Building an ADU in San Diego is not for the faint of heart. While the City’s code has dramatically improved in recent years to facilitate the development of ADUs, it is still a challenge. Each ADU project presents its own unique obstacles to overcome, and even people with experience in construction or rental property investing have a tough time managing these projects.
However, it is possible to build an amazing ADU in San Diego. You just need the right strategy.
To help, we’ve put together this ADU resource center which compiles our very best ADU content. We believe ADUs are essential to reducing the City’s housing crisis + preventing future urban sprawl.
Here you will find everything you need to know to get started on an ADU project - including detailed videos, answers to common questions, and helpful blog posts that explain key ADU building concepts.
Accessory Dwelling Units (commonly abbreviated to just ADU) is a secondary dwelling unit located on the same property as a primary dwelling.
You may also hear them referred to casually as "granny flats" or "companion units".
ADUs can be used for a variety of purposes, including rental income, adding additional living space to your property, housing elderly relatives, or providing a space to live for college students returning home on break.
There's a reason why ADUs are becoming more and more popular in San Diego. Perhaps the biggest reason is that ADUs are a quick, affordable way to add more living space to your property. This extra space then offers you a wide variety of ways to improve your lifestyle.
For example, you can take advantage of the City's increasingly friendly building regulations to essentially add an addition to your home (which will be less expensive than a traditional renovation).
Or, you can rent out the property to start making passive income through rental property investing (ADUs in San Diego can typically be rented for $1,500 - $2,500 per month)
Finally, ADUs can help alleviate the city's housing crisis by providing more affordable housing options and reducing urban sprawl. So by building an ADU, you are helping to make the City of San Diego a better place to live.
ADUs are available in 4 main configurations that are detailed below. Which one you choose for your project will depend on your project goals, as well as the existing layout of your lot.
Attached ADUs: You can choose to build an ADU as an addition to your existing Dwelling Unit or even within your existing Dwelling Unit.
Detached ADUs: A detached (free-standing) ADU is usually the simplest way to add a unit to your property. In most cases, the existing Dwelling Unit can be occupied during the construction of the new ADU.
Repurposed Garages / Storage Rooms: This is typically the least expensive way to add a unit to your property. Keep in mind garages and storage rooms come in a variety of conditions so you may end up rebuilding some of your existing structure.
Junior ADUs (JADUs): Junior Accessory Dwelling Units are a typology which are available in RS (residential single-family) zones. They need to be attached, require an "internal connection" to the attached structure, + can share a bathroom. They function mostly like a rentable master suite. The property owner must reside on the premises.
While building ADUs in San Diego has gotten a lot easier in recent years, it's still a challenge. Especially if you don't have experience with these types of projects. At Ten Seventy Architecture, we believe homeowners & property investors have a right to clearly understand the City's building codes so that they can move forward with their project.
That's why we've put together a free resource that clearly explains San Diego's latest ADU regulations and how they impact the project you are considering.
Inside you will find a complete copy of the City's code, along with helpful visual diagrams + explanations that our team has put together. If you're looking for a plain-english version of the City's ADU building codes - this is it.