Posted on 03/05/2021

New pre-approved designs will allow for faster and less-expensive permitting

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti today announced the launch of the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Standard Plan Program — a new initiative administered by Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) that offers builders and homeowners a variety of pre-approved ADU building plans and designs to allow for faster and less expensive permitting. 

“Every day, Los Angeles and our residents tackle our greatest challenges with creativity, innovation, resilience, and an immeasurable can-do spirit,” said Mayor Garcetti. “This program is about making ADUs more accessible, more affordable, and more beautiful — and making them part of the blueprint of our efforts to tackle our housing crunch and create more affordable communities citywide.”

In midst of L.A.’s current housing crisis, ADUs have become critical to the City’s ability to expand and diversify the supply of housing. Since updates to State law making it easier to build ADUs took effect in 2017, ADUs now comprise 22% of newly-permitted housing units. 

After a year of development and a 7-month pilot phase, the ADU Standard Plan Program gives homeowners access to 20 pre-approved design options from 10 different firms. By choosing from one of the pre-approved layouts, homeowners can now reduce the LADBS plan check review process from 4 to 6 weeks to as little as one day.  

Angelenos will be able to access the pre-approved designs on the ADU Standard Plan website. The designs will help simplify, expedite, and reduce the cost of the overall permitting process by offering consumer protection from contractor abuses; direct access to architecture firms who have secured approved plans; and flexible designs that will work for most residentially zoned properties.

The ADU standard plans — which build off an existing LADBS Standard Plan for swimming pools, stairwells, and other design features — are designed to accommodate a range of homeowner needs, from small studios to larger, two-story layouts. Another 8 designs from 4 additional firms are pending approval, giving the program a total of 10 local firms within the L.A. region. The program is open to all architects, contractors, and other firms able to meet the program’s basic requirements. Interested firms can learn more here

“The Standard Plan Program will dramatically streamline the process for homeowners of selecting and getting an ADU design approved by LADBS while at the same time supporting the work of Los Angeles architects and extending the City’s rich tradition of innovation in residential architecture,” said Christopher Hawthorne, Chief Design Officer for the City of Los Angeles. “The ADU plans available at launch include contributions from some of the most talented architecture and design firms at work in Los Angeles and around the country — and we look forward to seeing new designs added to the mix.”

Building off the rising interest in ADUs, the City has continued to explore ways to reduce the time associated with securing ADU permits to bolster L.A.’s affordable housing stock. Mayor Garcetti launched the L.A. ADU Accelerator in fall of 2019 to allow homeowners to rent their accessory dwelling units to older adults facing housing insecurity in exchange for benefits such as tenant screening, timely rent, and landlord support. 

Last month, Councilmembers Kevin de León and Bob Blumenfield led a motion in the City Council that builds off the work of the ADU Standard Plan Program to call on the Bureau of Engineering, LADBS, the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department, and City Planning to develop standard plans for modular multi-family homeless and affordable housing, bungalow courts, and ADUs.

“Driving down the cost of building new units helps all communities increase affordable housing stock. This ADU Standard Plan Program reflects the kind of forward-thinking that LA needs to expand housing affordability throughout the city,” said Councilmember Kevin de León. “I look forward to working with Mayor Garcetti to apply this concept to a broader range of affordable housing alternatives, especially ones that allow for cost-certain options.”   

“It’s imperative that we bring down the cost of housing in LA and this program adds new tools to help us with that goal,” said Councilmember Bob Blumenfield. “ADUs are an affordable way to create units and it’s important that we continue to take steps like this, streamlining the processes so more can go up faster.”

For more information about the program and its participants, please visit the website here.

Renderings of the pre-approved designs can be found here