We’ve Got You Covered – How to Build (legally) an ADU in San Diego

    granny flat

    We have all seen one, owned one or perhaps envied having one – an outdoor dwelling or backyard cottage (lovingly dubbed a granny flat) on our property. However, due to strict California laws in years past, constructing a back house or converting a detached garage for this purpose has made it rather complicated, to say the least, if not seemingly impossible to accomplish.

    Welcome, Cover, a local prefab outdoor dwelling company that has created a tool to assist homeowners on precisely what they CAN build in their backyards. Relatively new State legislation that took effect in early 2017 has made it easier to add an ADU, additional dwelling unit, the technical term. Through this tool on Cover’s website, simply enter a property address, answer the questions and your project has begun. The tool is designed to analyze San Diego city data in order to find out what, where and exactly how big of a dwelling you can build on your existing property. The process of potentially buying one of Cover’s prefab ADU’s will require a ‘startup’ fee of approximately $250. This fee will provide you with a concise and detailed consultation which includes asking up to 100 questions!

    Why hire an architect to navigate zoning and property laws when a company like Cover can make it relatively easy to overcome potential hurdles. As Cover CEO Alexis Rivas explains, “We’ve taken the zoning logic and translated it into software for every parcel.”

    Cover structures are designed specifically for your property, and the cost will vary accordingly depending on the design you select and specifics your particular property might require. Most structures cost between $250-375 per square foot to produce and install which, compared to building from the ground up, can be quite a cost-saver.

    A computer algorithm is used to create a floor plan appropriate for the lot, taking into consideration things such as trees or slopes in the landscape. Once the process is started, it takes ‘approximately’ three months to obtain permitting and city approvals in San Diego. Add to that time frame an additional 3 months in order for Cover to construct the ADU at their Gardena factory. Delivery and assembly on your property will take about two to three days from start to finish.

    Faster than building from the ground up, within a period of 6 months you can have a chic new and, most importantly, legal back house. One that can provide a source of income as a property owner and at the same time offer more affordable living options to future tenants. With apartment rental rates on the rise in San Diego, as in most major cities, ADU’s can provide a more alternative option, allowing for one to start saving money for a downpayment on a future home purchase. For additional information, take a look at Cover’s website https://www.cover.build/

    While ADU’s won’t remedy all of the housing inequality issues that San Diego faces, they are at least a small step towards resolving a much larger issue. After all, small steps are better than none at all!

    About Max Mervis:

    Max Mervis is a local San Diego Realtor. He has been in the Real Estate business for over 25 years serving Sellers, Buyers as well as Renters and Landlords. Max has expertise in both the single-family home market, as well as luxury high rise condominium sales. If you are in the market to sell or buy a new home or investment property, feel free to contact Max at 619-980-8385 or send an email to MaxSellsSanDiego@gmail.com

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    2 Responses to “We’ve Got You Covered – How to Build (legally) an ADU in San Diego”

    • Michael Tisdale

      Written on

      What is the entry level ADU price range? …Including permitting costs.

    • farshad daneshvar

      Written on

      I am looking for an investment opportunity.
      Can you locate an ADU eligible home such that I can do condo construction within?


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