Jeffrey, Home Owner in Los Angeles, CA

Converting a garage to a "bonus studio" space in Los Angeles?

Asked by Jeffrey, Los Angeles, CA Wed Dec 11, 2013

My detached garage is largely used as a dusty, disorganized closet space. I'm thinking about converting to an updated bonus studio. Ideally, I'd replace the garage doors with french doors, insulate & drywall, cover the concrete floor, and add a ring of storage closets. If I can fit all my stuff, the remainder of the space would either become an exercise space or I'd move a computer desk in there for office space.

If I'm not running plumbing or new electrical circuits, what do I need to consider permit-wise or code-wise? I'm not looking to officially add to my home's square footage, just want to use the existing structure better. What's the best planning approach?

Help the community by answering this question:


It really depends, for the home I purchased last year -the garage was converted illegally just several months before apparently. I had no choice but to change it back at my own cost. Honestly there was nothing I could do, I just wanted to avoid the city fee. After the conversion back I had my garage door motor jamming over and over. My Realtor gave me this company website They showed up within the hour and got the motor to work again. The whole ordeal was ridiculous but glad its over with. Moral of the story is ALWAYS check permits of any property before buying it!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 27, 2015
Hello Jeffrey,

Anytime you decide to create a studio or living space for yourself you would need to get permits. Many homeowners tend not to go this route till a neighbor complaints or an inspectors sees workers at your door. Then there are fines and other costly penalties from the city. Any project that costs over 500$ requires permits. The only exclusions we heard of are Painting and etc.

Request a free estimate

As a licensed general contractor, Socal Preferred Builders can help you. We offer amazing prices and huge holiday discounts. Trusted local contractor in your area. 855-247-6225
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 12, 2013
Hi Jeffrey,

When it comes to the city or county of L.A. all properties have to have a functional garage, you can make the chances but if a city inspector sees work been done, they will find you and make you convert it back into a garage. I will recommend to call Building and Safety first before investing any money, you can call 311, and they will redirect you to Building and Safety and they will give you the requirements.

I hope this will help you make the best decision.

Best regards,

Daniel DeLeon
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 11, 2013
I have a triplex it old and not permited how much will it cost me per room to get permits in 90304
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 12, 2016
Permit wise and code wise, you better go to the city and talk to them before you start work on your bonus room.
In terms of resale, you won't find many buyers who are happy to have lost the garage and gained the bonus room instead.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 12, 2014
Hi Jeffrey,

You are fine with everything except for removing the garage door,you could change out & get an insulted garage door.if you take away the garage door then you should create some other sort of parking for the space you have removed from your property,with permits ! Good Luck !
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 14, 2013
Parking requirements can be found here:

Converting the garage may also bring up setback requirements. Many garages in LA are quite close to the property line. Acceptable for an existing structure built a long time ago, but when it comes to remodeling or building a "living" space, the new construction or work being done may have to be a certain distance from the side boundary. I'm not 100% sure on this.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 14, 2013
What does zoning for your area allow?

J.R. Thrasher
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 12, 2013
You need to start by going to the local authority having jurisdiction for the Planning and Construction. I am not sure where you are in Los Angeles, so it may be the Los Angeles County Planning and Building Department or it may be the LA City Planning and Building Department. Talk to them. In my experience, what you are proposing is most likely not allowed.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 11, 2013
If you are in the City of Los Angeles, you need to check with the Department of Building and Safety and also pull the necessary permits to do this type of conversion. If you do this garage conversion without permits, and a neighbor complains or Building and Safety finds out, you can be fined and also ordered to take your garage back to it's original permitted use, a garage.

When you convert a garage to a living space with permits, you will also be required to create some other type of garage housing...or a car port to make the conversion legal.

Again, check with Building and Safety. I have attached the link below.

Good luck!

All the best,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 11, 2013
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2016 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer