ADU Buiders

San Diego

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17 min read

Choosing an experienced ADU builder in San Diego is the key to success.


In San Diego, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) offer a great way to boost property value, address housing shortages, and earn rental income. ADUs can serve as additional living spaces for family members, rental units for extra income, or guest houses for visitors. However, building an ADU involves many steps, from understanding local zoning laws to navigating rental regulations. Homeowners need to partner with the right San Diego ADU builders to ensure the process is smooth and successful. Knowing the local construction and rental processes is essential for anyone looking to add an ADU to their property. It’s important to do thorough research and planning to ensure the construction project meets all requirements and expectations.

Essential ADU Rules for San Diego

What you can build

  • Maximum size

    ADUs are capped at 1,200 square feet, including specific cases under Senate Bill 9.
  • Side / rear setbacks

    Minimum of 4 feet setback from both the side and rear property lines.
  • Two story

    Allowed, but must adhere to local height regulations.
  • Building separation

    Minimum 6-foot separation between detached ADUs and primary residence.

Permitting timeline

  • Standard

    4-6 months.
  • Coastal

    Required for ADUs in coastal zones.

Choosing the Right ADU Builder in San Diego

Picking the right builder for your ADU project is crucial. The builder should have a lot of experience with ADUs in San Diego and be familiar with local zoning laws and city regulations. Better Place Remodeling is a top ADU builder for homes in San Diego. They offer a one-stop shop for ADU development, handling everything from planning and design to construction and final inspections. This all-in-one approach ensures that the project runs smoothly and complies with all local regulations. Working with a knowledgeable builder like Better Place Remodeling can save homeowners a lot of time and stress. They provide a seamless experience by managing every aspect of the project, ensuring high-quality results and customer satisfaction. Their expertise in the design build process helps create efficient and aesthetically pleasing ADUs granny flats that fit the homeowner’s needs.

San Diego ADU Construction Process

Building an ADU in San Diego involves several important steps:

  • Feasibility Study

This first step involves assessing the property to understand zoning laws, site constraints, and preliminary financials. It helps determine if building an ADU is possible and practical. This stage includes checking for any restrictions or requirements specific to the property location in San Diego County.

  • Design & Planning

During this phase, homeowners work with architects to develop detailed plans for the ADU. This includes deciding on the layout, selecting finishes, and making sure the design meets all local codes. Homeowners can customize the ADU to fit their specific needs and preferences, ensuring the final product is functional and aesthetically pleasing. This phase often involves creating a granny flat that blends seamlessly with the primary dwelling.

  • Permitting

This step involves navigating local regulations, preparing necessary documents, and submitting permit applications. Getting permits approved is crucial before construction can begin. This stage can be complex, as it requires compliance with all city and state regulations to ensure the project is legally sound.

  • Build

The construction phase includes site preparation, building the ADU, connecting utilities, and passing all required inspections. Each step must meet local building codes. This phase involves coordination with various contractors and professionals to ensure the ADU is built to high standards. The law suites and compliance checks ensure everything is done correctly.

  • Project Turnover

Once construction is complete and all inspections are passed, the project is turned over to the homeowner. This means handing over the keys to a new, compliant ADU. Homeowners will receive all necessary documentation and instructions for maintaining their new unit.

Each step in the process is important to ensure the ADU is built correctly and meets all local regulations. This helps avoid problems and ensures the project is successful from start to finish. Homeowners should stay informed and involved throughout the process to ensure their vision is realized.

Building Your ADU in San Diego

Yes, San Diego permits the construction of two-story Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), adhering to specific height and setback regulations to ensure they integrate well with the surrounding neighborhood.

No, San Diego has embraced digital processes, allowing for the submission of ADU plans online.

Yes, in certain cases. ADUs located within specific proximity to bluff edges, the mean high tide line, or within environmentally sensitive areas might require a Coastal Development Permit. These permits ensure that ADU construction does not adversely impact coastal resources or access.

San Diego ADU Size & Building Constraints

In San Diego, detached Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are subject to a maximum gross floor area limit of 1,200 square feet. This regulation applies to both detached and attached ADUs, aiming to balance the addition of living space with maintaining the character of residential areas.

