ADUs are increasingly becoming the preferred option for homeowners in California to add living space. But constructing an ADU requires navigating the complexity of permits and building codes.
State laws passed in 2017 and updated this year have removed some key barriers to ADU construction. But homeowners should still check with their local government before starting.
The Future of the Single-Family Home
The vast majority of Angelenos live in single-family homes. But as LA struggles to address its housing shortage, some homeowners are turning to backyard dwellings—backyard houses, granny flats, and the official term: accessory dwelling units (ADUs).
These small residences can be used as affordable rental housing or to house a family member or loved one in need of assistance. They can also provide a source of income for homeowners and add manageable density to neighborhoods where apartment complexes are difficult to build.
But the ADU movement is not without its challenges. Some local communities are wary of tampering with their zoning rules, fearful that the new units could increase property values and fuel gentrification. And even if they are approved, ADUs can be expensive to construct. Those costs can be prohibitive for many would-be builders, especially those with limited equity in their primary home.
The Future of the Garage
Many homeowners are turning their garages into ADUs to add more living space to their homes and generate passive income. The new units can also provide housing for elderly family members who may need assistance, or younger adults who are not yet ready to move out on their own.
A garage conversion can be a great way to create an affordable new home on your property without spending a lot of money. And since the structure is already built, the city’s permit process can be a lot faster than building a brand-new ADU from scratch.
A new initiative by the city of Los Angeles allows homeowners to use pre-approved plans for their ADUs, which can speed up the permit process from weeks to just one day. The new “standard plan” program includes 20 different layouts from companies like SO-IL, wHY, Sekou Cooke Studio, and more. The plans range in size from studio apartments to two-bedroom dwellings.
The Future of the Single-Family Lot
Many of LA’s neighborhoods were built at a time when zoning laws permitted a variety of housing types, including bungalow courts and small multifamily buildings. But over the years, the lion’s share of residential lots have been zoned solely for single-family homes.
New state policies have made it easier for homeowners to build in-law units, officially called “additional dwelling units.” These small residences add rental income and manageable density to communities where it would be difficult to construct new apartment complexes.
However, building these structures requires city approval, and the process can take months. For this reason, the city is looking to cut red tape by offering pre-approved plans that can speed up the permit process.
The Future of the ADU
ADUs conversions are a great way to help people get off the streets by offering a place to live that is affordable. They are also a way to add value to your property. If you decide to sell your home in the future an ADU can greatly increase its marketability and the price that you will get for it.
ADU’s are often one and two bedroom units which makes them a lot more affordable to rent out than a full-sized home or apartment. Additionally, they are usually cheaper to build per square foot than a full-sized house.
As a solution to the housing crisis, both the state and city of Los Angeles have been encouraging ADUs by making it easier for homeowners to build them on their properties. Thanks to new legislation, AB 68, it is now possible for homeowners to turn their garages into ADUs without having to replace the lost parking spot, and they don’t have to pay the exuberant fees that used to be associated with these p