Granny Flat

A Guide To Building A Granny Flat in San Diego in 2020: For Homeowners

So you’re interested in building a granny flat. Maybe it’s the perfect accommodation for your nanny or other members of your family or maybe you are the caretaker for an aging family member. No matter the reason you find yourself needing a granny flat, you need to make sure you have the proper knowledge of what a granny flat actually is, city regulations, how much building one would actually cost and how a granny flat can benefit you.

What is a Granny Flat?

To put it in the simplest of terms, a granny flat is a miniature version of a full-sized housing unit designed for one or two persons, that is built on an existing property that has all of the components that a house has including its own entrance, bathroom, kitchen, and living area. Some frequently used other terms are in-law apartments, granny pods, mother-in-law units, bonus units or accessory apartments.


What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is the technical architectural term used by an office or permitting city to describe a secondary unit also known as a granny flat. It is a second complete dwelling that is legally on or within the same property as an existing single-family residence. You will find that some accessory dwelling units are stand-alone homes, while others have been converted from attics, basements, and garages.

What are ADU Guidelines?

In the United States, the ADU guidelines and restrictions vary from state to state. You’ll find that state laws usually delegate the zoning powers and planning to the particular city and county governments which determine the distribution and intensity of land uses in the local jurisdiction and the appropriate type.

Granny Flat in San diego

San Diego City Regulation For Granny Flats in 2020

While you are able to build granny flats in San Diego, there are certain restrictions and guidelines that are important to take note of before building your granny flat. You can find in the California Government Code Sections 65852.150, 65852.2 & 65852.22, local regulations of ADU’s.

San Diego allows for an ADU to be built on a property that is currently zoned for a single family residence. In some cases ADU’s are permitted to be built on some multi-family lots but it’s always good measure to check with the city before even beginning to build on the land. You also need to go about obtaining a permit in order to build on a lot and in order for you to obtain a permit the lot must be free of any code violations. Some additional facts to take into consideration:

      • When an existing structure is converted into a CU, they aren’t subject to water and sewer charges if the meter is the correct size
      • ADU’s are always rentable in San Diego, but are not allowed to be sold separately from the single-family residence
      • There is no required owner-occupancy in order to rent either ADU’s or primary homes, with an exception to San Diego County
      • When a fire sprinkler system is required for the main residence, it also required for the ADU as well.


      • If a new ADU requires a parking space, it must measure at 8.5 feet by 18 feet.
      • The new granny flat must provide .5 space for each bedroom no matter if its tandem parking or an area in the driveway.
      • When a secondary dwelling is built it must also have one parking space,

There are a few exceptions when it comes to parking spaces. Here are the instances where you do not have to have a parking space for your ADU:

      • If your secondary unit is less than square feet in floor area
      • If the ADU is located in a residential parking occupancy
      • If your residence is inside one half-mile of water shuttles, the MTS or any other form of public transportation
      • If your granny flat is in the radius of a historic district
      • Your ADU is stationed within one block of a bike share or car station.


It is required that every granny flat remain a certain distance from a property line, structure within a building or curb. This ensures environmental protection and public safety. Your ADU must adhere to the with the main property’s setback. If you have an ADU that is two-stories, it must be placed five feet from both the side and rear lot lines. The only exception to this guideline is if your granny flat is converted from a garage.

Why are Granny Flats gaining popularity in San Diego?

There have been more and more homeowners in San Diego becoming interested in building granny flats for a number of reasons. One of the biggest being the recent increase in the cost of living. According to the Housing Inventory Annual Report, 30 percent of households that make a conservative income cannot afford their rent and the other 70 percent cannot afford to own their home.

Because of San Diego’s housing shortage, the lack of affordable rent and minimal availability, there has been an increase in housing prices with fewer options for home buyers. Building ordinances are now being incentivized to transform residentiary developments which include reduced parking requirements, waived fees for granny flats and housing density bonuses.

Granny flats have the ability to fit directly into your lifestyle while also helping with some of life’s tough challenges.

What Are The Reasons To Build Granny Flats? Should You?

There are quite a few reasons to consider building a granny flat in 2020. Currently, in San Diego, there is not enough housing to meet demand and whatever is currently available is too expensive for residents. An apartment complex is a big solution but it takes years to build. So cities like San Diego are starting to have much better regulations and are starting to turn to small-scale solutions such as granny flats.

In the past year San Diego has had some pretty positive significant changes with their restrictions towards home owners that are seeking to construct secondary units. Some of these changes include:

      • Fee Waivers – Homeowners located in Encinitas who are building in-law suites that are up to 1200 square feet are able to save $3500 in waived fees.
      • Instructional Resources – In an effort to speed up the construction process, city officials provide pre-approved ADU flat designs and instruction manuals.
      • No Vacation Rentals – The City of San Diego requires that an ADU rental must have a minimum 30-day lease, which eliminates the granny flat from being used as a short-term vacation rental.
      • Wide Variety of Fees – Depending on the location and the type of granny flat you build, it will determine the fee costs. Fees can range anywhere from $4,500 to over $80,000. A development and impact fees waiver was passed by the City of San Diego, which saves residents an average of $17,000.
      • Enlarged ADU Sizes – Granny flats can either be 50% of the home’s size or up to 1,200 square feet, whichever is less.

Extra Space for Friends and Family

Whether you are taking in aging parents, welcoming your college-aged children home for the summer, or housing out-of-town relatives, ADU’s can be extremely helpful in providing a comfortable, separate space for tenants, family, and friends. Also being that your ADU is in close proximity to your home, it is much more affordable and familiar than an Airbnb or hotel.

