ADU on Duplex R2 lot question

57 Replies

This is (potentially) very exciting news for us as duplex owners in city of LA! That said, if anybody might be able to answer a couple questions for me that would be awesome...

I am wondering how it might immediately affect us as we are currently in the disappointing process of demo-ing and restoring an un-permitted ADU (illegally built by previous owners) back into a 2-car garage with garage doors in the original openings. We were required to do this by the housing authority. (The previous owners got tagged for this and it trickled down to us having to remedy it after we purchased it back in June.) We live in one of the units but we sure would love to keep that garage as a big rec room or ADU! Maybe we can hold the work and now apply for it to be a legal permitted ADU? My question is about covered parking requirements. We were told by zoning back in July that we had to restore the covered parking that was previously there... Anyone know about this requirement changing? We have room for off-street tandem parking on our property but aren't able to legally build additional covered parking due to lack of setback space, etc...

My intuition says they wouldn't still require covered parking spaces if they are saying that garages can be converted into ADUs? @Carlos Alonso @Boris Suchkov @Robert Chuang @Matt Everling @Nabil Suleiman


Hi Tess,

Here are the new CA state laws (beginning tomorrow!) regarding ADUs & parking requirements:

No replacement parking for the main house is required if you convert a garage.

No parking is required for an ADU, period, if it is within a half mile walk of transit.

Happy New Year!

Also (just in case it applies to you), no parking will be required in 2 more instances:

•The ADU is located within an architecturally and historically significant historic district

•When there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the ADU

Hi Tess, 

Per the state bill..."When a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished in conjunction with the construction of an accessory dwelling unit or converted to an accessory dwelling unit, the local agency shall not require that those offstreet parking spaces be replaced."


Therefore for your situation, I would suggest one of the following (a) Stop the current plan check and ask to change your Scope of Work to "Permit an existing unpermitted ADU Garage Conversion, per Order to Comply #00000". You will need updated drawings to reflect the ADU floor plans ect, but you SHOULD NOT be required to replace the parking. (b)Or ask your plan checker for a supplemental to change the scope of work... this way you do not go back to the beginning of the process, and you keep the plan checker that is already familiar with your situation. Hope this helps.

Hi Everyone, just wanted to give an update on my ADU situation.

@Carlos Alonso @Boris Suchkov @Robert Chuang @Matt Everling @Nabil Suleiman@Tess Sweet @Nabil Suleiman

In case you forgot I am the duplex owner in the City of Los Angeles who had an empty garage gathering dust that will soon be the future home of a studio ADU. I decided to do a straight garage conversion and not expand the size of it because it will keep my overhead low and all we need is over the counter approval which can allow us to start construction sooner. I got different quotes on the design process ranging from mid 2k to as high as 5k but decided to go with a designer who came highly recommended. Special Thanks to @Nabil Suleiman.  I'm be happy to share my experience as I go through the process to help others out get an idea of the cost. 

@Tess Sweet With the new laws passed in CA which took effect January 1, 2020, you now have sooooo many more options for your situation. Just two evenings ago, I spoke on a panel at a FIBI event regarding ADU's and without surprise, the room was packed as this is a hot topic for investors. Now that I found this thread, I will follow it closely and be happy to answer any questions from you or others if I can. I am now familiar with most of the new rules and as a general contractor and developer, I am very excited about many of the opportunities these new laws bring to us.

I will admit that the ability to build not one, but 2 ADU units on 1 single family zoned property (1 ADU and 1 junior AFU) is not my favorite as I certainly would not want to have all my neighbors single family homes become a multi family rental property and as the years go by and these laws are utilized, I’m sure there will be some push back from other homeowners and property owners. But until that day, it’s pedal to the medal.

A few wonderful things for you multi family investors: Any multi family zoned lot, i.e. R1.5, R2, R3, etc you can now have the ability to build not one but TWO non attached ADU units up to 1200sf AND you have the legal ability to convert non livable space, garages, storage areas, laundry rooms, etc into legal units so long as you follow all the legal egress, fire codes, etc. There are some specific rules regarding this but as you are limited to adding no more than 25% of your current unit count. As an example, if you had an 8 unit apartment with 8 double car garages, you could legally convert the garages into a total of 2 additional units (again following all fire, building, and city codes) and STILL have the legal right to add two separate and non attached ADU units.

