The Basics of a Garage Conversion in Los Angeles

When it comes to optimizing your living spaces in Los Angeles to increase your property’s value, improve your living experience or make some extra cash by leasing part of your home’s areas, a garage conversion has rapidly become the best alternative. Garages prove to have valuable square feet and if you can leave your car outside, reevaluating how this space can improve your house should be a home remodeling priority. But the decision to turn your garage into, let’s say, an adjacent apartment, shouldn’t only be considered as a matter of functionality, but also as an economic boost. Los Angeles residents need to take advantage of Senate Bill 1069.
But before we get into the specifics of this blog, let’s set up a roadmap. For all of you interested in garage conversions in the Los Angeles area, we will address the following:

1. Senate Bill 1069.
2. Reasons to convert your garage.
3. Budget.
4. Different design considerations.
5. Garage conversion essentials.
6. Ideal team for a garage conversion.

1. Senate Bill 1069

It is no secret that renting fees in Los Angeles are some of the highest in the U.S. making it a nightmare, especially for millennials to find a decent pad for a reasonable price. As a consequence, state legislators formulated a bill that eases the hassles of creating a secondary dwelling unit, now called ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units), within your house’s property. The idea is that you can rent out these newly built additional living spaces for a lower price, making it more accessible for new LA residents to find a home.

Faced with the just mentioned problem, the Bill encourages and simplifies every step of the process to create these ADUs in your home. So why are they related to garage conversions? Usually, garages host a large area that can be redefined in unimaginable ways. At least for our designer Eti, garage conversions are a designer’s dream, they allow expansive room from creativity, no pun intended. With the number of square feet in garages, especially two-car garages, you can turn that living space into an extensive apartment suite, and whether you want to rent it out, or have your elderly parents move in, this area proves very efficient both for comfort and practicality.

So, as we have clarified, ADUs have been identified by the State as providing a vital housing option to both potential renters and homeowners. They usually cost less than other types of housing, provide convenient housing for family members, help ease a severe rental housing deficit, maximize limited land resources and existing infrastructure, and assist homeowners with supplemental income.

The recently passed Senate bill surely eases the process to add secondary living units in your property, but there still needs to fall within several simple requirements:

1. Must be located within one and a half mile of public transit (bus station or similar).
2. Must not exceed 1,200 sqft.
3. Must not exceed five feet from the property line.

These are just a few of the essential requirements, for a full list, you can read the bill.

2. Why would I want to convert my garage? We have briefly mentioned the city’s initiative to bring down the cost of renting options and facilitating secondary living units let’s point out several reasons why a garage conversion is an excellent option for your family.

a. Financial: You already keep your car outside and want to make some extra cash while raising your property’s value, an apartment suite to rent out is a great alternative. Los Angeles is one of the most entrepreneurial locations in the country, which means that there are always new Americans choosing to move to this beautiful area in the search for new financial opportunities. This influx of new residents provides an excellent opportunity to make some extra income from real estate. And the good news is that you don’t have to purchase an apartment to rent out, you can turn your garage into one for around ten times the price of buying one.

b. Family Housing: There are many reasons why an apartment suite or an extra bedroom in your house could prove highly beneficial when family comes to visit. There is a myriad of examples for this case. And having this space in your garage will keep your home’s privacy while still having family members close enough to enjoy the visit. Let’s be honest; even family visits demand lot’s patience. So having them in an ADU is a terrific alternative. But if we consider hotel pricing, this ADU could prove very lucrative if it is offered in platforms like AirBnb.

Whether it is a nephew who will attend college in Los Angeles, your mother-in-law moving in, or Christmas gatherings, having your loved ones stay in your newly converted garage gives both of you greater privacy and more comfort.

c. Leisure Space: Every guy wants a man cave, and every family wants a large play-room. Other families may wish to have a fully stocked gym in each case; you would need to appropriate an existing space of your home while converting your garage into any of these will not only make that space more abundant but also will leave your home untouched. Another example of a garage conversion, if it is adjacent to your kitchen and dining area, is expanding in this area by renovating your garage; creating a greater kitchen area and renewing this vital space of your home.

Regardless of the intention, if you are seeking more space for different activities in your home, why not consider a garage conversion?

Remember, a home rebuild, and especially a garage conversion is only limited by your imagination and your budget, but the possibilities of what you can do in that space are endless; but now that we have mentioned a crucial aspect of any home remodeling project let’s get to it.

3. Budget: We mentioned earlier that the possibilities of a garage conversion are endless; however, they are limited by your budget. I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but our task is to inform you realistically about your garage conversion aspirations.

