September 13th, 2018

The Granny Flat: Your Next Home-Improvement Project?


The Granny Flat: Your Next Home-Improvement Project?Things to know before adding a granny flat to your home

Last summer, the San Diego City Council loosened regulations on “granny flat” additions or accessory dwelling units (ADUs). The move makes it cheaper and easier for homeowners to build on to their existing residential properties.

As one solution to San Diego’s ongoing housing crisis, regulations continue to ease with additional fees associated with ADU construction waived by the council in April. Furthermore, Mayor Faulconer directed $100,000 to cover the cost of Water and Sewer Capacity Fees for the remainder of 2018. He plans to commit $300,000 more in next year’s budget for additional fee waivers.

Granny flats, mother-in-law or guest quarters, companion units or casitas – whatever you call them – align with the city’s goal of fostering “smart growth.” That’s where new housing built along transportation corridors and existing neighborhoods is encouraged in order to absorb more density. These types of homes are typically sought out by recent college graduates, low-income workers and individuals such as senior citizens who are on a fixed income.

Here are just a few of the benefits of adding an ADU to your property:

  • Renting on your property presents an extra income source without the commitment of a separate property.
  • ADUs can take the form of a converted garage space, basement or an attached or detached structure.
  • If you ever need to sell your home, you will have the added value of the extra space.
  • You are not required to rent out an ADU, so it can also be used as a guest suite, office/work space, your college kid’s apartment, or for granny of course!

City officials are even creating easy-to-use instruction manuals that will provide pre-approved floor plans and details in compliance with the county’s  Accessory Dwelling Unit codes as put forth by the Planning & Development Services’ Zoning Division.

Here are some important things to know before you embark on building an ADU:

  • Rules and regulations vary from city to city and even neighborhood to neighborhood.
  • Depending on the city and ADU size, fees range substantially from $4,800 to more than $80,000.
  • The size cannot exceed 50% of the existing dwelling, to a maximum of 1,200 square feet.
  • If the granny flat is inside a residence, it must contain a kitchenette (but not necessarily a bathroom).
  • The property owner does not have to live in the residence.
  • Rental periods cannot be shorter than 30 days (i.e. no vacation rentals).

Posted in Home Tips, San Diego, Uncategorized.


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