A Guide To Building A Granny Flat in San Diego in 2021: 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.

Home Remodeling Contractor
Hanging recessed canned lighting in a Granny Flat in San Diego, CA

San Diego City Regulation For Granny Flats in 2021

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 2021. 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. 

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.



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.


Green Building Techniques

Going Green

Initially the idea of ‘going green’ sounds a little silly until you start paying attention to all the damage that we, as humans, do every day. When you start noticing how much of any affect, our actions have on the environment, it becomes abundantly clear that we need to change our behaviour in order to protect what we have left. Going green has become a go-to idea for almost every aspect of our lives, almost every industry is trying to adjust themselves and their operations to facilitate a transformation that business friendly and ecologically sound.

One of the most affected industries is the building industry. This opportunities around ‘going green’ in building and remodelling are enormous but they are often perceived as pricey. But going green isn’t all about the environment, it has plenty of benefits to for the home owner. The benefits of using the right materials and constructing your home with going green range from cheaper and more effective heating to careful water preservation. Not every homeowner needs to immediately purpose a solar heating system, there are a huge range of smaller changes you can make to turn your home into a more eco-friendly space.

Home construction and design San DiegoThe best tip anyone can give for planning on building or renovating your home is do your research. This seems like an obvious piece of advice to give but make sure you know what you are getting into before you dive head first. Make sure you know enough about the materials you are using and the design aspects you are employing to ensure that you will get the best eco-friendly home for your budget.

The most important aspect of going green is know what types of materials to use and what types of materials to avoid. This isn’t just about what piping to use in your plumbing but also what timber you can use and even what types of varnish are available. When you are designing the space you are renovating or building think about what you can use in the space that is recycled or what different types of natural materials are safe to use. This list includes knowing about where different types of timber and what types of cement and glass have been recycled.

Another useful thing to know is what little tricks can be employed to cheap things like water and electricity consumption down. These tricks include using a geyser blanket or tank heater. This ensures that your geyser doesn’t need to be on as often or for as long as usual. Along with this choosing the correct glass for your windows, with the correct glazing, that ensures that the heat of your home is preserved.  These tricks can seem surprising at first but are excellent tools for ensuring that your home is green and cost-effective.

Any home can be made eco-friendly with even the smallest of touches, and it doesn’t even need to be a costly adventure.
Visiting these sites may help:





san diego room additon services

Design/Build Room Addition – What does it Involve?

There are a number of reasons why you may be considering a room addition or second-story addition for your San Diego home. Perhaps you have a new addition to your family on the way, need somewhere for guests to stay or simply require an office so you can work from home. Whatever your reason for considering a room addition or second story addition, you need to make sure you work with a reputable design-build contractor like SJB Construction that has experience in home remodeling in San Diego.

Here we will guide you through the custom design/build process to give you a better idea of the stages involved.

Initial consultation

After you have researched reputable design-build contractors in San Diego and have narrowed down your choice to a single company, they should offer you an initial consultation. Here at SJB Construction, we provide all prospective clients with a consultation with one of our in-house architectural designers. The point of this meeting is so that we can understand what the client is looking for in their custom design/build and work together to create the best architectural design to meet their needs and requirements.

No matter which contractor you go with, the consultation stage of the design/build process should not be rushed. We give clients as much time as they need to decide on their room addition / second story addition, after all it is a big decision to make!

All of our initial consultations take place at the client’s home so our in-house architectural designers can get a better idea of the space they are working with and provide clients a more accurate insight of their options.

Obtaining permits

Room addition service in San Diego

Before any construction can take place, whether it is a room addition or second story addition, it is important to make sure you have obtained the necessary permits. All renovations must comply with the San Diego code. Your contractor should remind you of the need to obtain permits and some will even apply for them on your behalf. Whilst we’re on the subject of keeping things legal, it is also essential that you check your contractor is licensed and insured before they carry out any work on your home.

Architectural planning

Some companies will send their architectural designers to the first consultation with an initial bid / price for the custom build, only to add on extra expenses later. This is something reputable contractors like us are not willing to do. Instead our architectural designers will go away and use 3D rendering software to create a mock-up of your room addition or second story addition. They will then organise another meeting with you so that you can check the plan and decide if you want to make any changes. Only when you are 100% happy will we talk figures. We are extremely transparent about our pricing and will provide a no obligation quote to ensure you are completely happy before committing to the project.

Assign On-Site Deliverables

The next stage of the design / build process for a room or second story addition involves assigning the timeline and contractors to remain consistent with flow of project. SJB Construction Inc. will oversee all of the work carried out on your home and will be your first point of contact for answering your questions. Basically they are there to meet your needs and requirements, monitor your budget, ensure your project is meeting time deadlines, and provide you with an excellent customer service.


