A garage conversion is an excellent home improvement strategy for homeowners looking to boost their property’s market value, add square footage functionality, and improve their overall living quality.

Residents find garage conversions quite appealing, given the attractive advantages enshrined in Senate Bill 1069 which has made construction and requirements easier than ever. In this garage conversion Los Angeles guide, we dissect why homeowners should take advantage of their extra garage space and what to know about planning a conversion.

What Is A Garage Conversion?

A garage conversion is a renovation or remodel of your existing garage from a storage area for your car into a more functional living space. There is an abundance of conversion ideas to explore to align with your strategy of improving square footage utility, life quality, and property resale value.

One of the most popular conversions is transforming a garage into a fully functional living area, which is categorized as a type of accessory dwelling unit (ADU). This can be the best budget-friendly solution to create additional space for your home.

A conversion of a garage that is attached to the main house and that is no more than 500 square feet is known as a Junior ADU. These structures have the option of sharing bathroom facilities with the existing home and are only required to meet certain efficiency kitchen requirements.

Reasons Why Homeowners Convert Their Garage

Owning or adding residential square footage is increasingly challenging in a metropolis like Los Angeles. Since California homeowners have the advantage of leaving their vehicles outside all year round, they can explore multiple conversion plans that offer functionality and utility with an economic advantage.

Below are some compelling reasons to consider a garage conversion.

A Rental Income Stream

An ADU garage conversion can be a great opportunity for homeowners to gain a rental income stream. In a city like Los Angeles, your garage rental unit can help you generate passive income and create quality housing for one of the countries thriving residential rental markets. Homeowners can explore short-term rentals and Airbnb to attract a tenant for a long-term contract.

Additional Living Space

There’s never enough space when you’re growing your family. Converting your garage into an additional living space can help address your family’s housing challenges of clutter and storage. Many homeowners choose to convert their garages into an extra guest bedroom, children’s playroom, home office, mancave, or even a zen room to escape to and relax. An additional bedroom is a great choice for homeowners who want to maintain their privacy while entertaining long-term guests.

Boosting Property Value

The financial advantage of a garage conversion is indeed the most compelling reason to undertake this home improvement strategy. A well-planned and functional garage conversion offer impressive ROIs when it comes to the property resale value as potential buyers are attracted to properties with the practical use of square footage.

Garage Conversion Plans

Planning and executing a garage conversion may seem overwhelming, but a step-by-step approach will help streamline the project effectively. Garage conversion projects demand extensive research and planning, as necessary permits must be obtained and local requirements met.

Design and Layout

Step one would be to hire an architect or interior design firm to translate your garage conversion vision into a concrete plan with architectural layouts. Consulting an architect is strongly advised to gain insight from a professional and avoid pitfalls that result in a drain of time, money, and resources.

The architect is likely to engage an engineer to examine the existing structural elements and to determine the scale and scope of the project. Generally, the only changes to the exterior will be the installation of doors, windows, and a wall where the garage door stands.

Many homeowners alter the garage floor plan to expand adjacent living spaces, such as the kitchen, dining area, or living room.

Getting Approval & Permits

Once you’ve finalized your interior vision and layout, your architecture will help you gain approval from the city building authorities. This is a vital step to ensure compliance with legally-binding regulations, and it can take sixty days for approval. You can use this waiting period to interview general contractors specializing in ADUs and garage conversions and find the right candidate for the job.

The Conversion Process

A garage conversion can take around 3 months or more, depending on the layout and architectural vision. Homeowners often undermine the chaos and disruption the process can create since most of the work is limited to the garage.

Most often the general contractor will need the outdoor space to dig up trenches and reconfigure the electric and plumbing system to install utility services in the garage. In most cases, this process requires dismantling the front yard, side alleys, and backyard.

Garage Conversion Requirements Los Angeles

The passage of Senate Bill 1069 by the State of California has made garage conversions straightforward and simple for homeowners and residents. Compared to other cities, Los Angeles makes it considerably easier for residents to undertake garage conversions or construct ADUs (attached or detached).

However, the city building authorities have set some regulations that must be followed while planning and executing a garage conversion project.

ADU Garage Conversion Requirements

If you are converting your garage into an ADU or secondary dwelling unit, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Windows added will need to be energy-efficient
  • Low Impact Development Requirements to distribute stormwater
  • Ventilation requirements
  • Changes to the electrical and plumbing system will require additional permits
  • Garage conversion can’t be larger than half the size of the home
  • Must have its own separate entrance
  • Independent living facilities such as an additional bathroom and kitchen

Eligibility Requirements

It is important to note that Los Angeles consists of multiple zones and quarters. Garage ADUs are permitted on properties in residential zones. Homeowners must comply with the requirements mentioned below to undertake a garage conversion in LA.