Help With Mortgage Payments

An additional ADU is great for assisting homeowners with mortgage payments. Due to San Diego requiring for a tenant to occupy an ADU for at least 1 month means that you’ll have a minimum of 1 payment from the occupant that can assist with your mortgage if needed. Granny flats are usually occupied for longer than 30 days at a time.

An Extra Space for Work From Home Professionals

Working from home can be difficult especially if you have children or other outside distractions. An ADU can be very useful in terms of providing a quiet place to work that’s right next to home.

Affordable Housing

With rental costs on the uprise in San Diego, granny flats provide an affordable housing option to tenants that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford housing in specific sectors.

Fighting Gentrification

Due to the recent influx of housing prices, it is forcing out low-income residents because of the increased cost of rent and goods. This can ultimately lead to displacement and migration. Granny flats give low-income residents an option to stay in their current neighborhood while still being able to have access to affordable housing.

Saving Up

Residing in a granny flat can allow affordable housing, giving you the ability to save up extra funds in order to buy a home in the future.


One of the biggest advantages of building a granny flat is the short amount of time it takes. It’s not uncommon to see a granny flat completed within 4 months. This is much less time than other tiny homes, where small inconsistent construction crews, weather conditions and equipment back orders cause a delay

It’s Economical

Granny flats have a green building system approach that takes these 7 factors into consideration:

        • Resource Efficiency
        • Water Efficiency
        • Global Impact
        • Homeowner Education and Operational Maintenance
        • Preparation, Lot Design and Development

Can I Build Another House On My Property?

There are specific zoning restrictions when it comes to building a granny flat on your property but before you can begin to build an ADU on your property you must first obtain a building permit on the residentially zoned property that has an existing single-family residence. If you qualify, only one ADU is allowed to be built on the property.

The construction of an ADU is NOT permitted if any of the following applies to you:

      • Your home is not in a residential zone and does not have an existing single-family residence
      • If your property is zoned and developed with duplexes or any other type of multi-family property.
      • If your property has existing guest living quarters or an accessory apartment.
      • If you cannot provide complete floor plans of the primary dwelling and the proposed ADU.

Did California Abolish Single-Family Zoning?

Despite the objections of city officials throughout the state of California, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that completely ended single-family zoning. Lawmakers have made it much easier and more accessible for homeowners to build small freestanding homes in their backyards or convert garages into residential spaces.

State policies have made it a straightforward process for property owners to build this type of housing by eliminating local government and homeowners association requirements that had in the past either completely prohibited or greatly slowed down construction time.

The first bill that was signed was, AB68, and it allows homeowners to build up to two ADU’s on their property by right. This means that local governments do not have the prudence to deny these projects or demand any additional conditions besides what’s already listed in the city’s zoning code. This bill restricts parking requirements, setback and size local zoning codes can demand on ADU’s. This bill also shortens the time that local governments have to approve new units from 120 to 60 days.

What are the Consequences of AB68?

Despite all of the benefits that have come through the passing of the AB68 bill, there are also some downsides as well, here are a few:

      • Prices of homes will be pushed higher in bidding wars
      • Evictions on a large scale from people who are currently living in unpermitted garage spaces due to property owners exercising their new rights to rent out these spaces at market value
      • Can be an annoyance to other homeowners
      • Water, power and sewage infrastructures could be compromised because of the increase in housing in a given neighborhood
      • More short-term rentals as companies like Airbnb attract homeowners with the possibility of extra income
      • Irritation from homeowners that lose the quite enjoyment of their homes because the occupancy in their neighborhood has tripled
      • More cars will be forced to park on the street, making it more difficult for emergency vehicles to get through
    • The other two bills that were passed, AB881 and SB 13, constrain local governments from obtaining that an owner occupy the new units and reduces the fees that homeowners are usually charged to build them. Some senators feel that the long-time dominance of single-family zoning is one of the main reasons why California has failed to construct enough housing . Just in Los Angeles alone, annual permit applications have increased 2000% since the initial state-wide law took effect. The city has received over 13,300 requests to build these units.

cost in building

What Are The Estimated Costs of Building A Granny Flat in San Diego?

While building a granny flat is less expensive than building a single-family residence, it is still an expensive investment. A recent survey conducted by the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation, ADU owners reported spending, on average, $156,000 to build their granny flat. If you’re converting an existing garage into an ADU, the cost can be significantly less expensive but even then you may still spend around $30,000 or more. Alot of urban areas within california (including San Diego) charge development fees. It is a good practice for homeowners to research the fee structure in their specific area to get an accurate calculation.

The costs of a granny flat can also vary depending on the quality of the unit and its purpose. If you are looking for a custom design, you could be spending anything upwards of $120,000.

Granny Flats Can Be Priced Per Square Footage

When building a granny flat you will soon find out that it costs more per square foot than a single-family home does for the following reasons:

        • Granny flats require a bathroom and a kitchen which are both expensive square footage
        • Profit margins are much smaller for architects, general contractors, and subs
        • Fixed costs that are associated with both design and permitting fees
        • Scaling is limited, which in return raises the overall pricing
        • Granny flats require new foundations just like a single-family residence would, this includes, plumbing, electricity, cooling, heating, new walls, and a roof

In San Diego, most granny flats are between $220-$350 a square foot. Previously homeowners in San Diego could be paying upwards of $40,000 for just government fees alone, but by a unanimous vote, the city council cut those fees by more than 60%. The purpose of slashing these high fees were to remove the barriers to encourage the construction of new units that residents could actually afford. San Diego’s mayor, Kevin Faulconer has stated that the city will make more changes to assist homeowners in designing and building ADU’s. This is an effort to add at least 2000 new companion units to the city’s housing stock by 2028.

