Fastest ADU Builder in Los Angeles
HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN ADU
How long does an ADU take to build? Neo Builders can build a standard ADU conversion in 6 weeks.
Learn how to build your own ADU. Keep up-to-date with Joseph Peretz and NEO Builders, video series; How to Build Your Own ADU Garage Conversion.
In these videos you will learn about every step of the process. Joseph will provide homeowners with tips and tricks on how to save money and what to avoid doing. The goal of this video series is to save the homeowner money, time and to direct them in the right direction.
NEO Builders and Joseph Peretz will be uploading daily content on Instagram and Youtube. Don't miss out on the race against the clock!
1 - DEMO
Before starting the demolition process, check with your local building department to determine the permits required for the demolition and assess any potential hazards on the property. Clear the site by removing any loose debris, furniture, or personal belongings and create a clear workspace for the demolition process. Moving onto demolition, the demo process includes removing all existing conditions, including illegal bathrooms, drywall, floors, and kitchenettes. Other aspects of demo include: demolishing and hauling away garage doors and excavating under the former garage door to install a new footing. Depending on local regulations, you may need to schedule final inspections with the appropriate authorities to ensure compliance with demolition requirements and to obtain necessary clearances.
Note: Many times, clients with non-compliant garages ask us to leave the existing shower stall, toilets, or kitchen intact, however, local building and safety laws don't always allow this, as they want to inspect the rough and underground plumbing. Therefore, we have a pre-inspection with our resident inspector to avoid any issues before demo begins.
Timeframe: Demo usually takes 1-2 days depending on the project's scope and size.
2 - Underground Mechanical
Work with a professional engineer to design the underground mechanical system based on the specific needs of the ADU project. This includes determining the layout, sizing, and materials required for the system. Before starting the installation, obtain the necessary permits from the local building department. Excavate the area where the underground mechanical system will be installed. Install the conduits and duct banks for housing electrical wiring, communication cables, and mechanical piping. Next, install mechanical piping, such as water supply lines, sewer lines, or chilled water lines, in the trenches or pits. Lastly, install mechanical equipment, such as pumps, tanks, or mechanical ventilation units, in designated areas. Before backfilling the trenches or pits, conduct tests and inspections to ensure the installed mechanical system is functioning correctly. Schedule final inspections with the local building department to obtain the necessary approvals.
Note: New sewer lines can connect to the existing lines, but must be at least 5 feet away from the home.
Timeframe: This phase usually takes 3-4 working days.
3 - Foundation
Construct the foundation walls based on the design specifications of the ADU. This can involve pouring concrete into forms or using precast concrete panels. Reinforcing steel bars (rebar) may be installed within the foundation walls for added strength. Install a drainage system around the foundation to prevent water accumulation and potential damage. This may include placing a perforated pipe along the base of the foundation walls, covering it with gravel, and directing the water away from the building through a slope or drainage system.
Note: We simultaneously work on our foundation and framing elements (step 4) because many times the underground plumbing must run through our new footing to reach the new proposed locations of the kitchen and bathroom of your ADU.
Timeframe: This phase usually takes 3 days.
4 - Framing
Once the foundation is complete, begin framing the floors of the ADU. Install the sill plates along the perimeter of the foundation walls. Then, install the floor joists according to the engineered plans, ensuring proper spacing and alignment. Proceed with framing the walls of the ADU. Install the bottom plates and upright studs, following the framing plans and building codes. Leave openings for windows, doors, and any required wall penetrations. Install headers above openings to provide support. Secure the walls to the floor framing and anchor them to the foundation walls. Lastly, frame the roof structure of the ADU. This may involve installing ridge beams, rafters, and ceiling joists according to the engineered plans. Ensure proper alignment and support, and use appropriate bracing techniques to reinforce the roof structure. Apply sheathing to the exterior walls and roof of the ADU. Sheathing provides structural stability and a solid surface for attaching exterior finishes.
Note: When designing your ADU make sure to avoid using specialty lumber. Keep the ADU framing simple by using standard 2x4 and 4x4 sitting on 16 inches of wood framing. Do not overcomplicate the framing of your ADU, be sure to talk to your architect. I cannot stress this enough, you do not need to re-engineer what an ADU is, keep it simple and use standard materials.
Timeframe: This phase usually takes 6 days.
