Friday, September 6, 2019

What you should know before converting a garage in Los Angeles

What you should know before converting a garage in Los Angeles

With the relaxing of planning laws for the creation of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) or granny flats from a garage conversion, Los Angeles residents have embraced the idea enthusiastically. Today, there are more Los Angeles garage conversions than ever, but if you have garage conversion plans, there are some things you need to know before you go any further.
While recent changes have meant it is much easier to gain approval for a conversion or other ADU build, there are still challenges for homeowners to navigate to ensure a successful conclusion to the 

Energy Efficiency

Perhaps the primary obstacle to deal with as part of any garage conversion plans is the need to comply with current Building Energy Efficiency Standards for a garage conversion, ADUs and so on. This means cavity insulation for the walls, including areas that are replacing the garage door, along with specific heat insulation levels for roofing too.
Currently, this means R-15 or R-19 insulation for walls, depending on framing, and roof insulation levels of R-22 to R-30, varying with the size of the garage conversion. It is important to check current regulations when drawing up garage conversion plans to ensure your ADU complies though.
Any glazing in the new garage conversion in Los Angeles, whether a window or skylight, must also comply with efficiency standards. This means the amount of glazing is directly limited by the flor area of the garage conversion, with some restrictions on maximum west facing glazing in several climate zones.


Foundations will be designed to meet the specifics of a given project, but there must be infill provided where the garage door has been removed. Importantly, insulation is important here too, with floors required to have R-19 insulation under raised wooden floors. In climate zone 1 locations, R-7 slab-type perimeter insulation must be installed as well.

HVAC and other utilities

The size of the garage conversion has an effect on the type of utilities that are allowed or required in a garage conversion in Los Angeles. However, one that affects all ADUs regardless of size is that there must be no return air shared with any other dwelling within the property. That includes other ADUs or the main part of the property.
Beyond that, the HVAC system must comply with all new building regulations as they currently apply it is important to check as they are updated from time to time. When making garage conversion plans, it is also important to remember that if the space will be used as a bedroom, any gas-fired furnace or water heater already in the space must be removed. This can mean major changes to the heating system for the rest of the property, so be prepared.


 As with any new build, there are legal requirements for a garage conversion in Los Angeles when it comes to occupant safety in an emergency. That means passive fire protection and an escape option for occupants in most cases.
Fore your garage conversion plans, this will mean some type of fire separation between the garage and the rest of the property, and if the property has an existing sprinkler system, the converted garage will be required to have one too.


Once you have a garage conversion plan that includes the necessary work for compliance with various legislation, it is time to obtain the permits for the build. You will need to present several documents, including:
·         Elevations Drawings
·         Floor Plan Drawings
·         Map of the location
·         Mechanical and Electrical Drawings
·         Permit Application Form
·         Roof Framing Plan
·         Site Plan Drawings
·         Structural Drawings
·         Title 24 Compliance Forms
This process can take as much as 6 weeks and require you to submit revised plans if issues are found. Once approved, you can begin to create your work schedule and start construction.

An Alternative
Keeping track of all the legislation needed to be complied with can be a significant issue. In some locations there may be additional parking provision mandates to be included too, adding additional work. However, there is an alternative approach that takes the strain for you. Garage conversion specialists work with the laws, compliances and expectations every day, and can guide you through the design and permit processes ensuring a fully compliant ADU that is legal, beautiful and achieves everything you hoped for.

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