San Jose, CA. Convert detached garage into room/kitchen/bathroom. Is it possible to get permissions for this?

Asked by Bechuot, Berryessa, San Jose, CA Wed Sep 15, 2010

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Web reference:


CJ Brasiel, Agent, San Jose, CA
Thu Sep 16, 2010

Here is the City of San Jose brochure link for "in-law units".

From the brochure - Highlights:

• Attached unit – 6,000 sq. ft. lot– an attached unit is structurally
connected to the main house
• Detached unit – 8,000 sq. ft. lot–the unit stands independent
of the main house (minimum 6 feet from the main house)
MAXIMUM UNIT SIZE Lot 9,000 sq. ft. or less - 600 sq. ft.
Lot 9,001 - 10,000 sq. ft. - 650 sq. ft.
Lot 10,001 sq. ft. or greater - 700 sq. ft.
REQUIRED PARKING One open or covered parking space
outside of front and side setbacks (this is in addition to those
spaces required for the main house)
• Attached unit – Same setback requirements as main house
• Detached unit – Same setback requirements as main house
• Must be behind the main house
• Minimum of six feet from existing structures
• Maximum height = 18 feet. Average height = 14 feet
• Maximum 40% rear yard coverage for total of secondary
unit, accessory buildings and structures
• Exterior materials must match main house
• Roof pitch and form must match main house
• Front door elevation must be different from the front door to
main house
• Windows shall not have views into adjacent residences or
backyards of residential properties

Hope this helps.
Web Reference:
1 vote
Terri Vellios, Agent, Campbell, CA
Thu Sep 16, 2010
You received very good answers. Be sure if you do this with a permit from the City of San Jose and get it signed off at completion. When home owners fail to get permits it creates problems later on. Resale is difficult, lenders may not lend, the city could red tag it, plus if you are going to use it as a rental your home owners insurance needs to be updated to reflect it as a rental or living area. Failure to update your insurance may result in decline in coverage in the event of a loss.

The main reason for permits is to insure that the work completed is done safely and to today's code.
Web Reference:
0 votes
Nadim Aziz, Agent, Fort McDowell, AZ
Thu Sep 16, 2010
Hello Bechuot,

The answer to your question would be "it depends". Best way to get this question answered is to call City of San Jose (Another agent has already provided the contact information below). There are several factors involved. Big item (not the only factor) is zoning.
What you are suggesting appears to be a 2nd Unit. I know the City has in several cases approved Garage conversion to an additional bedroom and bathroom. However, when you start talking about adding a Kitchen, that means a 2nd unit.

In some cases (I know they were permitting for a limited time in Willow Glen Area) they have previously allowed for a inlaw quarter/2nd unit to be built on lots bigger than 7000 sq ft. I am not sure if they are still allowing it or not.

Please note that most of us here on this blog are Realtors and Brokers. We are not City planners. The ONLY advise that you should take from this forum is to call the city and get the accurate information directly from them.

Good Luck.

ps. Building a 2nd unit without permits is definitely not a good idea. Not only does it become difficult to sell (several lenders will not lend on the house) but you could also have potential liability (and your insurance may not cover your liability) should there be an accident and someone gets hurt.
0 votes
The Medford…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Thu Sep 16, 2010

It sounds to me like you are trying to add a second separate living quarters to your property (a detached unit). Regardless of whether or not the garage is attached or detached, all cities have guidelines and zoning laws about how many living “units” you can have on any specific property. In most San Jose residential neighborhoods, you can only have one unit.

As suggested below, contact the City of San Jose zoning department to have them answer the question directly. You can call (408) 535-3555 from 10:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
0 votes
Gabriel Nguy…, , Campbell, CA
Wed Sep 15, 2010
Hi Bechuot,

As an Realtor for several years, I doubt it. And I have seen many, many short sale houses are like that. Eventually, it will be hard to obtain the loan if no permit. So, you can go down to City of San Jose Hall and ask for permission.

Good luck on your "investigation". :-)
0 votes
Michael Robe…, Agent, San Ramon, CA
Wed Sep 15, 2010
Hi Bechout. All of the above items above?...maybe not. This will require a particular amount of available space and then there is the number of water sources you are looking at (4?) One in the kitchen and 3 in the bathroom.

Vivit thi site for the best info available

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