SB9 Contractor in Los Angeles

If you are a property owner in Los Angeles, you may have heard about the SB9 Law and how it can benefit you. The law has opened up new opportunities for homeowners to build additional units on their properties. In this post, we will take a closer look at the SB9 Law and find the right SB9 contractor to hire for your construction project.

Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects property owners in Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange Counties with reliable general contractors, we get inquiries all the time about SB9 projects from homeowners – read below to learn more about finding an SB9 contractor in Los Angeles.

Understanding the SB9 Law

Los Angeles SB9 contractor unit

The SB9 law in Los Angeles presents property owners with an opportunity to build additional housing units on their lots. This law streamlines the process, making it easier and more efficient to construct new homes.

In Los Angeles, SB 9 grants eligible property owners the ability to divide their properties into two distinct parcels and construct a maximum of two extra residential units on each parcel. Before SB 9, homeowners had the option to build one home, accompanied by one Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) and one Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU). However, thanks to SB 9, homeowners now have the opportunity to erect two homes, two ADUs, and two JADUs on a single lot.

It’s important to understand that SB9 has two distinct components. The first is called the two-unit development option and the second is called an urban lot split. These have very different implications and regulations, so please review these options carefully to decide which meets your requirements. See this Los Angeles City SB9 memorandum for specific info on the differences and requirements of each.

Eligibility Criteria for SB 9 in Los Angeles

To capitalize on the benefits provided by SB 9 in Los Angeles, property owners need to meet specific eligibility requirements. These include:

  1. The property’s location must be within a residential zoning district.
  2. The property must already possess a single-family dwelling or have the potential to support one.
  3. Property owners are required to adhere to designated design and development standards, ensuring that the supplementary units align with local building codes and regulations.
  4. The property must not have been occupied by a tenant in the last three years.
  5. For SB9 lot splits, the property owner must sign an agreement to occupy one of the units for the next three years.

For full info on Los Angeles SB9 eligibility criteria, check out the LA City Planning Page.

SB9 Contractor in Los Angeles

Los Angeles SB9 contractor living room

An SB9 project is obviously a significant undertaking. Like an ADU project, you’ll be constructing one, two, or more new housing units on your property. Although these dwellings might be smaller than your existing home, they are nonetheless entire homes. And the only contractors who are qualified to construct entire housing structures in Los Angeles are General Contractors with a B-license from the CSLB.

Ideally, you would look for an SB9 contractor who has had experience with this type of project or has previously built a custom home, ADU, or other multifamily units. And although all General Contractors are permitted to do this type of project, some are more qualified than others. For example, some general contractors concentrate on remodeling projects (kitchens, baths, etc) and may not be the ideal fit for a major SB9 project.

A good SB9 contractor would probably have a close working relationship with an architect who could help with such a project. Having a contractor work closely with an architect is helpful because they can provide input to “value engineer” the plans so that they come in at the client’s budget. They should also be pricing out the plans while they are in city plan check so you have a pretty good idea for your budget before the plans are fully finalized and permitted.

Finding a Quality SB9 Contractor in Los Angeles

It’s always a good idea to start your contractor search ‘off-line’ and ask your friends, relatives, and contacts if they have worked with a good general contractor in your area. Make sure to ask whether their contractor is experienced in doing larger projects, like additions, ADUs, etc.

If you can’t get any good recommendations from your contacts, you can start looking online, but keep in mind there are a ton of general contractors in Los Angeles and not all of them are great. Some of the contractors who show up at the top of the list on Yelp or Google aren’t necessarily the best; they are just spending the most on marketing. So, screen through these carefully and narrow your list down to the ones in your area who are experienced with large projects.

Pro-tip: Look at their license number at the CSLB. If they just got their license in the last few years, they may be too inexperienced to consider.

An easier way to find vetted SB9 contractors is to work with a concierge or matching service (like GreatBuildz), who has already done the contractor screening and can match you with a contractor that fits your location, budget, and project.

SB9 Process in Los Angeles

Los Angeles SB9 contractor interior kitchen

The City of Los Angeles has devised a set of directives and steps to streamline the process for the SB 9 project. For property owners to proceed, they need to submit their plans and plan check application with the Department of Building & Safety, alongside requisite documentation and fees.

Once you understand the SB9 rules and regulations as they pertain to your property, you can hire an architect or designer to do a property layout and design which will show how additional units could fit on your property. Once you have a preliminary design that meets the SB9 rules, you can have the architect create a full set of plans, including structural design & Title 24 information.

This complete set of plans can then be submitted to the Los Angeles Department of Building & Safety for plan check. This process is likely to take 2-4 months but can sometimes last up to 6 months if various city departments are backlogged. Once the plans are approved, the city will issue you a permit to start construction.

SB9 Architects in Los Angeles

Let’s face it, the SB9 guidelines are pretty complicated, so you really need someone with experience on your side to help you understand what you can and cannot do on your property. Ideally, you’d like to find an architect who has previously worked on another SB9 project. Or at least someone who fully understands the guidelines.

Ask your potential architect for examples of both SB9 and ADU projects they’ve worked on previously. Reviewing other project plans will also give you an idea of the architect’s style, etc. Ask the architect how long the entire process took when they went through it last time. Finally, ask your architect whether you will need to do a solar system on your new housing units.

A full set of SB9 plans might cost you $10,000-$20,000. If you’re doing a lot split, there will be more work required and the costs could increase.

SB9 Financing

Los Angeles SB9 Contractor exterior

Because it’s a major project that comes with a large sticker price, it’s likely that many people will need to get financing to build SB9 units on their property. Most people now have equity in their homes and could certainly refinance their mortgage to pull out equity in order to finance a major construction project. However, most homeowners are locked in at such a good interest rate, they don’t want to refinance their loan, but would rather take a Home Equity Loan (HELOC) or renovation loan.

This type of product comes with a higher interest rate but doesn’t affect the first mortgage. Many banks, credit unions, and some newer companies have been offering these products are renovations are very popular these days. You might want to check out services like Lightstream, RenoFi, or Hitch. For more info on renovation financing check out this article.


GreatBuildz is a free service that personally matches homeowners with ethical, trustworthy SB9 contractors. To get matched with a pre-vetted contractor experienced in major home projects like SB9 units or ADUs, contact GreatBuildz today at (818.317.3567) or visit our website.

Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

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