ADU on Duplex R2 lot question

89 Replies | Los Angeles County, California

@Tess Sweet Thank you so much for starting this thread! I am a new investor in LA and am also planning to jump onto the ADU bandwagon, so I found this thread incredibly helpful. [Special thanks to @Will Barnard for the detailed overview of the new regs and @Paul Dashevsky  for the link the to City of LA memo!]  


I just closed on a SFR in an R2 zone and we plan to add a 2bd/1ba/~600sqft ADU and a 1bd/1ba/~400sqft junior ADU, for a total of two additional units. I am curious to know what a reasonable architect fee would be for this kind of build? I was working with one architect recommended to me by my contractor who was going to charge $1500 for the plans not including permits, which felt like a great deal until the architect stopped responding, produced a rendering that was nothing along the lines of what we had discussed, and hung up on me. I am now looking for and vetting new architects and would be grateful if others could weigh in with what they would consider to be a reasonable fee. I will keep everyone posted on how the process goes and share any useful information on this thread!

Thanks,

Sydney

@Sydney Sherman   

From my experience, ADU plans cost between $3500 and $12,000. The price for plans should include architectural, structural, title 24, LID for over 500sf, etc. BTW, you're probably aware of this, but just wanted to mention that JADU comes with occupancy requirements, so property owner will need to either 1) live in the main house or 2) live in the JADU...you cannot rent out both. Also, I just created a bidding checklist for ADU construction (all items a contractor should include in their bid)...let me know if you'd like me to email you a copy.

@Sydney Sherman i just paid my architect $3800 to draft and submit "as is" plans and "new" plans to the City of LA Dept of Building and Safety. i built an ADU 2 years ago (converted stand alone garage, i have a duplex on the property) and have been living in it. i added a shower, kitchen, some walls... now getting everything legalized. Happy to refer you to my architect.

Originally posted by @Sydney Sherman :

@Tess Sweet Thank you so much for starting this thread! I am a new investor in LA and am also planning to jump onto the ADU bandwagon, so I found this thread incredibly helpful. [Special thanks to @Will Barnard for the detailed overview of the new regs and @Paul Dashevsky  for the link the to City of LA memo!]  


I just closed on a SFR in an R2 zone and we plan to add a 2bd/1ba/~600sqft ADU and a 1bd/1ba/~400sqft junior ADU, for a total of two additional units. I am curious to know what a reasonable architect fee would be for this kind of build? I was working with one architect recommended to me by my contractor who was going to charge $1500 for the plans not including permits, which felt like a great deal until the architect stopped responding, produced a rendering that was nothing along the lines of what we had discussed, and hung up on me. I am now looking for and vetting new architects and would be grateful if others could weigh in with what they would consider to be a reasonable fee. I will keep everyone posted on how the process goes and share any useful information on this thread!

Thanks,

Sydney

 Happy to have helped.

You get what you pay for in most cases and $1500 would be a steal of a deal. Sounds more like he was trying to get that $1500 upfront then you would never hear from him again. True plans containing both arch and structural plus LID, etc are going to be in line with what Paul stated. I am working on one now which we are in plan check on and it was $8k (excluding permit fees).



@Sydney Sherman My Architect has done many ADU's, primarily in LA. For $4,500 I got everything required done, and I don't have to step foot at city hall(only write the checks). I'm in plan check since January 29, coming up on the new 60 day ministerial approval deadline. My permit fees shouldn't exceed $3,000. Pre-2020 impact fees for my under 700sf ADU, now not required, were $4,600 in Long Beach. As a 100% conversion PV solar is not required. Huge LA issue is location of power lines, as LADWP is picky if they are directly overhead your ADU, or even close to it.

@Paul Dashevsky Paul could you please provide me with a copy of your ADU bidding checklist? Info sent to your website. Really appreciated!

@John A Murray   Thanks for the info, John.  I've heard that regarding power lines.  Hope your plan check goes well and wraps up soon!

I am undecided about whether to do the ADU/JADU as a single story (which would result in no outdoor space for those units) or as a two story, which I am told is significantly more expensive due to foundation issues. The architect I ended up going with is charging $3300 for the single story and $5300 for two story. I'm going to decide which option to go with after seeing the designs, but leaning towards single story due to costs/maximizing rental income. Plus, I feel like a lot of renters in LA don't expect outdoor space.

After reading this thread I would like to know if connection to utilities, sewage and getting you new address for the ADU should be included in the Architect services. If not where would be a one stop shop for all this services except construction I already have a contractor to perform the work but I need a person to do the rendering and pull the permits from the City for me.I would like you guys input

@Teacha Wong my architect is pulling the permits as part of the fee (and the city generates the new address). I just submitted plans last Monday so have not yet been approved, but so far I have had a great experience with my architect if you are looking for one. He’s efficient and reasonably priced. 