5 - Doors & Windows
Take accurate measurements of the window and door openings to determine the appropriate sizes for the windows/doors and place an order. There are three types of windows; vinyl, aluminum and clad. Apply flashing around the window and door openings to prevent water infiltration. Carefully position the window or door into the opening. The way to install your windows and doors for your ADU, is to first cut the existing stucco of the garage. Ensure it is level, plumb, and square. Once the window or door is positioned correctly, secure it to the framing. Apply insulation around the window or door to provide thermal and sound insulation. Install exterior trim around the windows and doors to provide a finished appearance and to help protect the installation. Apply exterior sealant around the perimeter of the installed windows and doors. Install interior trim around the windows and doors to provide a finished look on the inside of the ADU. Schedule inspections by the local building department to ensure compliance with building codes and regulations for foundation, framing, windows, and doors.
Note: Remember, keep as much of the existing stucco as much as possible. This will save you money down the line because rewrapping the garage is expensive. It is important to know that you will not pass the framing inspection without doors & windows installed. For the interior of your ADU you have two options; you can either install sliding doors or pocket doors.
Timeframe: This phase takes 1 day to complete.
6 - Roof
The roof for your ADU garage conversion can be the most expensive part of your ADU project. Work with a designer to create a roof design that suits your ADU's architectural style, local building codes, and weather conditions. Consider factors such as roof pitch, materials, ventilation, and insulation. Ensure the roof deck is structurally sound and ready for the installation of the roofing materials. Install roof ventilation components to ensure proper airflow within the attic space. Install the selected roofing materials based on the design and your preferences. Common roofing materials include asphalt shingles, metal roofing, clay or concrete tiles, or composite roofing. Install flashing around roof penetrations such as chimneys, skylights, vents, and roof edges to prevent water infiltration.
Note: Your existing roof condition should not have any holes, leeks and/or water damage. If there is water damage, the roof is not salvageable, you will have to demo the roof, and start from scratch. In the video, this specific project is unique because the homeowner had the roof done prior to wanting to build an ADU garage conversion. The roof was only 5 years old, therefore the plywood and shingles were good enough to avoid building a new roof.
Timeframe: This phase usually takes about 2 days to complete.
7 - HVAC
Work with an HVAC professional to determine the appropriate HVAC system for your ADU based on factors such as square footage, insulation, local climate, and desired comfort levels. AC units need to be a certain distance from the property line, make sure to talk to your inspector before choosing the location. Install the HVAC equipment, including the furnace or heat pump, air conditioner, air handler, or any other components specified for the system. Condensers for an ADU can be installed outside, in the attic, or on the roof of your ADU. Install the ADU condenser on the exterior of the accessory dwelling unit, with a concrete pad because as they age, they shake, this will lead more maintance of the unit. Check title 24 to ensure it is installed with the correct condenser size. Install the ductwork system according to the design layout. Then install ventilation components, such as exhaust fans or fresh air intake systems, to maintain indoor air quality before connecting the HVAC equipment to the electrical system of the ADU.
Note: If your ADU is small, installing Ductless Mini Splits is enough. Ductless Mini Splits are perfect for 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom ADUs. If your ADU is reaching 2 bedrooms, or potentially 3 bedrooms, install a central A/C system. The higher the square footage of the ADU, the more likely you'll choose Central A/C.
Timeframe: This phase takes 1 day to complete rough inspection and 1 day final inspection.
8 - Electrical
Assess the electrical needs of the ADU, considering factors such as the size of the unit, the number of electrical appliances and devices, and any specific electrical code requirements. Before starting the electrical panel installation, obtain the necessary permits. Determine the location for the electrical panels in consultation with an electrician. Consider factors such as accessibility, available space, and proximity to the main electrical service. Either upgrade the main service panel or add subpanels. Then connect the electrical wiring from the main service or subpanel to the installed electrical panels. Install circuit breakers in the electrical panels, properly labeling its corresponding electrical circuit, based on the planned layout and the specific electrical circuits required for the ADU.
Note: For this ADU garage conversion in the video, we decided to upgrade the electrical panel. One panel is shared between the ADU and main home. The original panel was 100 AMPs and we upgraded it to 200 AMPs, 60 amps designated for the ADU. The sub panel is located on the exterior of the ADU. Make sure to talk to your inspector to clarify the sub panel location. Remember, panels must be grounded.
Timeframe: Electrical takes 3 days for rough and 2 days for finish.
9 - Plumbing
Begin by installing the supply lines that will carry water to the fixtures. This involves connecting to the existing main water supply or adding a separate supply line for the ADU. Install the drainage system to carry wastewater away from the fixtures and out of the ADU. Install the ventilation system to prevent airlock and ensure proper functioning of the plumbing system. Install the plumbing fixtures, including sinks, toilets, showers, bathtubs, and any other necessary fixtures. Conduct pressure tests and water flow tests to check for any leaks or issues in the plumbing system. Depending on the climate and local regulations, you may need to insulate the plumbing pipes to protect against freezing and heat loss.
