Accessory Dwelling Unit California

Design A Custom, Modern
Accessory Dwelling Unit

ADUs are becoming very popular in San Diego and represent incredible opportunities for homeowners + rental property investors. Our architecture studio has spent 10+ years studying in detail the city’s notoriously complicated code - ensuring we have the expertise + experience necessary to help you achieve your project goals.

How We’ll Help You Build a Custom Modern ADU in San Diego

If you're looking to build a high-end modern ADU in San Diego, then you're in the right place.

We know that building an ADU can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help. Our team of architects + designers will work with you every step of the way to ensure your ADU will achieve your project goals. From designing a custom layout, selecting finishes + materials, or navigating San Diego’s complex permitting process – our ten years of experience in residential architecture has resulted in a proprietary process that simplifies the entire ADU building process.

Watch this video to discover how we approach building ADUs in our San Diego modern architecture studio. And when you're ready to get in touch, hit the button below to book a complimentary consultation with us.

Book an ADU Consultation

Classic Design Process

All our projects follow our 4-phase creative process. This provides a roadmap for design while allowing the flexibility to take our client's needs + goals into consideration.

Contemporary Design Tools

We combine a classical architecture approach with state of the art tools. Technology allows us to tour your project in the digital realm, view photo-realistic renderings, or 3D print study models.

Modern + Minimalist ADUs

We specialize in residential architecture in the styles of modernism to minimalism (+ the various modern styles in between). Trust us, our architecture studio has the design skills to make your dream ADU a reality.

Integrated Permitting

Permitting gets more difficult every year in California. We have staff with permitting expertise, ready to provide you an integrated design + permitting process.

Key Features of Our
Modern ADUs

There are lots of considerations when it comes to taking on an ADU project. Whatever your project goals, we will listen to you and help you create a gameplan so that you will be successful.

A Proven Process
For Designing
Custom Modern ADUs

We utilize a classic architecture process supplemented with contemporary design tools - It's the best of both worlds.

Having a well defined creative process creates a level of comfort in an otherwise unknown environment. Through this process we are able to collect + apply your design input though our scheduled design meetings. We can't design custom modern ADUs without you!

3D Renderings
To Visualize How Your New ADU Could Be

As part of our design process we will produce realistic architectural renderings of your project.

These images will help you better understand the spaces + materials we are proposing. Architectural renderings are a newer tool we can use to design the perfect modern home for you.

Check Out Our New
Pre-Designed ADU (Available in 2022)

Looking to save time + money on your upcoming ADU project in San Diego? Check out our custom, pre-designed ADU that will become available for purchase early in 2022.

In 2021 we designed, permitted, + built our own ADU. This universal design can fit on any lot within the City of San Diego + potentially in other municipalities too. Contact us to learn more about the pre-approved ADU plans and be the first to learn when they are released.

Get Started On Your Project, In Just 3 Easy Steps.

Book a Consultation

Learn More About Us +
Your Building Options in San Diego County

Talk to Us About Your Project to Plan a Strategy + Get Your Questions Answered

Have a Plan to Confidently Make a Decision and Hire a Modern Architect

See How We’ve Helped Our Past Clients Build ADUs

Building a modern ADU in San Diego doesn’t come without challenges. We have a proven track record helping our clients design + build beautiful Accessory Dwelling Units.

Get Our Insider Tips For Building an ADU in San Diego

We believe that Accessory Dwelling Units are essential for alleviating the housing crisis in California. That’s why we’re committed to producing helpful content with the goal of making at easy as possible to design + build an awesome ADU.

Everything You Need To Get Started Planning Your ADU Project

If you’re a homeowner in San Diego looking to remodel your current home or build a new one, then you need to have a plan of action for your project. Not having a smart + well thought out plan in place can result in exorbitant fees, delays, and just a whole lot of frustration. Trust us, you don’t want to go through that.


To help, we’ve put together a guide to help you plan your project and quickly give you all the information you need to know before reaching out to architects for proposals. Inside you will also find a helpful flowchart that will help you map out a strategy customized to the specifics of your project.

Download The Guide

See What Our Client’s Have To Say About Working With Us

“Ten Seventy Architecture was the architect for my wife and I's home in Mission Hills, CA. Sean went out of his way to provide a clear process from start to completion. Sean listened to our ideas and had even better ones for us to review and approve. I highly recommend this company for residential architecture.”

Curtis P.

“Sean and Margaret have one of the best teams in town. They gave wonderful ideas and took the time to listen to my ideas. All of the plan designs were done according to schedule and they always responded to my calls or emails. If you want a professional who is on time and truly cares about your project, look no further and hire them!”

Valerie O.

"Sean is the guy if you are looking for a San Diego architect. I was referred to him via a mutual business connection, and couldn't be happier with his work...The final product was phenomenal. I could not be happier. His work was not only exactly what I was looking for, but he did it in a timely fashion."

Alexandra G.

"An element we loved about Sean was his ability to see creatively from the very beginning. And I can tell you that when we walked out of the meeting with Sean, we both looked at each other and said: “That’s the guy we want” And we’ve had no regrets ever since."

Tom R.

"Ten Seventy Architecture is very easy to work with. They ask the right questions and take your needs into account when designing and are able to produce layouts that are functional. Their team is knowledgeable, creative and spot on. I always look forward to working on projects with them, it’s a collaborative effort from start to finish. Keep designing smart."

Brenda W.

"I worked with Sean in the renovation of my East Village house that is 100 years old. He is very easy to get along with, very knowledgeable and professional. He is skilled in creating small but creative and functional spaces and he is practical in solutions. We have another project now and we would like to work with him again."

Sonya O.