@Lluis Allen I also remember hearing about a 16 ft height limit. I am on an R2 lot and just submitted plans for two ADUs in a two story add on (one unit on bottom and JADU on top). I’ll report back if the city takes issue with it, but my architect and contractor didn’t think it would be a problem. 

My LA ADU building folk - does anyone have any insight into how COVID has affected the time the city is taking to approve permits?

Originally posted by @Lluis Allen :

@Will Barnard In los angeles, if you own an R2 can you build 2 ADU's as a 2 story building (1 unit stacked on top of the other)? I read that there was a 16ft height restriction.

There is a 16 ft height restriction but as long as you stay under that, it should not be a problem. Your specific question is a good one and one I have not been asked before so I am not 100% sure if it is or is not OK to stack ADU's on a multi family lot. I will look into that and report back.

 

Originally posted by @Sydney Sherman :

My LA ADU building folk - does anyone have any insight into how COVID has affected the time the city is taking to approve permits?

CA law as of Jan 1, 2020 states that all cities and municipalities shall approve an ADU application within 60 days and if not, it is considered stamped approved by default. That said, COVID 19 and the mandatory government shutdowns from both State and local areas have affected this and the State is not holding this timeline right now due to the pandemic. Times for processing anything at the LADBS have been increased and many items must be done online rather than in person. Hopefully we open back up on May 15 and get back to some normalcy.

@Sydney Sherman Thanks for your response. I would really like to do something similar so that sounds like good news. Please do keep us updated. 

@Will Barnard Thats interesting. Given the finite amount of land in LA, I assumed that others were trying maximize the amount of ADU's by building upward. Thanks for looking into this!

Hello everyone, just thought I should give an update on my ADU project from my original post.

The Department of Public Works made me do a CCTV inspection to verify that our house was connected to the main sewer line because I guess it was never certified by the previous owners. The cost for this was $404.80 CCTV permit plus $350 for the plumber to come out to run the camera. Luckily I found a plumber who  is a sewer bonded with the City of Los Angeles so they knew what was needed for this process. I was surprised that not many plumbers are familiar with this process. They were quoting me $250 to come out but did not know the inspector had to be present at the time they run the camera so be careful who you hire. @Tess Sweet @Robert Chuang @Boris Suchkov @John A Murray @Glenn Driver @Nabil Suleiman @Pat Saperstein @Xander Tertychny @Carla Carvalho

Next we had to resubmit our original plans to Building and Safety because they needed some minor corrections. Once they finish reviewing and approving we can go ahead and hire the contractor. I got several bids from different contractors ranging from 59k to 68k for this small ADU project. I would recommend anyone who is looking to build an ADU to get the contractor involved early in the process (during the designing stage) to avoid you having to redo plans and to help you save time/money.

Thanks @Carlos Alonso for the update and helpful information! It's really useful to hear about other people's experience who are also navigating the process for ADU construction with the city of LA.


I also wanted to give an update on progress with my ADU. As you'll recall I'm trying to build a JADU and ADU in a detached two story building on an R2 lot that currently has a SFR. @Lluis Allen I know you were interested in doing something similar.  We just got the plans back with corrections and the city says that we are not allowed to build a JADU on an R2 lot.  So we will have to resubmit with the bottom floor unit being a regular second unit (requiring parking) rather than an ADU and the top floor unit will now be an ADU.  The design is staying the same, so I don't think they had an issue with the two story addition, they just stated that, even though the existing property is an SFR, it would have to be zoned R1 for ADU+JADU.  Luckily, I think we just barely have room to add the required parking, so we plan to continue the build as usual, but we will have to scrap the planned outdoor space to accommodate the parking.

Originally posted by @Will Barnard:
Originally posted by @Lluis Allen:

@Will Barnard In los angeles, if you own an R2 can you build 2 ADU's as a 2 story building (1 unit stacked on top of the other)? I read that there was a 16ft height restriction.

There is a 16 ft height restriction but as long as you stay under that, it should not be a problem. Your specific question is a good one and one I have not been asked before so I am not 100% sure if it is or is not OK to stack ADU's on a multi family lot. I will look into that and report back.

So to clarify, the 16 ft height limit is for single story ADU's. You can exceed that when you go to a 2 story version but you must not exceed the 1200 SF max.

 

@Sydney Sherman & @Will Barnard thanks for following up on the ADU questions! You've both been very helpful and informative. I'm glad that the 16ft height limit is specific to the single story ADU's.