Note: Homeowners always ask me, “Should we do a separate supply & sewer line for our ADU Garage Conversion?" We recommend doing a separate line because the ROI is low. The faucet and fixtures are all from Eisen Home, we can assure you their quality is top-of-the-line. Thank you Eisen Home for sponsoring us and be sure to check out their website. Linked Below. For all your Faucets, Mirrors and Vanity needs check out: Eisen Home - Live In Style Eisenhome.com
Timeframe: Plumbing takes 3 days for rough and 2 days for finish.
10 - Insulation
Select appropriate insulation materials based on your ADU's specific requirements and the recommended insulation values for your region. Common insulation materials include fiberglass batts, cellulose, spray foam, rigid foam boards, and mineral wool. Identify the areas in your ADU that require insulation. This typically includes exterior walls, interior walls (for soundproofing), floors, ceilings, and attics. Install insulation batts or blow insulation into the cavity of the walls, ensuring proper coverage and avoiding compression. Install insulation in the floors and ceilings of your ADU. In some climates or specific areas, the installation of a vapor barrier may be necessary. A vapor barrier helps to prevent moisture from entering the insulation. Be sure to also insulate exposed plumbing pipes and HVAC ducts in unconditioned spaces, such as crawlspaces or attics, to prevent heat loss or condensation.
Timeframe: This phase takes 1 day to complete.
11 - Drywall
Start by carefully measuring the walls and ceilings where the drywall will be installed in the ADU. Purchase the appropriate type and thickness of drywall for your ADU project. Consider factors such as fire resistance and soundproofing requirements, as well as any local building code specifications. Measure and mark the dimensions of the drywall panels according to your layout plan. If applicable, install drywall on the ceilings following the same principles as the walls. Drive drywall screws into the panels, sinking them slightly below the surface without breaking the paper. Apply joint tape over the seams between the drywall panels, embedding it in a thin layer of joint compound. Once the joint compound is completely dry, sand the seams and any imperfections using sandpaper or a sanding pole. Be careful not to over-sand or damage the drywall.
Timeframe: Drywayll takes up to 5 days to complete.
12 - Painting
Start by using painter's tape to protect trim, baseboards, windowsills, door frames, and any other areas where you want to maintain a clean, crisp edge. Prime the surfaces first! Primer helps create a smooth, uniform base and improves the adhesion and durability of the paint. Select the appropriate paint type and color for your ADU. Consider factors such as the desired finish (e.g., matte, satin, semi-gloss), the sheen level, and any specific requirements for the area (e.g., moisture-resistant paint for bathrooms). Use a small brush or an angled brush to "cut in" along the edges of the walls, corners, and trim. Then use a roller with a suitable nap length for your surface (short nap for smooth walls, longer nap for textured surfaces). Allow for drying time between coats. Once the final coat of paint is dry to the touch, carefully remove the painter's tape at a 45-degree angle. This helps achieve clean, sharp edges.
Timeframe: This phase takes up to 3 days.
13 - Stucco
Start by ensuring that the surface you're applying stucco to is clean, structurally sound, and free from dust, dirt, oil, or any loose material. Apply a weather-resistant barrier or building paper over the substrate. Install metal lath over the weather-resistant barrier. Use galvanized or self-furring metal lath and attach it securely to the substrate using nails or screws. Mix the stucco materials, including the stucco cement, sand, and water. Apply the scratch coat, which is the first layer of stucco, to the prepared surface. Use a trowel to spread the stucco mixture over the metal lath, pressing it firmly into the lath and ensuring a consistent thickness. Let the scratch coat cure for a sufficient period. Apply the brown coat, which is the second layer of stucco, over the cured scratch coat. Lastly, apply the final layer, known as the finish coat, to achieve the desired texture and appearance. This coat can be a color coat or a textured coat, depending on your preference. Allow the finish coat to cure for the recommended period, typically 7 to 14 days, depending on weather conditions. If desired, apply a stucco sealer or paint to enhance the appearance and protect the stucco surface.
Timeframe: Stucco takes 1 day for each coat.
14 - ADU Bathroom
Determine the layout and design of your bathroom based on the available space and your specific needs. Consider the placement of fixtures, such as the toilet, sink, shower/bathtub, and storage areas. Ensure proper ventilation for the bathroom by installing an exhaust fan or a ventilation system. Install baseboards, trims, and moldings to complete the look. Install lighting fixtures, such as overhead lights, vanity lights, and task lighting, to provide adequate illumination in the bathroom. Tile desired area(s) according to the design plans. Install accessories such as towel hooks, shelves, shower curtains, and any other functional or decorative items to personalize your bathroom and enhance its usability.
Timeframe: This phase can take up to approx 3 weeks.
