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Free ADU home tour gives an inside look at living small in L.A.

A two-story garage conversion in Venice features a lower-level open studio with a VW.
A two-story garage conversion in Venice by Bau10 features two ADUs: a first-floor studio for the main residence and a second-floor studio apartment.
(Paul Vu)

Ever wondered what it’s like to live in a 400-square-foot converted garage a stone’s throw from another single-family home on the same property? You’ll have a chance to find out this weekend as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence program under L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office hosts a free, self-guided tour of accessory dwelling units.

The ADUs will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission to all of the homes is free, and no reservations are required. A Google map, with a description of each home and address, is available on the city of L.A.'s Low Rise website.

In Los Angeles, where home prices and rents are spiking, accessory dwelling units, also known as ADUs, mother-in-law units and granny flats, account for approximately 20% of newly permitted housing units and have become a powerful tool that allows homeowners to make the most of their properties.

View of a living room, staircase and kitchen of an ADU
This cottage by Bunch Design is just 750 square feet but feels much bigger, thanks to a continuous open-slat staircase that goes from the lower kitchen to a second bedroom.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
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“Our housing affordability crisis demands that we get creative,” Garcetti said in a statement. “If just 10% of the city’s 500,000 single-family homes had an accessory dwelling unit, Los Angeles could increase its housing density by half in just a handful of years. Most notably, this could be done without altering the character of a neighborhood.”

Over the past year, The Times has chronicled the many ways in which ADUs have become an affordable game-changer for families who added a second home to house their elderly parents, grown children or renters to supplement their income.

California homeowners have the right to build at least two ADUs on their property. But naturally, there are rules and costs. Here’s a guide.

Saturday’s wide-ranging tour will feature 11 ADUs throughout Los Angeles, in neighborhoods including Elysian Park, Silver Lake, Hancock Park, Van Nuys, Mt. Washington, South L.A. and Venice. The tour will include projects by Los Angeles architects and design firms Bunch Design, Assembledge+, Taalman Architecture, IT House, Bau10, Cover, Abodu, United Dwelling and Otto ADU.

In an effort to give homeowners a realistic idea of what the building process is like, two of the ADUs — a two-story ADU in Silver Lake and a one-story carport conversion in Van Nuys by IT House — will be open to the public while under construction. If you’re interested in prefabricated design, two one-bedroom prefab homes designed by Norm Architects in collaboration with Dwell will be on display in the Abodu showroom in downtown Los Angeles.

A blue 700-square-foot, two-story ADU next to a Craftsman bungalow
A 700-square-foot ADU, right, designed by Assembledge+, shares the lot with a 1916 Craftsman bungalow in Hancock Park. It will be open for tours on Nov. 5.
(Yoshi Makino)

When you’ve had your fill of houses, you can learn more about ADUs from a variety of perspectives as architect Linda Taalman moderates a panel discussion on low-rise densification efforts throughout L.A. with members of Casita Coalition and Revival Homes, architect Demar Matthews from offTop Design and a local homeowner and builder.

The discussion will be at the Neutra VDL Studio and Residences, 2300 Silver Lake Blvd. in Silver Lake, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 and attendance is limited to 50 people, with proceeds benefiting the programming efforts at the VDL Studio and Residences. Guests can register for the panel on Eventbrite, and will have an opportunity to ask questions at a Q&A following the presentation. The conversation will be filmed and aired online at a later date.


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