How Much Does an ADU Permit Cost in Los Angeles?

I want to build an ADU in Los Angeles. How much do the permits cost?

The short answer is; it depends on what type of ADU you want to build. But the longer, more complete answer is outlined below.

In the City of Los Angeles ADU permit costs are based on the estimated value of the construction being performed, and the number of square feet your project adds to the property. 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.

I know what you're saying... "Why can't you just give me a ballpark number?" OK, I'll try my best to explain. Below are two examples of what an ADU permit will cost you in Los Angeles.

Example ADU #1 - Permit cost for a 300 sqft garage conversion ADU

In this scenario your not adding any additional square footage to your property. You're simply converting your existing garage into habitable space. The permit cost for a project like this would be as follows...

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 low ball 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 allowing an extra habitable dwelling on your property, they're going to review you plans and send out inspectors to ensure your contractor is building the ADU per plans and per 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.

On top of the fee paid to LADBS, you'll also have some additional fees due to that will need to be paid to different city departments depending on the size and scope of your new ADU. Those fees and the fees paid to LADBS are detailed in the table below.

Line Item Department Cost
Plan Check Fee Los Angeles Department of Building & Safety $12,000
Hydrant Location and Access Los Angeles Fire Department $300
Sewer Availability Los Angeles Department of Engineering $670

Example ADU #2 - Permit cost for a 1,200 sqft detached ADU

In this scenario you are maximizing the amount of new square footage you can add with the City of Los Angeles ADU ordinance. The permit cost for a project like this would be as follows…

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.

And of course you will have the other city departments that want some of your money as well. Those additional departments and the cost paid to LADBS are detailed below.

Line Item Department Cost
Plan Check Fee Los Angeles Department of Building & Safety $12,000
Hydrant Location and Access Los Angeles Fire Department $300
Sewer Availability Los Angeles Department of Engineering $670

Pretty simple math and in actuality 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. There are many cities throughout California that make it very expensive to build an ADU with the amount of money they charge for permit 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 prior to building and ADU.

If you're thinking of building an ADU anywhere in the Los Angeles contact us. We're assisting homeowners just like you and would be happy to jump on a quick 15 minute phone call to discuss your property. There is not obligation and this 15-minute phone call is 100% FREE.