Planning and Building Permit Rules for a Garage Conversion + Addition of an Accessory Dwelling in San Jose, CA

At New Avenue we have paid over 30 different types of permits to get residential projects approved.  These are “normal” projects too such as additions, remodels, restorations, accessory dwellings accessory structures and custom homes.

One of the architects who is a partner at New Avenue’s recently completed in depth research for the permits required for a new Accessory Dwelling in Berkeley, CA.   Here are his findings in September 2015:

Q: What is the zoning district?

A: R-1


Q: What is the allowable coverage? How is it measured

A: 40%

Q: Is there a floor-area ratio (FAR) between the Main Home and the Second Unit? What is it?

A: not to exceed 600 sq. ft if less than 9000 sq. ft lot

Q:What is the maximum allowed size for the Second Unit?

A: 600 sq. ft

Q: Do chimneys, window boxes, and/or bay windows count toward the square footage of the Second Unit?

A: n/a

Q: Do other structures count toward the existing footprint? What are they?

A: garage

Q: Does the basement and/or attic count toward the floor area of the Main Home?

A: only if used for occupancy

Q: Can the Second Unit have two floors?

A: yes

Q: Can the Second Unit have a loft, mezzanine, open storage, closed storage, and/or attic?

A: Full kitchen and full bath req. 1 bedroom max w/ 400 sq/ft max 60 sq/ft max enclosed storage 1 additional parking

Q: Can the loft be habitable space?

A: not mentioned

Q: Can the Second Unit have a basement, workspace, or other area? Do they count toward square footage?

A: not mentioned

Q: What landscaping requirements and exceptions are there

A: not mentioned

Q: Is this a liquefaction zone?

A: no

Q: Is this a fire zone?

A: no

Q: Is this a flood zone?

A: no

Q: Is this an environmental zone?

A: no

Setbacks and Dimensions

Q: What is the front setback?

A: 15′

Q: What are the side setbacks?

A: 5′

Q: What is the rear setback?

A: 25′

Q: What are the required setbacks to the Main Home?

A: same

Q: What are any other required setbacks? Special setbacks may be needed for creeks, power lines, key or corner lots, etc.

15′ from the front, 5 from the sides and 25′ from the rear

Q: Are there any setback exceptions?

A: garage can extend into set back only

Q: Can the Second Unit be connected to the Main Home? If not, how far apart do they have to be?

A: 6′ ‘ from primary house

Q: Can we continue a wall of an existing structure within a setback? Is there a maximum length for walls

A: not without making it comply with setback

Q: What is the maximum height limit? Is there a max average height limit? Can we match the height of the existing house?

A: Heights: 18′ w/ 14′ average


Q: Do we measure from the sidewalk, the property line, or from somewhere else?

A: tbd

Q: How many parking spaces are required for the Main Home? Sizes? Do they need to be covered? What configuration or access must they have?

A: 2 for MAIN, Yes covered, sizes to be determined. Diagrams for access to be attached from handout

Q: How many more new spaces are required for the property? Sizes? Do they need to be covered? What configuration or access must they have? Do they require a border around them?

A: 1 covered to add dwelling unit

Q: Is there a turning radius or other parking rule to test?

Enter any additional notes.

Materials: Must match existing roof slope + material ( includes siding ) Windows must match style of primary with similar proportions ( blah) Window views can’t look into neighboring yards

We guarantee your project will be different!  This is a great starting point if you are researching.  Most people have never heard of all these fees.




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