Sydney, are you comfortable sharing additional details of your project? What is the estimated cost and timeline for the build? Are you still doing a 400 sq/ft build for the 2nd unit or are the units both 600 sq/ft? Since you're on an R2, you can build up to 2 ADU's. If you had resubmitted the plans with BOTH units being ADU's, wouldn't that have eliminated the parking requirement?

@Scott Rosser

Hi Scott, I'm considering to add an ADU on my investment property as well. Would you mind sharing your architect information with me? I live up in SF Bay Area, so I really want someone with in-depth experience with the ADU process.

Many thanks

This is quite an interesting and great thread!  I had many of the same concerns and questions that were answered here.  I enjoyed reading the latest and the recommendations.  

@Will Barnard Thank you for the detailed in plain English explanation on page 2 of this thread and elsewhere with the possibilities for multi-family. One thing remains unclear to me regarding the 25% rule though, I understand your 8 unit example but could you give an example if someone has a 1 or 2 unit property zoned R2 with an attached two car garage AND room for a detached two story two additional units totaling 1200sq ft. I understand the garage can be converted to an ADU or that 2 additional units totaling 1200 is allowed, but could both be the garage and detached units be done? Or wouldn't that ADU garage conversion be more than 25% of the current unit count as you detailed with your 2 garage units for an 8 unit apartment example? If it's not allowed/additional question, would converting the garage to expand living space potentially run foul of the parking space requirement (or is there an exception for that now too like there is for converting garages for ADU's)?

I'm also a little confused with @Sydney Sherman not getting the JADU approved...I usually try to make sense of rules so not exactly sure why someone would be allowed to have a JADU with a SFR on R1 and on a duplex with R2 but not on a SFR with R2. Sometimes adding parking for a 2nd unit is not feasible so it could kill a project to expand. I'm guessing it probably has to do with the city thinking it makes sense and gets more money from an official 2nd unit on R2 where the 2nd unit hasn't been developed yet.



 

Originally posted by @Alan Rudy :

This is quite an interesting and great thread!  I had many of the same concerns and questions that were answered here.  I enjoyed reading the latest and the recommendations.  

Thank you for the detailed in plain English explanation on page 2 of this thread and elsewhere with the possibilities for multi-family. One thing remains unclear to me regarding the 25% rule though, I understand your 8 unit example but could you give an example if someone has a 1 or 2 unit property zoned R2 with an attached two car garage AND room for a detached two story two additional units totaling 1200sq ft. I understand the garage can be converted to an ADU or that 2 additional units totaling 1200 is allowed, but could both be the garage and detached units be done? Or wouldn't that ADU garage conversion be more than 25% of the current unit count as you detailed with your 2 garage units for an 8 unit apartment example? If it's not allowed/additional question, would converting the garage to expand living space potentially run foul of the parking space requirement (or is there an exception for that now too like there is for converting garages for ADU's)?

As far as an R2. R3, or R4 multi family zoned lot with only 1-2 units currently on it, unless the lot size is tiny and could not support it, it is likely an under utilized lot as far as the allowed improvements are concerned so if I ran across a deal like that, I would first look at the highest and best use for that lot which may involve demolishing the single unit and rebuilding a new multi family building to max out the lot usage for that zoning on that specific lot. If that proved to not be feasible, then I would look at the ADU options adding 2 detached units of not more than 1200sf ( and likely 2 qty. 750sf or less units to avoid all impact fees) and then possibly convert a portion or all of the garage to add to the size of the original unit (or leave it alone as parking is also nice to have once you have the new ADU units there. Bottom line, if you only have 1 unit, the law stipulates you can not use existing non livable space to convert into livable space unless it is within the 25% limit and obviously you can't build 25% of a unit so under that specification, you would need at least 4 units. That is state law though and each individual municipality may authorize you to do more, they just can't force you to do less than the state law provides.

Hope that answered your questions.

First and foremost, I'm so grateful to Bigger Pockets and everyone who has posted in this Los Angeles County Forum. I too am in the process of building a garage ADU and converting a master bedroom/bath/closet into a JADU on my SFR on an R1 lot. I wish I had discovered this forum earlier as it would have helped me answer so many of my previous questions.

I hired a designer who has helped me submit owner/builder permits.  Due to COVID, the over the counter approvals are not available which has delayed our approval process.  We are now in the corrections phase of the permit approval process.  I am eager to start construction!

Unfortunately, due to health reasons, my project manager who was helping organize my subs has had to pull out of my project. So I am back to square 1 on finding a contractor to get garage ADU and JADU built.

My question to the group is: Does anyone have any recommendations on contractors who specialize in ADU/JADUs, who are willing to work on owner builder permits? My project is near LAX in Westchester.

Thanks in advance for the help.

Will