Los Angeles’s Pre-Approved ADU Plans – A Guide for homeowners considering an ADU in LA

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have made homeownership far more accessible to Los Angeles residents. Between 2017 and 2022, over 25,000 ADUs have been approved for construction in LA, creating more opportunities for affordable housing. ADUs also allow homeowners to add more living space to their property, which they can use for themselves or rent out for additional income.

The existence of pre-approved plans, the relaxing of some building restrictions, and the ease of working directly with designers and architects can make it easier for you to expand your LA home.

One of Minix Home pre-approved plans might work for you, so keep reading to learn more about LA City’s Standard Plans Program, the pros and cons of choosing a pre-approved standard plan, and how to go about building a pre-approved ADU in the city of LA.

Building a Pre-Approved ADU Plan in Los Angeles: How Does it Work?

In response to California’s housing crisis, Los Angeles has allowed professional architects, designers, and ADU experts (like Cottage) to submit standard ADU plans to the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS). These plans are then pre-approved and made available to homeowners under the LADBS Standard Plan Program.

These plans come in a variety of types, styles, and sizes and are already approved by the City of Los Angeles. This “pre-approved” status can mean significantly shorter review and approval times. Not only that, but homeowners can work directly with the original architects and designers for guidance on how to build out these plans and in some cases, get assistance with any plan modifications and the actual construction process.

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of using a pre-approved plan.

The Benefits of Using the LADBS Standard Plan Program

There are a number of advantages to using the LADBS Standard Plan Program:

  • Save time and money

With a pre-approved plan, you’re likely to cut costs and enjoy a more convenient construction process.

  • Streamline the permitting process

All LADBS standard plans are compliant with building, residential, and green codes, so you can obtain permits and plan checks quickly.

  • Ensure a hassle-free project

All you’ve got to do before starting to build an LADBS pre-approved plan is review it against the conditions of your building site, such as foundation requirements and zoning compliance, and get the required permits.

While there are certain benefits that come along with using an LADBS Standard Plan, keep reading to explore some disadvantages of taking the pre-approved route.

Drawbacks of Using Pre-Approved ADU Plans: Are They Right for You?

While pre-approved plans come with several advantages, there are a few factors you should consider when choosing how you want to build your ADU:

  • Pre-approved plans aren’t a one-size-fits-all

Not all plans are right for all properties. If you opt to use a pre-approved plan, you’d still need to go through the required checks to ensure the plan can be built on your lot. You may require some adaptations.

  • Changes to your plan require further review

Room for customization is limited with a pre-approved plan; you can change windows and door types, sizes and colors, and also rotate floor plans. Minimal changes will allow you to maintain the pre-approved status, but larger changes to the floor plan are usually not permitted. Any changes would need to be reviewed and approved by building authorities, adding more time to the length of your project.

  • Pre-approved plans aren’t good to go off-the-shelf

A pre-approved plan is not pre-permitted. You’d still need to carry out site-specific calculations before starting out and, all things considered, your best bet is to pick a plan that is closest to your vision and site needs and work off of that.

While considering the pros and cons of building out a pre-approved plan, you should also be aware of some of the requirements and regulations that govern ADU construction in the city or LA.

What to Consider When Choosing a Pre-approved ADU Plan in Los Angeles

There are a few things you need to keep in mind before choosing a pre-approved plan and setting out to build your ADU:

  • Zoning

You may be eligible to build one ADU and one Junior ADU (JADU) on your property only if it has been zoned for single or multi-family use.

  • Size and height

In the city of LA, detached ADUs may be up to 1,200 sq.ft. and JADUs may be up to 500 sq.ft.

If you have an existing primary dwelling on your property, an attached ADU may be up to 50% of its square footage.

ADUs within 200 ft. of a Scenic Highway cannot exceed a height of 18ft., while 25 ft. is the standard height allowance.

  • Rental period

While long-term rentals are allowed, you cannot rent out your ADU for a period of fewer than 30 days.

Specific regulations around zoning, size, setbacks, parking, owner occupancy and other watch outs specific to LA can be explored in greater detail with the expert guidance of your architect or designer, but now that you know the basic requirements to build an ADU in LA, let’s explore the different plans available under the LADBS Standard Plan Program.

Designer-Owned Plans Available Under the LADBS Standard Plan Program

As of early 2023, there are 66 standard plans that have been pre-approved by the LADBS, and 4 pending approval. These plans, which have been submitted by around 30 different architects, designers, and ADU construction firms, vary in size, type, style, and price, and cater to a variety of aesthetics. Some plans have been submitted by companies that handle the whole process for you, from contract to construction. Other plans don’t come with expert guidance and require you to do some of the work yourself, so choose wisely!

