Building an ADU in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is changing fast. Are you caught up with the latest information on ADUs and Tiny homes?

Greater Los Angeles is well known for its sunny skies, beautiful beaches, and vast urban sprawl. Historically, the solution to LA’s housing has always been to build outwards. Thus, sub developments extend out to the Simi Valley, down the coast into Orange County, and east into San Bernardino. Some would argue that Los Angeles is more of a collection of neighborhoods and towns than a single city in and of itself.

The city has dealt with traffic problems for decades, which is a function of long commute times and a lack of adequate housing in job-rich areas. Meanwhile, LA home values have skyrocketed in line with the California real estate boom. Check out this price chart to see how home values have risen by around 40% over the past five years:

Life is unaffordable for a large percentage of the city’s residents.

Affordable housing activists, policymakers, and real estate developers are all motivated to find solutions that increase the available housing stock.

Enter the ADU

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are rising in popularity in Los Angeles. Otherwise known as granny flats, in-law units, or casitas, ADUs are second units added to the property of an existing single-family home - think garage apartments or backyard units. An ADU is a small, standalone unit with a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living space. It can be rented out comfortably to 1-2 tenants. ADUs generate passive income for a homeowner and build equity, as well as an affordable housing option for renters.

ADUs require no new land and are built on properties with existing single-family dwellings. They are an environmentally-friendly solution because they don’t require development on untouched land.

In contrast to cities like New York City that are majority multi-family, Los Angeles is a predominantly single-family zoned city. While multi-family housing development will undoubtedly be part of the solution to the Los Angeles housing crisis, ADUs mean that neighborhoods can stay zoned as single-family while increasing the total housing stock of the district. Because they are architecturally compatible with the primary home, ADUs can be a solution for those who are sympathetic to housing concerns but are concerned about preserving the character of any given neighborhood!

If you are a single-family homeowner, an ADU is a win-win! In addition to increasing your rental income and benefiting from home value appreciation, you can also be part of the solution to the city’s broader housing challenges.

Building In Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a great place to build an ADU because the city has taken a positive stance towards new ADU construction.

Due to the recent passage of statewide laws AB68, SB13, AB881, and AB670, it has gotten considerably easier to build ADUs in California. Los Angeles complies with statewide laws and also offers additional benefits to homeowners. The city also launched an ADU accelerator program, which offers financial incentives to homeowners looking to build on their property.

Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke optimistically about ADU construction and offered the following praise:

“Our housing affordability crisis demands that we get creative. If just 10% of the city’s 500,000 single-family homes had an Accessory Dwelling Unit, Los Angeles could increase its housing density by half in just a handful of years. Most notably, this could be done without altering the character of a neighborhood.”

If you’re interested in building an ADU in Los Angeles, you need to figure out whether you are eligible based on the local zoning and regulations. Housable has developed a free tool to give you a better sense of whether you are eligible to build an ADU on your Los Angeles property. Find out now whether you are eligible by clicking here, and entering your address in the property checker! Don't worry, this information is not shared with anyone.

Tiny Homes in Los Angeles

According to most definitions, ADUs are different from tiny homes. ADUs are stationary units connected to utilities, whereas tiny homes are mobile and generally not linked to utilities.

It’s a bit different in Los Angeles. The LA City Council recently approved legislation that includes tiny homes under the broader umbrella of ADUs. Many LA homeowners can now add a tiny home to their backyard. Tiny homes in LA are allowed to connect utilities and must have running water and electricity if qualified to be an ADU. There may be some concerns about Tiny Houses in LA, so make sure this is the right solution for you if you are interested!

A tiny home is generally only several hundred square feet and can house 1-2 people. Tiny homeowners in Los Angeles have reported paying as little as $900 per month to place their tiny home on a property.

Los Angeles Tiny Home ADU Requirements:

  • Must be registered with the DMV
  • Certified ANSI or NFPA compliant
  • Cannot move on its own power
  • Between 150-430 sq. ft. as measured by exterior faces of exterior walls
  • No more than one tiny home per lot.
  • No greater than two stories
  • Whether you are looking to live in a tiny home in Los Angeles, or create an opportunity for additional rental income on your property without any new construction, a tiny home may be exactly the solution you were looking for.

    Check your property’s eligibility for a tiny home ADU with Housable’s free Property Check Tool.

    Living Space

    Are you running out of space with a growing family? Looking to live closer to aging parents? ADUs are an excellent way to increase your living space without making significant property alterations or selling your home and moving to a new location.

    According to, the average annual cost of a semi-private room in a California nursing home is as much as $100,000! If aging parents are capable of living semi-independently in their own private space, an ADU is potentially a much better use of money than incurring expensive nursing home or assisted living costs.

    Take the Next Step

    Are you ready to start learning more about ADUs in Los Angeles with no long term commitment? Here is the process:

    First, check whether your property is eligible via Housable’s free Property Check Tool by entering your address. Once you’ve got that and you’re ready to gather more information, browse our ADU designs and see which may fit your property! All of this is with no commitment, and you can make progress on your project for under $700.

    Learn more today. Housable: The ADU Marketplace.