As of mid 2019, San Diego County is now offering free pre-approved floor plans for ADU’s. So far the county has now posted two permit-ready, free floor layouts that are currently sized at 600 and 1,200 square feet, but more plans will be added in the coming months. Along with that, in early 2019, San Diego County waived $15,000 in development and permit fees for the construction of granny flats.

Can You Finance A Granny Flat?

The market for ADU’s in California is still very new and many cities are still attempting to out together their own ADU regulations and ordinances. Because of this, it may be an issue for homeowners to get a traditional loan for their granny flat.

Despite the difficulty of getting a traditional loan, there are still other alternatives to try and pursue in order to get the funding for your granny flat. It is possible to use your home’s equity to assist when applying for a top-up or new loan. Even if you decide to go this route and use your home’s equity, you’ll still have to provide documentation that you make enough income to pay back the loan.

During the application process you may even need to have your home revalued. It is good practice to have your floor plans ready to give the appraiser an accurate sense of how much your ADU will add to your existing property value.

Having a committed tenant can also help with covering maintenance, taxes and loan costs and it can help solidify your projection of revenue and costs. If you are in need of referrals, you should check with the San Diego Housing Federation for access to financing sources that have an interest in supporting the companion unit programs.

Some Frequently Asked Questions About The Costs And Fees Of Granny Flats

Q. Is a companion unit taxable?

A. Yes. ADU’s are treated as a new construction, whether it is a new construction or a remodel.

Q. Does Proposition 13 apply to companion units?

A. Yes. Once the companion unit is added to the property, the assessed value is set and will be taxed at 1% and limited up to a 2% annual increase based on the CPI.

Q. Can I appeal the appraised value set for the companion unit?

A. Yes. Homeowners can appeal the value of their property by filing an Assessment Appeal Application. The appeal must be submitted within 60 days after the date the notice of change in assessment is mailed.

Q. Will I lose my Proposition 13 protection and have my property and land reassessed?

A. No. Adding a new construction will not trigger reassessment. If you happened to purchase your home 1990 for $100,000, the taxes on the land and your overall home would remain static and be based on that base year value.

If You’re Approved For A Loan, How Long Does It Take For The City To Approve Your Granny Flat?

The process of getting your granny flat approved usually takes anywhere from eight through ten weeks. The more strict the state, the longer it’ll take to be approved. In more strict states it can take up to 1 year to get an approval for an ADU.

What Are The Cons Of A Prefabricated Granny Flat?

When homeowners are exploring the options of building an ADU, it’s only natural to think about the potential benefits of a prefabricated granny flat. Prefabricated granny flats are granny flats that are constructed in a factory before being shipped to a building site in pieces, once on-site, they’re then assembled in just a matter of days.

While mobile or manufactured homes, must meet the federal building code that is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development (HUD), pre-fabricated ADU’s are required to be constructed according to local or state building codes. Because of this, it makes granny flats a widely-accepted new construction that does not require the same zoning restrictions of a manufactured or mobile home.

Although, there are a lot of pros to owning a prefabricated granny flat, there are also a number of cons. A prefabricated granny flat can be a con for the following reasons:

Customization Limitations

While it is possible to customize a prefabricated ADU as far as home accessories like kitchen cabinets, paint colors, and a variety of different finishes, but when it comes to the actual layout it is much more difficult to manipulate your design to fit the regulations of your city.

Finding Experienced Contractors

Building an ADU takes a very specific set of skills that not every general contractor has experience in. It is important to do thorough research to make sure you’re hiring someone that has experience specifically with constructing granny flats.

Local Ordinances

There are some government regulations that ban factory-built homes in single-family neighborhoods or can have complicated rules around the regulations that make it difficult to really tell if it is allowed or prohibited. Always make sure to do thorough research before investing into a prefabricated granny flat.

Neighborhood Restraints

Not every neighborhood or housing site will be suitable for an ADU construction. Things like, narrow streets, above ground electrical wires, or the lack of a staging area can all hinder your construction project. Understand what limitations your neighborhood has and talk with your potential prefab designer and discuss the different options you have.

Unexpected Pricing

What makes prefabricated granny flats so attractive to homeowners is that they are usually less work to construct and that they appear to be cheaper than building one from scratch, but the first price you’re quoted is usually not your last price. When creating a budget for a prefabricated granny flat you must consider things like, crane costs, transportation costs, and potential sales tax. By the time you are done paying for your pre-fabricated ADU, it’ll run you about the same cost as building one from scratch.

Confliction Local and State Laws

While you may have been following state law in the process of choosing your pre-fabricated ADU, some local jurisdictions may not know or even care about them and attempt to charge you full fees, and inspect your granny flat, despite it being previously inspected by the factory. If you happen to encounter this issue, call the HCD and have them explain your rights to you.

Factory Shutdowns

While constructing prefabricated granny flats is a profitable business, it is still a pretty new industry and because of that a lot of new companies are emerging. Some of these companies have gone bankrupt, which has resulted in homeowners losing their deposits. Always be sure to check the background, referrals, and other prerequisites before deciding to move forward.

Despite all of the cons, if you’re still interested in a prefabricated granny flat it is important to talk extensively with the manufacturer that you’re considering for this type of project. If you’re wanting to sit back and let a company do all the work for you, a prefab ADU may not be the best decision.

Council Approval

While in recent times it is much easier to get council to approve a granny flat, still make sure you do your due diligence. You’ll need to confirm things like the size of the block required, how close it can be to a fence and access needed. Knowing these details beforehand will save you lots of time and accepted hiccups during the construction process. Typically you’ll be using this strategy in lower and outer socio economic areas. These are areas that tend to deliver below average capital growth.

