California has been going through what’s been deemed an “ADU boom” in recent years, with Los Angeles at the heart of it. The number of permits for accessory dwelling units has skyrocketed, going from 97 in 2015 to a whopping 6,747 in 2019. Why are people so crazy about ADUs? Well, for starters, they are helping combat California’s housing crisis, but they also add necessary space and incredible value to your home.

This may leave you wondering what exactly an accessory dwelling unit is and what one can do for you. The following information will explain everything you need to know about ADUs in LA.

What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?

Though they’re commonly referred to as ADUs today, they are also known as mother-in-law suites, in-law units, granny flats, secondary units, or backyard cottages. The structure functions as a standalone home with a bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. They can be attached or detached from a single-family home. And depending on the property and structures present, accessory dwelling units can be built from a garage conversion or from the ground up.

Why Build A Los Angeles ADU?

There are many great reasons to build an ADU in LA. Since the cost of land and homes in the area is relatively expensive, some people are opting to create additional space on property they already own rather than trying to sell the house and move elsewhere.

Similarly, these structures are affordable and provide extra living space outside of the main home. This makes it much more flexible for both guests and the homeowner. Many times, elderly family members or in-laws move into ADUs, making it possible for the family to be near one another yet still have their own privacy. Alternatively, some people build an ADU to create an additional revenue stream where they rent the space out as a long-term home or vacation property.

When considering building an ADU in Los Angeles, it’s crucial to understand that these dwelling units can serve many purposes, including:

  • She Shed or Man Cave
  • Pool or Guest House
  • Home Office or Gym
  • Long-term or Vacation Rental

How to Build a Los Angeles ADU?

California has passed several laws to facilitate the construction of ADUs. A state law was created in 2017, allowing cities to be more flexible in approving ADU builds. Additional legislation was passed in 2018 and 2019 to promote the building of ADUs in the state.

In general, to build a Los Angeles accessory dwelling unit, your property must first meet a few criteria. To begin, the property must be a single-family home. Then, you must consider the amount of garage or backyard space available. LA County does not specify requirements for a minimum lot size. However, the area must have enough space to build the ADU. The most important thing to remember is that ADUs cannot exceed 50 percent of the square footage of the primary structure.

Additionally, you have to make sure there’s enough room to install an extra parking spot if your home is more than one-half mile from public transportation. If you decide your property is eligible, it’s best to enlist the help of professionals like Apex ADU to assist with drawing up your ADU design and blueprint. You will then need to apply for a permit with the Department of Regional Planning within the city of LA or your local government. The department will review your plan and make an approval decision. If approved, your ADU construction can start!

Cost of Building an ADU in Los Angeles

The average Los Angeles homeowner pays more than $50,000 to build an ADU from their garage. However, this price will vary depending on several critical factors, including:

  • Existing Structural Integrity
  • Garage Age and Size
  • Garage Amenities and Features
  • Yard Size
  • Preferred Size and Design
  • Architecture Costs and Budget
  • Permit and Construction Costs
  • Finishes

Saving Time Building an ADU

If you’re a Los Angeles resident, you can save time building your ADU by choosing one of the city’s pre-approved accessory dwelling unit plans. This program allows you to choose from 28 housing units, guaranteeing expedited permit processes.

Choosing an ADU Contractor in Los Angeles

Though you may be anxious to begin construction on your ADU, it’s critical to take your time and choose a contractor who is ideal for your needs, location, and budget. Here are our top tips for finding the best ADU contractor in Los Angeles:

  • They should be licensed and insured
  • Compare customer service, costs, and expertise
  • Contact several ADU contractors for estimates
  • Always carefully read proposals and contracts
  • Check the company’s references and reviews
  • Choose the ADU contractor who offers the best value, references, and reviews


Are you looking for an ADU contractor in Los Angeles who can build a custom in-law unit or convert your garage into additional space? Let us help! Contact us now for a free estimate, and don’t forget to look at our past ADU projects!