The height requirements for ADUs in San Diego vary, with a general allowance of at least 16 feet in height for detached units with zero side and rear setbacks. For units with sloped roofs, the height can extend up to 30 feet, depending on the zoning area and specific project conditions.

Yes, San Diego allows for the construction of roof decks on ADUs, subject to adherence to specific regulations that may include restrictions based on the ADU’s location and the surrounding zoning characteristics.

ADUs in San Diego must adhere to several exterior requirements, including compliance with the California Building Standards Code, landscape obligations (such as tree planting for projects increasing dwelling units on the property), and parking regulations that may allow for creative solutions like tandem parking or parking within setbacks.

ADUs in San Diego can be constructed as attached or detached structures or through the conversion of existing spaces within the property’s bounds. The placement of ADUs must follow zoning compliance, including adherence to use regulation tables and specific location criteria on the lot, influenced by setback and height regulations.

No, San Diego does not impose a minimum lot size requirement for the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). This absence of a minimum lot size facilitates the development of ADUs across a wide range of property sizes, supporting the city’s goals for increasing accessible and affordable housing options.

Renting Your ADU in San Diego

Renting out an ADU in San Diego can provide significant rental income and help address the local housing shortage. Homeowners must understand the local rental market, potential rental income, and legal requirements. It’s also important to manage the ADU’s utility connections and ensure it has a separate address if needed. San Diego regulations require that ADUs cannot be rented for terms shorter than 31 consecutive days. This rule supports the city’s goal of increasing long-term housing options rather than short-term vacation rentals. Landlords should be aware of these rules to avoid fines and ensure their rental practices comply with city regulations. Additionally, understanding tenant rights and responsibilities, setting a fair rental price, and maintaining the property are essential for successful ADU rental management.

Neighborhoods: Alta Vista, Bay Terraces, Black Mountain Ranch, Burlingame, Castle, Cherokee Point, Chollas Creek, Chollas View, Clairemont Mesa East, Clairemont Mesa West, Colina Del Sol, College, Corridor, Del Cerro, Del Sur, East Village, El Cerrito, Emerald Hills, Encanto, Fairmount Park, Fairmount Village, Golden Hill, Grant Hill, Hillcrest, Jamacha Lomita, Kearny Mesa, Kensington, La Playa, Linda Vista, Lincoln Park, Little Italy, Logan Heights, Loma Portal, Middletown, Midway District, Miramar, Miramar Ranch North, Mountain View, Morena, Normal Heights, North Clairemont, North Park, Oak Park, Ocean Beach, Old Town, Paradise Hills, Point Loma, Point Loma Heights, Redwood-Village Rolando Park, Ridgeview-Webster, Rolando, Roseville-Fleet Ridge, San Carlos, Shelltown, Sherman Heights, Skyline, Southcrest, South Park, Sorrento Valley, Stockton, Stonebridge Estates, Sunset Cliffs, Swan Canyon, Talmadge, Tierrasanta, Torrey Highlands, University City, University Heights, Valencia Park.


Calculate Your ADU Cost in San Diego

Curious about the cost of your ADU cost in San Diego? Find out quickly with our interactive calculator. This tool is designed to give you a rough estimate.

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.
Take the first step


Building and renting out an ADU in San Diego is a fantastic opportunity for homeowners. Partnering with experienced San Diego ADU builders like Better Place Remodeling makes the process smooth and stress-free. Whether you’re looking to create a cozy space for family members, earn rental income, or simply enhance your property value, ADUs and granny flats are a smart investment.

Navigating local regulations, designing the perfect layout, and ensuring everything complies with city codes can be daunting. But with Better Place Remodeling, you’re in good hands. We handle everything from design build to final inspections, ensuring your construction project is a success. Our team knows the ins and outs of building ADUs in San Diego County and will guide you through every step.

Whether you’re near the Gaslamp Quarter or Pechanga Arena in San Diego, we’re here to help. As the top ADU builders in the city, we are dedicated to making your next ADU project a success. Get started with us and schedule your free consultation to bring your vision to life.

Better Place Remodeling is your trusted partner for building high-quality, compliant, and beautiful ADUs that meet all your needs. Let’s make your dream granny flat or ADU a reality today!


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