I want to build an ADU in Los Angeles. How much do the permits cost?
ADU permits typically costs between $1,800 and $8,000 in Los Angeles. This cost will very project by project and is determined by the estimated value of the construction being performed, and the number of square feet your project adds to the property.
For example, if you convert your existing garage into a bare-bones studio apartment you'll pay less than you would if you want to max out your allowable square footage and build a new, luxurious 1,200 square foot ADU.
Below are two examples of what an ADU permit will cost you in Los Angeles.
Garage Conversion Permit
In this scenario, you are not adding any additional square footage to your property. You are simply applying for a permit to convert your existing garage into an ADU. The permit cost for a project like this will be approximately $1,840.19.
Details of how the cost of a garage conversion permit are calculated is described below.
Project Value - $50,000 (This is the amount you put on the permit application, not the actual cost of the project). The City of Los Angeles requires that you assign a dollar amount to the work being performed under the permit. They use this estimated value to calculate what they are going to charge for the permit (i.e. - The cost of the permit is directly correlated to the cost of the construction).
And before you try and lowball the cost of the project, you should be aware that the estimated value you enter when applying for the permit will get reviewed when you submit your application. So, you can't submit an application stating that the garage conversion is only going to cost $10,000 for all labor and materials to convert from a garage into a living unit. I've found $50,000 is as low as the plan checker will accept for this type of work.
New Square Footage added = 300
In this scenario, you'll pay a plan check fee, permit fee, development fee, and a bunch of other development taxes. The total of all fees and taxes paid to the Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) will be $1,840.19. In my humble opinion, this is a bargain. LADBS is permitting an extra habitable dwelling on your property, they're going to review your plans and send out inspectors to ensure your contractor is building the ADU per plans and code, and they are only charging $1,840.19. This low permit cost makes a garage conversion a very attractive way to increase your property value and add extra useable space.
Detached ADU Permit
In this scenario, you are maximizing the amount of new square footage you can add with the City of Los Angeles ADU ordinance by designing and permitting a 1,200 SQ. FT. detached ADU. The permit cost for a project like this will be approximately $7,921.76.
Project Value - $175,000 (Again, this is the amount the City of LA assigned to the project for calculating the permit fee, not the actual cost of construction)
New square footage added = 1,200
In this scenario, you'll pay all the fees you pay when you perform a garage conversion, but since your new ADU is over 500 sqft you'll also be required to pay a School District Fee and an Energy Surcharge. The addition of those two fees, plus the much larger project valuation, will bring your total fee paid to LADBS to $7,921.76.
Pretty simple math and the City of Los Angeles should be commended for making their ADU permits relatively inexpensive when compared to some of the other cities in California. Many cities throughout California make it very expensive to build an ADU with the amount of money they charge for permits and impact fees.
If you are a homeowner in Los Angeles you are encouraged to build an ADU to help with the severe housing shortage and the City of Los Angeles is actually really easy to work with if you know the process and supply them with all the information they need.
Determining what a permit is going to cost you is just one of the many important steps required when performing your due diligence before building an ADU.