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ADU Real Estate In San Diego County, CA: Unlocking the Potential of Accessory Dwelling Units

This in-depth article delves into the world of ADU real estate in San Diego County, CA, offering valuable insights for homeowners seeking to maximize their property’s potential. From understanding local regulations to exploring the benefits, we unveil the secrets to successful ADU integration.

Key Takeaways:

  1. ADU Real Estate: A Brief Overview
  2. Recent California ADU Legislative Changes
  3. Benefits of ADU Real Estate in San Diego County
  4. ADU Regulations in San Diego County
  5. Designing Your Dream ADU: Key Considerations

adu real estate in san diego county

Landscape of ADU Real Estate In San Diego County

San Diego County boasts a diverse real estate market, and the rising trend of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) is transforming the way homeowners view their properties. With the growing need for additional living space, ADUs present a unique opportunity to optimize real estate investments.

ADU Real Estate: A Brief Overview

An accessory dwelling unit, commonly known as an ADU, is a secondary housing unit on a single-family residential lot. This additional living space can take various forms, including converted garages, standalone cottages, or attached additions. In San Diego County, ADUs have gained popularity for their versatility and potential to address the region’s housing challenges.

Recent California ADU Legislative Changes

In January 2023, California enacted AB 2221, AB 916, and SB 897 which contained over a dozen impactful ADU law changes. Most notably:

Height Restriction Overrides – The new laws allow homeowners in certain areas to build 2-story detached ADUs subject to maximum height limits such as 18 or 25 feet, depending on location specifics. This enables the construction of ADUs with enough height for a second level.

Expedited Review – The state mandated a 60-day limit for local agencies to approve or deny ADU permit applications after submittal. This stringent deadline aims to accelerate project approvals.

Affordability Incentives – The laws standardize an affordable housing density bonus that enables homeowners to build additional market-rate units if they designate some ADUs as income-restricted affordable housing.

San Diego County adopted guidelines to reflect these 2023 ADU laws. The County’s updated ADU regulations include specific height allowances for 2-story units based on their proximity to transit and application review deadlines.

adu real estate in san diego county laws

Benefits of ADU Real Estate in San Diego County

1. Increased Property Value

  • Investing in ADU real estate in San Diego County can significantly enhance your property’s overall value. The additional living space appeals to a broad range of potential buyers or renters, making your property more attractive in a competitive market.

2. Rental Income Opportunities

  • ADUs provide a steady income stream through rental opportunities. With the high demand for housing in San Diego County, renting out your ADU can be a lucrative venture, helping you offset mortgage costs and generate passive income.

3. Multigenerational Living Solutions

  • As families evolve, so do their housing needs. ADUs offer a solution for multigenerational living, allowing families to stay connected while maintaining privacy. Whether housing aging parents or providing a separate space for adult children, ADUs cater to diverse living arrangements.

ADU Regulations ADU Real Estate in San Diego County

1. Zoning Requirements

Before embarking on an ADU project, it’s crucial to understand the zoning regulations in San Diego County. Zoning ordinances dictate the size, location, and design specifications for ADUs, ensuring compliance with local guidelines.

Development Standards for ADUs


Aspect Requirement
Number of ADUs One attached or one detached per single-family lot; ADU and JADU can coexist.
Existing Main Residence Required on the property, or the ADU must be constructed concurrently with the main residence.
Construction Standards Compliance with California Residential Code for “Efficiency Dwelling Units”

ADU Size Requirements:

  • Attached ADUs: Not to exceed 50% of the total floor area of the existing main residence or 1,200 sq ft, whichever is less.
  • Detached ADUs: Allowed up to 1,200 sq ft depending on lot coverage allowances.
  • ADU Height Requirements:
      • Detached ADUs: Limited to a maximum of 16 feet unless specified conditions apply.
  • ADU Setback Requirements:
      • Attached and detached ADUs: Minimum four-foot setback from rear and side-yard property lines.
  • Parking Requirements:
      • One parking space is required; exemptions apply based on specific conditions.
  • Miscellaneous Requirements:
    • Roof decks are not permitted on detached ADUs.
    • ADUs must be rented for a term of at least 30 days.

Development Standards for JADUs

Aspect Requirement
Number of JADUs One JADU is allowed within the walls of a proposed or existing single-family residence.
Owner Occupancy The property owner must occupy either the JADU or the main residence.
JADU Size Maximum of 500 sq ft. No parking is required.
  • Miscellaneous Requirements:
    • JADUs must be rented for a term of at least 30 days.

Development Standards for Certain ADU Types

The state has established categories of ADU real estate in San Diego County subject to fewer zoning and development standards. These include

  • Multi-family ADUs:
    • Conversion of non-livable space within existing multi-family structures.
    • Maximum number based on existing units.
    • Detached ADUs are allowed with specific conditions.
  • Mandatory-ADUs:
    • Maximum size of 800 sq ft.
    • Maximum height is based on zone and location.
    • One mandatory ADU and one JADU are permitted per lot within a single-family home.

2. Permitting Process

Securing the necessary permits is a critical step in ADU construction. Our team at ADU Contractor is well-versed in navigating the permitting process and streamlining approvals to expedite your project and minimize potential delays.

  • As part of a temporary county fee waiver program through January 2024, San Diego waives certain ADU plan check costs. However, you must still pay building permit fees, impact fees, and potentially utility connection and capacity charges.

Plan Check Fees

  • Review of construction plans
  • $800 – $2,500
  • Waived through January 2024

Building Permit Fees

  • Approval to begin construction
  • $2,500 – $5,000+

Impact Fees

  • Offset community facility impacts
  • $2,000 – $15,000+

Utility Connection Fees

  • Water, electrical, sewer, etc
  • $2,000 – $15,000

Total Budget: $7,000–$40,000+, depending significantly on size and whether utilities require upgrades. You can use ADU cost calculators to estimate expenses. Get proposals from reputable builders to dial in accurate pricing.

adu real estate in san diego county permit

Designing Your Dream ADU: Key Considerations

1. Functional Layouts

  • Efficient use of space is paramount when designing an ADU. Whether it’s a cozy studio or a multi-bedroom unit, thoughtful layouts maximize livability and appeal to potential tenants or buyers.

2. Energy-Efficient Features

  • Incorporating energy-efficient elements not only reduces environmental impact but also enhances the overall appeal of your ADU. From solar panels to high-efficiency appliances, our experts at ADU Contractor can guide you in making sustainable choices.

adu real estate in san diego county contractor

Unlocking Your Property’s Potential with ADU Contractor

Considering going for ADU real estate in San Diego County? Look no further than the ADU Alliance, a renowned name in ADU construction. Our experienced team specializes in designing and building ADUs that not only meet regulatory standards but also exceed expectations in terms of functionality and aesthetics.

Transform your property with your San Diego County ADU contractor! Contact us today at (760) 456-8747 to schedule a consultation and embark on a journey to unlock the full potential of ADU real estate in San Diego County, CA.