ADU Regulations

Del Mar

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9 min read

Make the right choice with an experienced ADU builder in Del Mar.


Understanding the local Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations in Del Mar is critical for homeowners contemplating an ADU project. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the legal standards and optimization strategies for property use in Del Mar. By familiarizing yourself with these regulations, you can ensure that your ADU project not only meets local compliance but also enhances your property’s value and functionality.

Essential ADU Rules for Del Mar

What you can build

  • Maximum Sizes

    Detached ADUs can reach 1000 sqft for 2+ bedrooms. Attached ADUs range from 850 to 1000 sqft, depending on bedroom count.
  • Setbacks

    Minimum of 4 feet is required from rear and side-yard property lines.
  • Two-Story

    Not permitted.
  • Building Separation

    Minimum of 6 feet is required.

Permitting timeline

  • Permitting Timeframe

    4-6 months.
  • Coastal


Del Mar ADU Regulatory Overview

Del Mar’s ADU regulations are designed to accommodate the growing interest in ADUs while preserving the character of its residential neighborhoods. The city’s approach to ADUs includes zoning laws that allow for both attached and detached units, design criteria ensuring ADUs complement the primary residence, and building standards that guarantee safety and sustainability. Unique aspects of Del Mar’s regulations include specific allowances for ADUs on multifamily properties and stringent guidelines for ADUs in coastal zones to protect environmental and scenic values.

Del Mar ADU Permitting Process

The ADU permitting process in Del Mar is structured to be transparent and efficient. Homeowners must:

  • Review Local Regulations

Familiarize yourself with specific ADU regulations, including size, design, and location criteria.

  • Prepare Necessary Documents

This includes detailed plans of the proposed ADU, demonstrating compliance with zoning and building codes.

  • Submit Application

Applications can be submitted electronically, streamlining the process.

  • City Review

Expect a review period, during which the city ensures all requirements are met.

  • Approval

Upon meeting all standards, receive approval to commence construction.

ADU Local Zoning in Del Mar

Yes, two-story ADUs are allowed when attached to the primary dwelling. The construction must adhere to a maximum height limit of 25 feet or two stories, whichever is lower, ensuring compatibility with local height restrictions.

No, ADUs cannot be sold separately from the main residence, with the exception being specific scenarios involving sales to qualified nonprofit corporations. This aims to maintain the integrity of property lots and ensure ADUs serve their intended purpose of providing additional housing within the same property.

No parking space is required for an ADU if it meets any of the following conditions: located within a half-mile walk of public transit, in an established historic district, or converted from existing space within the primary residence or accessory structure, or attached to an existing or proposed primary residence.

Del Mar does not impose a minimum lot size requirement for constructing an ADU, allowing for the development of ADUs across various property sizes. This flexibility supports the city’s goal of increasing accessible housing options.

Yes, ADUs can have separate utilities, although it’s common for ADUs to share connections with the main house. The city provides guidelines to ensure that shared or separate utility connections meet all regulatory requirements and are properly implemented.

Yes, ADUs located within the coastal zone may require Coastal Development Permits, with certain exemptions available. This ensures that ADU development in these areas aligns with environmental and coastal management goals.

ADU Building Codes in Del Mar

Detached ADUs can reach up to 16′ in height, with exceptions in the Bluff, Slope, and Canyon Overlay Zone, where the limit is 14′. If within a half-mile radius of a major transit stop, they can rise to 18 feet, plus 2 more feet if the roof pitch aligns with the primary dwelling. Attached ADUs are capped at 25 feet or two stories, whichever is less, applicable only when connected to the primary dwelling.

ADUs must observe a minimum of 4 feet setback from side and rear property lines. These setback requirements are designed to ensure adequate space between structures for privacy, access, and maintenance purposes.

Yes, ADUs in Del Mar are required to harmonize with the primary residence in terms of architectural style, materials, and colors. This ensures that the ADU complements the existing dwelling and maintains the aesthetic coherence of the property.

Yes, Del Mar permits the conversion of existing structures, such as garages and non-livable spaces within multifamily properties, into ADUs. This policy encourages the efficient use of existing spaces to meet housing needs.

The permit acquisition process involves reviewing local regulations, preparing the necessary documents, submitting an application, and undergoing a city review. This streamlined, ministerial process is designed to facilitate the addition of ADUs in the community.

ADUs in Del Mar can be rented out, provided they are leased for long-term occupancy. Short-term rentals are not permitted, aligning with the city’s strategy to bolster the long-term housing supply.

Finalizing Your ADU in Del Mar

Homeowners must navigate the submission and verification steps carefully, ensuring all ADU plans meet local requirements. Practical considerations for parking, including designated spaces within property setbacks, and guidelines for shared or separate utility connections are critical. Leveraging an ADU for rental income or personal use in Del Mar necessitates compliance with local zoning, building codes, and an understanding of the rental market dynamics.

Calculate Your ADU Cost in Del Mar

Using the tool below, you will be able to calculate your investment based on the type and size of the ADU you are interested in building on your property.

Attached ADU


Estimated Cost


*The costs we are calculating here are an average for time and materials. This calculator is meant to provide an estimate to educate you on the ADU building process, please note that this is not a final quote.

Detached ADU


Estimated Cost


*The costs we are calculating here are an average for time and materials. This calculator is meant to provide an estimate to educate you on the ADU building process, please note that this is not a final quote.

Garage ADU


Estimated Cost


*The costs we are calculating here are an average for time and materials. This calculator is meant to provide an estimate to educate you on the ADU building process, please note that this is not a final quote.
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Successfully developing an ADU in Del Mar requires a thorough understanding of local regulations, from zoning laws and building standards to specific considerations for parking and utilities. Del Mar’s approach to ADUs reflects a commitment to expanding housing options while preserving the city’s unique character and environmental integrity. By adhering to these guidelines, homeowners can navigate the ADU development process more smoothly, contributing to the community’s housing solutions and enjoying the benefits of their investment.


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