How to Breeze Through San Diego’s ADU Permitting Process

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Unlock the secrets to a smooth ADU development with our comprehensive guide to fees, design considerations, and more.


Having a hard time getting your San Diego ADU permits? Worry no more as Better Place Design & Build is ready to help you. Our services range from the planning and designing of your ADU to obtaining the necessary permits for the construction.

We are committed to bringing your vision to life and meeting your expectations for your ADU.

ADU Design and Architectural Considerations

There are various variables to consider when it comes to ADU design and architectural concerns in San Diego due to the area’s distinct legislation and standards. Here are some crucial considerations:

  • Size and Height Restrictions

An attached ADU’s maximum size is usually 50% of the primary dwelling or up to 1,200 square feet, whichever is less. Regardless of the size of the primary dwelling, detached ADUs are normally limited to 1,200 square feet.

  • Access and Parking

An ADU must include one off-street parking place, however, there are certain exceptions and alternate parking choices available, such as using existing parking spaces or being close to public transportation. Access to the ADU, including walkways and entrances, must also meet accessibility standards.

  • Architectural Compatibility

ADUs in San Diego are encouraged to be stylistically consistent with the main house and the neighboring community.

  • Setbacks and Lot Coverage

Setbacks for ADUs are required in San Diego, and they determine the minimum distance between the ADU and the property borders. The setback requirements differ depending on criteria such as zone and lot size. Lot coverage restrictions apply as well, limiting the maximum percentage of the lot that can be covered by buildings.

Remember that these are San Diego ADU Permits specific factors, and it’s critical to check the local zoning restrictions and construction codes, since they may change or have additional requirements.

San Diego ADU Permit Fees and Costs

Specific San Diego ADU permits fees and prices may vary depending on criteria such as the type of ADU, unit size, and local laws. However, the most accurate and up-to-date fee schedules should be obtained from official sources or by contacting the City of San Diego’s Development Services Department. It is critical to remember that the fees indicated above are generic in nature, and specific rates may vary.

The following are some of the fees and charges related to ADU licenses in San Diego:

San Diego ADU Permit Fees and CostsDetails
Building Permit FeeIt covers the cost of reviewing and processing the ADU development designs. The charge is usually dependent on the project's valuation or square footage.
Plan Review FeeIt is responsible for the city's building department reviewing the ADU development plans. This price is typically a percentage of the building permit fee or a separate flat amount.
Impact FeesThese are fees imposed by the city to compensate for the effects of new construction on public infrastructure and services.
Connection FeesThese fees cover the cost of connecting the ADU to public utilities such as water, sewer, and electricity.
Development Impact Fee CreditThis credit reduces the impact fee amount based on factors such as ADU size and impact on infrastructure. It is critical to check with the Development Services Department to see if you are eligible for any fee credits.

Get Your San Diego ADU Permit With Us

Better Place Design & Build has over 15 years of expertise specializing in ADU construction in San Diego. Our team is dedicated to assisting you throughout the entire process, from acquiring your San Diego ADU permits to constructing the ADU of your dreams. Contact us today.


We will assist you in creating or obtaining the following documents:

  • Completed permit application form
  • A site plan or survey showing the borders of the land, existing structures, and proposed ADU location.
  • Architectural blueprints or drawings for the creation of an ADU
  • Structure calculations and details, if applicable
  • Energy efficiency compliance documentation
  • Compliance with zoning restrictions, setbacks, and parking requirements
  • Specifications for the contractor
  • License fees must be paid.

Yes, but it is best to work with a specialist who is familiar with ADU building and permissions. Better Place Design & Build will assist you with the permitting process.

Depending on local building standards and laws, the inspections necessary for a San Diego ADU permit may range. ADU construction, on the other hand, requires foundation inspections, frame inspections, electrical inspections, plumbing inspections, and final inspections.

Yes, it is frequently possible to convert an existing structure, such as a garage or basement, into an ADU. Permits will still be required to ensure that the change adheres to building codes and safety standards.


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