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The Complete Guide to Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Los Angeles (2024)

The Complete Guide to Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Los Angeles (2024)

Some of the most common questions we get at the Bienstock Group are questions regarding building ADUs in Los Angeles. So we’ve created a complete guide to building an ADU in Los Angeles, answering- What are the requirements for an ADU in Los Angeles? How much does it cost to build an ADU in Los Angeles? How do I get Permits for an ADU? Is there a high ROI on an ADU for resale?

What Is An ADU?

An Accessory Dwelling Unit, better known as an ADU, is a detached residential dwelling unit located on the same lot as a primary residence. The regulations regarding implementing an ADU in Los Angeles went into effect in December 2019. The ADU, by law, must include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same lot as the single-family or multifamily dwelling in which it is situated. An ADU must comply with all the zoning, building, and residential areas of the home. Under state law, if the ADU is no more than 800 square feet and 16 feet tall and is set back at least 4 feet from the property line, it’s eligible for a permit in any residential or mixed-use zone.

(Images courtesy of

How do I get permits to build an ADU in Los Angeles?

  1. Get zoning and property information for your site- including permit records.
  2. Understand all requirements and laws for building an ADU in Los Angeles by reading through the LABD regulations here
  3. Design and draw full plans for your ADU- Using a qualified architect and engineer, design plans for your ADU, including floor plan, foundation plan, roof framing, etc.
  4. Submit plans for review to the Department of Building and Safety at Epic LA

For the LABD’s full step-by-step guide, click here.

How long does it take to receive permits to build an ADU?

The length of time to receive permits varies from project to project and is dependent on many factors. But what we can say, is that it usually takes a lot longer than the 60 days specified by law. 

ADU at 424 N Highland Los Angeles, CA (Listed by the Bienstock Group)

What are the Benefits of adding an ADU to my home?

When deciding to build an ADU, it’s important to identify the benefits and risks involved to determine if it’s truly worth the cost. Some potential benefits of building an ADU are:

  1. Generating additional income by creating a rental unit
  2. Additional housing for an elderly relative, a caregiver, or a young adult.

Can I Airbnb or Vrbo an ADU in Los Angeles?

In Los Angeles, it is illegal to do short-term rentals on an ADU property.

Does adding an ADU increase the value of my Home?

From our experience at The Bienstock group, we haven’t seen a large ROI on resale from ADUs on single-family houses.  We’re selling houses without ADUs for the same price as houses with ADUs. We haven’t yet seen concrete proof that adding an ADU brings a significant increase in price or value to a single-family house.  Of course, it’s always case-specific.

A Note From Sheri:

My advice would be to build an ADU if you’ll enjoy it personally and not specifically for resale.  

Since houses are most people’s biggest investment, it’s smart as owners to always be mindful of value and what you can do to increase your home’s worth.  Renovating in a way that suits a homeowner’s uniquely personal needs but detracts from the way strangers might live could decrease value.  Turning a garage into an ADU on a street where it’s hard to park off the property could decrease value.

My favorite part of my job (or one of my favorite parts :)) is advising owners on how to add significant value right before listing for sale.  Right now we’re taking the time to show our raw listings to real buyers before we add value so that we can accurately assess and track the cost + return on our pre-listing prep.  We’re finding, as we know, that we’re adding extremely significant value to all our homes after we complete all the listing prep.  It makes me over the moon excited each time we learn how much value we added to our clients!

To speak to Sheri and find out how to add value to your home for resale, contact us today!

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