September 28, 2022
garage conversion

Here’s what you need to know about a garage conversion {2022}

There’s a lot to know – everything from developing plans, evaluating the garage conversion cost, and considering various requirements, to picking a floor plan and hiring a contractor.

Garage Conversion Plans

First, find a small architect to help you with the garage conversion plans. You don’t necessarily need an architect to do this project.

They will be happy to discuss with you different garage conversion options and offer advice. Depending on whether you are looking to convert your garage to include an additional bedroom or bathroom, you can convert it into a rental unit, or any other layouts.

Most likely, you won’t do much with the garage’s exterior. You will only be adding one wall to the place where the garage door is, and then installing a sliding door, front door, and windows. This part of the design is fairly basic.

Pardee Properties: Garage Conversion to Bedroom Credit

Additionally, the exterior load-bearing walls should not be altered so that there is no need for extensive structural design. The architect/designer will still need to consult a structural engineer to evaluate the structure and add any necessary structural elements.

The interior design is the most important part of any design project. Below is my garage ADU conversion floorplan. I created a “great room” that consisted of a living, dining, and kitchen area. There was enough space for a small bedroom and a full bathroom. A small bedroom should be at least 10x9x9x and a full bath at minimum 5x8x8x.

If you are looking for a garage conversion plan designer, GreatBuildz will be able to recommend one.

Garage Conversion Floor Plan Los Angeles – Great Room Credit: Pardee Properties

After you are satisfied with the plan, the architect will submit it to the city planning department for approval. Depending on the city’s backlog, approval can take up to two weeks or more. You can then share your plans with multiple General Conversion Contractors to get a cost estimate.

You can act as your own general contractor and hire sub-contractors for such a project. However, I strongly recommend against it. Although it is more affordable in terms of price, it will likely be more time-consuming and cause you more headaches. It’s also not something you should think about unless you are familiar with subcontractors who can do all the trades (e.g. plumber, electrician, drywall, tile, etc).

The entire construction process should take between two and three months once you have started. While most of the work can be done in your garage, your general contractor will have to dig trenches to install water and sewer lines (and possibly gas/electric) from your garage to the connections at your front yard or house. This is the most difficult part of the job.

It could take a while for the DWP to come out and install your meter. Don’t forget to get insurance for your garage conversion ADU structure.

Read More: Common Issues with Kitchen Layouts and How to Get Around Them

How to Find a Garage Conversion Contractor in Los Angeles

Here are some tips to help you find the best garage conversion contractor in Los Angeles. It is best to only search for licensed General Contractors in your area. This type of construction is not possible with other contractors. It would be dangerous to hire a handyman or contractor who isn’t licensed.

Always confirm that any contractors you hire have experience with ADUs. Hire a contractor that has worked with ADUs and garage conversions in the past to understand the potential problems.

You should consider other criteria when choosing a garage contractor. To confirm that the contractor’s license is valid, there have been no disciplinary actions and Workers Compensation insurance (assuming that the GC has employees), visit the Contractors state licensing board website.

Get a copy of the insurance certificate and make sure they are insured. Ask your contractor to provide at least three references that you can call. Finally, you can read their reviews on Google and other search engines for contractors.

There are so many people takes contract screening very seriously. All the above steps are taken into consideration. They also run a background/financial screening and require contractors to sign our 20 point Code of Conduct.

Garage Conversion: It’s all in the Details

Contractors will need the majority of information from your designer’s plans to be able to calculate the garage conversion cost and submit a bid for the job. But they won’t have all the details. Your plans should not include information about plumbing, electrical, or HVAC. Most cities won’t require this. You will need to give your contractor details.

  • You will need to determine where your water heater is located and whether it will be tankless, gas, or electric.
  • Do you need a complete HVAC system or a small, ‘ductless’ unit to service a smaller area?
  • Electrical: How many outlets, lights and switches are required and where should they be located? You’ll also need to talk with your contractor about the type of electrical panel that you will need for the ADU.

These are just some of the’major trade decisions’. You’ll also need to consider whether you will require other items in your garage conversion ADU.

  • Are you looking to have your garage re-roofed or insulated?
  • Are you looking for concrete work such as a driveway, footpath, or front stoop?
  • What about landscape or fencing work?
  • Do you prefer vaulted or flat ceilings?
  • Are you having garage floors that are uneven or flat? You might need to level it.
  • What will you do to the exterior of your ADU?
  • Are there termites or water damage in the garage?
  • Are you looking for a tub or a shower?
  • How will your kitchen look?
  • Do you want your appliances to be included in the offer?

The more information you provide about your materials, the better your contractor can price them. You can choose your tiles, flooring, kitchen cabinets and lights. Do you need to do this in advance? You should do this in advance.

Los Angeles Garage To ADU Conversion Costs


What is the cost of converting a garage into an ADU in Los Angeles?

