Long Beach holds a long-standing reputation as the laid back paradise housing a vibrant community of artists, performers, and other creative individuals who thrive amidst its sunny shores and eclectic culture. But, as most other cities in California have experienced, rising housing costs are pushing out a lot of those individuals that give the city its life.

According to a study by Redfin, the median price for a single family home in Long Beach currently sits at $760,000. Compared to just five years prior when homes were just $576,000, that’s a 32% increase! This reality is hardly optimistic, especially for young adults buying for the first time.

Luckily, ADUs are quickly gaining in popularity for this very reason. And with new state bills and local ordinances in place, ADUs are as easy as ever to add to your property. We’ve seen some truly spectacular ADUs in our time and can’t wait to see what Long Beach has to offer!

So, ready to learn more? Let’s dive in!

Can I build an ADU in Long Beach?

Yes!

In 2017, California passed their first ADU laws. At the time, these laws were complicated and confusing for a lot of homeowners. Fortunately, there has been a lot of clarification done to help simplify those standards and make them easier to understand.

Even better? With the State of California passing more laws that lift ADU restrictions, it’s becoming easier and more affordable to build one than ever! Almost every year, we see big improvements to legislation, especially in 2024. Click here to get a glimpse of some of the newest bills.

How much does it cost to build an ADU in Long Beach, CA?

long beach adu

The price range to build an ADU in Long Beach is generally between $150,000 – $470,000. While $150k is on the low end of the spectrum, it’s likely that your ADU will cost more.

The price of your ADU depends on:

  • Type of construction (above-garage ADUs are typically the most expensive to build, while garage conversions are the cheapest)
  • Size
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Quality of finishes
  • Lot characteristics
  • Availability of material and labor

Homeowners are often shocked by the starting costs for an ADU. But it’s important to understand that building an ADU is not all that different from building a traditional, 2,000 square foot house. Both require the same elements; ADUs simply have a smaller footprint.

Many people try to use the cost per square foot method to arrive at an estimate for their ADU. But this method is notoriously deceiving, and here’s why.

Any home comes with fixed costs, regardless of size. For example, your design fees will not vary dramatically depending on the size of the ADU. Similarly, all ADUs are required to have a kitchen and bathroom, and that is expensive square footage no matter what. At the end of the day, building an ADU that’s 400 square feet versus 1,200 square feet will not really alter these fixed costs.

With all this in mind, here’s a word to the wise: Be extremely wary of anyone who claims they can build your ADU for under $100k. We monitored hundreds of projects last year and saw the real numbers come through. While there are certainly cost-saving tips to take, it’s unlikely that your project will come in under six digits.

But don’t be discouraged! One great way to keep costs down is by limiting the number of bells and whistles you add. The fancier you get with your design choices, such as vaulted ceilings or top-end appliances, the larger the price tag. It’s worth thinking about your must-haves versus other areas where you could be more flexible.

What kind of ADU can I build in Long Beach?

Fortunately, there are so many options at your disposal! The trick is figuring out which one makes sense for you. Each type of ADU has different factors to consider before you make a final decision.

Here’s a quick rundown of your choices.

Garage Conversion ADU

This ADU is the most popular option and offers loads of advantages! It’s financially smart given that it utilizes an already existing space. You can either choose to keep your ADU within the footprint of the original garage or expand beyond it.

Over the years, we’ve seen homeowners truly redefine innovation with their creative designs, like these 37 garage conversion ideas you’ll drool over. Everything from adding a deck or sunroom to using the garage door to provide additional natural light are all possibilities in store!

The only drawback is that you lose the storage/parking space of your garage, but it’s a small sacrifice to make when you think about the benefits your ADU will bring.

Long Beach has made the process for garage conversions even easier with their ADU Garage Conversion Standards. We’ll dive more into this later.

Detached ADU

A detached ADU is a stand-alone build that is separate from the primary residence but on the same property, usually situated in the backyard.

From renting out the ADU to housing adult family members or caregivers, there are so many ways to maximize a detached ADU! This option provides a sense of privacy and autonomy while also remaining close to the main house.

Attached ADU

An attached ADU differs from a detached ADU because it is connected to the primary residence. They are sometimes wholly or partly created from an existing space, like an attached garage, attic, master suite, or rec room.

