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ADU garage conversion 101

May 20, 2024

3 Car Garage ADU in Los Angeles

Is it legal to convert my garage into an ADU?

If you own a single-family home anywhere in Los Angeles or nearby with residential zoning, then yes, you can Convert Your Garage to an ADU. Each city and county have slightly different requirements for converting your garage into an ADU garage conversion. Still, thanks to laws passed by the State of Los Angeles , as of January 2017, every Los Angeles homeowner can convert their attached or detached garage into a livable, rentable dwelling unit.

What is a Garage Conversion ADU?

Los Angeles City Ordinance No. 186481 dictates what an ADU is and where you can build one. The definition of an ADU as described by the City of LA states,

Should I convert my garage?

This is not a simple yes or no question. Whether or not you should convert your garage into a rental depends on many factors, and all homeowners will have their unique motivation for considering a garage conversion. When building a rental unit, guest home, or home office, you must thoughtfully weigh the pros and cons to decide which ADU type is best for you, your property, and your lifestyle.

Garage Conversion vs. Detached/Attached ADU

Many homeowners consider the advantages and disadvantages of converting their garage vs. building a new ADU somewhere else on their property. There are two main advantages for converting a garage vs. building a new stand-alone ADU.

      • Advantage #1 – CostThe price for a garage conversion ADU is substantially less expensive than a new detached or attached ADU. Since the garage already exists, a conversion saves money on the foundation, framing, and roofing portions of the construction project.

      • Advantage #2 – Time SavingsA garage conversion is typically quicker to permit, and the construction timeline is much faster than building a new unit from scratch.

    But in addition to the advantages, there are also disadvantages that you must consider. The two main disadvantages are…

        • Disadvantage #1 – Loss of garage space for parkingYou are not required to replace the parking you lose when you convert your garage. But, when the garage conversion is complete, you will have less covered parking on your property or less storage if you do not park cars in your garage. This lack of parking and storage could be a turn-off for potential buyers.

        • Disadvantage #2 – Lower Return on Investment (ROI)When you convert your garage to an ADU, you increase the property value in most instances because you add habitable square footage to the overall property. And since single-family homes are appraised based on the home’s characteristics and the useable square footage, the ADU will increase the property’s value.But the other side of the coin is that you are converting your garage, which is a valuable amenity in Los Angeles . A loss of a standard two-car garage will most likely decrease your home’s value, offsetting some of the property value increase you gain with the new ADU’s addition.

      You will need to evaluate whether your garage’s loss is a big deal and how it might affect your property’s desirability for a future owner.

      How much does it cost to convert my garage into an ADU garage conversion?

      Most garage conversions cost between $80,000 and $150,000. The size of the garage conversion, the location and access of the existing utilities, and the quality of the finish materials will influence the final price.

      As examples, we can look at three different garage conversion projects and the approximate cost of each.

          • Garage Conversion #1 – Modest and Simple
            Estimated budget $100,000+The fastest and least expensive garage conversion type is to leave the existing garage structure 100% intact. This means no additional square footage added and no changes to the overall structure of the garage.In this scenario, you would add an efficiency kitchen, small ¾ bathroom, mini-split HVAC system for heating and cooling, and bring the electrical up to code for a living unit. Additionally, building finish materials would be modest and simple (i.e., No designer plumbing fixtures or fancy kitchen cabinets and countertops).A project like this will end with a nice, clean ADU that will be safe and livable but without any bells and whistles.
            ADU garage conversion
            ADU garage conversion

          • Garage Conversion Example #2 – Structural and Architectural Upgrades
            Estimated budget $140,000+You may find that a straight garage conversion is not exactly what you need. Maybe your garage is old and needs structural upgrades. Or perhaps you want to create vaulted/lofted ceilings or a small addition to make the ADU feel larger.In this scenario, the ADU would have a larger kitchen and a full bathroom. The electrical and gas services will be individually metered so that the ADU will be billed separately for utilities. And your contractor will alter the roof structure to create a lofted/vaulted ceiling.A project with this budget will feel like a small custom home, and the interiors will feel larger and more luxurious. A separate bedroom area adds privacy to the conversion.ADU garage conversion Garage Conversion Bathroom

          • conversion Example #3 – Full Custom Rebuild
            Estimated budget $200,000+The next and final level of ADU garage conversion is the fully custom rebuild. The rebuild will include the demolition of the existing garage, and the rebuild will consist of a much larger floorplan or a 2nd story addition.In this scenario, the owner can choose a genuinely custom floorplan to match their lifestyle. The new ADU will retain no evidence that it was ever built initially as a garage. The ADU will feature luxury finishes to match any taste and can include multiple living and sleeping areas.An ADU project like this will add substantially more value to the property than it will cost to build and is a perfect option for homeowners wanting to create a beautiful home office or guest suite on their property. Garage conversion worth it?

        Who We Are

        KN Remodeling is a certified and qualified renovation company that provides renovation services to all people of Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, Simi valley, Thousand oaks, and its environs. As a full time company, we offer a wide range of services and products tailored to make your home beautiful. From replacement of kitchen counter-tops to bathroom flooring, KN Remodeling, does it all. We take pride in what we do and we are always glad to put a smile on your face each time you ask for our services. That is why we have a showroom with certified designers and kitchen remodelers who guide you in deciding what’s best for your bathroom or kitchen. We make our customers feel at home by giving them a wide range of remodeling designs to choose from and we always renovate your home with your needs and wants in mind.