take a moment to let that sink in.


The CalHFA ADU Grant Program offers you financial support without the burden of repayment.


It’s like a blessing from the heavens, ensuring that you can move forward with your ADU plans with greater ease and financial peace of mind.


So, as you embark on this exciting journey, remember that the grant is your ally, standing steadfastly by your side, enabling you to create the ADU of your dreams without the worry of future obligations.


It’s an extraordinary opportunity that allows you to focus on bringing your vision to life, knowing that the financial support you receive is a true gift.


Embrace this gift, and let us navigate the ADU landscape together, utilizing the CalHFA ADU Grant Program to its fullest extent.


If you choose Sheiner Construction for building your Accessory Dwelling Unit in San Diego, we’ll turn your ADU aspirations into reality, knowing that the funds you receive are yours to keep, forever free from the burden of repayment.


So, are you interested in building an ADU in San Diego?

So, are you intrigued by the prospect of building your very own ADU in San Diego? A space that embodies your vision, tailored to your unique needs and desires.

Designing an ADU in San Diego

An ADU holds the promise of transforming your property into something extraordinary—an oasis of functionality, flexibility, and endless possibilities.

Whether you seek additional living space, an opportunity for rental income, or a solution for multigenerational living, an ADU is the gateway to unlocking a world of potential.

It’s a chance to expand your horizons, create a haven that reflects your personal style, and make a lasting impact on your property’s value.

As a contractor with years of experience, I’m here to guide you through this exciting investment.

Together, we’ll navigate the intricacies of regulations, design considerations, and construction processes, ensuring that your ADU project becomes a resounding success.

From conceptualization to completion, I’ll be by your side, providing personalized expertise and turning your vision into a tangible reality.

An ADU that becomes an extension of your dreams, aspirations, and lifestyle means that you chose the right contractor.

The possibilities are limitless, and the journey starts now.

If you need more info, read my article about ADU checklist in San Diego.

Let’s build an ADU that stands as a testament to your ingenuity and transforms your property into a realm of endless possibilities.

If you did not find your answer in this post, you can also check what my clients are asking very frequently about ADU construction in San Diego.

You can read here how to choose the best contractor in San Diego, or you can choose us, Sheiner Construction

Also, GET A FREE ESTIMATE in San Diego.