Granny Flat Design Ideas

A granny flat can be constructed from a number of different structural forms. They can also come with a variety of different amenities as well . Some granny flats are a miniature version of a full-sized home and have complete kitchens. Others, have limited kitchen facilities like a mini fridge and a microwave which are less hazardous. Depending on the size you’re most comfortable with and can afford will have a significant impact on where and how you structure your granny flat.

Luckily, there are a lot of different options for you to choose from so you can make sure that you’re getting the design that is just right for you and your unique situation.

Attached Accessory Dwelling Unit

This is the most popular type of ADU because it really maximizes the space you already have as opposed to creating or adding on an entirely new space. Attached ADU’s are versatile to use as a short or long-term leasing option because they always include a separate door from the main property, this ensures maximum privacy for both the homeowner and the ADU occupant.

Garage Conversion

Out of all of the granny flat designs, this one is probably the easiest to execute. While garage’s are usually used as a storage area, they make for a rentable and flexible living area. It is easy to transform because you have a preset structure to build from; four walls, a foundation, and a roof. If you’d rather have your garage space for your car, another alternative is to build a second level on top of your current garage structure.

Detached Dwelling Unit

If you have an underutilized yard, this is a great design option. This type of granny flat attracts vacation and long-term renters because of its physical separation from the main property.

Basement or Attic Conversion

Converting your basement or attic into a granny flat is also another way to have a foundational structure that can assist in the overall construction of the ADU as opposed to constructing it from scratch. This may be more ideal if you have an elder relative that can occupy the ADU, rather than renting it to a general occupant.

Granny Flats For Sale

Are Granny Flat’s A Good Investment?

Are you a homeowner that is interested in building a second rentable unit that could possibly provide financial assistance or freedom? Then building a granny flat may be for you, but you may also be wondering if it is a good investment as well. A granny flat could be a good investment if the following applies to you:

      • If it enhances your lifestyle and comfort, a good investment does not always have to be financial.
      • If you have up-front capital or a good amount of home equity
      • You have plans to own your home long-term and can rent it out for years to come
      • The rental market in your area is good and has an upward trajectory for the foreseeable future
      • If you’re not bound by a clause that forces you to stay on the property
      • If the rent to cost ratio is favorable because you already own the land

6 Questions That Will Determine If Your Granny Flat Is A Good Investment

Does A Granny Flat Increase Your Property Value?

The answer to this question really depends on what specific market you’re in and who is searching for these types of properties. For some older families it may be useful if their older kids need to move back in, they can still have their personal space. It may be useful to younger adults for the purpose of generating extra income to help pay off their mortgage.

A granny flat may increase the property value of your home, but not by very much. It is actually possible that the cost of the granny flat may cost more than the actual increased value that it adds to your home.

What Are The Flat Tax Implications?

There is liable to be a few tax implications when it comes to building a granny flat that can really determine if it is a good or a bad investment. The first common type of tax when your property value increases is a capital gains tax, unless you and your family will be using the entire residence, in that case this tax will not be charged.

If you happen to be using your granny flat for business purposes you can claim any expenses that may arise from the property as a tax deduction. If you have loan interest payments or depreciation expenses can also be claimed. It’s always a good idea to discuss anything tax-related with an accountant.

Will It Mean Extra Income?

Are you just building a granny flat as a side project or are you looking and have the potential to make extra income that can be used to potentially help pay off the mortgage of your single-family home? If the potential ROI or ability to make income is there, it very well may be a good investment.

Are You Spreading Your Income Risk?

If you only have one investment property, you are limited to how much income you can make. If that property does not have an occupant, you’re not making any money, but if you have two properties, in order to consistently bring in profit you just need to keep at least one of them occupied and with rising costs of housing in San Diego, keeping a granny flat occupied may not be hard to do.

Are You Considering Government Regulations?

In some jurisdictions there are certain regulations that need to be abided by. This may not necessarily mean complete restriction of a granny flat, but it could mean particular structure regulations. The last thing you want to happen is to completely have  floor plan of your granny flat laid out just to find that your property doesn’t meet the minimum requirements.

Are You Considering Loan Payments?

If you are thinking of financing your granny flat, how much will you be able to afford in loan and interest rates? Are you currently making enough income to cover the loan payments? These are all very important questions you should think about before investing in a granny flat.

Whether or not you should consider building a granny flat will depend on a number of different factors including, finances, loaning options, investment considerations and the overall housing market in your specific area.

Cities can actually benefit from granny flats for a number of reasons, one of the biggest being the rising housing economy in San Diego and the lack of availability. Its is always a critical measure to make sure you are conducting the proper research and talking to the right people who are familiar and knowledgeable in the topic of granny flats.

A part of conducting your own research means knowing specific things like the estimated cost of the potential granny flat you’ll have built. This means talking to general contractors to get an accurate price. Knowing whether you’d rather build your granny flat from scratch or have a prefabricated one is vital when it comes to considering prices. Understanding tax information is also an important part in the decision-making process. Speaking with an accountant can give you clarity on everything you need involving tax related regulations with your granny flat.

Another important factor to consider before making your decision is if a granny flat will improve the quality of your life. Will it be more of a convenience or a hassle? This can mean your children having a place to come home to during college breaks or caring for an elderly parent.

Regardless of the specific reason you may be interested in acquiring a granny flat, if you follow the steps in this guide, you’ll be sure to make the decision that is best for you, whether that means investing in a granny flat or choosing a different alternative. 

Design Build in The Process

Technology is everywhere these days, for better or worse. You read a lot of how it’s influencing construction and we agree it can help, especially in the visualization process. Although, we are not done with this specific project (2nd Story Addition) it’s coming along quite nicely thanks to a cooperative client.

This Second Story Addition located in Lakeside & SJB has been working on it for over 6 months now. Using our designer and the clients creative ideas we’ve been able to assess some of the 3D renderings before and after the job and they are looking pretty sweet thus far.