Above-Garage ADU

This is a desirable option for homeowners who don’t want to lose their garage given the valuable storage and parking space it provides. But it’s important to note that most garages aren’t built to withstand the weight of an upstairs unit. So, it’ll need to be structurally enforced, making this option the most expensive type of ADU to build.

Nonetheless, these types of ADUs offer great privacy and amazing views. If you’re willing to shell out the extra cost, above-garage ADUs are excellent additions to any property.

Basement

Even though basements aren’t very common in California, some lucky homeowners have the incredible opportunity to transform theirs into a gorgeous ADU. Much like garages, basements have great bones and are more financially feasible options than other, more expensive types of ADUs.

While there are some regulations for this type of conversion, they are still a fantastic choice for homeowners looking to take full advantage of the rarity that is their basement. Discover how to convert a basement into a living space, and take a tour of this 420 square foot basement conversion!

JADU (Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit)

JADU stands for junior accessory dwelling unit. They are a form of ADUs that are defined by the following characteristics:

  • Size – 500 square feet max.
  • Ingress and egress – 150 square feet extra – only if your jurisdiction specifically allows it.
  • Location – Within a proposed or existing single-family dwelling or attached accessory structure, such as a garage.
  • Separate entry – Exterior access (a separate entrance for the JADU) is required from the proposed or existing single-family dwelling.
  • Interior entry to primary house – not required.
  • Parking – Not required unless you convert your attached garage.
  • Bathroom – May have a separate bathroom or shared with the single-family dwelling.
  • Kitchen – Must meet “Efficiency Kitchen” requirements:
    • Food preparation counter and storage cabinets that are of reasonable size in relation to the size of the JADU.
    • Cooking facilities with appliances – 240-volt outlets are permitted.
    • No restriction on maximum waste-line diameter.

Unlike ADUs, owner occupancy is required for the JADU. This means that the owner must reside in either the remaining portion of the single-family residence or the newly created junior accessory dwelling unit.

If you’re looking for more information on JADUs, watch this helpful explanation video.

Where can I build an ADU in Long Beach?

In Long Beach, ADUs can be built on almost any residential or mixed-use zones, including on multi-family properties. The permitting process for these zones is straightforward: draft a design with an ADU designer, submit to your local planning department, get your building permits.

However, if your property is in any of the following areas, you may be subject to additional review processes:

Historic District: requires a Certificate of Appropriateness

Coastal Zone: requires a Coastal Development permit or a Local Coastal Development Permit

Multi-family dwellings with 5 or more existing units: requires a Site Plan Review, an administrative design review process

If you are unsure if your property is located in any of these zones, you can contact your local planning department to get that information.

How many ADUs can I build in Long Beach, CA?

On a single-family or mixed-use property, you can build up to three new dwelling units: an attached ADU, a detached ADU, and a JADU, all on the same property! This is definitely an exciting update that homeowners should know about and take advantage of, if possible.

On a two-unit or multifamily property, no more than two detached ADUs are allowed. For a duplex, one attached ADU may also be permitted. In multi-family lots, several attached ADUs may also be allowed, but they must be equivalent to up to 25% of the existing units on the lot. For instance, a building that has 12 units may qualify for up to 3 attached ADUs. JADUs are not allowed on multifamily lots.

How big can my ADU be in Long Beach?

long beach

All homeowners in California are entitled to at least an 800 sq ft ADU, regardless of lot size, front setbacks, and floor-area-ratio.

However, you can go larger. Max size is set to 1,200 sq ft for detached ADUs and up to 50% of the floor area of the existing main residence for attached ADUs. The 800 sq ft figure is just in reference to state exemptions.

With all that being said, you may not want to build the biggest ADU possible. Why? Development and impact fees.

Most every structure has had to pay D&I fees at some point, as they support public improvements, services, and facilities. Sounds fine, right? Not when it comes to your budget. These fees can be quite substantial and could cost you thousands of extra dollars.

In California, however, you do not need to pay D&I fees if your ADU is under 750 square feet. For some, that’s one big reason to keep size in check, especially if maximizing the square footage potential wasn’t a priority to begin with.

