What you need to Know About Your ADU Garage Conversion in Los Angeles?

An accessory dwelling unit, commonly known as an ADU, has recently become a great new option for homeowners in Los Angeles and other areas of southern California. A garage conversion in Los Angeles can provide housing for a family member or generate additional income when used as a rental unit for short-term or long-term tenants. It can even be used to create something you have always wanted in your primary residence but never had the space for, such as a hobby room, gym, or dedicated home office.

Though converting your Los Angeles garage into an ADU can cost you time and money, the return on investment can make that cost worthwhile – whether you’re recouping that investment through rental income or getting it back when you sell the property that now has a much higher resale value.

How you establish your ADU depends greatly upon the local rules and regulations where you live. Before you get started, MDM Custom Remodeling, Inc. can help you with our Concept Design Service. Part of this service is searching city and county records to verify your local zoning laws and building codes.

Once it is established that you can build an ADU, we’ll help you look into other factors and start designing your new ADU. We create a floor plan, 3D rendering and views, and a 360-degree panorama with a virtual walk-through. This allows you to enjoy your new ADU virtually on the computer before spending any dollars on construction.

This service also includes accurate budget planning. Our tools feature the sophisticated functions of collecting all material and labor costs to come up with a very accurate budget, which helps you stay in control of the project's overall cost.

When you start your journey to a garage conversion ADU in Los Angeles with MDM Custom Remodeling, Inc., you can rest assured that your ADU is allowable and legal and won’t cause you any headaches in the future.

Garage Conversion ADU Requirements in Los Angeles

When you opt for a garage conversion in Los Angeles, you must understand the requirements set forth by the local government. If you don’t follow the legal stipulations for creating an ADU on your property, you could wind up halfway through construction only to see your permit approval pulled or halted – and that means you’re out a ton of money with little to no recourse. There are a few things more frustrating!

To that end, let’s look at some general requirements for building an ADU above the garage in Los Angeles. Keep in mind that there might be additional rules for your local area. That’s why it’s important to check with MDM Custom Remodeling, Inc. to ensure you’re staying within the letter of the law.

  • Your home must be located in a residential zone.
  • The house must already be in the same location where you want to build the ADU. In other words, you can’t build an ADU on top of a garage that doesn’t have a house on the associated property.
  • The garage conversion must fit on the property. There are local guidelines for setbacks or how far away from the property line the new conversion has to be.
  • You can have up to two ADUs on your single-family home. One can be up to 1,200 square feet. The JADU, or Junior ADU, can be up to 500 square feet.
  • An ADU could be attached or detached from the main house.
  • The ADU must be sold as part of the house if you sell the property. It cannot be sold separately.
  • You are free to rent the space to tenants on a long-term or short-term basis. (Keep in mind that there are rules for rentals that pertain to your local area. To learn more, visit the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs for Los Angeles County.)
  • The minimum size of the ADU is 150 square feet. The maximum size of your ADU can’t be larger than half the size of the home. So, for instance, if your home is 2,000 square feet, your ADU must be less than 1,000 square feet.
  • Your ADU must have a functioning kitchen, bathroom, closet, and living space.
  • The ADU must have an entrance separate from the main house.
  • In Los Angeles, an ADU gets a new, separate address.
  • Look at the fire codes. In most cases, fire sprinklers are not required if they are not already in the primary home. However, local fire prevention requirements in your local codes could apply to your ADU. This document from Public Works of Los Angeles County provides more important information on the fire code.

Remember, this is not an exhaustive list of requirements for your ADU, but they are a good start to ensure you understand the size requirements and what the accessory dwelling unit above your garage must include. To learn much more about the requirements for an ADU, start with reading Senate Bill No. 1069, which sets forth the law on accessory dwelling units. (The language in that bill can be confusing; if you aren’t sure what the rules are, get in touch with us.)

Garage Conversion ADU Permit Costs

Getting a permit for your garage conversion in Los Angeles can take a couple of months. While it might be tough to wait, it’s always a good idea to ensure all the legalities are squared away before you drop your hard-earned money on the construction. The city permit fees could run between $1,800 and $8,000. Why such a broad range? That’s because the permit cost is based on the project – it depends on the estimated value of the construction and the number of square feet you gain on the property.

Garage Conversion Plans Los Angeles

When you start working on your plans for a garage conversion to ADU in Los Angeles, MDM Custom Remodeling, Inc. can help. We can provide you with a solid Architectural Concept Design, which includes a floor plan, interior and exterior views, and the opportunity to “walk through” your new ADU through virtual 3D rendering and 360-degree panoramic views. This allows you to be certain of what you’re getting before you drop any hard-earned money on your ADU garage conversion.

Starting in January 2023, you can use Pre-Approved ADU Standard Plans. These are plans that fit what most will want out of their ADU. There are several different models to choose from, created by architects and available for purchase immediately. When you choose a plan from this exclusive list, you can speed up the permit process a bit. That’s because these plans are already approved by the decision-makers.

However, these plans simply make the process easier, and you might be able to create something much nicer than what these plans reflect. Speak with MDM Custom Remodeling, Inc. before you go with a pre-approved plan; there might be something better for your garage conversion. We can review all the options until you find exactly what you want to see in your ADU.

Things to Consider When Building an ADU Garage Conversion in Los Angeles

In addition to considering permit and construction costs, you should also look at the timeline you can expect for building your ADU and how to shield neighbors from the noise of the construction.

Usually, an ADU will take only a few months to build. However, the permit process can take longer than that. While it’s okay to begin looking at future plans while you are waiting for the permit to be approved, it’s not a good idea to start construction or make any firm plans for starting it until the permit is in hand. Doing anything before the permit is approved could violate your local laws.

