Accessory Dwelling Unit Guidelines in Los Angeles | What to Know Before Building an ADU


Any investor must know the crucial factors involved in constructing an ADU before pouring investment into the property. You need to learn about the types of property structures classified as an ADU, including the requirements for building the unit.

If you plan to build an ADU, but you’re not sure where to start, it may be a good idea to hire an ADU expert to give you reliable information on what are your available options and assist you in the best direction on how to proceed with the planning and construction.

Contact Angelus Construction for premium ADU construction and design programs!

Things to Know Before Investing in an ADU

Here are a few of the primary things you need to know before deciding to invest in building an ADU.

Los Angeles ADU Laws

Local communities throughout Los Angeles have recently implemented regulations for property investors considering building an ADU. 

Accessory Dwelling Unit Guidelines in Los Angeles

In recognition of the general issues in real estate pertaining to ADU construction, the state encourages new and existing units to meet the demand for legalization. Therefore, the State of California later assumed particular laws that assist in removing some local obstacles and streamline the process of obtaining a permit to legalize ADU structures.

Some of the issues include processing fees, property size, community disputes, and more. The following are a few of the new fundamental rules that potential ADU investors need to be aware of.

  • Senate Bill No. 13 | Accessory Dwelling Units

“This bill would, instead, authorize the creation of accessory dwelling units in areas zoned to allow single-family or multifamily dwelling residential use. The bill would also revise the requirements for an accessory dwelling unit by providing that the accessory dwelling unit may be attached to, or located within, an attached garage, storage area, or other structure and that it does not exceed a specified amount of total floor area.”

  • Assembly Bill No. 670 | Common Interest Developments: Accessory Dwelling Units

“The Planning and Zoning Law authorizes a local agency to provide for the creation of accessory dwelling units in single-family and multifamily residential zones by ordinance and sets forth standards the ordinance is required to impose with respect to certain matters, including, among others, maximum unit size, parking, and height standards. Existing law authorizes a local agency to provide by ordinance for the creation of junior accessory dwelling units, as defined, in single-family residential zones and requires the ordinance to include, among other things, standards for the creation of a junior accessory dwelling unit, required deed restrictions, and occupancy requirements.”

  • Assembly Bill No. 671 | Accessory Dwelling Units: Incentives

“The Planning and Zoning Law requires a city or county to adopt a general plan for land use development within its boundaries that includes, among other things, a housing element. Existing law provides for various incentives intended to facilitate and expedite the construction of affordable housing. Existing law authorizes a local agency to provide, by ordinance, for the creation of accessory dwelling units in single-family and multifamily residential zones and sets forth standards the ordinance is required to impose on accessory dwelling units.”

Local Zoning Codes

Every community has unique regulations on zoning codes to legalize ADUs at the local government level. It’s recommended to check the local zoning codes to better understand the entire process before progressing on your ADU project. We have experience working with the City of Los Angeles, City of Pasadena, City of Glendale, City of Burbank, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa, Culver City, County of Los Angeles, City of Santa Monica and many more local los angeles area cities.

Can I build an ADU on my property?

To build an accessory dwelling unit, you would have to get the permit to legalize the existing or new construction ADU. About three years ago, the rules for constructing ADUs in Los Angeles weren’t as strict as today. Unlike before, legally permitted ADUs are becoming more conventional for property owners converting old sheds and cottages or building units from scratch.

What to Know Before Building an ADU

Several guidelines are laid out by the city of Los Angeles that regulate the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in residential properties. The restrictions generally vary, but up to 1,200 square feet of ADU structures are allowed for single-family residences and properties even larger.

You have to declare your yard’s exact measurements to know the allowable structure size during the planning. The contractors can include the full measurement information on the requirements you have to file and have approved before starting the construction. 

The local department inspects proposed structures to ensure they’re up to code and assist in the general public’s safety. Even if the department approves a design, it may still have to go through the city’s environmental review board due to environmental impact that can potentially be detrimental.

Pro-Tip: You should check with your local department to know the exact guidelines available in your area. 

How much does it cost to build an ADU in Los Angeles?

Depending on the ADU’s design and location relative to other structures, the actual costs can be a little high, but generally not all that much if you think of it as an investment. 

One factor that is usually associated with the cost of building an ADU in Los Angeles is the building permit requirements. Each proposed structure must meet specific guidelines regarding height, site use, setbacks, zoning, etc. 

Considering the regulations and required energy performance features for the ADU planning and construction projects, you can’t build a unit for less than $175,000, at least for this year. As much as they can be time-consuming projects, their extremely expensive rates can also be part of the challenge.

Another cost factor you might want to know before investing in an ADU is the property tax. The ADU is assessed independently, which adds up to the amount you’ll need to pay for the total property tax, which is also inclined to increase over time.  

In A Nutshell

Every ADU project in Los Angeles requires a building permit before construction can commence. The primary thing to consider is that an accessory dwelling unit requires following local safety code regulations. So, even if you plan to use an existing available structure as a base for your new dwelling unit, it is essential to ensure that the building plan works according to local rules and regulations. And if the building design is not up to code according to the current guidelines, you will less likely get the legalization permit.

Accessory Dwelling Units are a great way to increase your property’s value in Los Angeles. Trust only the best in ADU Design & Construction here in LA! Angelus Construction offers specialized designing, permitting, and building ADUs with reliable and experienced services. Give us a call here today for a free consultation!

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