Building an ADU in Los Angeles
In 2021 Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an initiative to give builders and homeowners pre-approved ADU building plans to allow for a faster and less expensive permitting process. You can find those on LA’s Department of Building & Safety website: https://www.ladbs.org/adu/standard-plan-program/approved-standard-plans.LA is offering incentives and special programs for those building ADUs. For example, LA’s ADU Accelerator program pairs older adults who are facing housing insecurity with homeowners who have ADUs. The program is a great fit for homeowners looking to help vulnerable seniors while having the peace of mind of a program pre-vetting tenants and guaranteeing timely and stable rent payments.
Determine your ADU potential with a no cost consultation
Los Angeles ADU Permit
To build an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) you’ll need a building permit. A building permit validates the purpose of the construction project and ensures compliance with the regulations of your specific jurisdiction. You may apply for a permit through Los Angeles’ Department of Building & Safety website, where you will be asked to submit your architectural plans and pay a permitting fee. Typically your architect or designer will submit this documentation for you and perform any plan revisions should the permitting agency require them, but it’s best to ask before you begin the project.
ADU Los Angeles Cost
There are many factors that impact the cost of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), including the size of the unit, the construction type, the quality of the finishes you select, and the location. While construction in LA is not cheap, according to the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, the average cost to build an ADU in LA is far less than the cost in the Bay Area due to the differences in labor prices.
For a standard detached ADU, we see an average cost of $250-$500 per square foot in Los Angeles. That adds up to $150,000 to more than $400,000 for a detached ADU.
Keep in mind that a smaller ADU will have a higher cost per square foot due to needing to install the same utilities, bathroom, and kitchen as a larger ADU.
Junior ADU Los Angeles
The cheapest type of ADU to build is a Junior ADU since it involves converting an existing space in your home such as an attached garage. Junior ADUs generally cost $150 to $250 per square foot to develop, or $80-$150K total. Especially in LA, where many homeowners do not use their garage, converting this underused space to an ADU has the potential to provide a lucrative stream of passive income while keeping construction costs minimal.
For more ideas for how to make money using your existing (or future) property check out our House Hacking page.
City of Los Angeles ADU Ordinance 2022Los Angeles’ Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance was adopted on December 11, 2019 and went into effect on December 19, 2019. A new section was added (Section 12.22A.33), which includes local development standards and requirements for ADUs, Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs), and Movable Tiny Houses (MTHs). The ordinance establishes a ministerial review process for all ADUs submitted to the city for permits. It also lays out the requirements for ADUs based on type, size, and property zoning.
Los Angeles ADU Requirements
If you want to build an ADU in Los Angeles, here are some of the requirements:
- One detached ADU and one Junior ADU are allowable per single family lot
- Size restrictions (i.e. a detached ADU may be as large as 1,200 sf),
- Height restrictions (16 feet, or two stories for a detached ADU over 800 sf)
- Setback requirements (4 feet from the side and rear property lines *)
- Very High Fire Hazard Severity and hillside properties may restrict certain types of ADUs