How To Start the Process of Building an ADU

ADU in Rancho Sante Fe
San Diego is a great place to live, and an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) can help you make the most of it. ADUs offer extra living space that can be used for various purposes, such as housing extended family members, renting out for additional income, or simply as a home office or studio. They typically include a kitchen, bathroom and heating system, which occupants can use to live independently. ADUs are generally self-contained units within existing buildings or newly constructed additions, making them an ideal solution for anyone looking to increase their home’s functionality and value. If you’re considering ADU construction in San Diego, this article will provide information on the process involved in getting started.

What Is an ADU?

An ADU, or Accessory Dwelling Unit, is a small living space built on the same property as an existing home. These units are typically used for rental income or accommodating friends and family members. They’re becoming increasingly popular in San Diego due to their affordability and flexibility. ADUs can come in many different forms, including converted garages or basements, backyard cottages, and detached structures. In San Diego, ADU construction has been on the rise in recent years as homeowners look for ways to increase their property value while also generating additional income. With its temperate climate and desirable location, San Diego is an ideal place for landlords to invest in these types of properties. One of the biggest benefits of building an ADU is that it allows homeowners to create additional living space without having to move or sell their current home.

How To Build an ADU in San Diego:

Plan the Space

The first step in building an ADU is to determine the type of unit that best suits your needs. Each type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to weigh your options carefully before making a decision. San Diego has specific zoning laws that regulate the size and placement of each type of unit. There are three main types of ADUs:


An attached ADU, or accessory dwelling unit, is a living space that is built onto an existing single-family home. These spaces have become increasingly popular in recent years due to the rising cost of housing and the need for more affordable options. Attached ADUs provide homeowners with extra living space while allowing them to generate rental income. One of the main benefits of attached ADUs is their flexibility. They can be designed to fit a variety of needs, such as a guest suite, home office, or rental unit. Because they are attached to the main house, they can easily share utilities and other amenities like laundry facilities or a backyard. This means that homeowners don’t have to sacrifice privacy or convenience when renting out their space.


These standalone units can be built separately from the main house and range in size from small sheds to full-sized apartments. They offer an easy way to add extra square footage to a property while also providing the flexibility of being able to use them for multiple purposes. One of the most significant benefits of detached ADUs is that they can be converted from existing structures on your property, such as sheds or garages. This means you don’t have to spend as much money on building materials and construction costs since some of the foundational work has already been completed. These units are often designed with functionality in mind, making them ideal spaces for guests or as rental units.

Garage Conversions

Garage conversions are a popular option for homeowners who want to create an additional rental unit or provide extra living space for family members. An ADU is a self-contained living space that has its own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area.

Garage conversions are a cost-effective way to add square footage to your home without the expense of building an addition. In many cases, the existing structure of the garage can be used as a starting point for the conversion. Depending on your budget and needs, you can choose from several types of garage conversion ADUs.

Once you have planned where you are going to build your ADU, you can move onto the next step.

Research Local Regulations

 Zoning: San Diego allows ADU construction on residential zoned properties with an existing or planned single-family or multifamily building.

Size Regulations: While there are no restrictions based on the size of your property, the size of your ADU depends on the type you choose. The ADU must be at least one-story, and the maximum height is 16 feet tall.

Number of ADUs: Single-family homes can have one or two accessory dwelling units. The number of ADUs allowed for properties with multifamily buildings varies based on how many buildings are already on your property.

Spacing: Garage conversion ADUs must be separated from the main dwelling sufficiently to guarantee fire safety. Attached and detached ADUs must be built at least 4 feet from your property’s side and rear property lines.

Parking: Garage conversion ADUs do not require a separate parking space. Unless your project is exempt, San Diego does require that attached and detached ADUs have one parking space.

Hire Professional Help

Building an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a great way to increase the value of your property while also providing additional living space. However, building an ADU can be complex and time-consuming. For this reason, it’s important to seek professional help when starting ADU construction in San Diego.

Our team of professional builders have the knowledge and experience necessary to navigate the sometimes complicated process of obtaining permits for an ADU. They can also provide you with design ideas that will maximize your space and create a functional living area that meets your needs. House To home can ensure that your ADU is built according to all applicable codes and regulations, giving you peace of mind knowing that your investment is safe.

Working with a professional builder will save you time and money in the long run by reducing mistakes or oversights during construction.

Design Your ADU

Designing an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in San Diego can be an exciting yet challenging process. San Diego’s ADU regulations have undergone significant changes in recent years, making it easier than ever to build an ADU on your property.

When designing your ADU, you should consider various factors, such as the size of your lot, zoning laws and requirements, and potential rental income. You’ll also need to think about the layout and functionality of the space. Will it be a studio apartment or have multiple bedrooms? Do you want an open floor plan or separate rooms? These are all important questions to consider when planning your ADU.

Apply for Permits

Getting the necessary permits can be a daunting process. That’s why it’s crucial to get professional help.

Applying for ADU permits involves a lot of paperwork and regulations. Hiring professionals who specialize in ADUs can save you time and money in the long run. They have experience handling permit applications with city departments and know how to navigate complex zoning laws.

By hiring experts in this field, you can avoid common mistakes that could delay or even derail your project altogether.

Begin Construction

With years of experience and a dedicated team, House to Home is committed to delivering high-quality work that is quick and efficient getting your ADU up and running in no time at all.

We understand that time is of the essence when it comes to rental properties. That’s why we work tirelessly to ensure that your unit is not only built well but also ready for tenants as soon as possible. We take care of everything from permitting to construction, ensuring that every step of the process is handled with expertise and care.

When you hire us, you can rest easy knowing that your ADU will be built to last. Our team uses only the highest quality materials and techniques, ensuring that your investment provides long-term value for years to come.


Building an ADU in San Diego can be challenging yet rewarding. Knowing the local regulations and zoning restrictions is essential to the process.

Having a clear timeline and budget in mind, along with finding the right professionals to help you with the project, is key to making it successful. It is also important to consider all your options when deciding on design elements like layout and materials.

With patience, perseverance, and proper planning, you can make your dream of an ADU in San Diego a reality!


An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a self-contained living area, typically located on the same lot as an existing single-family home. ADUs can provide additional living space for family members, create rental income opportunities, and may even be used to house aging relatives or people with disabilities. The design of an ADU varies depending on the local zoning regulations and the amount of space available.

The primary benefit of building an ADU is the opportunity for increased rental income and financial return on investment, which can be utilized for a variety of purposes. ADUs can create housing options in areas with high demand and limited availability by providing additional units on the same property.

The process of building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) involves the creation of a secondary, independent dwelling unit on a single-family residential lot. It begins with selecting an appropriate lot or location that complies with local zoning and building codes. This is followed by obtaining any necessary permits and approvals from the municipal authorities for construction.