Many areas of Los Angeles are quite tight in terms of property and space. You might have only a few feet between the garage you intend to convert and the property line you share with a neighbor, which means any construction on your property will inevitably affect their property in the short term. In addition, any new construction on your property runs the inevitable risk of noise pollution, copious amounts of dust, and the need for a dumpster to contain and carry off damaged materials or items removed from the original garage. For instance, to add a second story to the garage for your ADU, that original garage roof has to go!

It might also be necessary to dig trenches and move in lines for electricity, sewer, gas, and other plumbing. Doing this might require some work that cuts through the street or through your neighbor’s property.

Speak with your neighbors before the work begins, so they are aware that there will be some disruption. Talk with us about the best placement of the dumpster to make it easy for them to work but not inconvenience the neighbors too much. Make sure that the work is done only during the normal daylight hours and that you aren’t running afoul of any noise ordinances in your area. Keep the lines of communication open among all parties while you convert your garage to an ADU.

Garage to ADU Conversion Cost in Los Angeles

The cost of your garage conversion in Los Angeles depends on many factors, including how much work needs to be done to bring the old garage up to code, the cost of materials, the configuration of the space, the cost of the permit, and so much more. And that’s the cost of the plans, construction itself, and contractor labor – that doesn’t include the little details that come later, such as painting and furnishing the space.

A garage conversion in Los Angeles is essentially creating a new addition. We estimate that your above-the-garage conversion in Los Angeles will run between $150,000 and $450,000, depending on the size and style and whether it has one floor or is on the second floor. This doesn’t include finishing materials and utility connections. These might add 15-20% to the overall cost. Only a seasoned company like MDM Custom Remodeling Inc. can look at your property, determine exactly what needs to be done to convert your garage space into an ADU in Los Angeles, and give you a good estimate on what to expect.

Also, remember that there might be other costs, such as establishing a suitable parking space for the ADU if you intend to rent it out, interior design that transforms the space with the final touches, and even the increase in property taxes and insurance you might experience when the ADU is done. Sit down with a financial advisor if you are concerned about the costs of insurance and taxes on your ADU, and make sure that the cost fits in with your long-term budget.

Contact MDM Custom Remodeling for your ADU Garage Conversion in Los Angeles

When you’re ready to get the ball rolling on your ADU garage conversion in Los Angeles, MDM Custom Remodeling should be your first call. We are happy to take a look at your property, discuss what you want your ADU to look like and what you’ll use it for, and then provide an estimate and timeline for turning your ideas into reality. We can handle almost everything for you, from the architectural plans to the final sign-off on the completed project. Our “one-stop shop” makes the process of building an ADU above the garage in Los Angeles much easier for you.

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FAQ's On Garage Conversion

Yes. However, suppose the garage is very old. In that case, it will require a rebuild to today’s building and safety code, including a new foundation, framing, roof, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, doors, windows, insulation, and more. It might be tough to get a garage conversion if your property is of a unique shape, leaving less than the required setback space between the garage and your neighbor’s property. The only way to know for sure is to let MDM Custom Remodeling take a look and let you know what needs to be done to turn your garage into an ADU.

And finally, remember that there are different rules for those who live in recognized historic districts. So there could be additional considerations to meet before you can think about creating an ADU on the property.

Yes, you must have a permit to have an ADU garage conversion in Los Angeles. To get a permit, you must go through the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. While all the information is spelled out here and in the Senate bill that made ADUs legal in Los Angeles, the language can be confusing. If you need help, get in touch with us.

The cost of a permit for an ADU garage conversion depends upon the size of the space and how fancy you intend to get. The cost of the city permit fee can range from about $1,800 to almost $8,000 when you include:

  • The plan check fee.
  • Development fee.
  • The cost of the permit itself.
  • Taxes that are tacked onto the permit.

And though this might seem expensive at first, remember that the permit fee allows you to build the space you can rent out and that rental income will help you recoup the investment. In addition, these permit fees are considered among some of the lowest in the industry for a city as large and prosperous as Los Angeles.

Expect your permit process to take anywhere from four to six months. The time might take longer if you don’t have all the information the permit requires and are asked to resubmit; it might also take longer if some of the information on the permit doesn’t quite add up – for example, if you say the ADU will cost about $10,000, but you are planning to max out the 1,200 square foot option, those numbers don’t match. In that case, your permit application could be rejected, and you’d have to start over.

Also, remember that where you live in Los Angeles County can determine how long a permit process takes; some areas are much faster than others.

Yes, it can increase your home value but quite a bit. For instance, an ADU garage conversion in Los Angeles that adds 1,000 square feet of living space can raise your appraised value. If the average cost per square foot of space in Los Angeles is $610, converting that garage space can increase your property value by an average of $610,000. That’s at least a 200% return on investment over the average cost of converting your garage into an ADU.

In addition, keep in mind that many potential homebuyers are looking for homes that allow them to not only live there but also generate rental income. For example, a detached ADU over the garage can bring in an average of $1,500 to $3,000 per month in rental income.

Though it might seem like you could simply put a bed or living area in your current garage and call it a living space, that’s not how it works. Simply living in a garage is illegal in Los Angeles. However, if you build a garage conversion and transform the space into an ADU, assuming you follow all the laws, it’s perfectly legal.

Get in Touch with MDM Custom Remodeling Inc. for All Your ADU Needs

When you’re ready to dive into your ADU garage conversion in Los Angeles or the surrounding area, MDM Custom Remodeling Inc. stands ready to help. We bring innovative tools and dedicated staff to every project. Call us today at 323-210-3350 to discuss your options, or visit our website to schedule your free consultation.

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