Designing and Building an Accessory Dwelling in Los Angeles

A potential client recently called us to discuss their goal of adding an accessory dwelling to their home in Los Angeles.

This owner had verified that his R-1 zoned residence is allowed to add an accessory dwelling.  He had read about the new state law that went into effect on January 1, 2017.  This law gave him, and everyone else in California the right to build an accessory dwelling, backyard cottage, or in-law unit.

We went to City Planning last week and confirmed he is allowed to convert the garage.
He now needs someone to look at his property because he wants to answer the following questions.  We’ve answered what we know below.  Some questions require a site visit by an architect:
Q: What can I do with my garage?
A: Legally, you should be able to convert it to living space.
Q: Should I take out the existing garage?
A: We would have an architect and possibly a contractor review the current garage and recommend whether to keep it or replace it.
Q: How do I maximize my property?
A: We would have an architect meet on site and discuss some design ideas.
Q: The garage is right in the middle of the yard.  If I put a new unit in there then my primary house is about 730 square feet. How big can I build?
A: The city noted that up to the same size as the main home is allowed because his home is smaller. The city confirmed that a 725 square foot accessory dwelling would be ok.
Q: Can I add new meters as the new home will be rented?
A:The city confirmed that his garage can be converted to a living area and he’ll be able to apply for a new address, separate gas meter and separate utilities.  We advise that we almost always T off the main home utilities. This typically allows you to avoid the utility installation fees which can be $10,000 or more.  Then you can but a private meter (they’re on Amazon) and have an electrician or plumber install it.  With this meter you can bill your tenants for their use.
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