Clever homeowners are maximizing their space and adding value to their properties by adding a granny flat. These self-contained living areas are often used to put up aging parents, but they can also be used to house an au pair or young adult.
This is a great time for building a granny flat in San Diego. Because the county is experiencing a housing shortage, the San Diego Board of Supervisors voted in January 2019 to waive permitting fees for these dwellings. Still, you probably have questions about San Diego granny flat regulations and the cost to build a granny flat in San Diego. This guide will help you understand what goes into constructing a granny flat so that you can determine the best option for you.
Can You Build a Granny Flat on Your Property?
Before you move forward with your granny flat, you need to know whether you can construct one on your property. A granny flat is technically an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU. In some government documents, San Diego refers to ADUs as companion units, or CUs. An ADU can be attached to the house, as a room over the garage would be, or detached, such as a carriage house.
A granny flat must also abide by the following San Diego granny flat regulations:
• It must be in a residential zone where a single-family residence exists or is being constructed.
• It must on the same legal lot as the existing dwelling.
• It cannot be sold separately from the primary house.
• It must provide space for sleeping, sanitation, eating and living.
• It has to comply with fire setbacks and main building setbacks.
• It must provide a parking space that complies with required setbacks.
In some cases, you may convert an existing ADU into a granny flat. You may not be able to construct two ADUs on one property.
If your home is zoned as a multi-family unit, you may not be able to build a granny flat. Check with the city to find out whether you can build an ADU on your property.
In some cases, the city regulations differ from the county regulations. Because the state has recently tried to improve the housing crisis, there are still some kinks to work out. You can read more about granny flat regulations in the city of San Diego here.
How Big Can Your Granny Flat Be?
The most common locations for a granny flat are:
• In a basement
• In an existing garage
• Above a garage
• In a standalone unit on the property
A detached granny flat can be up to 1,200 square feet. If the unit is attached, it must not surpass 50 percent of the floor area of the existing dwelling.
A garage is the easiest space to convert into a granny flat. It’s also the cheapest because it’s a single story and doesn’t require building up. If the average two-car garage is 676 square feet, that’s how big the ADU will end up being whether you convert the garage or build above it. Of course, you can choose to add on to your house to build an ADU, but the size may be limited.
What Is the Cost to Build a Granny Flat in San Diego?
Because San Diego is waiving permit fees for ADUs for the next five years, homeowners can save thousands of dollars if they build them during this period. With the permit fee set at $1,222 plus $0.411 per square foot, you’d pay about $1,500 for a 676-square-foot unit just to obtain the permit.
Officials say that you’ll be able to save even more because of this new legislation, though, because developmental impact fees will also be waived. District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond stated that the average person who builds a granny flat could save about $14,000. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the waiver will grant homeowners who build ADUs a discount of approximately 50 percent off of the typical cost of fees, which range from $30,000 to $49,000.
You’ll be able to save some money if you build your granny flat soon, but how much will you shell out for the construction? Costs vary depending on your situation, but the minimum is approximately $250 per square foot.
The price will increase if:
• You expand on the existing structure of a building or construct the ADU from scratch.
• You have to add power, sewer and electricity connections.
• You’re building on a second story.
• You need to lay a new foundation, build new exterior walls or add a roof.
• The on-site conditions are not ideal.
A granny flat is also subject to city engineering costs.
The price per square foot to build a granny flat is higher than the cost to build a single-family dwelling. That’s because they still require you to build the most expensive rooms, which are the kitchen and bathroom, and you can’t add a large living space or more bedrooms to counterbalance those expenses.
You might be tempted to lower the price by purchasing a pre-fabricated unit. However, the price per square foot that modular home companies advertise isn’t the bottom line. You’ll still need to spend time on planning and permitting. You’ll need to allocate funds to grade the site and lay the foundation. You’ll need to pay sales tax on some elements and shell out transportation fees. Plus, if your site isn’t eligible for a factory-built dwelling, the option is off the table.
Can You Rent Out Your Granny Flat?
San Diego is hoping to ease the rental crunch by allowing homeowners to rent out their granny flats. If you’re not looking to house a relative for free, you might be able to boost your income and eventually cover the cost of the build by renting the space out.
You should be aware that San Diego granny flat regulations prevent you from renting out the unit for fewer than 30 days, though. That means that you can’t offer it as a short-term vacation rental.
In the city of San Diego, the owner doesn’t have to occupy the property to rent out the ADU. However, there are owner occupancy requirements for San Diego County.
Even if you don’t rent out your granny flat for additional income, building it is an investment. The average price per square foot for a home in San Diego is about $446. Adding 600 square feet could increase the sales value of your home by $200,000.
If you’re building a granny flat in San Diego and want to maximize your investment, contact us. We can answer all of your questions and give you a free quote.