I'm currently working with my architect to potentially convert covered parking spaces into additional units on my 14 unit but unfortunately, we do not have the lot room to add any ADU units.

One other great rule for us here in LA, if you have a single family zoned property and your home already uses up FAR (floor area ratio) of the 45% max, before this year, you could not build an ADU. Now you can and are guaranteed up to 750SF ADU on the property but must maintain at or below a 16ft height limit. Additionally, and one of the BEST laws passed in my opinion, is the fact that if your ADU is under 750sf, the city can NOT charge you any impact fees (school fees, etc) and if over 750 SF, then they can only charge up to 25% of what the impact fees would have been on the main house.

Other questions were, "Will my property being reassessed?" Under prop 13, your main residence on the property will remain taxed as before but you WILL be assessed for the additional improvements so it is imperative from a property tax standpoint that you fight for the lowest valuation of your ADU units on the permit as you will be taxed on that but a small price to pay for the ability to gain rental income or usage from your new ADU and junior ADU's.

Thanks to EVERYONE for participating in this thread! And SPECIAL THANKS to @Will Barnard for your thorough overview. It's sooooo helpful! We are overjoyed. @Carlos Alonso, I would love to connect with the designer you chose. We are eager to start! That said, I am now reading about "ADU specialists" - Anyone know about this service and workflow? I bet their phones are ringing non stop right now! Both my husband and I do basic remodeling work, but need help with big picture design and planning. Also curious, @Carlos Alonso, about how "over the counter approval" is possible? What forms?

Tess, anyone can call themselves ADU specialists but truth be told, any GC who builds homes can handle an ADU. As for design, any architect can do that too and in some cases, just a draftsman although structural engineering may in fact be required if any additions or new construction are added.

I do these tasks on a monthly basis and have lots of experience so it is very simple for me and the new laws create even more opportunities for me and others.

@Will Barnard  
Hey Will, I got a little confused from the statement "Any multi family zoned lot, i.e. R1.5, R2, R3, etc you can now have the ability to build not one but TWO non attached ADU units up to 1200sf", this is part of the 25% density increases right? 

@Tess Sweet
Hey Tess, how is the progress with the garage? Just a thought and maybe another perspective, I am assuming the housing authority is requiring you to provide 2 enclosed parking spaces for one of the unit "in the duplex". 


Put it this way, if you have two - 2 cars garages. Legally you can convert one of the 2 cars garage into ADU. However you still need to provide one (the other) garage for one of the unit (part of the duplex)? I am wondering if this is the case.

Robert

Originally posted by :

 
Hey Will, I got a little confused from the statement "Any multi family zoned lot, i.e. R1.5, R2, R3, etc you can now have the ability to build not one but TWO non attached ADU units up to 1200sf", this is part of the 25% density increases right?


Put it this way, if you have two - 2 cars garages. Legally you can convert one of the 2 cars garage into ADU. However you still need to provide one (the other) garage for one of the unit (part of the duplex)? I am wondering if this is the case.

Robert

 As I understand it, no city can enforce you having to add parking and as such, you could convert both those garages in your example. The downside to that would be that your tenants using those garages may very well need to pay a lower rent rate for lack of parking so you would need to do a cost analysis of how much less income you receive for those units, add in the gain from the rental income of the conversion, and calculate the cost of said conversion to see if it pencils out or not. That all said, it is my understanding that you can convert both garages in that example and not have to add any parking.

@Carlos Alonso I also have a duplex and a garage (in Echo Park). I would love to talk to that designer also. I got an estimate to convert our 300 sq ft. garage from someone who recently built a very nice ADU in our neighborhood, and it was over $100,000. Others have told me this is the going rate, given how many permitting requirements there are to make it legal. The contractor said it's basically like building a small new house, since very little from the present garage will be retained. I could potentially rent it for around $1500 a month so although it could potentially be paid back in six years, it still seems like a lot.

