ADU BASICS

Whether you want to add space to your home or generate rental income, an ADU can make it
happen. Here’s a crash-course on the basics of an ADU and how GoADU can help you
enhance your home with one.

What is an ADU?

If you have never heard of an “ADU,” you’re not alone! But the truth is, you probably have heard
of an ADU… you just know it by one of its more popular, descriptive, even colorful names …

These are fun names, but when it comes time to apply for permits from the city, state,
and county, the official name for these kinds of units is an Accessory Dwelling Unit
(ADU).
Distinct from the Primary Dwelling Unit (i.e. the house itself), it is a smaller, distinct unit
located on the same property approved by the relevant municipal authority for human
habitation. Each state sets statutory guidelines for acceptable uses and characteristics
of ADUs; your city or county may have additional guidelines.

Types of ADUs

An ADU is not a “one-size-fits-all” distinction. There are several sub-categories of ADU to be
aware of, including:

Junior ADU (JADU)

A Junior ADU (JADU) is a smaller unit that is completely encompassed by the primary dwelling
unit — such as a converted attached garage or guest room. It must have its own separate
entrance but it can share a bathroom with the primary dwelling unit and only requires a
“kitchenette” rather than a full kitchen. State laws allow for a property to have one ADU and one
JADU, allowing property owners to have as many as three dwelling units on one parcel of land.

Traditional ADU

A traditional ADU may be attached or detached from the primary dwelling unit and must follow
state and municipal guidelines for ADUs, including setbacks, minimum size, maximum size,
maximum height, and allowances for kitchens, bathrooms, etc.

Guest Living Quarters

Guest living quarters are a type of ADU approved for use only by guests or household
employees (butler, nanny, etc.) They may not be rented out for income.

Tiny House

Tiny houses have been classified as ADUs by many jurisdictions in California, including Los
Angeles. A tiny house may be approved as an ADU on your property, but it must conform to all
applicable ADU standards.

The Best ADU for Your Needs

If you’re in the Los Angeles area and you’re trying to make home improvements, you probably have contractors trying to pull you in a million different directions. Even if you know an ADUs is how you’d like to improve your property, you have to carefully choose the type that’s best for your property. Go ADU believes there are three essentials when you want to build a granny flat on your property!

A new stand-alone unit is a great option if you don’t necessarily want more space in the house but you would like income. These units are detached, typically measuring up to 1200 square feet.

If you want to expand your existing home for yourself or your guests, you may want a traditional ADU. This is attached to your home and can be a wide variety of sizes, but it’s typically around 1200 square feet.

Lastly, you can also convert your garage to an ADU. This is great if you have a structure you aren’t using but would like an office, gym, or studio on your property.

No matter which of these options sounds the best to you, Go ADU can help! Even if you need help deciding what kind of ADU you’d like, we can listen to your goals and make your ADU dreams come true.

Contact us today

Why Build an ADU in Los Angeles?

ADUs add value to properties and give families options.

Guest or Family Housing


Friends or family members can occupy the ADU. Aging parents or other loved ones can occupy
the ADU instead of nursing homes, allowing them to stay closer to their families. New parents
can also add caregivers to their young childrens’ support network.

Rental Income


The ADU can be rented out to provide the household with extra income. The homeowner can
even choose to live in the ADU and rent out the primary dwelling unit for even more income.

Add Value for Sale or Refi


An ADU can add value to a property, boosting the household’s net worth and making them
eligible for a larger cash-out mortgage refinance.

Sell the ADU Separately


Recent changes in city law even make it possible for certain parcels to be subdivided, allowing a
detached ADU be sold as a separate home to another homeowner or investor. If eligible, you
can use this option to pay off your existing mortgage or create a cash nest egg.

What Big Changes Has California Made in ADU Regulations?

California has recently eased restrictions on ADU permitting, making it easier to build an ADU in
Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Some of the changes to be aware of include …

Size and Setbacks

California no longer imposes minimum lot size requirements and has reduced setback
requirements. Local and municipal regulations may apply.

Application Review

By state law, the time that municipal buildings have to act on an ADU application has been
reduced from 120 days to 60 days.

Parking

Most requirements for additional parking to accompany an ADU have been waived, especially if
the property is located within at least ½ mile of public transportation.

How GoADU Can Help

GoADU provides end-to-end ADU design, permitting, and construction services to homeowners
in the Greater Los Angeles and surrounding metros. You don’t lift a finger — just tell us your
vision, and we make your desired ADU or JADU a reality.
We are bonded, licensed, and qualified for all ADU and JADU projects, including:

New Stand-Alone Unit

Add a standalone detached ADU of up to 1,200 habitable square feet and up to 24 feet tall.
Required rear and side setbacks — 4 feet.

Expansion or Addition

Build out or expand the primary dwelling unit to include an attached ADU no larger than 1,200
habitable square feet, consisting of no more than 50% of the habitable square footage of the
primary dwelling unit.


Conversion of Existing Space

Conversion of existing interior space (no more than 50% of the square footage of the primary
dwelling unit) or exterior space (1,200 square feet or less) into a habitable ADU or JADU.

What are the local rules for what kind of ADU I can legally build
on my property?


Changes in state law make it much easier to build an ADU in Los Angeles or the surrounding
areas. However, county and municipal ordinances may still apply to your desired ADU project.
Knowing the quirks of your local building department parameters can make the difference
between a quick permit approval and a costly boondoggle ending in rejection.


GoADU stays constantly up-to-date with the latest developments in ADU policy in Los Angeles
and the surrounding metro. One of the best ways we can add value to your ADU development
process is helping you understand what ADU characteristics you need to make your ADU legal
and affordable within your local jurisdiction.


Click below to explore the ADU and JADU policies that apply to your city, county, or
municipality. If you partner with GoADU, our feasibility study will ensure that your final ADU
design conforms to all applicable rules and regulations.

How do I get started building an ADU in Los Angeles?

Between design, construction, and dealing with the city, building an ADU can seem like a
daunting task. Contractors, lenders, architects, the city building department … It can be tough to know where to start.
The easiest answer — start by reaching out to GoADU. We can act as your “point person” and
advocate at every stage of the ADU development process. We have specialized knowledge of
the ADU-development process in Los Angeles, plus a deep network of local architects,
subcontractors, and lenders with a proven track record of success (that’s why we work with them!)
Whether you have a set of plans to build on, want to work from a “Standard Plan” on file with your city, or need to start from scratch, it’s never too early to reach out for us. We are thrilled when we have the opportunity to come in early and usher our clients through every step of the
process. The sooner we get involved, the smoother we can make the entire process — and the faster we hand you the keys to your brand-new, rent-ready ADU!

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

Very good question! GoADU has a policy of complete transparency, and it’s never too early to
crunch some numbers. ADU prices can vary widely based on the project, but we recommend
that you budget $250-$325 per square foot as your “all-in” cost to build your ADU. That includes the design phase, all permitting costs, and the construction phase. That would put the finished cost of a, 800 sq ft ADU at between $200k-$260k.

Ready to get started? Reach out to us today for a free strategy session!