"Sean Canning is an amazing architect.  As a landscape designer I have been on 2 projects transformed by his extraordinary design expertise. You should call 1070 Architecture if you desire a vision for your home beyond anything you could have anticipated."

Brookside Lanscape Design

"Working with the Ten Seventy Architecture team has been excellent. They have worked on various projects with us from our San Diego Penthouse to our Warehouse space. They are very professional and just as importantly, very creative."

Victor N.

See What Our Client’s Have To Say About Working With Us

“Ten Seventy Architecture was the architect for my wife and I's home in Mission Hills, CA. Sean went out of his way to provide a clear process from start to completion. Sean listened to our ideas and had even better ones for us to review and approve. I highly recommend this company for residential architecture.”

Curtis P.

“Sean and Margaret have one of the best teams in town. They gave wonderful ideas and took the time to listen to my ideas. All of the plan designs were done according to schedule and they always responded to my calls or emails. If you want a professional who is on time and truly cares about your project, look no further and hire them!”

Valerie O.

"Sean is the guy if you are looking for a San Diego architect. I was referred to him via a mutual business connection, and couldn't be happier with his work...The final product was phenomenal. I could not be happier. His work was not only exactly what I was looking for, but he did it in a timely fashion."

Alexandra G.

"An element we loved about Sean was his ability to see creatively from the very beginning. And I can tell you that when we walked out of the meeting with Sean, we both looked at each other and said: “That’s the guy we want” And we’ve had no regrets ever since."

Tom R.

"Ten Seventy Architecture is very easy to work with. They ask the right questions and take your needs into account when designing and are able to produce layouts that are functional. Their team is knowledgeable, creative and spot on. I always look forward to working on projects with them, it’s a collaborative effort from start to finish. Keep designing smart."

Brenda W.

"I worked with Sean in the renovation of my East Village house that is 100 years old. He is very easy to get along with, very knowledgeable and professional. He is skilled in creating small but creative and functional spaces and he is practical in solutions. We have another project now and we would like to work with him again."

Sonya O.

"Sean Canning is an amazing architect. As a landscape designer I have been on 2 projects transformed by his extraordinary design expertise. You should call 1070 Architecture if you desire a vision for your home beyond anything you could have anticipated."

Brookside Lanscape Design

"Working with the Ten Seventy Architecture team has been excellent. They have worked on various projects with us from our San Diego Penthouse to our Warehouse space. They are very professional and just as importantly, very creative."

Victor N.

Got Questions About ADUs? We Have Answers

What Is The Definition of an ADU?

A.D.U. stands for Accessory Dwelling Unit. These are legal structures that always serve as an accessory to a primary Dwelling Unit.

You may have heard the term being used more frequently in the last few years because the newer allowance of ADUs has been the primary strategy to alleviate California’s housing crisis. Typically the municipal fees for ADUs are significantly less than they would be for a primary Dwelling Unit of the same size.

Every municipality has different regulations for ADUs. In general, they can range in size from 150sf to 1,200sf. Some cities restricted the maximum height to16-feet while other cities allow them to be taller. Sometimes certain setbacks are reduced. Some zones/municipalities allow multiple ADUs on a single lot.

How Long Does an ADU Project in San Diego Usually Take?

The first few weeks of a new ADU project are spent requesting record drawings, measuring/documenting the existing conditions, researching relevant codes, + meeting with municipal staff to get clarification on development options.

More complicated projects may require a formal preliminary submittal to obtain the needed clarification to move forward with the design.

Once we’re able to begin design we will go through a predetermined amount of meetings, progressing the design forward in each. The goal of this process is to move from more vague ideas to more detailed specifications.

Smaller ADU projects can take as little as 2 months to design while larger ADUs will take longer.

When the design is completed we are ready to produce our architectural construction drawings + begin any engineering needed. This phase can take one or two months depending on the complexity of the ADU + site conditions.

Now we’re ready for permitting! Although the State of California requires ADU projects to be permitted within a 60 day period, real-world permitting timelines are highly variable, ranging from as little as 3 months for more straightforward projects to well over a year to achieve the more difficult permit types required for certain projects.

Construction is also highly variable + will depend mostly on your general contractor. Even smaller construction projects will take at least 6 months. Larger projects can take a year or more to complete.

How Much Does an ADU Project Cost in San Diego?

Custom ADUs can be more expensive than expected so it’s important to have an understanding of the costs before you begin your project. To answer this question let's break the project into a few categories below.

Soft Costs include design, engineering, consultants, + permitting. Every ADU is different + will require different professionals. Most projects we work on include an architect (obviously), a structural engineer, + an energy consultant (who produces the “Title-24 Report”). In California, the submittal package for an ADU permit can be pretty intensive so we have set a minimum fee of $20k for our architectural design package.

Permitting is also a type of soft cost. Permitting will vary greatly in price depending on the municipality + the type of permit. A Coastal Development Permit or Site Development Permit will be considerably more expensive than a more simple permit. Municipal fees for ADUs are usually reduced in comparison to a standard home of the same size.

Hard Costs are directly related to construction including materials and labor. Since the beginning of the global pandemic construction prices has increased. Currently in Southern California minimum construction costs are around $250-300 per square foot. A custom ADU will increase in the cost depending on the features + finishes. It’s also important to understand that a smaller ADU may cost more per square foot than a larger ADU.

What is a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit?

A JADU or Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit is a specific type of accessory structure. JADUs come with specific restrictions + cannot be permitted on every lot. JADUs are generally limited to 500sf + need to be attached to another structure.

Can You Build Multiple ADUs on One Lot in San Diego?

Some zones/municipalities allow multiple ADUs on a single lot. Typically multi-family zones or transit priority zones are where multiple ADUs are permutable. Each municipality regulates ADUs slightly differently. Most single family zones allow an ADU + a JADU.