Detached garage possiblity in ca. Please help a newb

14 Replies

Hello everyone I just saw a property here CA that has need to detached garage with hard floors and an ac. I'm thinking about buying this property because I love the lay out and it was work for my house hack. The garage was just a bonus.

But I can't tell if it's a blessing or a curse. How are adus treated in California?

I'm guessing it's dependent upon each county and or City. Does anyone have experience converting a garage into an adu that is detached for renting purposes near Los Angeles?

Detached garages are ideal for an ADU conversion. If you like the layout of it already, then it sounds like you should pull the trigger and make an offer. It already has hard wood floors and an AC? That is a HUGE bonus!! Definitely something you will want to grab as soon as you can.

ADUs work great in california due to the extremely high rents. What do you mean by how they are treated? in terms of appraisal with the house?

In terms of construction or converting an ADU, everything is super expensive right now due to the costs of materials. I am currently trying to get one built right now in the bay area and i am getting quoted around 350-450 a sqft.

Originally posted by @Alex Ko :

Hello everyone I just saw a property here CA that has need to detached garage with hard floors and an ac. I'm thinking about buying this property because I love the lay out and it was work for my house hack. The garage was just a bonus.

But I can't tell if it's a blessing or a curse. How are adus treated in California?

I'm guessing it's dependent upon each county and or City. Does anyone have experience converting a garage into an adu that is detached for renting purposes near Los Angeles?

At the state level, ADUs are very much supported in California, with new legislation in effect since last year that essentially forces cities to allow new ADUs and garage conversions on most residential properties. That doesn't mean it's cheap or easy, however. Interpretation of the state rules varies somewhat from city to city; building code requirements must still be met; finding the right designer and contractor can be an involved process.

Whether the partial conversion is a blessing or a curse depends on what was done and how it was done - i.e. before you apply for a building permit and go through all the proper steps to legalize the ADU, is it too much trouble to remove what's already there? For example, if the previous homeowner ran plumbing that doesn't meet code, and when you are building the ADU the inspector points it out, you have to remove it and redo things the right way, which can be more costly than building from scratch. Do your due diligence.

ADU laws for CA are state wide and cities may not make the requirements more difficult, however, they can ease them.
detached garages are the best for ADU conversions. I have extensive experience in this area and can tell you it is the best investment for buy and hold right now. Since you already own the dirt, converting or building an ADU adds only the soft costs and construction costs (which have gone up considerably over the last 6 months).

Just finishing one up in Sherman oaks right now which was a detached 350sf garage that was converted to a 750 sf 2 bed 1 bath plus laundry ADU. Came out great! I will be posting photos of it on my profile once it is 100% done. My client is very happy with the results and will be even more when he gets his new tenants in there.

@Alex Ko Lots of good insight here already. If the ADU is un-permitted like you are suggesting then getting it legally permitted is no different than if you were converting a garage (except some of the work may be done for you already). You will need an architect or designer to draw up your plans. They will submit the plans to the city or county (depending on your jurisdiction) and after many months you will get a permit. Then you will have to build it to code. Hopefully the work that is already done is built to code so you can save some $. The inspector may make you tear off drywall to inspect the electrical, plumbing, insulation, ect. It is up to them. In short the garage ADU is a great idea in my opinion.

@Alex Ko I have a property in San Diego County which I just converted the detached garage into an ADU and the numbers are great. If its a blessing or curse could depend on if it was built with permits or not.

Assuming it was built without permits you can get it permitted but the cost will be higher due to penalties. Also, one thing I learned was it has to have parking setback space for the cars that no longer have a garage. This has been a show stopper for some I have talked to in this area about converting to an ADU. The new state law also no longer requires the home owner to live in main house effectively creating multi family properties on R1 zoning properties.

Assuming it was built with permits it is a blessing. I don't see many options around here for properties to cash flow unless they have ADU potential which is why my wife and I are targeting out of state.

@Will Barnard

Hi Will thank you for your response. For something 350sqft to 750sqft how much can I expect to pay for a conversation from scratch for a very basic adu ? And for your 350 to 750 sqft did you add a level I would love to see photos that's awesome.

I converted my garage into an ADU here in LA. Currently I live in it while we rent out the main house. The plan is to move into the main house in a couple of months and then rent out the ADU. I have a clients who have ADU properties and really hasn't had any problems getting them rented out. The conversion can be around $100K, even if things like flooring is already there because it depends if it is done to code or not.

Happy to chat more if you would like.

Originally posted by @Kevin Tsai :

@Will Barnard do you mean the 350sf garage was expanded to 750sf ADU? If so, is the process any more complicated than regular conversion?

Correct, it was expanded. Process is about the same to covert existing or convert and expand. Either way, you need architectural designs and structural engineering along with LID, title 24, and other items submitted to Building and Safety for plan check review. Keeping it under 750 sf avoids impact fees per CA state law which saves money.

Originally posted by @Alex Ko :

@Will Barnard

Hi Will thank you for your response. For something 350sqft to 750sqft how much can I expect to pay for a conversation from scratch for a very basic adu ? And for your 350 to 750 sqft did you add a level I would love to see photos that's awesome.

Every site is different and costs will vary depending on existing conditions, length of new sewer line run to street (required) finishes, etc. The more sf you build, the less per sf, same as buying a 6 pack vs 12 pack.