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Companion Units are a must!

The construction regulations for residential projects changed drastically in August 2018 and today if you own a lot with a single family dwelling on it, YOU MUST build an auxiliary dwelling unit (ADU) or “Companion Unit” so you don’t miss out! Not only you will add value to your property but also you can legally rent that unit out and start getting your investment back right away.

2-Car Garage Conversion

Companion Units were hard to get permits for before because of the many restriction the single family lots had but with the rental demand in our San Diego County, drastic changes were made recently and right now they benefit the owners like never before.

These are some of the benefits that years before did not exist:

  1. Today you are not required to provide extra parking for the new dwelling if the proposed Companion Unit is 500 sq. ft. in size or less but if it is larger and the lot is located in a Transit Priority Area, you still are not required to provide parking because you have public transportation close by.
  2. If the Companion Unit is a converted garage attached to the main house, all you have to show is that you can park the number of cars you used to park inside that garage, (usually two), off the street and inside your property lines. The cities very seldom allowed tandem parking before and now pretty much all of them do to facilitate approval.
  3. Parking on the driveways was not considered legal before and now, as part of the incentive, they are considered legal tandem parking.
  4. The Development Impact Fee that used to be a requirement until last year, now is only required if the companion unit is detached from the main house. There are many ways to attach a companion unit to an existing house without removing privacy from the equation.
A 600 sq. ft. Companion Unit is a very good size home.

There are many reasons why people are considering building companion units on their lots these days. Many of my clients want their son, daughter or parents to be independent but to stay close, some want the rent money every month, and some just want to have some extra room for guests. For whatever reason, today a companion unit is the best investment for any homeowner in San Diego. For starters, your property will be more valuable because you will have two separate and independent dwellings
with even different addresses on the same lot.

An attached Companion Unit can be completely independent from the main house.

How to turn your old house into your Dream Home

When it comes to buying a house, what room seals the deal?

It depends on the size of the house. The kitchen is perhaps the most important room in any house. The kitchen in a small house is perhaps the room people focus on the most when they are ready to buy. As you might have noticed, in every party the kitchen is the only room that is always full of people. I am a firm believer that the kitchen needs to be an open, spacious and bright room because you spend a lot of time there with your family.   new-112_opt1

The Master Suite in bigger houses is the room that most people feel should be the main focus when it comes to buying a house. People look for privacy and when there are kids, having a Master Suite helps a lot.

When you have an extra room that can be used as a Family Room, that gives the house some extra points, more so than having a den. A Family Room adds an area where the kids can watch movies or play away from the adults and where the husband with his friends can watch the game and be loud while the rest of the house can be left alone. Continue reading

Are construction code violations a serious matter?

You bet they are…

People call me all the time to ask me about the severity of the changes they made to their properties without permits. There’s no such a thing as a free lunch, people…It is cheaper to hire a consultant to prepare plans for a remodel or addition to your home than to have to pay the fines for construction code violations and deal with the harassment from the City officials after you get caught. They do not like people who try to full them.

To give you examples, let me mention a few:

Non-permitted brand new second story addition: A homeowner thought that because the pitched roof was so steep it gave the house enough head room to have a second story (smaller than the first floor plan, of course), he did not have to bother with the permits. Plus, nobody could see the work being done from outside because all he added to the exterior was a couple of dormers, so he thought he was off the hook. Too bad, he got into a fight with a neighbor and guess what? The neighbor turned him in at the Neighborhood Code Compliance Department. This is what he told me: “All I did was install flooring on a floor structure that was already there!” “I didn’t add anything!” “This is my house and I should be allowed to do whatever I want to it.” The result? A case was filed against his property and he had to pay the fines plus get the permits he didn’t want to pay for to start with.

Complete interior and exterior remodel of a two story house: A homeowner who is a RE agent “didn’t know” he had to get a permit before doing any construction work on his recently purchased property. The changes included: Relocating load bearing walls, reconstruction of balconies, replacement of roof members that were dry rotted, replacement of all the electrical and plumbing¬† fixtures. “Oh, but I didn’t know, I never thought…” The result? Again, a case was filed against the property, etc., etc., etc.

Garage conversion: A homeowner called me outraged because the City was harassing her about taking out a parking space inside her attached garage. What did she do? She built a wall in the middle of the garage and built an office connected to the house through the self closing garage door which connected the house to the garage before. In other words, you had to step down to go into the office (7″ lower) because the office was on the garage slab which is absolutely not allowed by the Fire Department.¬† She complained that she didn’t have to tell anybody what she was doing to her house because she had owned that house for over 20 years. And what does that have to do with anything? You tell me… The result? A case was filed against the property, etc., etc., etc. Continue reading