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Building an ADU in Los Angeles

Los Angeles recently changed the rules to allow homeowners to create backyard homes. The most affordable way to create a rental unit is to convert your garage. With ever increasing rents in Los Angeles, you can earn monthly income by turning your garage into an Accessory Dwelling Unit ( ADU ).

So, can your detached garage be converted to an income producing rental unit? 

We prepared a short checklist of the five key things that will allow you to move forward with a  garage conversion. 

1. Detached or Attached Garage

Your garage can either be attached your home or in the back yard and detached (separate) from the main house. In Los Angeles, the garage needs to be 10 feet away from the main house to qualify. In Culver City, it must be 8 feet from the house.

2. Power Lines

In Los Angeles, most properties have power lines running across the back yard. LADWP, the company in charge of those power lines, will not now permit a conversion if your garage is directly under the high voltage lines. So, power lines are generally not a problem for a garage conversions, but still may provide clearance issues if you are considering a two-story ADU or a second story addition above the garage. 

With power lines, the primary concern is with the high voltage lines that typically run at the very top of the power pole.

SoCal Edison does not currently restrict garages under high voltage lines from being converted to living space.

3. Driveway

When you convert the garage to an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), you need to provide adequate space for two cars to park on your property. Most driveways easily accommodate two cars parked in tandem. Great news! This rule was changed for 2020 and now there is no parking required for main residence or ADU when a garage or carport is converted or demolished to create a new ADU.

4. Garage Size

For Modative’s garage conversion to work, your garage must generally be at least 17’-6” wide by 17’-6” deep on the inside.

The best way to determine this is to take a tape measure and run it from the inside of the walls in both directions. Most two-car garages will comply with this size requirement.

If your garage is less than this minimum size, Modative can still add a garage replacement ADU, which is essentially a brand new ADU the size of a two car garage, to your property. It will just have to comply with 4-foot rear and side yard setbacks. 

5. Garage Condition

If you want to convert your garage, it should be in decent condition, meaning it is not about to fall over. What makes our conversion so cost effective is that we are building a new apartment inside the existing walls. Some minor repairs, such as patching a leaky roof are not a problem.

Fortunately, per the new 2020 ADU California rules , a new option for ADUs is available. We can now fully remove your old garage and replace it with a new ADU in the same location, even if your existing garage has little to no setbacks to your neighbors.

So, does your garage work for Modative’s predesigned garage ADU?

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Planning permission is not usually required to convert your garage into additional living space for your home, providing the work is internal and does not involve enlarging the building. … A condition attached to a planning permission may also require that the garage remain as a parking space.

Granny Units/Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

When homeowners contemplate building an ADU, often to realize a second income, they want to know will my property taxes go up? The short answer is yes, but only on the marginal value of the ADU. Assessors throughout California treat ADU’s like a home addition.

According to the estate agents we spoke to when we were looking into this – as long as you have enough off road parking space for two cars, you will not devalue your house. If it’s done well it will add value.

There are many reasons why people build accessory dwelling units (ADU). Some build them to house members of the family while others build them to earn additional income through rent. Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that an ADU is an excellent investment.

Construction usually takes 5-6 months for garage conversions, 7 months for smaller stand alone ADU’s, and up to 1 year for large ADU’s. It may take more or less time depending on the complexity of the project and the time of year the process is started(i.e rainy weather slows us down).

No, state and local laws prohibit ADUs on a duplex lot (R2 in LA and LA County). You can build an ADU and SFR on an R2 lot but you can‘t exceed two units. In SF you can build ADUs in the nonresidential space of a 5+ unit building, but that is a different deal and I know very little about it.

A – No. The City can impose limits on how many ADUs or JADUs are allowed on a lot. The proposed ordinance limits a lot to only have one ADU or JADU. … A – If the ADU is detached from the existing single family residence, the proposed ordinance requires the ADU to be one story in height and no more than 14 ft.

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