Note: Some details changed such as colors.

3D Rendering Living Room Perspective

2nd Story San Diego 3D Modeling
3D Model of Staircase and Hand Rail Prior to Demo.


second story after
Starting to Come Together.

Kitchen Design Build san diego

3D Rendering Upstairs Floor (Handrails)

3d render

Framing Out The Handrail

2nd story handrail
Second Story Handrail



Stay posted for more!


Add Certified Project Manager to Your Credentials

This year with a boom in building and a healthy economy, there is an increasing need for Construction Project Managers. If you are newly entering this field, or you want to add to your credentials, you should definitely consider getting certified.

Project managers supervise construction projects from start to finish, ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget. An understanding of the construction process, business and the ability to work in a fast-paced, ever evolving business and adhere to tight deadlines are crucial. Work experience in the industry is one of the most important requirements for this field. Bachelor’s degrees are becoming more common and many construction project managers pursue certification also, even though this is optional.

Project managers control costs, time, and the quality of construction ventures. They handle all kinds of projects from residential, schools and commercial buildings to industrial buildings, roads and bridges. They plan and coordinate every aspect of the construction process, from hiring contractors, working with engineers and architects to dealing with vendors. One project manager may oversee an entire construction project, or there may be multiple managers overseeing specific parts of a project. Project Managers usually start out working for a construction firm, but often branch out to own their own company. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that construction managers earn, on average, $92,700 a year. The outlook for Construction Project Management jobs are anticipated to grow 16 percent from 2012-2022, making this quite a lucrative and promising career.

Construction project managers are increasingly expected to have a bachelor’s degree in some construction-related field like building science, construction management or civil engineering. Years of construction experience is still needed to enter this profession and can be gained through working as an intern, some area as a crafts man or supervisor on a construction job. Working closely with other project managers is important to gain real world experience and industry knowledge.

Earning a master’s degree in a construction-related field could open the door to higher paying jobs at large construction firms, but is certainly not required. To greatly improve one’s marketability in general as a Project Manager in construction, earning a certification is highly recommended. Visit The American Institute of Constructors website to see their offerings for Associate Constructor and Certified Professional Constructor certifications. The Construction Management Association of America offers a certification for Certified Construction Manager. Also, the Project Management Professional is a widely industry-recognized certification for project managers in construction areas. The PMP shows employers and clients alike that you speak and understand the global language of project management.

Getting certified in one or more of these disciplines will help you to adopt practices for exploring a variety of perspectives. Here are some crucial points that you will learn upon becoming a certified Construction Project Manager.

1. We assume we see what we see, but we really see what we think. Make it a habit to inquire what others see. Together, you can see more and it will make efforts on the project much more efficient.

2. Stay close to your customer. Clients’ concerns will grow and change over the life of a project. Keep communication open with them to assure you deliver above and beyond what they expect.

3. Take care of your project team and they will take care of you. We can’t take care of the customer properly if we aren’t taking care of our project team. It comes down to taking care of each team member as individuals, ensuring they feel heard, nurtured and valued.

4. Keep your eye on your project promises. Deliver what you promise and be careful not to promise what you don’t know you can deliver. Project work can be difficult. Remind yourself as well as your team of the your promises and what you are doing to fulfill those promises.

5. Build relationships intentionally. Yes, build client and team relationships with purpose and put forth the work to nurture those relationships. To do great work, innovation, learning and collaboration requires people who like each other and care. Don’t leave that to chance.

6. Learning and action go hand in hand. Projects are fantastic opportunities to learn. You should make it a habit to incorporate learning into all of your project activities. Your team will appreciate it and your customer will undoubtedly benefit from it, as well. Not to mention, it will make your job easier.

7. Coordinate precisely. A construction project is an ever-evolving network of commitment. Tend to the critical conversations to keep these networks active. Make sure that people are making clear requests, completion dates for all requests and promises, and share anything that can change the advancement of the project.

8. Collaboration is key. As the project manager, it should be your rule to plan with the very people who will be the performers of the plan. Don’t wait until it is too late and the project is in trouble before you seek their help. Continue collaborating with these key players throughout the life of the project.

9. Listen actively and generously. For the most part, people are good and well-intended. Give people the benefit of the doubt, even when they may have cost valuable time and money. Take the time to listen to them, both clients and team members. Ask questions. Seek their opinions and ideas. Be generous with yourself, at the same time.

10. Expect the unexpected. Even a perfect plan cannot plan for every single thing. There are plenty of situations that simply cannot be anticipated and planned for. Be flexible and resilient, no matter what life may throw your way. Even in the harshest of setbacks, you and your team will learn something. When you do take a setback, and it will happen, review the previous nine rules for ideas on how to work your way out of it.



Essential Tools for any DIY Project and Homeowner

Looking for a quick weekend craft? Want to find a way to make those do-it-yourself projects even easier? Then you should take a few minutes to locate and reassemble all of your crafting tools. That way, you have an idea about what tools you already have and what tools you might want to get.

Check to make sure that all of your tools are in good working order. Make sure that there are no items that need replaced, updated or if you are missing any of the pieces. Here is a list of our favourite craft, covering basic and essentials tools that every DIYer should have on hand.

Power Tools

Hammer Drill: This tool is vital if you are going to hang art or anchor furniture. It is priced from $70 and up.

Cordless Drill: While a screwdriver will work just as well, sometimes you just need the speed that a drill has. It will help cut down on your DIY project time, leaving you more time to enjoy your weekend. We recommend an 18 to 20 Volt drill. These will cost you around $100.

Orbital Sander: This tool is perfect for getting the finish off of those furniture pieces that you want to repurpose. And it does this rather quickly, so you can focus more of your time on other things. Finding a decent sander at $60 is easy.

