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An accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, is an extra living space built on an existing residential property. They are becoming increasingly common for both single-family homes and multifamily properties across Southern California. There are three basic types of ADUs:
- Interior ADU – These are built inside the primary residence, often in the basement.
- Attached ADU – These are connected to an existing home, such as garage conversions.
- Detached ADU – These are freestanding structures built on the property.
Selecting the Right ADU Contractors in Los Angeles, CA
An ADU offers a number of advantages to a homeowner. It can be used to generate extra income by putting it on the market for long- or short-term rental. Or it can serve as a space for visiting friends and family. ADUs can also play an important part in easing the housing crisis in the city of Los Angeles.
However, it is important to work with a licensed contractor who has the proper insurance, understands building permits and the applicable laws, and can be trusted to get the job done right. GreatBuildz helps homeowners find the best contractor at a reasonable price.
We’ll match you with reputable, pre-screened accessory dwelling unit contractors who have gone through our vetting process. Furthermore, this service is free of charge to you.
GreatBuildz is here to help you find the right contractor to build an ADU on your property. It can be difficult to find a reliable contractor—one who knows how to build high-quality, reasonably priced housing units that conform to all applicable codes and regulations. In addition, you need to make sure that you won’t end up paying more than you planned. Our free service allows you to choose from multiple contractors, all of whom have a dependable track record.
All contractors listed on GreatBuildz have passed our comprehensive vetting process. This is a 10-point process that involves the following:
- Management Interview
- Background Check
- Work Experience
- Financial Review
- Contractor License Board
- Online Ratings
- Local Expertise
- License, Bond, and Insurance
- Contractor Code of Conduct
Carefully examining all these aspects helps us ensure that our customers have access to the best available ADU contractors in Los Angeles County, Orange County, and Ventura County. Whether you’ve just purchased your first home or you’ve had experience with contractors before, you can find what you’re looking for at GreatBuildz.
ADU Tips for Los Angeles Homeowners
Building a new accessory dwelling unit in Los Angeles is a big undertaking. If you’re feeling anxious and stressed out over your project, it’s only natural. Finding the right contractor is critical. Unfortunately, the truth is that the majority of homeowners end up having a negative experience with their contractor.
To increase the chances of having a satisfactory ADU experience, be sure to follow these tips when contacting a contractor:
Research. Find out what other people in your area have paid for similar ADU projects, and adjust your expectations accordingly.
Get an estimate. Contact a minimum of three contractors in your area and get a cost estimate from each.
Be wary. Look for signs that a contractor may not be right for you. “Red flags” include a contractor who takes too long to call you back or tries to pressure you into making a deal.
Don’t make a quick decision. You shouldn’t hire a contractor just because their prices seem low, or because you have a “good feeling” about them.
Make a list. Figure out what features you want to be included in your ADU. Make sure every contractor gets the same list, so every estimate is based on the same terms.
Don’t pay a large deposit. Under California law, a contractor cannot require you to pay more than $1,000 upfront.
ADU Contractors in Los Angeles, CA
There is certainly no shortage of ADU contractors out there, so how do you know which to choose? You shouldn’t choose one at random on the belief that they’re all fundamentally alike. That’s one of the reasons why so many people have bad experiences with their contractor. When you use GreatBuildz, you can be assured that all our contractors meet high standards of professionalism.
Home Remodeling Guides
Why Use GreatBuildz for Your Los Angeles ADU Project?
GreatBuildz differs from online review sites by providing human-guided assistance. And unlike those online listings, we don’t accept any and all contractors. Our contractors must first go through our rigorous screening process, and only a limited number of them meet our requirements.
In addition, we provide our customers with ongoing support while their ADU project is in progress to ensure everything goes smoothly. This service is free to homeowners.
Ready to Start an ADU Project in Los Angeles?
Contact GreatBuildz Today
To begin the process of finding a first-rate ADU contractor serving the Los Angeles region, please call us at 818-317-3567. We’re committed to giving you fantastic customer service and helping you connect with the best professionals in the area.
Recent ADU Blogs
Accessory Dwelling Unit FAQs
What does ADU mean?
An ADU is otherwise referred to as an accessory dwelling unit, additional dwelling unit, secondary suite, or granny flat. Put simply, it is a secondary structure on a residential lot in addition to the main house – this includes converting a detached or attached garage into a full living quarters. The main elements of an ADU are a kitchen, a bathroom, and a ‘living space’. An ADU garage conversion is a common form of ADU unit.
Why build an ADU on your property?
An accessory dwelling unit relieves many problems and allows for a ton of flexibility of uses. People are building them to use as extra space (an office or guest house), a music or yoga studio, a mancave or she-shed, or a home for their retired parents or grown children.
What kind of ADUs are there?
The two primary options are either building a new unit in the backyard or converting an existing garage to an ADU. It can be attached to an existing home, attached to a garage in the rear of the lot, or detached completely.
