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  • Writer's pictureMeghan Turner-Patel

What’s the Average Cost of an ADU Conversion in Los Angeles?

Our pro cost estimator explains what you can expect when you’re looking to convert your garage into a new living space.

ADU with a white kitchen, hardwood floors, window and built-in storage
An Accessory Dwelling Unit by South Land Remodeling

In recent years, accessory dwelling units – otherwise known as ADUs – have exploded in popularity throughout California. This is especially true in Los Angeles, where more lenient permitting processes enacted in 2017 made ADU construction more possible than ever before. Single-family homeowners with an underutilized garage can turn it into additional living space for themselves, guests and family members. What’s also great about an ADU is that building one can often be cheaper than the cost to buy a new home. But the question is: What’s the average cost of an ADU conversion in Los Angeles? Let us break it down for you!

The cost to convert a garage to an ADU in Los Angeles varies based on a number of factors, including:

  • the size of your garage

  • the age of the garage

  • the features and amenities added to your garage remodel

  • your budget

In LA, you can expect the total accessory dwelling unit cost to be between $80,000 and $125,000. The main aspect in determining that cost is the square footage of the space being renovated. Converting smaller, single-car garages that measure 200 square feet will cost on the lower end of that spectrum. The average two-car garage, which can be anywhere between 300 and 400 square feet, will be on the higher end.

The construction timeline to build an ADU takes roughly three months to complete.

To help explain how your time and money are used to build an ADU garage conversion, we’ve compiled a breakdown of the main construction aspect and features that go into the job. This expertise comes from South Land Remodeling’s ADU experts, as we’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years.

What is an ADU?

To start, it’s important to completely understand what an ADU is as well as the construction process that goes into it.

Most of these structures are built by converting a detached garage that’s in your backyard. That conversion entails adding a bathroom, kitchenette and bedroom/living area, as well as making structural improvements. Once complete, ADUs can serve as an entirely separate living space (think: studio apartment).

For more specifics on how South Land Remodeling can help build your ADU, please be sure to explore our Los Angeles ADU and garage conversion services.

Generally speaking, though, when thinking about what a garage conversion entails and where your money goes, we like to break it down into three main stages:

  1. ADU Ordinances, Permitting & Planning

  2. The ADU Construction

  3. Finishes

Los Angeles ADU Ordinances, Permitting & Planning

Getting an ADU built requires authorization and the proper permits from whichever city in which you reside. The cost for said permits vary based on where you live and how that city regulates this type of construction. The average ADU permit cost in Los Angeles is $3,000, though some areas, such as Pasadena, can charge as much as $20,000.

Because there’s a lot of red tape and variances from city to city, permits can be very frustrating and confusing for homeowners to acquire themselves. We always recommend having an experienced contractor manage the permits, zoning and ordinances for you.

When we do this for clients, we manage the permit acquisition as well as draw up the necessary architectural plans the city needs to approve the project. Those plans also factor in your desired layout and features. If you go this route, you can expect your ADU contractor to charge around $7,500 for the permit acquisition and garage conversions plans.

Pro Tip: Before deciding to build an ADU, we recommend doing some research into LA ADU ordinances, just to get a better grasp on what your city allows and does not allow.

ADU Construction Costs

white accessory dwelling unity with sliding door and landscaping
South Land Remodeling Builds ADUs to Match Your Home's Exterior

Once you’ve has cleared your city’s ADU requirements, your garage conversion will begin in earnest. Your ADU contractor will begin by tackling the demo and prepping the base from which the rest of the renovation will stem. This includes patching and painting the exterior, and fortifying its framing.

With that in mind, there might be some unforeseen complications related to construction, that could cost extra. These common issues include:

  • Building a proper foundation, which can happen with older garages that are built on a concrete slab

  • Reinforcing insufficient framing to give the dwelling stability

  • Extra piping and digging to appropriately connect your new kitchen sink, toilet and/or shower to the sewer system

From there, the ADU contractor will get started on the interior, including framing, painting electrical and plumbing. They’ll install doors, windows, flooring and kitchen cabinets. Likewise, they’ll take care of the installation of an AC unit and water heater to ensure visitors and residents alike will enjoy its amenities year-round.

Barring any complications, ADU construction costs range from $60,000 to $100,000 of the total ADU cost. This cost includes the aforementioned materials as well as the installation needs that go into your garage transformation.


In most cases, the finishes are installed as part of the construction cost, but they are not included in your contractor’s quote. These finishes include appliances, tile, lighting, fixtures, countertops, bathroom vanity and more. This is because most clients prefer to shop around and buy their own finishes as opposed to having their contractor choose for them. Doing so allows homeowners to better customize their space and give it your own flair.

Accessory dwelling unit finishes will usually cost you $10,000 to $15,000 for standard items. From there, the price increases for high-end finishes.

Pro Tip: Your contractor can be a valuable asset when selecting finishes. They can help guide you to good manufacturers/brands as well as help to help avoid shipping delays, problematic fixtures, unforeseen costs and other problems that might lengthen the renovation time.

Additional Features You Might be Able to Add to Your ADU

  • Second-story loft

  • Washer and dryer

  • Heating

  • Landscaping

Overall Accessory Dwelling Unit Cost in Los Angeles:

$80,000-$90,000 to convert a single-car garage (roughly 100 to 200 square feet)

$100,000-$125,000 to convert a two-car garage (roughly 300 to 400 square feet)

Note: These costs are in relation to the average ADU garage conversion in Los Angeles, CA. Every ADU renovation carries its own needs and issues, and costs can greatly vary depending on structural integrity, finishes, square footage and more.

Looking for a Los Angeles ADU contractor who can convert your garage or build a custom mother-in-law suite? We can help! Contact us today for a free estimate.

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