You can expect a garage conversion cost between $90,000 and $125,000 depending on your particular situation. This includes plans, materials, labor and permits from the city. The size of your garage, as well as the improvements that you make to it, will impact the garage conversion cost.

There are many ways to save money on garage conversions. Check out our Top Five Cost Saving Tips for ADUs.

Garage Conversion Rental Income Property Floor plan

There are many potential uses of garage conversions, including bonus room, guesthouse, fitness studio, granny apartment, and many Los Angeles homeowners who are building ADUs to rent out their homes. ADU law changes in the state allow for owners to construct an ADU, rent it to tenants, or rent the ADU out with the existing house (essentially creating a duplex).

You have a lot of things to think about if you are planning on building an ADU to generate rental cash flow. I recommend that you read our entire blog on ADU rentals.

This blog about ADUs is for real estate investors. It will assist you in your research and planning if you are an investor who plans to take a single-family house and add a garage conversion ADU.

Garage Conversion Prices

Next, compare the bids of your contractors. It is important to not only compare the price but also the scope of the work. There can be a lot of variation in bids among contractors.

Let’s face the facts, three people may hear different things from you. And maybe they even forget something. It’s crucial to review all bids and compare them for consistency. Garage Conversion ADU cost can vary greatly between contractors so it is important to carefully review all bids.

You would have your own master list of items that should be included in every bid. This will allow you to compare bids. For a complete list of requirements, see my ADU Checklist article. You can create an ADU checklist and decide what you want in your ADU garage conversion. Then, hand it to any contractor you meet.

This will ensure that your contractor bids are consistent. You can compare all estimates and make sure that any contractor’s bid has been revised if it is unclear or missing.

A few other things to keep in mind when converting an ADU garage

Sewer line The city will likely require that you run a sewer line from your ADU into the existing sewer line in your yard. It is a good idea to have your contractor measure the depth and location of your existing sewer lateral in order to know where your ADU sewer will be connected.

It is cheaper to run your sewer line through dirt than under concrete driveways.

DWP Powerlines: If your property has DWP powerlines at the back, and your garage is under those powerlines, LA won’t allow you to convert your garage to an ADU. It is possible to relocate the line above your garage by contacting DWP. Although it can be costly and time-consuming, it is possible.

You can rent a garage conversion ADU to someone else. Your ADU cannot be sold separately from your main home.

Building an addition to your ADU Garage Conversion – If you are looking to increase the size of your garage before making it into living space, here are some things to consider. You can convert any garage into an ADU, regardless of its location. However, you must ensure that the addition meets the city’s latest ADU rules.

This means that any addition must be at least 4ft from your property lines and rear property lines (setback requirement). This applies to either a garage addition of one story or an addition that is built on top of the garage. Additional requirements will apply to garage conversion ADUs that exceed 500 square feet.

What are the guidelines for a Los Angeles garage/ADU conversion? Each city has its own guidelines and requirements. It’s important that you inquire with the city building department before you convert your garage. You can find resources for different cities in Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange County depending on where you live.

Laundry – A garage conversion can be considered a living unit. This means that laundry machines are an important aspect. It is not a good idea to let the garage conversion do laundry with the main home or use a laundromat.

Natural light: Garages are usually small, so it is important to let natural light into the garage. You can achieve this by adding the right number of skylights, windows, and glass doors.

Privacy – It is a smart move to create privacy between your main home and your garage conversion by constructing fencing between them. You might also consider creating an access gate that the Garage conversion occupant can use for their access.

HVAC Ensure that your garage conversion includes a quality HVAC system to ensure your occupants are comfortable all year.

Kitchen island In a garage conversion, it may not be possible to fit a kitchen island. A small island can make a small kitchen easier to use and more convenient. It is practical as it can double as a kitchen prep area and a table.

Storage Garage conversions don’t often include a garage. It’s best to add lots of storage areas. These storage areas could be built-in cabinets or closets, attic spaces, or sheds.

Soundproofing – In the case of an attached garage conversion, it is important to ensure that there is soundproofing between the homes so they don’t hear each other.

Patio & outdoor area: If the garage is to be converted, it might be worth considering adding an outdoor space. A concrete patio, or installing pavers can provide a great surface for seating or tables. While a few plants and landscaping can be nice, a lawn is not necessary. A patio cover to shade your patio is a nice touch, but not always affordable.

Note If your garage conversion is not permitted, it’s a good idea to legalize it. Talk to an architect or garage conversion contractor about what you need to do to legalize your garage conversion.

It will be the same process as a garage conversion. Create plans, check them, and then hire a contractor to do any necessary work to make it compliant with code. The city will inspect the work and issue a certificate confirming occupancy.

A legalized garage conversion allows you to rent space out and increases the value of your property when you sell it.

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