Quality you can see. Experience you can trust

County introduces pre-approved ADU plans, incentivizing homeowners to build granny flats

Scott Youngren, Special to the Village News

In its efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors has introduced an innovative, pre-approved floor plan program that incentivizes homeowners in unincorporated areas, including Fallbrook, to build an accessory dwelling unit, commonly called a granny flat, on their property.

Currently, no-cost, permit-ready plans for one 600-square-foot and one 1,200-square-foot ADU are posted at http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/ADU. More plans will be added in the future.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who spearheaded the effort, believes that these pre-approved plans can save property owners as much as $15,000 in design costs. She says this amount is doubled by the County’s five-year ADU fee waiver program launched in January, which also can save as much as $15,000, for a total potential savings of $30,000 per unit.

As a full-service construction contractor who has built several ADUS of differing sizes and amenities during my 27 years in business in Fallbrook, I want to stress that costs vary and the actual amount of money saved on each project depends on a wide array of factors.

Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly agree that the savings offered by the county is substantial. In addition, the combination of the two programs streamlines the construction process, making it less time-consuming and more stress-free.

Building an ADU is a great way to address the affordable housing shortage and provide a home for one’s aging parents, adult children, on-site caregiver or others. It also can provide rental income, but please note: these granny flats cannot be utilized as short-term rental units.

Other restrictions and requirements apply, so you (and ideally your licensed, experienced contractor) need to do your research before diving into the project. In regard to fee waivers, for instance, although several fees and permits are waived (including building permits, drainage and Department of Environmental Health, Parks and Recreation and Transportation fees, among others), you still must comply with rigorous safety standards as well as setback requirements and other elements.

Homeowners should also know that although they will enjoy significant savings on design and processing, there still will be associated expenses. For example, when applicable, site plans, grading plans, septic design and other plans/calculations must be created and submitted with the pre-approved plans.

Also, although the plans allow for some flexibility, if structural components are altered, the project will be subject to standard plan checks. We are happy to answer any questions you have about the pre-approved plans or process, so please feel free to call us at (760) 728-9874.

As you can see, although the county has made the building of a granny flat on your property easier and more cost-effective, putting it within the reach of homeowners who previously could not afford it, many issues need to be considered.

It is imperative to deal not with an unlicensed, unqualified “guy,” but to partner with a bona fide construction company that can navigate the process and help you obtain your compact but charming slice of paradise.