@Pat Saperstein  
300 sqft shouldn't cost you more than $6000-8000 as this point for permitting (including architect)

If you are willing to work on the project yourselves like managing subs. It should cost you somewhere in a ballpark of $40-60,000. They are quoting you $300/sqft+ for an existing structure minus utilities. That is rather expensive as I am building a new construction at $180-190/sqft in eagle rock. I have my own construction company that's why it's cheap for me. For others, you will have to pay for GC and their service for managing, but it shouldn't cost that much. 

BTW let me know if you have friends looking for a new single family home in eagle rock. I am selling in few months :D


Hi @Pat Saperstein Sorry for the late reply but I was recovering from this non-Corona flu virus going around. Anyways I'm still currently in the design/architect phase at this time.  Once we get the permits from the City I will be seeking out several bids for the construction cost maybe also from @Robert Chuang =) and will happy to share those quotes.  Based on my research it appears my costs will be a lot lower than yours because I am just doing a straight garage conversion.

@Carlos Alonso Hi! I would love to hear about the way you were able to submit permit applications to the city. None of the ADU forms I dug up online seem to reflect the law change as of January 2020.


BTW ... This thread is so great! Thanks everybody for participating. If it weren't for you all sharing the good news, we would not have known!!! 

Originally posted by @Carlos Alonso :

Here is a glimpse of my proposed project @Tess Sweet @Pat Saperstein @Robert Chuang

Current Condition

Proposed ADU 1

Proposed ADU 2 with Patio Shade

Nice renderings, looks great. On rendering 2, it looks like you would be encroaching on the setback restriction of 4 feet so I don’t think you can use that option. Also, looks like a 1 car garage so 200-250 SF is going to be very small to fit kitchenette and bath and still have enough room for anything else. What about pushing it out some into the yard to make it larger, say 400 SF?

does anyone know who to contact with the city of los angeles who handles catching your property up to the proper permits and laws??   i own a duplex and 2 years ago i converted my 2car garage in the back of the property and built an "artists loft" or "rec room."  i made some modifications after the final permit was issued (so that i could live in the new structure) and now i'm reading about the new law that went into effect for 2020 that seems to make it all legal now.   id like to make sure everything i did is blessed and approved by the city.   any help with who i should contact with the city would be appreciated.   thanks!  

@Scott Rosser , thank you for asking this question. I am wondering this too! I was in the process of demo-ing unpermitted work in our garage when the law changed. So, I stopped the work and reversed it. I have been working on the place with my handyman husband - but I know that we need to start legitimizing the property and making it a legal ADU, approved by the city. We don't need an architect or designer because a small bathroom and bedroom were built before we bought the place. It was an illegal unit. But not anymore! Hopefully soon!...

@Tess Sweet i went to the LA Dept of Building and Safety last week. I have to submit new architectural plans that incorporate the modifications i made after the legal "artist loft." I've hired an architect and have a contractor ready to go should i have to rip out the upstairs shower or rebuild the wall that used to be the garage door. i was happy to hear that you can add an ADU to an R2 property though, you can actually add 2 more units. i'll be extra happy when i can get the utilities separated, a separate address, and legally become a R3. i'll keep you posted on my progress, hopefully it wont cost an arm and a leg.

@Xander Tertychny - Question regarding your comment that an ADU must be part of a property that has the main unit owner occupied.

We just bought a legal SFR with legal ADU on a R1 lot, ADU is new construction. Are you saying that the main SFR must be owner occupied? Our intent was to rent both.


Thanks!

Originally posted by @Carla Carvalho :

@Xander Tertychny - Question regarding your comment that an ADU must be part of a property that has the main unit owner occupied.

We just bought a legal SFR with legal ADU on a R1 lot, ADU is new construction. Are you saying that the main SFR must be owner occupied? Our intent was to rent both.


Thanks!

ADUs, in state of CA, currently have no owner occupancy requirement per state regulation.  JADU, in state of CA, can require owner occupancy.  A jurisdiction does not have to mandate owner occupancyfor a JADU but is free to mandate it (i.e. there is no state regulation forbidding a jurisdiction from mandating owner occupancy for a JADU).

I expect by the beginning of 2021, the state will forbid requiring owner occupancy on JADU.  Senator Wienkowski has been very active in his ADU/JADU pursuits. So if you already own a good JADU candidate and do not want to house hack, you may decide to see it the patient route works out.

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