CORRECTION: This story has been updated to indicate the number of ADUs Michelle Mitchell and Danny Shuster have worked on in the last six years in the LA and San Diego areas. (Oct. 28, 2022)
LOS ANGELES — It’s a vision months in the making as Los Angeles resident Michelle Mitchell walks through the frame of her home she is remodeling.
“All of this is getting torn down and you’ll have just glass walls here, where you’ll be able to look out into the backyard with all the trees, swimming pool and it will be a kind of indoor, outdoor feel,” she said.
Mitchell, a tech professional, moved to LA from Northern California for work last year and quickly noticed the limited housing supply.
“Even as I’ve been in LA during this period of construction, I found it really hard to find places to stay, especially in west side neighborhoods where prices are through the roof,” she said.
Besides remodeling her home, she also converted her garage into an ADU, or accessory dwelling unit, adding housing stock that her family, friends or renters can take advantage of. It’s a trend that Danny Shuster, Chief Construction Officer with Construction Consulting Services, sees more homeowners opting for.
He’s working with Mitchell and said they work on 20 ADUs at a time and have worked on over 2,000 of them in the last six years in the LA area and San Diego area.
“Adding an ADU to the property does two things. It adds to the property value because you are adding habitable square footage and it allows you to have supplemental income,” he said. “And I know not a lot of people know about this today, but in today’s ADU law version, you can actually have two ADUs.”
Since 2017, California has made it easier for homeowners to build ADUs by removing some hurdles and they are a growing portion of Los Angeles’ new housing stock. The city set a goal of creating of almost 500,000 new units by 2029 to keep up with demand and last year, ADUs made up 22% of all new housing in the city. The number of ADU permits already approved this year are on pace to exceed last year’s permits.
“There are some mixed opinions, people saying there isn’t enough parking as it is but realistically, we have a very dense population in LA and the more we keep people in town with more affordable housing, we might get more cars off the street,” he said.
That’s because in LA, ADUs must be within a half-mile of public transit or the homeowner must provide a parking spot. Shuster said with the City of LA’s permitting process, homeowners can usually get approved for an ADU in two to four months.
For Mitchell, it’s been worth the wait to craft a space with long-term benefits.
“I can live in it myself and rent out the house. I can do the reverse of that. I think it opens up the housing stock for people to have options to live in neighborhoods they want to live in,” she said.