No Electricity Needed Tools

Level: Investing in several different sizes of levels is always a good idea. Also, make sure that your levels have horizontal and vertical vials.

Measuring Tape: Having both a small and large tape measure in your tool collection will make DIY projects easier to do. The little ones can fit comfortably into your pocket and will make measuring an easy task.

Jigsaw: Adding your personal touch to DIY projects is a key component, so having a jigsaw will allow you to do that just. Avoid low-quality brands, if you plan on using it frequently, check this guide to know the popular jigsaw brands and how to select the best one for your project.

Screwdriver Set: Screwdrivers are better able to fit into small spaces and are quiet so any late night projects will not wake up the whole house. Having a set that comes with interchangeable bits will offer you more flexibility.

Step Ladder: Sturdiness is an important thing to consider. Think about investing in a ladder that can be folded up into a smaller space, so it does not take up a lot of your project area.

X-Acto Knife and Cutting Mat: Not every project will require using a saw to cut things, sometimes you need to have a tool that can cut those corners.

Staple Gun: A staple gun is a secret tool for being able to finish your projects quicker. They also come in handy for those small household temporary fixes

Hammer: Make sure you pick a hammer that can be multifunctional. You are going to want to use it to hang pictures and tear things down.


Having a well-rounded tool selection will make any DIY projects easier and quicker. Do check online often for DIY-crafted idea to improve your home.

About the Author: This is a guest post by Jimmy, from Air Tool Guy. He is a DIY enthusiast, and loves tinkering with home improvement projects in his free time.

12 Steps to Prevent Mold Build Up

2Note: This post was a guest contribution by Skylar Lewis

It’s not always convenient or necessary to call the big guns (i.e. Us) in to handle your mold situation. This is especially true, if you haven’t had any recent major water damage or recently had a problem solved by us.

While we recommend calling in professionals to handle any major mold issues, there are a few simple steps that you-the homeowner- can take to stop mold it its tracks…or at least hold it at bay.

Here are twelve simple steps to prevent mold growth.

Step #1 Never Leave Standing Water alone

This is probably very obvious to the more mold-conscious of us, however, there are some people who still allow standing water to remain for long periods of time. Mold grows very quickly; some molds can see significant growth in as little as 24 hours.

If you need proof, smell your wet laundry the next time you’ve left it out for a few hours without drying.

I know…gross, but we’ve all had rough weeks.

Back to the point. If you detect a faintly musty odor on your clothing, mold has already begun to grow in due to the moisture left behind.

Step #2 Regulate Your Humidity

This step may be arguably new to most of you since we rarely consider our humidity levels.

Humidity becomes a problem mostly during the summer and spring. The EPA recommends, maintaining humidity between 30 and 60% to prevent mold growth. Using a humidity meter, you can measure the humidity levels in your home. If they are above 55%, you may want to consider buying a dehumidifier or air conditioner to help maintain safe levels.

Step #3 Ventilate Your Homes

Mold THRIVES in homes that have poor ventilation.

This happens for two reasons. First, mold spores are transported by drafts and breezes, meaning they exist pretty much everywhere. Not having good ventilation means that mold spores brought in on the breeze, have more time to settle and grow in areas of moisture.

Second, poorly ventilated areas tend to allow condensation build up. Hot showers, venting dryers, cooking or even washing dishes with warm water, can cause condensation build up that could facilitate mold growth.

Step #4 Buy proper Air filters

Using a few filters spread out around the house, or a house-wide air filtration system can drastically reduce the number of mold spores flying around from room to room.

Step #5 Insulate your Ducts

Any ducts that carry air that is a different temperature from the rest of the house, can cause condensation build up if they aren’t properly insulated.

Because these things usually run in corners and dark places in your home, they can often create the PERFECT conditions for mold to grow and remain undetected for long periods of time.

Step #6 Stay on the Lookout for Stray Water

Being constantly alert for signs of any leaks can go a long way to preventing mold growth. Some signs of leaking are: persistent dampness, peeling paint, strange odors and discoloration of surfaces.

Step #7 Keep Your Fridge and Freezer in Check

Taking steps to maintain properly a properly functioning fridge can drastically decrease your chances of developing a mold problem. Fridge and freezer doors that fail to close properly and malfunctioning drop pans are potential sources of moisture for mold growth.

1Step #8 De-clutter your house

Remember, mold loves dark, moist places. Having an overly cluttered home can cast shadows that then become a perfect home for mold to move in to. Clutter also blocks proper airflow, thus allowing mold spores time to find purchase on household surfaces.

Step #9 Try plastic plants

Yes, having indoor plants can be a great thing for your home. They bring oxygen and life to an environment. However, the soil that they need to survive, is ofte- no, DEFINITELY a breeding ground for various types of mold.

So instead of taking the chance, why not pursue some near-to-life plastic plants as replacements?

Step #10 Avoid Carpet floors

Carpets are perfect places for mold spores to get lodged in. They are also moisture vacuums and can create pockets that allow for moisture build up that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Know that musty smell you get in old houses? Yeah, it’s probably mold.

Step #11 Mold resistant products

If you’re building a new home or replacing parts of an older one, using products like mold-resistant drywall and mold-inhibitors in paint may be a smart decision. Especially if you live in a moisture prone area.

Step #12 Guide water away from your home

Rain and melting snow can cause problems for you, if the ground around your home isn’t sufficiently sloped away from your foundation. Try installing ground drainage to help prevent water build up in your yards.

Step #13 Don’t Go Too Crazy (Don’t worry, it’s an easy one)

Using just a few of these steps can dramatically lower your risk of developing a mold problem. While it may be better to use all of them (if they all apply to you), it’s pretty impractical. So don’t stress too much, choose a few and get started!

