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Posted 28th Apr 2023

San Diego ADU Design

ADU Design

Finding the perfect San Diego ADU design can be a bit difficult if you don’t have a clue on where to start. This is because building an ADU requires careful planning and design to ensure that it meets all relevant zoning and building code requirements. The design also should meet the needs of the homeowner and potential renters.

San Diego ADU Design Styles

Choosing the right design style for your Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in San Diego is an important decision that can impact the overall look and feel of your unit. The ADU design will also impact the functionality and rental appeal of the ADU.

Here are some of the most popular ADU design styles in San Diego:

  • Traditional Styles: Popular traditional styles for ADUs in San Diego often feature classic architectural details. They also rely on classic material and finishing such as wood siding, stucco, and tile roofs.
  • Contemporary Styles: Modern San Diego ADU design styles come with clean lines, minimalist designs, and modern materials such as metal and glass.
  • Craftsman and Bungalow Styles: Craftsman and Bungalow styles are popular in San Diego ADU design since they incorporate classic architectural details such as exposed rafters, decorative brackets, and wood siding.
  • Mediterranean Styles: Mediterranean styles are great for your ADU design if you would like to have the ocean feel in your home. These ADUs incorporate stucco walls, tile roofs, and wrought-iron details.

Design Considerations for San Diego ADUs

It’s important to consider several key factors before you dive into the ADU design process. Some of these crucial requirements include:

Zoning and Building Code Requirements

San Diego has specific zoning and building code requirements for ADUs, which can vary depending on the location and size of the unit.

Size and Layout Considerations

The size and layout of your ADU will depend on a variety of factors, including your property size, budget, and intended use for the unit. Think about the needs of potential renters or occupants to ensure that the layout is functional and practical.

Access and Parking Requirements

San Diego has specific requirements for access and parking for ADUs. Some types of ADUs such as detached ADUs are required to have separate parking while others do not.

Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

Designing an energy-efficient and sustainable ADU can help to reduce your carbon footprint and save you money on energy bills. Adhering to the energy and sustainability regulations of the state of California also helps you unlock some types of financing for your project.


ZoningThe property must be zoned for residential use, and the ADU must be located on the same lot as the primary residence.
SizeThe maximum size of an ADU in San Diego is 1,200 square feet, or 50% of the size of the primary residence, whichever is smaller.
HeightThe maximum height of an ADU in San Diego is 16 feet, or one story, whichever is less.
SetbacksIn single-family residential zones, the minimum setback for the front, rear, and side yard is 15 feet, 5 feet, 5 feet respectively.
ParkingOne off-street parking space is required for each ADU, unless the unit is located within a half-mile of public transit or in a historic district.
Building CodesADUs in San Diego must comply with all applicable building codes and regulations, including those related to fire safety, electrical systems, and plumbing.


San Diego ADU Design Process

The design process for an ADU in San Diego typically involves several steps, including:

  • Initial Consultation– During the initial consultation, you’ll discuss your design preferences, budget, and timeline with your designer or architect.
  • Site Analysis- Your San Diego ADU design expert or architect will then conduct a site analysis to determine the best location and orientation for your ADU.
  • Conceptual Design- The third step is to create a conceptual design for your ADU, which will include floor plans, elevations, and other design details. This is necessary to help you get the right San Diego building permits.
  • Design Development– No one expects you to just go with the first San Diego ADU design idea that you get. Here your designer will refine the conceptual design based on your feedback and input.
  • Construction Documents– The designer will then create detailed construction documents that will be used by contractors and builders to construct your ADU.
  • Permitting and Construction– Once your design is finalized and approved, you’ll need to obtain the necessary permits and begin construction on your ADU. Remember that you also need to work with professionals in the construction phase.

Ready for your San Diego ADU Design?

Designing an ADU in San Diego requires careful planning and consideration of several key factors. These include zoning and building code requirements, size and layout considerations, access and parking requirements, and sustainability. By working with a San Diego ADU design professional, you getyour preferred designswhile also complying with all necessary regulations. Reach out to book a consultation.



How do I choose the best San Diego ADU design style?

The design that you choose will depend on a number of things including your preferences, zoning rules, material that you want and overall designs in your neighborhood.

Can I fuse two ADU design styles such as modern and Mediterranean?

Yes, you can fuse two design styles to give you the exact design you need. Just remember to work with proficient San Diego ADU designers that can pull it off.

Can I rent out my ADU in San Diego?

Yes, you can rent out your ADU in San Diego. However, there are certain restrictions and regulations that you must follow, such as obtaining a rental permit.

What are some energy-efficient features that I can incorporate into my ADU design in San Diego?

Some of the energy-efficient features that you can incorporate into your ADU design include solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, and sustainable building materials.

How long does it take to build an ADU in San Diego?

Building an ADU in San Diego will take some time depending on the size and complexity of the unit, availability of materials, and the permitting process. That said, it can take several months to a year or more to complete an ADU project.

Will the San Diego ADU design team help me get building or remodeling permits?

Yes, our ADU design team will walk you through the permit process to save you time and money by avoiding costly mistakes.