New Bill Makes it Easier to Build "Granny Flats"

Granny flats, in-law units, back houses - whatever you call them, California has made it easier to add a small house to your property! A new law, SB 1069, gives owners of most single-family residences the option to construct accessory dwelling units - and they don’t have to be for just grannies anymore.

Historically these “accessory dwelling units” were added for elderly parents to move in. They provide an excellent solution for living close to aging parents, while still allowing them to live independently. The homes can be customized to provide handrails, safe bathrooms, padded floors, and more to help seniors live safely. It’s the perfect combination of an elderly care facility and living at home! But today, with rising rent prices, more homeowners are adding these units to provide supplemental income, or to provide an independent place to live for grown children.

Approved by Governor Jerry Brown in September, the bill is geared toward encouraging the development of new units of housing in markets where a lack of supply has driven up rental prices at alarming rates. The law, which went into effect in January of this year, is good news for Los Angeles homeowners who have constructed or tried to construct such units on their residence in recent years.

The city requirements would limit the size of accessory dwellings to 640 square feet or 50 percent of the square footage of the main house—whichever is larger—up to 1,200 square feet.

Just think about what you could do with 1,200 square feet! This accessory dwelling unit could be used for an aging parent, a lease, or used as your own private guesthouse. Consider these uses:

  • Providing a safe place for aging parents to live, while maintaining a close relationship with them. Perfect for grandparents who want to help babysit their grandkids or spend more time with them.

  • Allowing adult children to live cheaply while finishing school or finding employment.

  • Earn supplemental income by renting it out.

  • List the unit on Airbnb to add to your income and meet travelers coming to your city.

  • Use it to pursue your passions, like an art room, music practice room, or the ultimate man cave!

Adding a guest house can provide much needed extra space and supplemental income. Plus, building one on your property can significantly increase the value - as long as it’s done legally!