They’ve been colloquially referred to as “granny flats” but, these days, granny and grandpa are staying in their family homes for longer and Angelenos are using these back houses as rentals, retreats, creative office spaces, and more. People with existing extra spaces have been getting good use out of them; plus, other homeowners have been jumping on the bandwagon by building their own Accessory Dwelling Units. An additional unit on your property could be really useful and it could also be a lucrative long-term investment. Does that pique your interest? Not sure how to get started? Luckily, we’ve done the research ourselves and compiled information from many sources to break down the basics for you.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning, “An ADU is a dwelling unit with a full kitchen and bathroom, which is an accessory use to a primary or main single-family residence. The ADU can be used as a rental, but cannot be sold separately from the primary or main single-family residence. The existing residence must be a legally established structure.”
ADUs can provide an easy source of rental income for homeowners and low-cost housing for renters. They also add manageable density to single-family areas where new apartment complexes would be difficult to construct. – Curbed
Citywide, there are an estimated 50,000 secondary units on residential lots, from mother-in-law cottages to converted garages. But many of them lack permits, and many more potential ADUs have never come to fruition because of issues like the cost to build extra parking that outdated city codes required.
A series of state laws enacted in January 2017 lifted many of those barriers. As a result, about 2,000 permits were requested in L.A. last year, a 658 percent increase from the average between 2012 and 2016, according to city data. With half a million single-family lots citywide, the mayor’s office once argued there’s room for an even greater increase, which is where city hall’s Innovation Team comes in. “If we permit them, families build them,” says its director, Amanda Daflos. – Los Angeles Magazine
In general, an ADU is permitted with a Site Plan Review if:
An ADU is not permitted if the property:
For more details, see this document specific to Los Angeles County.
Based on our team’s conversations with some local architects, it seems that the cheapest someone could build an ADU for would depend on if it was from the ground up or from an existing structure. It would also several other factors (i.e. where is the sewer line, power, gas line, parking etc.) If it was as simple as converting an existing 2 car garage and all the utilities were close you’re talking maybe $125k-$175k for a very basic, simple unit.
If you were to build an ADU — a 650 sq ft 1 bedroom, 1 bath unit for $200,000, assuming you could rent it for approximately $2500/month in Venice or Mar Vista ($30,000 per year), it would take you 6.6 years to pay yourself back for the cost to build ($200k/$30k annual income = 6.6 years). After 6.6 years, it would be pure profit $30k annual rental income. That would be a 15% return annually on your initial investment of $200k over time.
Angela von Detten is as passionate about Los Angeles living as she is about finding your unique dream home. Contact Angela today to get started on your journey.Contact