Rancho Penasquitos

So You Want to Build a Granny Flat? Follow One Family's Construction Journey

NBC 7 will follow the Krone family of Rancho Peñasquitos as they build an 1150 square foot Granny Flat in their backyard

NBC Universal, Inc.

Given San Diego’s lack of affordable housing and inventory shortfall, hundreds of San Diegans have turned to constructing so-called Granny Flats on their existing property.

State and local jurisdictions have loosened rules and permitting requirements to make it cheaper and easier to build what is formally known as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU).

Over the next year, NBC 7 will follow the Krone family as they build a Granny Flat in the backyard of their Rancho Peñasquitos home.

“The main thing is finding if you have a big enough lot for what you’re looking for. And then finding someone who really knows what they’re doing,” said Doreen Krone.

While many residents are choosing to build Granny Flats for a variety of reasons – from a lack of affordable housing to the limited inventory of homes, Doreen Krone is planning to move her elderly parents into the addition.

“They are in a house that’s too big and they need to downsize. So, we decided that we would look into having them move behind us,” said Krone.

Krone will become one of hundreds of people who have started the process of building a Granny Flat on their existing property.

According to the city of San Diego, through June 26, 2020, 166 applications for ADU’s have been received and 151 have completed construction. In 2019, 636 applications were received, and 201 ADU’s were constructed. The numbers for 2018, were 350 and 61, respectively.

A spokesperson for the city of San Diego said some Granny Flats can be built for less than $50,000 depending on building materials, but the Krone family will be spending significantly more. They'll use money from the sale of their parent's home to pay for their addition, which is expected to cost several hundred thousand dollars.

They’ve hired a project manager, who’s come up with an 1150 square foot design that will include two bedrooms with showers, a dual fireplace, and more.

“The first thing you need to do is assess the project. How big is your yard, and what is your budget,” said Beth Lachatie, with LCI Design & Collections.

Lachatie has praise for state and local efforts to minimize requirements for the construction of ADUs.

The City of San Diego has taken extra steps by creating a Granny Flat handbook. They’ve also provided pre-approved design plans created by the county and City of Encinitas to help speed up the permitting process and save money on construction. The information is available on the city’s website.

Building on efforts aimed at boosting ADU construction, the city has further loosened rules by eliminating parking requirements. Under new rules that went into effect on January 1, the state has also eliminated sewer and water fees for most granny flats, and expedited permit approval times.

“My next step is cutting down the trees in the back and everything like that, and flattening out everything, so, I had a little bit of anxiety about that,” said Krone.

Next, the Krones will finalize engineering plans and present them to the city for approval. Once that happens, they’ll hire a general contractor. The hope is to have shovels in the ground by mid-November.

NBC 7 will continue to follow the progress of the Krones, who hope to have their Granny Flat completed in about a year.

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