Budget appropriation and allocation are critical to the success of turning your garage into an ADU. No one knows better than yourself how much you can allocate to your garage conversion; however, it is always advisable to have an expert assess you how to assign better your budget. At Levi Design Build, our comprehensive team of professionals has the experience to break down your budget and allocate it responsibly throughout your whole project.

The overall cost of the project will depend much on many factors. How many square feet will be part of the garage conversion, the quality of the finished materials, and the remodel you are aspiring. If you are considering an apartment suite conversion, you have to sort out what will happen to the garage door and walls, especially since you need to add windows.

Another factor that will modify your final cost is that your new ADU will have electric lines, water lines, and gas lines installed; since this is especially true for an apartment suite conversion, where you will add a new kitchen and bathroom, spiking up your price, but also your property’s value.

As in every rebuilding project, we advise to assign a contingency budget of 10%-15% of your total budget. Doing so will have you covered for any construction surprises that will present themselves throughout your conversion.

4. Design Considerations: Garage conversions are magnificent, yet they pose a challenge that most home additions don`t. It is imperative, for a successful garage conversion, that your result looks like a natural part of your home and less like a converted garage. There are specific design considerations that you can’t afford to ignore.

a. Exterior: You don’t want your newly converted garage to stick out like a sore thumb in comparison to the rest of your home. You want to make sure that your brickwork, concrete, windows, and doors match those of the existing house and its current exterior materials.

b. Floor Levels: In most cases, the garage’s floor level is different than the rest of the house. So you want to avoid having to step down to access to your newly converted space. If you have to do so, you want to ensure that it is done naturally and that it doesn’t affect the overall design.

c. Access: Garages are designed to fit cars and to provide easy access to the house. For this reason, the placement of the doors is crucial for your new conversion. Going with the existing entry is often the easiest, but not necessarily the best option. Your contractor shouldn’t advise you to go with the most straightforward option but the most functional. It is always better to go with where the ideal position for the door would be. You don’t want to end up with an awkwardly positioned door.

d. Room Proportions: The proportion of your new garage conversion is undeniably one of the most vital challenges for the success of your project. Garages often have a large rectangle as floorplan, and if you want to create an apartment, you want to place the kitchen and bathroom strategically so that you are making the best out of your area. Furniture planning will also dictate how your new space will look.

Considering storing is crucial to the result of your conversion. Where are you going to store existing accessories and materials currently in your garage? How will you appropriate closets and storage for your new ADU? Your team has to assess you accurately; you don´t want to end up with a beautifully converted garage and a clustered home!

e. Natural Daylight: Garages are very dark spaces within your house, so adding windows is a must! Consider your lot’s layout, because if your back wall faces your garden, adding a floor-to-ceiling window would be an excellent option to bring in daylight and give your conversion a more spacious feeling.

5. Garage conversion essentials: Turning your garage into another room is not a simple matter, and to do so correctly here are a few essentials to take note.

a. Permits: Senate Bill 1069 makes it easier to do a garage conversion, you must, however, have the proper permits to undertake the job. Levi Design Build will assess you and be present in the whole process, from the moment you apply to the licenses to receiving them, our experience will ensure you don’t waste time and money in this aspect.

b. Windows: You will undoubtedly need to add new windows, windows are not essential to the building permits, but you have to ensure they are energy efficient and match the rest of the house’s windows.

c. Ventilation: For kitchen and bathroom inclusions into your conversion you must meet ventilation requirements. You may also want to add some window or brick openings to have natural breezes ventilate your ADU.

d. Insulation: Building permits usually require insulation of walls and ceilings to a certain level, ignoring this will result in a cold and damp room.

e. Electrics and plumbing: Depending on your conversion, this will require different permits and more extensive work. Plumbing and electrics will play a pivotal role in your cost and project effectiveness.

6. Ideal team: A garage conversion is not a recommended do-it-yourself task. It entails building permits, complex plumbing and electrical work, and in many cases a complete strip down of the existing building. You want to count with a team of professionals that will be able to handle the complications of such project. Having one team be responsible for your permits, design, architecture, and construction will facilitate the whole process and keep you from incurring in extra costs.

For more information on how to properly turn your garage into your dream living space or in a rentable ADU, you can contact us at: (818) 703-0232.

In today’s expensive Los Angeles, garage conversions are an opportunity for homeowners to increase the property’s value and the comfort of their home. Take advantage of Senate Bill 1069 and turn your garage into your dream living space or in a rentable ADU, you can contact us at: (818) 703-0232 or submit your info for one of our professionals to contact you.

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