Cottage has two comfortable and cost-efficient pre-approved designs under the LADBS Standard Plan Program. Our plans come with expert guidance throughout the process, and assistance with permit approval, plan modifications, and a trusted network of contractors!

Check out our plans below.

Minix Home Standard ADU Plans for Use in Los Angeles

Here are two simple, yet efficiently designed, pre-approved ADU plans you can use in LA:

  1. Pepper
  • 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
  • Floor area: 750 sq.ft.
  • Building footprint: 34’ x 24’
  1. Colby
  • 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom
  • Floor area: 500 sq.ft.
  • Building footprint: 30’ x 16’8”

Interested in one of our pre-approved plans? Here’s how Cottage works.

How do Cottage’s Pre-Approved ADU Plans Work?

Our pre-approved floor plans are customizable like all of Minix Home floor plans. However, the amount of customization possible through the pre-approved program can be limited. Possible minor changes include:

  • Changes to window/door types and sizes
  • Rotating the floor plan

Our experts at Minix Home can guide you through all the steps and ensure hassle-free planning, permitting, and construction processes. You’re guaranteed to complete your project quickly while saving money.

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Pre-Approved ADU with Minix Home?

The exact cost of building an ADU is tough to determine until you’ve made some headway in your project. However, rest assured that our process is very transparent, and our team will keep you informed every step of the way so there are no pricey surprises at the end.

Cottage specializes in ADU construction and can rely on a wide network of trusted consultants and specialists to:

  • Compile and submit your full architectural plan for approval,
  • Get you bulk project pricing for base-level consultancy and include this in your building fees,
  • Procure discounted rates for additional specialist fees, and
  • Pass along all city/county fees at cost.

Our ADU designs come with everything you’d need to get building right away. We also handle the process of getting additional permits, such as site plans and property surveys, approved quickly, and assign your project to one of our trusted and experienced contractors. If one of our pre-approved plans doesn’t work out for you, we can work together to create a customized plan that fits your budget and design dreams!

Customizable ADU Plans With Minix Home

We have a wide range of fully customizable small, medium, and large floor plans you can work off of, or you can start with a blank slate and develop your plan from scratch! Whichever route you choose to take, you will be building with trusted professionals who have you covered from site preparation to final inspection.

Our process is transparent, convenient, and tailored to suit your budget and unique property needs, allowing you to use your ADU however you wish!

What’s Next?

Whether customized or pre-approved, Cottage has streamlined the process of planning and building your ADU space, saving you time, money, and effort!

Connect with us for a free consultation and estimate, today!


How long does it take to get a permit for an ADU in Los Angeles?

Generally, it can take anywhere from four to six months to receive an ADU permit. However, this period can vary depending on the jurisdiction, the scope of the project, and the plans you are submitting.

Where can I get my ADU permit in Los Angeles?

Each city within the LA area has its own planning department, but if you live in an unincorporated area, you fall under the jurisdiction of LA County. Your permits would be issued by the County’s public works department.

What is the maximum size of ADU in Los Angeles?

In general, attached ADUs cannot exceed 50% of the square footage of, or be taller than, your primary dwelling. Meanwhile, detached ADUs in Los Angeles may be up to 1,200 sq.ft. This limit can differ across cities/counties in California, so it’s best to seek expert help to clarify these requirements.

What qualifies as an ADU in Los Angeles?

An ADU may be attached to or detached from an existing or proposed primary residence on the same lot. An ADU must have independent and permanent facilities for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation.

What is the average cost of an ADU in Los Angeles?

The cost of building an ADU is bound to vary with time, but typically, the cost per square footage can range between $200 and $400, and construction costs lie between $100,000 and $400,000. These costs can vary depending on location, building materials, project scope, and other factors.

How much is an ADU permit in Los Angeles?

Depending on the complexity of your project, your permits can cost either a few hundred dollars, or upwards of a few thousand dollars.

Can you build a two-story ADU in Los Angeles?

Yes, you can if your existing dwelling is two stories. The height of your ADU must not exceed the tallest point of your existing dwelling. Furthermore, the allowed height of your ADU will depend on the location of your site, and may not exceed 18 ft. if you live in close proximity to a Scenic Highway.

Are solar panels required for ADU in Los Angeles?

Yes. All newly-constructed detached ADUs in the state of California must be equipped with solar panels.

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