Helpful Resources To Build
Awesome ADUs

Learn How To Build an ADU in San Diego With The Help of Professional Architects

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.

ADUs Add More Living Space To Your Property + Offer Many Use Cases

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.

San Diego Modern ADU Photo

ADUs are a Great Entry Into Rental Property Investing

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.

San Diego Functional ADU Home

ADUs are Available In Several Different Configurations

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.

Minimalist Interior Kitchen Design

In-Depth Video Guides To Help You Plan Your Project

Planning your ADU project shouldn't feel like a part-time job. To help you quickly determine your building options + map out a quick plan of action for your project, we've recorded several videos giving you an inside look into how our modern architecture studio approaches ADU projects

How Modern Architects Design Their Own ADUs

Discover the exact process we use to design, permit, and build modern + minimalist ADUs in San Diego. Watch this video to learn what your design constraints are and some tips + tricks for securing extra value.
Watch The Video

How an Architect Evaluates Lots in San Diego for Development

If you live in San Diego and are looking to build a new home, addition, ADU, Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit, Guest Quarters, Companion Unit, Granny Flat, or Casita, this video will help you understand the zoning constraints.
Watch The Video

The Truth About ADUs in San Diego (What the DSD Won't Tell You)

Watch this video to discover how to understand San Diego's ADU regulations. Licensed architect Sean Canning breaks down what you need to know and answers the most common questions regarding building + permitting a new unit on your property.
Watch The Video

Get Answers To The Most
Common ADU Questions

We've been helping San Diego homeowners build modern ADUs for nearly a decade. During this time, we've gotten just about every question you can imagine. So, we've recorded helpful Q+A videos regarding ADUs to help you quickly get answers to questions you may have regarding your potential project.

Can I Build an ADU on my Lot?

Sean Canning answers the #1 question we get @ Ten Seventy Architecture: Can I build an Accessory Dwelling Unit or Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit ( ADU / JADU ) on my lot in San Diego?
Watch The Video

How Much do Permits Cost in San Diego?

Pinning down the real costs of permits in the City of San Diego can be tricky. It can be hard to get a real answer to this question but local architect Sean Canning explains what you need to know.
Watch The Video

What are the Benefits of Converting an Existing Garage to an ADU?

If you're looking for extra living space, converting your garage into an ADU may be the perfect solution. Click here to discover everything you need to know.
Watch The Video

What are the Benefits of a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit?

Discover the use cases and benefits you could experience from adding a detached ADU to your lot in San Diego.
Watch The Video

What are the New Accessory Dwelling Unit Regulations?

If you are considering building an Accessory Dwelling Unit or a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit ( ADU / JADU ), you should be familiar w/ the new ADU regulations.
Watch The Video

How To Estimate Construction Costs for Your Project in San Diego

Estimating the cost of your construction project can be extremely difficult. San Diego modern architect Sean Canning provides some guidance + a brief explanation of how he estimates the cost of his projects.
Watch The Video

The Difference Between a Companion Unit + an Accessory Dwelling Unit

Modern Architect Sean Canning of San Diego based Ten Seventy Architecture discusses the proper terminology for accessory structures like Companion Units, Accessory Dwelling Units, Guest Homes, Pool Houses, and many similar terms.
Watch The Video

What Type of Structures Can Be Built on a Residential Lot in San Diego?

Discover the 5 different types of buildings you can build on a residential lot in San Diego. Plus, learn some insider tips regarding each from a modern architect.
Watch The Video
San Diego ADU Guide Mockup Photo

Finally Get Clarity on San Diego’s ADU Regulations with Our Newly Released Guide

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About ADUs in San Diego

How Long Does an ADU Project Take?

We specialize in modern + minimalist architectural design. On occasion, we work in other styles such as contemporary, prairie style, craftsman, or transitional.

How Much Does an ADU Typically Cost?

Our designs start @ $12,000-15,000 for smaller projects.

What Do I Need to Know About Permitting an ADU?

Yes, we do! If you're interested in a virtual consultation you can sign up using the form at the bottom of this page. Once you reach out, we'll be in touch to schedule a meeting.

How Does An ADU Affect Property Taxes?

Yes! We have designed custom ADUs + can design one for you. Ask us about our predesigned 1-Bedroom / 1-Bathroom ADU, offered at a discount.

Can You Rent Out an ADU?

Yes! We've designed commercial tenant improvement projects over the last decade. We're happy to help you w/ your commercial project.

Do I Need to Live in the ADU?

Structural engineering costs will vary depending on the design proposed. Permit fees are paid to the municipality, as well as cost to facilitate the permit process. Some projects may require energy calculations or additional engineering. More complicated permits may require additional presentation drawings.

How long does it take to design something?

Schedules will depend on the project scope. Generally, it takes around 1-2 months to create a design working w/ a client, then 1 month to engineer/detail the project.

How much do permits cost in San Diego?

Permits are charged by the municipalities + can vary greatly. New homes may be subject to additional municipal impact fees.

How long do permits in San Diego take?

Standard projects not located in the California Coastal Zone can take around 3 months to permit due to the City of San Diego's new "streamline" #DigitalDSD process. Projects in the Coastal Zone or requiring a Site Development Permit can take around 8 months or more to permit.

What Else Can you Design?

We have won a few awards for modern furniture which we design by special request.

Ready To Get Started On A Modern ADU Project In San Diego?

If you're ready to get started on your ADU project, our team of experts is here to help. We invite you to book a free consultation to discuss your project and see exactly what it would take to help you build an incredible, modern Accessory Dwelling Unit in San Diego.
Book a Consultation