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SDGE and ADU in San Diego

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as ‘granny flats’ or ‘backyard homes’, have garnered a lot of attention in California, especially in San Diego. With its rich potential to boost housing availability and create family flexibility, ADUs are captivating homeowners and housing advocates alike. The prospect of an additional living space in your property can excite any homeowner.

However, creating an ADU isn’t just about construction. One crucial aspect to consider is the role of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE) and its influence over your ADU project. SDGE supplies electricity and manages gas system utilities across San Diego, making it essential in ADU planning and execution. Understanding SGDE’s role requirements and how to appropriately engage with them can be pivotal in streamlining your ADU project.

First Step in Building an ADU

If you are planning to build an ADU in San Diego, the first thing you need to do is check your existing electrical panel. This critical step allows you to confirm whether your present panel has enough space and can sufficiently accommodate the amperage needs of your ADU. 

Remembering that older homes may have panels with lower amperage pays off. Yet, if your home has been upgraded with solar panels, the chances are that your panel might already be configured to 200 amps, sufficient for an ADU subpanel. There is no immediate need for SDGE’s service in situations like these.

Understanding the capacity of your panel is invaluable as it dictates whether you can conveniently fit the ADU’s subpanel or if you would need to liaise with SDGE. Its key focus is to ensure the smooth progress of your construction and helps foresee potential electrical setbacks. So, before you even set the first brick, assess your panel’s capacity.

Separating ADU Electricity Bill from Main Residence

Creating an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) involves various considerations, one significant being the electricity arrangement. If you plan only to add a subpanel for your ADU and there’s ample space in your sufficiently large panel, you bypass the need to involve SDGE. This straightforward process allows you to conveniently tap into your existing electrical capacity, federating the ADU’s electricity bill with the primary residence.

However, many homeowners desire to separate electricity bills for their ADU and main residence. Understanding the tenant’s usage and ensuring they foot their utility bill becomes crucial, especially if you plan to rent out the ADU. This approach necessitates a service request with SDG&E, who will provide the infrastructure to separate the electrical supplies. This system enables you to maintain distinct utility bills, foster a fair and transparent rental arrangement, and prevent utility-based disputes.

How to Submit a Service Request to SDGE If Considering Separation

Whether you’re considering building an ADU or remodeling a space into one, there are important steps to ensure that electrical utility needs are appropriately accounted for. This stage is crucial if you plan to separate the utilities between the main property and the ADU. One of the steps involves communicating your intentions to the San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE)—and here’s how to do it.

Process of Completing SDGE’s Application:

  • Visit SDGE’s website and look for the utility updates application.
  • Fill out the application detailing your existing residence and the proposed ADU/utility modifications.
  • If you are unsure about any item on the application, fill it out to the best of your ability. The main objective is to get on SDGE’s radar.
  • Once the application is complete, submit it. Await confirmation and further steps from SDGE.

SDG&E Responses and Follow-ups

Once you’ve submitted your service request to SDG&E, staying prepared for some vital responses and follow-ups is essential. Some typical questions from SDG&E could include details about your project’s specifics. They might request further insight into the scope of your renovation, the amount of kilowatts being added, as well as whether there will be the addition of gas services.

In this phase, the involvement of your contractor or architect becomes even more critical. As subject matter experts in the construction phase, they can provide accurate specifications to respond accurately to the queries from SDG&E. Their input can help prevent potential delays or complications in your application process.

The current response time from SDG&E can range from three to four weeks or extend to three months. However, these timelines can vary based on numerous factors; therefore, it’s advisable to commence your application swiftly if you’re set on the decision to separate utilities between your main residence and your ADU.

SDGE Planner Assignment

Upon submission of your service order with SDG&E, the next step involves assigning your project to a planner. SDG&E’s planners are pivotal in steering your project in the right direction. Once assigned, your planner begins to familiarize themselves with your project, reaching out to understand your specific needs and project constraints. They meticulously assess your property and existing electrical connections to determine the scope and approach for your ADU’s electrical setup.

The type of electrical setup you have, such as underground electrical or a roof-mounted Weatherhead, greatly influences the approach towards electricity separation. Underground electricity requires extensive excavation and hence more labor, potentially increasing the overall cost. A roof-mounted weatherhead, on the other hand, changes the dynamics of wire installation. In each case, the planner can offer crucial guidance on the procedure and cost implications.

If you encounter code issues with your Weatherhead, your assigned planner becomes invaluable. Leaning on their comprehensive understanding of building codes and SDG&E’s policies, they troubleshoot potential roadblocks, ensuring the project adheres to all regulatory norms. Their familiarity with code-related issues facilitates a smooth, hurdle-free project execution, enabling you to enjoy a seamless electrical setup for both your main residence and your ADU. 

Involvement of Contractors

Having contractors at meetings during utility separation, ADU construction, or remodeling is essential for a successful project. Contractors possess the practical knowledge, experience, and understanding of construction terminology necessary to communicate effectively with SDGE representatives. Their involvement ensures your project proceeds smoothly and cost-effectively, avoiding potential pitfalls.

Contractors can offer valuable cost-saving suggestions, such as:

  • Alternative Weatherhead placement: Instead of following the planner’s suggestion to put a new weatherhead on the ADU and running conduit back to the existing house, the contractor can propose a more feasible solution that saves on related costs.
  • Dealing with code compliance: Contractors can advise on necessary changes to bring weatherheads up to the current code and avoid complications with SDGE or the city.
  • Expertise in excavation and trenching: Contractors understand the process and requirements for digging trenches for underground electrical connections, minimizing disruptions and ensuring proper installation.

Having a skilled contractor on your team helps identify potential issues in advance, ensures regulatory compliance, and ultimately saves you unnecessary costs down the line.

Cabal Construction: Built on Trust

Through the meticulous decision-making process centered around existing panels, it becomes evident that initiating service with SDG&E and involving an experienced contractor could considerably ease the establishment of utilities for ADUs – which could otherwise be a complex ordeal. A comprehensive understanding of your project, precise planning, and constructive collaboration with a contractor who has a knack for practical solutions can lead to a hurdle-free execution of your project.

You can count on Cabal Construction to serve as your reliable contractor through this process. With our extensive experience in ADU constructions and remodeling and proven track record of satisfied customers, we stand ready to guide you through each step of your project skillfully. Feel free to give us a call at (760) 410-4077 to set something up.