During the build process of your room addition or second story addition in San Diego, you will need to have it inspected by the local authorities. Your project manager will be able to inform you when these inspections need to take place for your specific build and should also organize them on your behalf. A final inspection will also need to take place when the build process is finished, as according to San Diego code a project is not complete for legal purposes until it has passed the final inspection!

If you have any questions about the design/build process or are considering a room or second-story addition to your San Diego home, feel free to give us a call on 1-619-726-7692.


home remodeling san diego

Architectural Designs for 2014

In today’s home there are an array of exciting trends to consider when buying or remodeling your home. The kitchen is still hub, but it’s starting to get really bright. Find an escape from your busy world in a bathroom retreat. Flex rooms offer space with the changing family dichotomy. Find creative inspiration for all that stuff you’ve collected over the years. The green revolution continues aggressively with the growing popularity of a passive home.

Kitchen’s Bold Look

Kitchens continue to be the gathering place in the home and bold colors are offsetting those dark cabinet colors and stainless steel appliances. Warm colors like yellows and reds are popular appetite stimulators, while silver, blue and green hues offer mellower tones. Desks and study areas continue to make this space a place of multitasking, drawing in all of the members of the family.

kitchen remodel san diego, Tips & Tricks how to improve your homeThe Bathroom Retreat

Bathrooms are going the way of the spa, with multi-headed showers, steam showers or stand-alone tubs. Ceramic tiles are still popular; either muted, like the favorite white subway tile, or with bright and fun accents of color. Electronics have made their way into the bathroom with unique sound systems and flat screen TVs. High-tech also continues to advance with water-saving features like a low-flow toilet with either a .8 gallon or 1.6 gallons per flush.

Flex Rooms

Flex rooms are a growing trend in family homes. Baby boomers are a big part of this move, as the elderly population is choosing to live with family due to financial constraints. These rooms offer options such as changing a den into a music room, nursery or study. For new home designs builders add a flex room to give the owner more options with their space. A flex room can work as a multi-functioning room such as a guest room, TV room or office by installing hidden Murphy beds to make it a guest room and clever built-ins to hide a TV and computer.

Creative Storage

People continue to accumulate a ridiculous amount of storage, just look at all of the storage rental places. But finding a place for all of this stuff in the home is not always easy. What about turning a functional staircase into a collection of drawers? Designers are coming up with unique and creative ways to hide your stuff.

Passive Home

Reduction in the consumption of home energy continues to be a prevalent trend in architecture and passive homes are answering the call. These homes are very well insulated, nearly airtight, and are heated by passive solar gain and from internal gains such as people or electronics. A small source of energy provides any additional heat. This system saves up to 90% on heating costs and a ventilator provides a constant supply of fresh air.

Today Is Tomorrow’s Trend

Many trends in today’s home still embrace the qualities of family and comfort, but there is a lot of changes to make home living more exciting. Technology continues to lead in home design by creating unique advancements that allow for a simpler living while saving you money. As the family changes, so do the more flexible home, offering creative uses of space. Today’s designs offer you an upbeat, relaxing, storable, and cool home.

Building Trends in 2014

Over the past several years, there’s been a growing demand for energy-efficient homes with eco-friendly materials and versatile living spaces. Homeowners are looking for features that create a comfortable and convenient lifestyle. To meet demands, building trends in 2014 are including features that homeowners want. Take a look at some of the most popular home features.

Smart Home Systems

In today’s computerized world, homeowners love smart home systems that help conserve energy and make household tasks easy and convenient. With the push of a button from any computer or smartphone, you can automate numerous home features from any location. Smart home systems allow you to turn your home lights on or off, lock and unlock doors, arm or disarm your security system, program or adjust thermostat settings, and program or adjust swimming pool and spa temperatures.

Green Materials

Homeowners are opting for healthy living environments with safe eco-friendly materials in the home. Many building materials contain toxic or harmful chemicals which can contribute to allergies, respiratory problems, headaches, and other health issues. Interior and exterior materials like paints, wood stains, insulation, carpet, and upholstery are being replaced with recycled and green materials that are chemical-free and hypoallergenic. Popular materials include recycled wood products, eco-friendly bamboo flooring, non-toxic adhesives and carpet backing, and hypoallergenic textiles.

Family Kitchens

Kitchens are being designed as a multitasking space that’s used by the entire family. They are becoming the central activity center, the hub-of-the-house, where the family spends time together cooking, eating and entertaining. Kitchen layouts include various cooking zones with state-of-the-art appliances, kitchen islands with prep stations and sinks, and planning areas with desks and computers. This versatile layout creates a kitchen where kids can do homework while parents cook dinner. It encourages family conversations and shared activities.

Outdoor Fireplaces and Firepits

Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits create an outdoor environment with a cozy, relaxing atmosphere. The glow of a warm fire creates a comfortable setting for outdoor dining and entertaining. The added warmth and light extend the time you can spend outdoors throughout the year. Outdoor fireplaces require more space, more money, and special skills to build and install. Free-standing firepits require very little space, less money, and no building skills. The choice usually depends on space and budget limitations, but they are both popular outdoor features.