How much does an ADU cost?
An accessory dwelling unit will vary greatly in cost based on the options and size you choose. The cost for an ADU garage conversion can usually range from $95,000-$120,000 depending on the homeowner’s requirements. Costs to construct a new accessory dwelling unit will generally range from $150,000-$400,000. A safe rule of thumb is to assume any new construction costs $300-$400 per square foot – the bigger the space, the lower cost per square foot.
How long does it take to build an ADU?
For a garage conversion, you can expect the entire process to take 3-6 months. A new accessory dwelling unit will take longer for city plancheck and require a longer construction process, so you can expect the entire process to take 6-9 months, with the construction phase lasting 3-6 months.
Who can build an ADU?
The city of Los Angeles has allowed ADUs on most residentially zoned lots regardless of their size as long as the structure meets the basic restrictions and there is an existing home already on the property. ADU’s are also allowed on multifamily properties such as duplex, triplex, four-plex, and apartment buildings.
How do I hire a good ADU contractor?
When looking to build an accessory dwelling unit or even starting to explore the idea, it’s best to search for only local, licensed General Contractors. No other contractors are qualified or equipped to do this sort of construction, and using an unlicensed contractor or handyman would be a mistake.
Can I legalize an unpermitted Accessory Dwelling Unit or garage conversion?
Yes, but you will need to bring it up to code and pay for the construction that is required. A good contractor can look at your property and give a rough estimate of the costs involved. Learn more about this specific situation here: https://www.greatbuildz.com/blog/unpermitted-los-angeles-garage-conversion/
Do I connect ADU utilities to the existing home?
It depends on which city you live in. In Los Angeles, you must connect your water & sewer directly to the water meter & main sewer lateral.
If I have DWP power lines at the back of my property, where can I build an ADU?
A new accessory dwelling unit or garage conversion which is more than 10’ away from the edge of the powerlines is acceptable. An ADU within 10’ of the powerlines must file for a DWP encroachment permit (current processing time is 3-4 months). A garage that is currently under the powerlines may not be converted to an ADU.
Can I sell an ADU without my house?
No, an ADU cannot be sold separately from the main home.
Do ADUs require pedestrian access?
Yes, walking path access of 3’ wide is required from the front yard/sidewalk to the ADU (a driveway is acceptable).
Must I live on the property?
No, you can rent both the main house and the ADU. However, if you are building a Junior ADU, then owner-occupancy is required.
What are the ADU permit costs for Los Angeles city?
There is an LA City permit fee calculator you can find here: https://www.ladbs.org/services/pay-fees/permit-fee-calculator
What if I have more ADU questions that aren’t included in this article?
Give us a call – we are happy to help! Too shy to say hello? Check out this blog with the 50 most frequently asked ADU questions from our clients: https://www.greatbuildz.com/blog/los-angeles-50-most-common-adu-questions/
Is an ADU right for retired people?
An ADU housing unit becomes the optimum living arrangement in retirement in many respects. Having a house of one’s own helps a person to preserve independence and pride. And being on the same property and within a few feet of their family or support network is crucial when the need for assistance arises. This is especially true for retired individuals who opt to stop driving. Even though retirement is a delicate balance between independence and assistance, an ADU may be the best of both worlds.
Can I act as a general contractor and build my own ADU?
It is probably a mistake to save money by operating as your own general contractor. Although you believe this may save you money, it’s a horrible idea unless you are really skilled or have a vast network of subcontractors (plumber, framer, roofer, foundation, electrical, stucco, drywall, etc,). When you choose an ADU contractor (or general contractor), you are not only paying them to oversee the project, but also for their relationships with the crew, employees, and subcontractors who can complete the project successfully. It is quite difficult for you to find skilled tradespeople. And if one of these contractors performs poorly, you will have to pay twice to repair their errors.
How do I compare ADU contractor estimates?
Regardless of the specifics of your project, you should pay your ADU contractor a reasonable fee. Obtain three to five bids from various ADU contractors prior to making a final decision. If all of the bids are somewhat comparable in price, it indicates that your project is ‘clear’ to each contractor and that their pricing is likely in line with the market. However, if your estimates are inconsistent, it indicates that something is wrong. Either your project’s specifications are unclear, or your contractors’ bids are unrealistically high or cheap. In this instance, obtaining several bids will assist you determine the job’s suitable pricing.
Is an ADU a good investment?
ADU investments have become an appealing financial prospect for investors. Real estate investors or first-time investors previously chose to purchase a duplex or triplex, but now have a new alternative. The ADU investment opportunity is quite straightforward: buy a single-family house with the option to add an ADU and/or junior ADU, and construct one or both. This ADU investment has transformed the property from a single-family dwelling to a duplex or triplex. An ideal property has sufficient backyard space or a detached garage that can be transformed into an ADU. Now, the ADU investor may rent the units to numerous tenants and generate several streams of rental revenue from a single property.
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