Do I need a permit for an ADU?

Yes. You’ll need to get your building permit approved by the city planning department before you jump into construction.

The time frame for getting your permit approved can be a bit…uncertain. Most ADU projects in Long Beach take somewhere between two and four months to get permits, but wait times can vary depending on the jurisdiction.

Even though this process can be time-consuming, never skip it. Not only could you face a lawsuit if a tenant got injured inside the unpermitted ADU, but the city could force you to pay hefty fines if they find out. And the worst case scenario? You have to tear down your ADU entirely.

Long story short, it’s much better to be patient!

Will my ADU need a parking spot in Long Beach?

long beach adu

Good news! You are not required to provide a parking space for your ADU if:

  • You are located within a ½ mile of walking distance to a public transit (bus or rail stop)
  • You are one block from a designated car share pickup or drop off location
  • You are within an applicable historical district
  • Your ADU is contained within an existing structure
  • A garage, carport, or parking structure was demolished in conjunction with ADU construction

Check to see if any of these exceptions apply to your property!

How long will it take to design and build my ADU in Long Beach?

On average, ADUs take between 12 – 18 months from design to construction completion.

Surprised? There are a lot of factors that go into making an ADU happen.

There are four main phases: financing, design, permitting, and construction. Each phase has its own timeline, which can sometimes be impacted by factors entirely outside of your control.

Unique lot characteristics can throw a wrench into things, as well as the backlog of work at your city’s planning department or simply bad weather conditions.

If you’re someone who hates having idle hands, no problem. There are always plenty of things that you can do to help your project keep moving forward. And should you work with Maxable, we’ll provide you with a customized ADU roadmap that explains how to prepare for each step! Contact us for more info!

Long Beach ADU-Friendly Initiatives

long beach adu

Long Beach is just one of of the many cities that are taking initiatives to allow ADUs and increase housing where it’s needed most. Let’s see what developments they’ve made.

Pre-Approved ADU Program

Long Beach officials have followed in San Jose and Los Angeles’ foot steps by creating a library of pre-approved ADU plans.

The design phase of building an ADU can take anywhere from 2-3 months and cost +$10,000. The intention behind these plans is to cut down costs and especially time by allowing homeowners to select one these reviewed plans. The smart thing about this program is that the plans are submitted by local architects and designers. If a homeowner is interested in using one of these plans, they can contact the designer directly and work with them to obtain their permits.

This is done so that homeowners can still get the professional counsel of the designer and they won’t need to go through the permitting process solo. While the process has improved over the years, pulling ADU permits is still notoriously confusing for the average homeowner so having a professional who knows the process back and forth is going to save you a lot of time and money.

ADU Garage Conversion Standards

Long Beach officials have recognized the efficiency and benefits of garage conversion ADUs and have streamlined the permitting process through their ADU Garage Conversion Standards Program. It’s been designed to make it easier for applicants who intend to convert a single-story detached garage to an ADU, even going as far as to offer over-the-counter permits for homeowners that take the necessary steps.

The program consists of two helpful pieces:

1. ADU Garage Conversion Submittal Package

The package consists of the entire permit application, and full instructions of how to complete the site and floor plan. Homeowners are encouraged to complete this package on their own to the best of their ability, but staff of the City’s Planning Department are available by appointment to help you obtain your permits.

2. ADU Garage Conversion Reference Documents

These documents contain detailed instructions to aid homeowners in assessing their garage conversion projects, including FAQs, diagrams, and guidelines.

With these resources in hand, homeowners in Long Beach have access to the support and information needed to navigate the garage conversion ADU process efficiently and effectively. Regardless, when working with a project this large on your property, a helping hand is always going to make a world of a difference.

Plan, hire, and manage your ADU project with Maxable!

While times change, the need for housing does not. After consulting with thousands of homeowners and helping hundreds complete ADUs, we’re more passionate than ever about accessory dwelling units!

Building an ADU is a big but rewarding commitment. At Maxable, we’re here to equip you with the knowledge and team of ADU professionals to help launch your ADU project. That way, you’ll have the proper support from beginning to end.

Ready to get started? Tell us about your project here to get connected to ADU designers, prefab companies, and other ADU essentials in Long Beach.