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Permits and Fees for Custom Homes in San Diego County

What Do Permits and Fees Cost for a Custom Home in San Diego County?

Building a custom home in San Diego County incurs  a range of permit and fee costs. I have a project example to share as well as additional fees that may or may not be included in any one project. These are important to consider when assembling a budget to build.

2,226 Square Foot Home Costs for Permits and Fees

Today I plan to evaluate a 2,226 square foot home as an example, which is a decent sized home that can accommodate four bedrooms, a two to three car garage, with basic covered porches. Fees typically range between $28,000 to $45,000 and include school fees, traffic impact fees, and several other fees that I plan to review.

School Fees for a Custom Home

The school fees typically fluctuate around $3.50 a square foot up to $5,00. Each school district has their own fee rate. The fee schedule is very specific, so be sure to check with your school district and determine what that fee is. Some districts call it a developer fee, but it’s essentially they base the cost of your new home off the  square footage of the living area in the home.

Our example of a 2,226 square feet home, if it were based in Ramona, calculates at $3.48 a foot. School fees can change, and currently Ramona Unified charges $3.48. This home in Ramona would calculate to $7,747 for the school fee. This is the best place to start.

Traffic Impact Fees for a Custom Home

Traffic impact fees can be substantial and may even differ within a certain community. In Ramona, inside the village fees differ from outside the village fees. Our example home falls in at $4,119. So keep in mind that you must check the traffic impact fees on your specific area.

Plan Check Fees for a Custom Home

The next thing on here is your plan check fees. Permit applicants typically pay these fees when first submitting plans to the County of San Diego. These fees usually run anywhere from $1.05 a square foot to $1.50 a square foot. Our example home costs about $1.05 per square foot for plan check, which equates to about $2,331. Small homes such as a 1,200sf home (future ADU) have higher plan check costs per square foot, so be prepared for that. They may range between $2.00 To $3.00 per foot, it just depends on the size of that house.

The Home Building Permit in San Diego County

Once your plans are signed off and approved, the County will issue you a building permit. This is the final step in the process and you pay for these fees at the very end. The County issues a receipt based off of the square footage of the home living space. These fees cost around $2.50 on up to $3.00 a square foot. Remember that this square footage does not include covered porches, garages, and all under-roof areas. The County only calculates the square footage on the living space.

Park Fees for a Custom Home

Before receiving your permit, a couple more fees exist, including Park Fees. Park fees are charged on new original homes only. If you build a home where a previous home existed, but burned down, oftentimes the County does not charge park fees. Park fees cost around $7,500. Recently the County bumped that up a little bit. The last park fee we paid amounted to roughly $7,000. Make sure you pay attention to that changing number, it’s definitely a significant chunk of change.

Septic Layout Approval Process and Costs

Properties without city sewer require a septic system. If you build on a property that needs sewer, you must submit a septic layout at the very beginning of your permit application. The County must approve the layout. The County does not issue building permits without approved septic layouts. The septic layout and septic permit current cost around $2,500. Any additional engineering will increase the cost. Circumstances that require an engineer include tight space lots and properties with rock formations among other difficult conditions. Normally, a layout may cost $200 to $500, but additional engineering may add $4,000 or even $6,000 to the cost on top of the drawing the layout, these are simply the fees paid to the county of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health.

Well Permit for a Custom Home

Obtaining a well permit doesn’t cost very much, but it is a small fee. Any well driller that you hire should know that cost and will pull that permit for you.

Permit Processing and Costs

Unless you know how to navigate the process to ensure your plans get through the county system as efficiently as possible, you will need to hire a permit processor. Permit processing used to cost much less however, county delays and added difficulties has increased these costs. We used to budget about $1,000, but now we throw in $2,000 or $3,000 to cover those costs.

This is a cost you want to add to the end of the permitting process. The payment goes to the permit processor. We handle that in house with our own permit processor, which falls under permits and fees.

Total Permitting Costs for a Custom Home

Adding up all these costs for a 2,226 square foot home brings us to $31,616 in permits and fees for that particular property. Keep in mind that these are permit fees. Any home with access to city sewer and water has a connection fee which can cost $20,000 a piece. That potentially means another $40,000 for tieing in those utilities. This connection does not include connection to the actual house, rather it’s for the right to tie into the sewer, pay the fees, and to get the water meter set. After the meter has been set, then it is your responsibility to plumb to the house.

Permits and Fees for Custom Homes in San Diego County

I hope this helps with understanding permits and fees. if you’re building a house in San Diego county, expect to spend these costs. Take a look around the resources page and the FAQs for more helpful information. 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 for your time and have a wonderful day.



1. Request a Project Consultation Online or by Phone

2. We Will Meet With You at Your Home or Building Site

3. Establish a Budget for the Project & Start Drawing Plans

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