Tips to Reinvent Your Accessory Dwelling Unit in San Diego

adu builders san diego

To go ahead with ADU construction, San Diego County requires you to follow certain standards. In this article, we look at these regulations and standards so you can build with less worry.

We will look at different types, things to consider, and others. But first, what is an accessory dwelling unit?

What is an accessory dwelling unit?

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a secondary living space built within a homestead. The unit comes in many forms ranging from garage conversion, and basement conversion, to a detached unit. As you’d expect, an ADU has a fully functional kitchen and bathroom.

Due to the high cost of living and ever-increasing monthly rents, ADUs have become popular in San Diego. On average, a unit will measure 600 to around 1200 square feet. This allows you to earn extra income by renting. Besides, you can house family members or friends.

Types of accessory dwelling units in San Diego

Like in other counties, you can find common ADUs such as:

• Garage conversion ADU

This involves turning your garage into a living space. This means fitting it with lighting, heating, and cooling amenities. You also need to provide a kitchen and bathroom for everyday living.

• Detached new construction ADU

This is a secondary house built within your backyard. Most San Diego residents refer to them as tiny houses or backyard cottages. Again, it can be used as a rental unit or a place to house your guests.

• Basement conversion ADU

As the name suggests, this ADU is found in the basement of your house. Most people will turn their basement into an ADU to house a family member. Such ADUs have a separate entrance to that of the main house. However, some will require you to go through the entrance of the main house.

• Junior ADU

The junior ADU has a maximum measurement of 500 square feet. It is small coming with an efficiency kitchen. Unlike other ADUs, it may have a bathroom or the occupant can use the one in the primary dwelling. What’s more, it can have an access to the primary dwelling or a separate entrance.

• Attached new construction ADU

Unlike the detached ADU, this type is attached to the main dwelling. This is common where families want to have an extra living unit, within the primary dwelling. As you’d expect, it shares the same entrance and can be a one or two-story ADU. Again, you can use it as a rental or for family.

• Carriage conversion ADU

A carriage conversion ADU is somewhat similar to the garage conversion ADU. However, this type is built within a large garage, specifically those with high ceilings.

All you need is to transform the upper area into an ADU, leaving the downstairs as a garage. As you’d expect, the kitchen and bathroom are shared.

What to consider when reinventing your accessory dwelling unit in San Diego

 Now that you know the different types of ADUs you can reinvent, let’s look at what you need to keep in mind when building one:

• Design and construction of your primary dwelling

This involves turning your garage into a living space. This means fitting it with lighting, heating, and cooling amenities. You also need to provide a kitchen and bathroom for everyday living.

• Carriage conversion ADU

The first aspect you need to consider is the design and layout of your house. Check whether the ADU will complement your house as well as your neighbors. You should also ensure the design would match the architectural style.

Use subtle colors and matching building materials to maintain the aesthetic aspect of your compound. Otherwise, you might cause the value of the property to decrease.

• Level of privacy

You should also consider privacy when reinventing an ADU. As mentioned, most ADUs will have an efficiency kitchen and bathroom; however, others will require you to share the amenities. If you are planning to host family members, then privacy is not a key issue.

You should however prioritize privacy if you want to rent it or use it as an Airbnb. For example, you can go for the detached ADU and add a fence around it.

Another way to enforce privacy is to make the tenant or family member ascent to a formal written agreement. This should outline restrictions and other rules.

• San Diego ADU regulations

Like other counties ADU builders, San Diego requires you to meet certain standards. For example, your AD should be 50% the size of the primary dwelling, if it is an attached ADU.

If you opt for the detached model, ensure it falls within the 1,200 square feet standard. Besides, different communities in San Diego have different ADU construction regulations.

• Access to the ADU

As mentioned, you will share your homestead with different people. As such, you need to provide an access route to their place of residence. Ideally, you would construct a separate ADU entrance to improve privacy.

• Connectivity

An ADU is a living space, as such; it needs all utilities such as electricity and water. While you don’t need to install new utilities, you’ll extend those in the primary dwelling.

House to Home, An expert in ADU construction San Diego, can help you with utility connections. Besides, we can help you install a new septic system for improved guest or tenant convenience.

• Purpose of the ADU

An ADU can be used as a home office, gym, renting space, and others. Knowing what you want to do with the unit can help you cut costs and save space. While renting space will require a kitchen and bathroom, a gym will only require a bathroom.

How to reinvent your accessory dwelling unit in San Diego

• Come up with a design

You should first come up with a design that will complement the primary dwelling. It should also meet the requirements of the community. For example, if you live in an HOA-restricted area, then you ought to keep in mind the size of your ADU.

To avoid breaking San Diego ADU standards and regulations, you can talk to us. House to Home ensures construction of ADUs is within the set guidelines. Besides, we have some of the best designers and architects, so you can rest assured of an elegant ADU.

• Get the design approved

To go ahead with your ADU construction, San Diego requires you to get consent from your local authorities. Otherwise, your idea will not see the light of day.

As one of the most trusted ADU builders in San Diego, House to Home helps you get approval so you can fast-track your construction. If it needs revision, we will do the legwork for you.

• Come up with a budget

Once the authorities approve the design, you can seek capital to get the ground running. You can either use your own money or apply for a loan.

Luckily, House to Home lists all the requirements and calculates the costs, giving you an estimate. As such, you can know how much you need to borrow.

• Look for contractors

Once you have an estimate at hand, you can start receiving bids from different ADU builders in San Diego. As you’d guess, you will get different prices. While this is a crucial aspect, consider their longevity, customer service, and others.

“House to Home” has been in the business for decades, offering services to hundreds of homeowners. With immense positive feedback, we have become a favorite for ADU construction in San Diego. If you want exceptional services, feel free to contact us.

• Let the construction begin

With all requirements met, you can give the go-ahead for the construction to begin. Like with other constructions, there’ll be instances where changes will be necessary. Please keep this in mind to avoid conflict with your builder.

Benefits of reinventing an ADU

  • Extra source of income: You can use your ADU as a rental space allowing you to collect extra bucks. This can cater to pressing household needs.
  • Affordable housing: Since they are small living spaces, their cost of construction is smaller compared to building large spaces. Besides, you can extend utility infrastructure from the primary dwelling, reducing the costs further.
  • Privacy: ADUs afford a family member much-needed privacy. It is an ideal option for young adults who want to save money. In addition, it offers seniors a quiet space to live in, without bothering their families.


As you can see, reinventing an ADU is an easy task, especially if you consult a professional. If you want ADU construction San Diego County, consult Home to House for the best prices and services.