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Good News For All Illegal Garage Conversion Home Dwellers: Building An ADU Is Possible.

Updated: Jul 27, 2023



I do not have a permit for my illegal garage conversion without a permit, but I want to build an ADU. What to do? There's good news for you. A new law, Senate Bill 897, has been passed, allowing you to construct an ADU even if you have made unpermitted modifications to your home.


Senate Bill 897

"This bill would require that the standards imposed on accessory dwelling units be objective. For purposes of this requirement, the bill would define “objective standard” as a standard that involves no personal or subjective judgment by a public official and is uniformly verifiable, as specified. The bill would also prohibit a local agency from denying an application for a permit to create an accessory dwelling unit due to the correction of nonconforming zoning conditions, building code violations, or unpermitted structures that do not present a threat to public health and safety and are not affected by the construction of the accessory dwelling unit."


Published on 09/29/2022.


This update in the law is excellent news for those who have converted their garages illegally and now wish to build a legitimate ADU. The city cannot stop you from constructing the ADU unless your existing violation poses a health hazard.


An example of a client we had encountered a similar situation. He had an illegal garage conversion and was hesitant to build an ADU due to previous restrictive rules. Moreover, the tenant in his converted garage was difficult and repeatedly threatened to report him to the city. This situation made the client apprehensive about constructing any new structure on his property. However, with the new law in place, he gained confidence and was relieved to know that he could now build a new ADU without worrying about a combative tenant reporting him.


The client saw the potential for additional rental income through the ADU and decided to go ahead with the project. In the process, we also helped him obtain the necessary permits for his previously illegal garage conversion. The garage was brought up to code, insulation was added, and all the necessary adjustments were made, resulting in a win-win situation for everyone involved. The client could move forward with peace of mind, and the tenant had a properly permitted living space.


Thanks to the updated law, individuals in similar situations can now explore the possibility of building ADUs without fear of past unpermitted modifications hindering their plans. This new level of flexibility opens up opportunities for homeowners to improve their properties, generate additional rental income, and ensure a more secure future.


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