Building an ADU - Guidebook To Accessory Dwelling Units In The City Of Los Angeles


In January of 2017, a new California state law took effect that encourages homeowners to build “granny flats.” These housing units go by many names (backyard homes, secondary units, garage apartments, and the one we use here: accessory dwelling units or ADUs). Most homeowners can imagine many ways to use a rental unit on their propertyfor an elderly relative, extra income, a caregiver, or a grown child living at home. But many homeowners do not know that the City of Los Angeles has made it easier than ever to add a legal rental unit to a single-family home. Even still, the planning and building process is complicated. This handbook serves as a guide so homeowners can decide if it is possible to build an ADU on their property. It provides preliminary answers to key questions and shows the steps the City will require, and what the design and construction of an ADU will entail.

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This guidebook helps you to get started and to prepare the basic information you will need to give the City (at the Dept. of City Planning and the Dept. of Building and Safety), your lender, your designer, and your contractor. When you have taken photographs, measured your backyard, and sketched your idea for an ADU, as this guidebook illustrates, you will be well on your way.

There are architects, builders, and planners ready to help you at every stage. This guidebook does not replace their services, but it does provide helpful advice, websites, phone numbers, and office locations where your more specific questions can be answered. Because ADU rules can change, check the date of the guidebook in your hands (at the bottom of the page). More up-to-date information will be available from the City Departments of Planning and Building and Safety. Good luck designing and building your ADU!

NOTE: Since every ADU project will be unique, there are important questions that we cannot answer, for instance: How much will it cost? How long will it take to build? In addition, this guidebook does not substitute for required review by City agencies. All questions should be directed to the Dept. of City Planning and the Dept. of Building and Safety.

Project Type:    handbook
Authors:    Dana Cuff
Jane Blumenfeld
Collaborators:    Los Angeles City Planning Department
Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety
Mayor Eric Garcetti's Bloomberg Innovation Team
Genesis LA
Council District 7
Pacoima Beautiful
Timeline:    2016-2017
Themes:    postsuburban city
Building an ADU

Building an ADU