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© Accessory Spaces, LLC. 2018

177 E Colorado Blvd

Pasadena, CA 91105


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ADU laws and guidelines are always changing. We'll send you the latest updates from the city and county.

What is an ADU?

Vancouver, Portland, and now LA -- a new real estate opportunity has hit southern California. LA homeowners are turning their properties into steady income with Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs. But what, exactly, are they?

ADUs in a nutshell

The term may be unfamiliar, but the living space is not: you know them as in-law suites, granny flats, tiny houses or garage conversions. They are all synonyms for Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs: self-contained structures that occupy the same property as a single-family home, containing their own entrance, kitchen, and bathroom. Often used to house relatives, ADUs also make great rental properties. This is particularly true in LA, where neither the ADU nor the main house must be owner-occupied -- both may be rented separately.

What are the different types of ADUs?

Attached ADUs are physically connected to the main property, either as a retrofitted room with its own entrance, a remodeled garage, or other attached structure.

Detached ADUs are standalone structures on the main property, such as a separated garage , a converted shed, or a studio space. Detached ADUs must be at least 5 feet from the side and rear property lines, and at least 10 feet from the main house, although specific requirements vary by municipality. For example, see the specific requirements for Pasadena here.

Mobile ADUs such as trailers are not currently allowed in LA, though the city may be working towards creating a new category of movable tiny houses. Check back with us for updates!

How big are they?

California law currently allows ADUs up to a maximum of 1200 square feet, although they may be as small as 400 square feet. ADUs must be less than 50% of the size of the main house, or 1200 square feet, whichever is smaller. For example, if your house is 2000 square feet, the maximum size of your ADU is 1000 square feet. In addition, California has a “mansionization ordinance” that requires all structures to occupy no more than 45% of the lot size. So if your lot is 10,000 square feet, your house and ADU combined can occupy no more than 4,500 square feet.

There's lots more to know! Interested?

Contact our team to see whether building an ADU is right for you.