Always remember, if you discover a serious mold problem in your home, contact a professional team to let them handle it for you.

Author Biography

Skylar Lewis

Skylar Lewis has built Superior Restoration into a dominant force in Southern California through a constant growth mentality. Follow Superior Restorations on Google + to get the latest water, fire, and mold damage prevention tips.


You’ve Found a Plumbing Problem: What’s Next?

Sooner or later, virtually all homeowners encounter some kind of problem that interferes with the smooth function of their household plumbing systems. Unfortunately, like many challenges in life, plumbing problems can occur at unexpected times and trigger significant disruptions in your tightly scheduled daily routine. Once your plumbing starts giving you trouble, the key question is: What you can do to minimize the disruption and return your system to good working order as soon as possible? Luckily, you can follow a few simple steps to uncover the extent of the problem and determine the most appropriate course of action.

Troubleshoot the Cause of the Problem

Most plumbing-related issues have more than one potential underlying cause. Before you decide to call a plumber or take care things yourself, consider taking a little bit of time to troubleshoot the specific source of the problem. The information you gather may provide vital clues for any professional you hire to carry out a repair. It can also form the basis for your own cost-effective, do-it-yourself repair efforts.

Troubleshooting High Water Usage

One of the most common, but overlooked, indications of plumbing problems is an unexpected increase in your household water usage, which typically translates into an unexpected increase in your monthly water bill. If you discover unexplained high water usage, start your troubleshooting efforts by listening for leaking pipes in your kitchen and bathroom(s). Since the average home is quite loud during busier parts of the day, you may need to perform this task toward bedtime or when you first wake up in order to catch the relatively subtle sounds of a slow leak. If the tank on a toilet is the source of your leak, you may have an easier time detecting the sound of constantly running water between flushes.

Troubleshooting Slow Drains

You may first notice the existence of plumbing problems when the water in a sink or bathtub starts emptying at an unusually slow rate. Naturally, you might assume that the problem is a localized clog in the connected drain line. In many cases, such an assumption would be correct. However, in other cases, the draining problems you notice in one sink or bathtub actually affect a larger portion of your plumbing system. You can distinguish localized problems from bigger issues by pouring water down multiple drains throughout your home and comparing the results.

Troubleshooting Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure is another fairly common plumbing issue. First, take the time to determine if pressure problems are affecting just one fixture or several fixtures throughout your household. Also take the time to determine if both the hot and cold water taps of each fixture have the same pressure issues.

If you have low water pressure in more than one area of your home, you may have a system-wide problem caused by things such as undetected leaks or mineral accumulations inside your plumbing lines. Other potential problems include a faulty system component called a pressure reducing valve or a faulty water meter shut-off valve. In some cases, the water pressure problems you experience may actually be caused by issues outside your home, such as leaking or broken water mains in your area.

Fix Minor Problems Yourself

In many cases, you can follow up your troubleshooting efforts with a do-it-yourself repair that helps you avoid calling for professional help. Depending on your willingness, personal experience and comfort level, common plumbing issues that may fall into the DIY category include dripping faucets, clogged drains, constantly running toilets, leaky pipes and low water pressure. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether you want to put in the time and effort required to successfully address these issues.

Repairing Dripping Faucets

Faucet dripping is commonly caused by wear and tear in the silicone or rubber washers that normally help form a watertight seal when a tap closes. You may be able to replace a damaged washer fairly easily. However, problems that extend beyond simple washer damage may require a plumber’s expertise. You also probably need a plumber if your dripping faucet has a ceramic tap.

Fixing Running Toilets

In most cases, you can successfully repair a constantly running toilet by replacing worn-out components located in the toilet tank. Essentially all hardware stores and home improvement stores sell kits that make the replacement process quite straightforward. If component replacement doesn’t fix the issue, you may need to call a plumber.

Fixing Leaky Pipes

Sometimes, you can temporarily stop pipe joints from leaking by applying something called a fitting compound or a joint filler. However, as a rule, only replacement of the leaking section will produce a permanent solution. Unless you feel confident removing a section of pipe, schedule an appointment with a plumbing professional.

Fixing Clogged Drains

Many people attack drain clogs with a chemical-based commercial drain cleaner. While these products often get the job done, they can damage your pipes if you use them frequently to deal with recurring clogs. As an alternative, you may want to try enzymatic drain cleaners, which use a combination of naturally occurring enzymes and bacteria to bust clogs. However, repeated clogging usually indicates that it’s time to contact a plumber.

Call a Plumbing Professional

As we’ve seen, you may need to call a plumber in order to successfully address some of the more minor problems that can affect your household plumbing. There are also times when you should avoid DIY solutions altogether and make a call to a plumbing professional your number one priority. Typically, these situations arise when the issue affecting your system is too complex or too hazardous for you to deal with on your own.

One of the prime examples of a situation that immediately calls for a plumber’s expertise is a leaking or collapsed sewer line. Failure to handle this hazardous scenario correctly can lead to contamination of your drinking water supply with pesticide residue or disease-causing microbes such as Salmonella or E. coli. Other situations that require expert plumbing assistance to ensure safety and high-quality work include leaks in a septic tank, malfunctions in your household water heater, and the installation of any new plumbing lines, new bathtubs/showers, or new sinks.

