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Driveway Requirements for San Diego County When You Are Buying Land & Building a Home

Driveway Requirements for San Diego County When You Are Buying Land & Building a Home

Today I want to review a previous situation when a customer wanted us to build a home on some land that had a previous home burn down. The existing concrete driveway unknowingly needed widening all the way to the rod. The owners did not anticipate this cost into their budget, and this added a significant cost to their project, along with some environmental concerns that brought on some building challenges. So, I want to share some insight regarding what to avoid when looking at land and how it pertains to driveways.

Driveway Width Requirements from the Fire Department

The first thing to know is that the fire department wants a 16-foot-wide driveway to the home and a turn around. Consider if there is enough room to either expand an existing driveway or install a driveway. There may be rock on the side of a hill that needs blasting or heavy grading. Remember that any new slopes require planting for erosion control. Additional paving or concrete may be required. For a single-family dwelling, you must make sure that a 16-foot-wide road can be installed to the home, from the main public access road. If that driveway services more than one home, it will need to be even wider. The County of San Diego and the fire departments are not waiving existing driveways like they used to.

What to Do About Impervious Area

The other reason this is important is because it pertains to a state requirement. It’s a priority planned development that deals with the runoff whenever you do something that’s impervious. Something that water cannot go through, such as most concrete and asphalt, is impervious. There is pervious concrete, asphalt, and pavers. Using pervious materials will mitigate this issue, but they cost more money. So, keep in mind that if an existing driveway measures less than 16’ wide, and too much impervious land has been created on the property, pervious materials must be used to rectify the requirement.

Maximum Driveway Square Footage

The driveway cannot exceed 5,000 square feet. Exceeding 5,000 square feet of impervious driveway area puts you into a PDP, which starts at $10,000 to engineer. The new engineering must be processed through the county for approval. Approval includes bioretention basins, which catch the water that’s hitting these impervious areas, and essentially filter that water from your driveway or house roof. These bioretention basins can cost a minimum $20,000 and up to $40,000 plus. The size depends on the amount of area that those bioretention basins absorb.

How Environmentally Sensitive Land Can Affect Driveway Square Footage Requirements

The length of the driveway and size of home will determine the size of the  bioretention basin. Therefore, if you have environmentally sensitive land that this impervious area is running off onto, rather than what the county considers non-environmentally sensitive land, the 5,000 square foot maximum can be reduced even more, which makes it even more difficult and expensive to get this through. Make sure that your driveway is wide enough and that it will not exceed the new area of driveway that you must widen. The property, including home, driveway, and everything, cannot equal 10,000 square feet of impervious area. If the house is 5,000 square feet, including all porches, overhangs, living area, garages, etc. and the driveway is 5,000 square feet, that 10,000 square feet will also kick you into that PDP. So, consider the driveway as a potentially heavy cost.

Mandatory Flatwork Requirements in Ramona & Other San Diego County Fire Departments

Some fire departments, as we see in Ramona, currently mandate that the surface of the driveway be paved or concrete regardless of the grade. Other municipalities have allowed DG if the grade is under a certain percent. It is important to factor in what the driveway requirements will cost. Typically, as the grade gets steeper, concrete is required. The same requirement is not consistent throughout the County. Even though the County of San Diego does all the plan checks for Ramona, Ramona Fire Department maintains jurisdiction over that area, and you must follow their requirements. Another thing to consider is where the turnaround must be situated. If your home is at the top of a hill, the turnaround cannot be at the bottom, so this will impact the placement or even size of your home.

How to Buy Land Resources for San Diego County

I hope that helps. If you want more information on buying land, you can visit our website at TFGonline.com. We have a ton of information; we have a “How To Buy Land Guide” that will provide an understanding on how to go through the due diligence process and make sure you cover everything you need when you’re buying land. Thanks for your time and have a great rest of your day.

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