What’s the Cost of Building an ADU in San Diego? (COVID edition)

In any type of construction project, from remodeling and renovation to new construction, including building an ADU in San Diego, budget is an important consideration. Also, in any type of remodel, ADU or renovation project in San Diego, budget requirements are as diverse as the needs of the individual clients we are working with.

Historically, from around 2018 to 2020, we were able to build ADU’s located in San Diego from around $250 -$300 per square foot, depending on the intended usage and the needs of our clients. There are often special conditions that need to be factored in during the design and project development phase of any ADU, depending on the age and condition of the main home and the exact town, city, or municipality in San Diego that the ADU will be located. Some of these considerations may affect the final cost of your ADU and include:

a. Capacity of the existing electrical panel
b. Solar panels
c. Freestanding or attached ADU
d. Size of ADU
e. Materials used in construction
f. Design features
g. Exterior living spaces
h. Utility location, underground and trenching needs
i. Energy efficiency requirements
j. Permits, fees, and other municipal charges

Each of these needs is something that your designer or design-build contractor for your ADU should be able to find out from your specific planning and building department in your municipality.

Building an ADU in the COVID era:

As much of this guide is being written during the worldwide COVID pandemic, it’s only fair to address the unique situations being experienced, specifically in regard to budgeting.

As of the writing of this article, COVID-related inflation of construction materials is at an all-time high. Lumber prices, for instance, are currently at 250% – 300% of pre-COVID costs. A sheet of OSB plywood that cost $25 six months ago is selling at almost $70 now. A standard 2×4 that used to sell in the $2 range is now in the $7 range. These higher costs extend throughout the industry and include plumbing and electrical materials such as copper pipe and wire, roofing, drywall, and many other materials that are in high demand.

When prices may begin to drop is up for debate. The fact that manufacturing has been much reduced during the pandemic while demand has increased exponentially is causing shortages across the board, no pun intended. Even the experts aren’t sure when the COVID inflation of prices may end in this unprecedented time. A recent article on Nasdaq.com states that it may be the end of 2022 before we see a decline in lumber prices, but is also careful to state that there is currently “no definitive answer”: https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/wood-woes-2021%3A-when-will-lumber-prices-return-to-normal-2021-04-23

Adding to the COVID inflated costs of lumber and other materials, there are supply shortages of appliances, fixtures, doors, and windows. On some of our current projects, we are taking delivery of such items sometimes many months in advance of actually needing them, as we know we may not be able to get them when we need them if we wait too long.

These price increases and delivery delays in obtaining materials, fixtures and other items needed for the construction of ADUs have the added impact of delaying schedules and causing labor overruns as a result of more time being spent on projects than would normally be allocated. As such, there is also a shortage of qualified contractors, subcontractors, and skilled labor available to work on the high demand of ADU’s in San Diego.

As things progress through the COVID era, we will work to keep this article updated, with the hope that in the not too distant future, we can ultimately expunge this article of the COVID section altogether.

Specialty Home Improvement is a family-operated design-build residential contractor, specializing in creating homes and spaces designed to suit the specific needs of our clients since 1993. If you’re ready to start the process of building your personally designed ADU, give us a call now at 760-738-6270 or reach out through our website www.specialtyhomeimprovement.com