Outdoor Kitchens

A luxury home feature that’s in big demand with homeowners today is outdoor kitchens. They provide a great way to cook, dine and entertain outdoors year-round. Simple designs usually include a grill, side burner, sink, and countertops. Luxury designs can include rotisseries, pizza ovens, warming drawers, storage areas, compact refrigerators, ice makers, wine coolers, and beer keg dispensers. Depending on the design and selected appliances, outdoor kitchens can range from $2,000 to $50,000, but homeowners love the lifestyle options that they provide.

Spas and Hot Tubs

With today’s busy lifestyles, homeowners want relaxation features in their homes. Spas and hot tubs top the list for popularity. They are being included in new homes around the country in warm and cold climates. Outdoor spas and hot tubs are still the most popular, but some homeowners are opting for indoor spas in the master bathroom or just outside the master bedroom. New homes without spas or hot tubs often include whirlpool baths with adjustable water jets and showers with specialty showerheads and side jets. Whether inside or outside, relaxing spas and hot tubs are home features that homeowners want.

Four Great Ideas for Second Story Additions to Your Home

second story addition san diegoAdding a second story addition to your home can add value, personality and excitement to your home. While any homeowner can easily get excited by the possibilities available to them about additions, the process of actually deciding what your addition should be can be time-consuming and frustrating. While there are many options available for numerous types of homes, here are four great ideas for second story additions that can work with any home style and homeowner preference.

Storage Area

While a new storage area might be low on the list of potential additions, it is very practical. This is especially useful if you have children, love collecting or if you simply have a lot of items that tend to do nothing but add clutter to the house. While you may want to keep your items due to sentimental value or monetary value, clutter can make a house seem very cramped and stuffy. In addition, cluttered houses with no room for storage tend to become stagnant in their décor because homeowner's don't want to get rid of their old items to make room for new items.

Your storage area can also be a display area for collections and precious family items like photos and trophies. Your sentimental items can be displayed with pride and visited as often as you'd like instead of merely placing them in a box and only looking at them while cleaning.

Personal Office or Study

Personal offices and studies are perfect for people who need a quiet place to concentrate on work or schoolwork, especially in a house filled with various people and pets. A locking door, a desk, a computer and a bookshelf are all practically anyone needs for their own personal office. If you have the means, you can also easily convert your working space into a meeting area for your business. It's also a good idea to include an additional exterior entrance for more private and professional meetings as it may seem unprofessional to lead clients and associates in through your house.

Entertainment Room

A dream for many people may be a reality for you. An entertainment room or personal theater is an extremely appealing addition to many homes. You can tailor the room for your own personal interests by including a flat screen TV, entertainment center, a small arrangement of theater-styled seating, gaming consoles, surround sound, arcade games and more. It is one of the more expensive options, but it is also one of the most enjoyable.

Additional Bedrooms or Apartments

If you plan on extending your family soon or want to have an extra room for company, additional space can easily be converted to additional bedrooms. The simple addition of a bed, dresser and perhaps a small desk can easily convert any space into a viable bedroom.

In addition, you can also convert the space into an apartment and rent it out for extra money. If you have extra space in your home that you're not using, it's a great way to make some money.

Construction management – Residential Remodeling

Construction management started with the development of huge commercial projects. Large construction companies would be delighted just to have a small portion of the work and were the executives did not want to pay a general contractor the standard markup of all the work involved.

This management approach was born with the notion of finding professionals who would work for a fee and manage a bunch of contractors, typically in a larger scale.

sjb construction team working


With that said construction management is typically for commercial products.  However in residential projects this can entail a process where the owner provides plans and specifications.  The construction manager takes bids from subcontractors and suppliers.  The construction manager then reviews these bids with the client and the final say in choosing the correct subcontractors is made. This is a very difficult management approach to fulfill both from the clients end and from a residential home remodeling point of view and essentially extinct for that reason.

Why is construction management not suited for my residential room addition?

  • You are dealing with a lot of many middlemen.
  • If you have separate contracts with each subcontractor and that will be a big hassle.
  • The construction manager does not always bear liability for the work rather it is the individual contractors involved.
  • It may be difficult for the construction manager to control all subcontractors since he does not hold the purse strings.

Hybrid Approach is best

The best value for residential remodeling is a process in which homeowners are dealing with the general contractor but also can rest assured that the project is going smooth and deadlines are accurately met. Trusting in one general contractor to coordinate tends to reflect value in that they tend to know subcontractors very well, pricing and have more leverage than a hired on construction manager lacking more field knowledge and established relationships. Our advice at SJB Construction Inc. is to seek a remodeling company that offers a hybrid where you can rest assured your project is monitored while trusting in a lean team to actually go in and do the work versus pass the project off to various other silos.

Photo credit: http://www.ctc.uaf.edu