  • The Garage ADU must be constructed on the same lot as the house.
  • The garage conversion layout must be realistically achievable and aligned with the original architectural layout and floor plan of the property.
  • Regardless of the square footage, homeowners cannot construct more than one ADU per lot.
  • The Garage ADU cannot be sold as a separate unit from the property/residence.

Setback Requirements

The setback refers to the distance between the house and the converted garage space or ADU. Homeowners must meet the setback requirements to initiate their conversion project.

  • If the footprint is not being altered, homeowners do not have to meet any setback criteria from the rear and side lines of the property.
  • Additions and improvements to the garage floor plan must be in accordance with the setback requirements, which should not be greater than 4 inches from the side and rear property lines.

Parking Requirements

The City of Los Angeles has firm parking requirements to avoid disruptions to the cityscape. Homeowners must meet the requirements listed below.

  • The property should have at least one parking space when converting the garage.
  • The parking space can be added anywhere on the premises, such as the driveway.
  • The parking space must be 8.5 ft x 18 ft, and homeowners can explore covered and uncovered layouts.

Residents can construct an additional parking space if they meet the following requirements:

  • The ADU is an existing space, such as the attic or basement.
  • The ADU is constructed in a neighborhood with architectural or historic heritage.
  • There is a public transit system half a mile away from the property.
  • The property is situated one block away from a car share.

Renting ADU Requirements

Renting ADUs is highly encouraged to address Los Angeles’ housing crisis and the influx of new residents and job-seekers.

Landlords must comply with the following requirements:

  • You can rent your garage conversion ADU space without residing on the property.
  • You can rent both the main residence and the ADU.
  • You cannot sell the ADU separately from the main residence.

Building Permit Requirements (Senate Bill 1069)

The State of California has actively worked to address the alarmingly high rental rates that left millennials and job seekers desolate with low-quality rentals and exuberantly high fees. California legislators introduced Senate Bill 1069 as an attempt to make quality housing more reasonable for tenants.

This bill allows homeowners to construct additional dwelling units (ADUs) and garage conversions within the main residence or surrounding area. The purpose of promoting ADU construction is to expand the rental market with affordable and quality options, making it easier for LA residents, job seekers, and newcomers to find a good home.

Homeowners planning ADU construction and garage conversions must meet the following requirements:

  • The property must be situated within one or half a mile distance of a public transit system, such as a bus or subway station.
  • The additional dwelling unit or conversion must not exceed 1,200 square feet.
  • The proposed layout should expand more than five feet away from the property line.

How Much Does A Garage Conversion Cost In Los Angeles?

The cost of a garage conversion varies depending on your location in Los Angeles, your aesthetic vision, your interior layout, and the chosen upgrades. While a garage conversion is the most budget-friendly option in ADU construction, the costs can add up quickly if you’re not diligent about budgeting and regulating expenses.

Typically, the pre-construction expenses involved in garage conversions in Los Angeles require around $15,000 to $18,000. The local municipality must review and monitor the plans to secure approval and permits required to begin the conversion. It is important to factor in the cost of the permits, and fees of the architect and contractor. Both professionals will help you secure a permit with considerable ease.

The entire project will require a comfortable budget, ranging from $25,000 to $100,000, depending on your envisioned plan, upgrades, and project scope. A complex floor plan with luxury upgrades will naturally demand more investment than a standard conversion with a simple layout.

What Does A Garage Conversion Permit Cost In Los Angeles?

A garage conversion permit cost will depend upon size, design, and location. Homeowners can expect to pay around $1,800 to $8,000, depending on the complexity of the project. The city building authorities evaluate the costs of each project by evaluating the proposed layout, construction value, and square footage added to the premises.

Hiring a Los Angles Garage Conversion Contractor

A garage conversion involves altering the floor plan, and if done wrong, it can cause extensive damage to the load-bearing exterior walls and structural layout. It would be best if you enlisted the expertise and support of a seasoned general contractor specializing in all aspects of residential construction.

Ask neighbors and friends for recommendations, or check reviews online on google, yelp, and other contractor search engines. In addition to professional construction experience, you should also consider contractors with a good track record of customer service. They should be able to provide documentation to prove that they are licensed, bonded, and insured.

At Build Method Construction, our years of experience in building accessory dwelling units in Los Angeles separates us from the rest of the crowd. We are a full-service team that will be able to handle all aspects of your garage conversion project to help you save time and avoid incurring extra costs.

Contact us for a free consultation or give us a call to speak to a professional and find all the information you need to make your garage conversion project a success. We’ll walk you through the process and answer any questions you might have.