Second story addition done in San Diego

Second Stories – They Aren’t Always What They Seem

We’ve had the privilege of building so many second story add-ons in San Diego. They are super fun to build but definitely require more skill than a one-story room addition. Tying into an existing building and ensuring that the new floor is supported structurally is the primary concern. Both the code and General Contractor involved is focused or should be building the new room to be supported by the existing foundation. These days with the DIY, Houzz and remodeling glamour shows it seems to have created an ideology that contracting can be done by anyone with a pneumatic nailgun, some laborers and material/hardware. This, in fact couldn’t be farther from the truth. To find a good carpenter, general contractor is a craftsman that has an engineering mind but can gracefully transition the new structure aesthetically, while passing the inspection phases with flying colors. Although, we are still working on this second story here are some items most homeowners do not assume that can be extremely stressful/require talent to build. These are just a few misconceptions I’ve found that are usually lost from the conceptual idea to how building really happens on the field.

Are You Including A Deck?

Floor-ExampleGreat, I love to sip a cup of coffee in the morning outside too. But…keep in mind you will need a different elevation for these outdoor hangouts. With rain and other outdoor elements you need to channel water and debris toward one side (with drainage) so you do not have stagnant water. Controlled water is your best friend in construction, un-controlled water this is where you have issues. So it is essential you pitch the floor to avoid moisture issues and damage to fluid that would otherwise settle. Why are two elevation differences on one floor plan difficult? Well, just think in these terms – anytime you are doing more customization and do not build homogenously things get tricky. You will have to take the framing by each phrase and stop, build and carry on. It is much easier to build one uniform elevation where you have a production line of someone cutting your joists, someone passing them and someone installing. With a deck you likely need to take your time and complete one-phase looking at specific engineering plans and having the team cool there jets to avoid building errors.

Is There an Existing Foundation or Structure To Build On?

Are you breaking down the entire frame or do you have something to build off of? Remember matching or adding on to structures is not as easy as “new construction”. Many homeowners want to build a new room on top of a garage or existing structure and think “this should be easy, in fact – the work is already half done…just build on top!” Again, this isn’t true.

Let’s take building on top of a garage for example. Yes, you will have an existing base/structure assuming it is not effected by termites or in solid condition to build off. You need to take into consideration that the new floor to support the second story is likely to require different specs for the new weight and foot-traffic. After all a garage roof has the occasional roofer but mainly just has some wind and rain so of course adding furniture and other heavier items will likely change how the floor should be crafted. When taking out the existing garage roof you need to be cautious. Likely the garage door is fastened to the roof so how will you keep this in place or dis-assemble? Also when you take the roof out, you must tie off/support the existing walls. All of this may sound easy but in fact it requires an experienced specialist to avoid any injuries or huge damage to the house.

Do You Have Existing Architectural Plans/Designs?

DSC02094Taking imitative is a great trait and also it is very cool to work with homeowners that have an interest in remodeling. However, it is not always advised to take too much charge on remodeling. Again, be careful what you’ve watched or seen on TV. Most general contractors have a network of subs and vendors who they’ve worked with for years after filtering through and building trust. We’ve worked with our engineer/architect for over 10 years and it’s unlike a relationship that you can get from just handing over plans after one session. Our advice is to find a contractor or if architect you hire as a team. This is much smarter and will yield a much more professional timeline and save you money. By not having to redo plans or avoiding miscommunications you are streamlining your project. Also if you hire a general contractor that works with an architect they can refer to each other in regards to the carpentry, design and code vs having a disconnect during the project. You’ll want to hire a general that has subs that get along and make the project fun and structurally correct.

So there you have it, here are just some nuances I’ve seen that homeowners tend to overlook. With building back up it is as crucial as ever to hire an experienced professional as many contractors are getting back in the game. A good team will get your project closer to your ideal dream and you will save a great deal of money doing the task once, paying for materials and labor once.


Countertop Options: Marble or Laminate?

Countertop for kitchen San DiegoWhite marble is one of the most popular countertops right now. Out of every other countertop on the market, the white marble is sought after by so many. It’s been done quite well, over the years. While White marble is a favorite, there are pros and cons to using it. Below is a detailed account of the different pros and cons for the white marble countertop.

THE PROS:1) It’s a lot cheaper then some of it’s contemporaries. Look around and do some window shopping. You will find that white marble is one of the least expensive materials to use for your kitchen countertops.2) It looks nice. When you see the pictures of it online, the images hardly do it justice. You need to see it up close and personal. White marble will add a brightness to the room that you never had before. It’s also a natural brightness. Other materials have to try harder, sometimes too hard. White marble doesn’t have to try, it just does.THE CONS:

1) One of the more obvious cons is that it stains. Nothing is perfect, not even white marble. If you leave something on the counter and it picks it up, you will have to work to get it out. You won’t have to spend all day on it, but you will need to use some elbow grease.

Laminate is another material that is used in the kitchen. It does look quite nice. Never underestimate the power of laminate. If you do use laminate, I have some tips on keeping up with the maintenance. As with any countertop, it does require some maintenance and laminate is no different.

1) Laminate countertops are non-porous. That means they won’t pick up the bacteria. This is a good thing. For this reason alone they are considered very low-maintenance. To clean the top, all you do is take a wet wash cloth and some mild soap. You can also use dish detergent, but make sure it’s mild. Once you have finished wiping it all down, wash it off. You need to clean up any leftover soap residue that is sticking to the surface. You will cause more damage to the surface by not doing this.

THE CONS:2) Dry it all off after rinsing. You don’t want to have any pooling going on.3) Never use bleach. If you do, only use a small amount. Bleach will cause major discoloration to the surface, as would any strong chemical. It’s also going to cause scratches on the surface and make it look nasty. After that, you might as well get a new one installed.4) For stains, use the 3:1 ratio. Take baking soda and water, mix into a paste. Smooth over the stained areas and let sit for about 5 minutes. Once done, smoothly wipe away the paste. Never rub, that will cause more damage to the surface.

To keep the laminate surface looking new, never put hot items on the top.

Image Credit: White Marble Countertop –