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Accessory Dwelling Unit Setbacks and Height Requirements for the City of Poway

What Are the ADU Setbacks and Height Requirements for Poway, CA?

Hi everyone. Today I want to review the setbacks for a detached ADU in the city of Poway. The setbacks differ depending on whether you have a single-story versus a two-story ADU, that is if you are permitted to build a two-story ADU on your property. There are some limitations on a permissible two-story. I am solely addressing the city of Poway requirements in today’s episode. Limitations may also exist in an HOA. Be mindful of any required HOA approvals. Poway’s requirements can vary and an individual HOA may further limit an ADU size, so keep that in mind. Although ADUs are typically 1200 square feet, the city of Poway usually allows up to 1500 square feet for an ADU.

Accessory Dwelling Unit Setbacks

Before getting to the ADU, you must upgrade your water meter to allow for the new fire sprinkler load. There are some things that kick in if you build over 1200 square feet. Keep in mind to get approval from your HOA if you have one, but solely for the City of Poway, a single-story ADU may reside up to four feet from your interior side yard. That assumes that no street exists on the side of your property. In this situation, your property resides in the middle of two properties, so that there’s a house on either side. Those side yards are considered interior side yards, which allow up to four feet from those property lines.

The kick to this scenario is that the structure must be less than 16 feet tall for a single-story ADU to be within that four foot setback. If you exceed 16 feet for a single-story ADU, you must meet the setback for a typical single-family dwelling, which may be 5 feet, 10 feet, 25 feet, etc., depending on the zoning for your property. If you’re at 16 feet or under, you may build up to four feet into your side yard. This also applies to the rear yard as well.

Front Yard Setbacks

The front yard and rear yard properties lines may have an easement to keep in mind as well. Front yard setbacks on most properties in Poway are typically about 40 feet from your property line. Oftentimes, there’s an easement for your road, and it may not all be paved. Say an 80 foot wide easement exists, but only 60 feet is paved. That would equate to an additional 10 feet of what looks like your property, but in reality is not. Your landscaping may even extend all the way down to the curb, but it’s still not your property. Make sure to find out exactly where your corners are pinned on the front of the property, and then from that point, come back for that 40 feet typical setback. That is your true front yard setback. The City of Poway does not grant a variance for a front yard setback, if they do, it is very rare..

Poway is very, very firm on that. We have checked on this for a number of properties, and they do not grant variances for a front yard setback. So keep that in mind when you’re planning out your project.

One-Story vs Two-Story Accessory Dwelling Units

We reviewed interior side yards and rear yards for single-story homes, 16 feet or under. We can go up to 4 feet, or the standard Single Family Resident setback if your ADU is over 16. Now, let’s talk about the difference between a one-story or a two-story ADU.

The city of Poway allows a two-story ADU if the existing residence is a two-story home. If you have a one-story home, you will not be able to build a two-story ADU. We did, however, have an instance where a home had a walkout basement.

Main Home and Accessory Dwelling Unit Height Requirements

In this instance, The home had a main level on top of the lower level that opened out to the backyard on a sloping lot. The lot sloped from the front to the back so that the lower area was in the back. The City said that because the home was two-story into the ground, they allowed the owners to build a two-story ADU, but limited the height to the same height of the home on the main level. This particular house had a very tall foyer that had a high or very steep pitch on the roof, which ultimately gave us enough height to build a two-story ADU but with a low roof pitch. No ADU may exceed the main house height. An ADU is limited to the height of the existing home for the new ADU. Single-story existing homes simply do not allow an option for two-story ADUs

Two-Story ADU Setbacks

Let’s review the setbacks again, but with two-story ADUs this time. Four feet is no longer an option for a two-story ADU. Two-story ADUs must adhere to typical main-home height and setback requirements. These may include a 20 foot rear yard setback or somewhere in that ballpark. So check the typical rear, side, and front yard setbacks on your property. Front yards are typically about 40 feet, regardless if it’s an ADU single-story or two-story.

Poway Home Building Resources

That is a short overview on setbacks, make sure to review these setbacks, height restrictions, and number of allowable stories by the City for your property. I hope that helps. If you want more information, review our website we have a lot of information available for download on our resources page. We have an ADU cost guide, floor plans, and more information on building homes and buying land. We also have many videos available on our YouTube channel, just look up Freeman’s Construction Inc. If you would like to partner with us and be a guest on “The Real Property Show” please go to realpropertytv.com and submit a request.  Thank you so much for your time, and have a great rest of your day.



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