Best Options to Design an ADU in San Diego

There are a few options to consider when designing an ADU in the San Diego area.  Here’s a brief discussion of some of the ADU design options and their pros and cons:

Design-Build Contractor

By far, this is generally the most common, efficient, and economical option for planning and designing your ADU.  Design-Build contractors with experience in building ADUs in the various San Diego municipalities and surrounding areas can generally customize the design of your new ADU and tailor it to your specific needs.  They can coordinate with city and municipal planning and building departments to make sure their specific requirements are being met during the design phase. At the same time, a good ADU design-build contractor will often work closely with you on everything from special aesthetic features, product specifications, and, importantly, establishing a reasonable budget for building your ADU, based on your specific needs.

Since Design-Build contractors are designing your ADU with the ultimate construction of the project in mind, you’ll also find that the initial design fees are affordable and much less than using a dedicated designer or architect whose business it is to design for profit.  Most design-build contractors perform the design at or around cost as an essential step in the overall process of getting your ADU approved for necessary permits.

 Pre-Approved ADU (PRADU)

Some San Diego municipalities have Pre-Approved ADU or PRADU plans available.  These are ADU plans that were commissioned by the municipalities and have already been through the approval process.  If you find one of these units that will fit the available space you have to build and your specific needs, they can be a good option, especially since many of the PRADU’s can be approved for your usage with reduced or eliminated permit fees, depending on the municipality.

However, these PRADU’s cannot be altered in any way from the approved design. As with any pre-built item, that can present issues.  The plan may be close to the size you need, but may just barely not fit.  It may or may not provide all the features you are looking for in your ADU.  The designs also have generally not considered the cost of construction materials and finish items, causing the cost of the PRADU to potentially be much more than a custom-designed unit that has considered budget costs.

Draftsman or Architect

While many design-build contractors usually employ or work closely with their own in-house draftsman or architects, another option is for you to find an independent one to work with on the design of your ADU.  In today’s electronic world, you often may never even have to meet your draftsman or architect in person.  With that said, should you decide to utilize this option, it is important that you find a draftsman or architect familiar with the requirements of building an ADU in your specific locale or municipality or you may end up needing modifications to your plans that could incur additional costs.

Hiring an independent draftsman or architect can sometimes result in a longer and more expensive design phase, expectedly so, since their business is design for profit.  Your draftsman or architect also may or may not be skilled in designing to a budget or estimating construction costs.  If they are not, you might end up with a design that suits your needs, but not your construction budget.

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