15 - Gutters
Assess the roofline of your ADU and plan the gutter layout. Determine the optimal locations for downspouts, ensuring proper water flow and drainage away from the foundation. Measure the length of the roofline where the gutters will be installed. Mark the positions of the gutter hangers or brackets along the fascia board, ensuring proper spacing. Attach the gutter hangers or brackets to the fascia board using screws or nails. Using a hacksaw or tin snips, cut the gutter sections to the measured lengths. Connect the gutter sections using connectors or slip joints, following the manufacturer's instructions. Apply sealant to the joints to prevent leaks. Install end caps on both ends of the gutters. Again, apply another sealant to create a watertight seal. Attach downspouts to the gutter outlets or elbows. Secure them using screws or brackets, ensuring they are securely fastened to the exterior walls. Once you are satisfied with the gutter installation, secure all the components properly.
Timeframe: Gutters are completed in 1 day.
16 - Tile
Before starting the tile installation process, gather all the necessary materials and tools. This includes tiles, tile adhesive or thinset mortar, grout, tile spacers, notched trowel, tile cutter or wet saw, grout float, sponge, level, measuring tape, chalk line, and tile sealer. Ensure that the surface where the tile will be installed is clean, smooth, and free from any dust, debris, or grease. Plan the tile layout, considering the size and shape of the room, as well as any architectural features or fixtures. Mix the tile adhesive or thinset mortar. Make sure the adhesive is spread evenly and has the right thickness. Place the tiles onto the adhesive, pressing them firmly and wiggling them slightly to ensure good contact. Use tile spacers to maintain consistent grout lines between the tiles. Use a tile cutter or wet saw to cut tiles to fit around edges, corners, or obstacles. Let the tile adhesive dry and cure according to the manufacturer's instructions. After the grout has set for a short while (typically 10-20 minutes), use a damp sponge to gently wipe away the excess grout from the tile surfaces. If necessary, apply a grout sealer to protect the grout from stains and moisture.
Timeframe: Tile takes up to 4 days to complete.
17 - Flooring
When installing flooring for your ADU, you will first ensure the subfloor is clean, dry, level, and free from any debris. If you're using solid hardwood or engineered wood flooring, allow the materials to acclimate to the environment by leaving them in the ADU for a few days. Depending on the type of flooring you're installing and the moisture levels in the ADU, you may need to install a moisture barrier. This helps prevent moisture from seeping into the flooring and causing damage. Next, start to lay the flooring. Begin at a corner of the room and lay the first row of flooring perpendicular to the longest wall. Continue laying the flooring by connecting the tongue and groove or click-lock system of each plank or tile. Stagger the end joints between rows to create a more stable and visually appealing installation. Use spacers to maintain the proper expansion gap along the walls. Measure and cut the last piece of flooring in each row as needed. Wherever your flooring meets a different type of flooring or a doorway, install transition pieces to create a smooth and seamless transition between the two surfaces. Once the flooring is installed, remove any spacers and clean the surface thoroughly. Install baseboards or shoe molding to cover the expansion gap along the walls.
Timeframe: This phase will take 2 days
16 - Cabinets
Start by carefully measuring the dimensions of your kitchen space and taking note of any obstacles such as pipes, electrical outlets, or windows. Before starting the installation, use a stud finder to locate and mark the positions of the wall studs. This will help ensure that your cabinets are securely anchored to the wall for stability. To provide temporary support during installation, attach a ledger board (a sturdy, horizontal support) to the wall along the cabinet's bottom edge. Start with either a corner or end cabinet. Position the cabinet against the wall, aligning it with the reference lines you marked earlier. Repeat the process for the rest of the cabinets, working your way along the walls. Make sure to leave appropriate gaps between cabinets for appliances, fillers, or other required elements. Use cabinet clamps to hold adjacent cabinets together tightly. Then, drill pilot holes through the face frames and secure them together using screws. Install drawer fronts, handles, knobs, or pulls as desired. If needed, cut holes in the back of cabinets for electrical outlets, plumbing, or other fixtures. After all cabinets are installed, secure them together using screws through the cabinet sides or adjustable clips provided by the manufacturer. Check all cabinet doors and drawers for smooth operation. Make any final adjustments to ensure proper alignment and functionality.
Timeframe: This phase will take 2 days or up to 14 days
16 - Countertops
Remove any old countertops or debris from the cabinets. Measure the dimensions of your cabinets and create a template for your countertop using cardboard or another suitable material. Select the type of countertop material that suits your preferences and budget. Using the template you created, carefully cut the countertop material to the desired shape and dimensions. If required by the countertop material, install additional support brackets or reinforcements to ensure adequate support and stability. Apply a suitable adhesive or construction adhesive to the top of the cabinets. Carefully place the countertop onto the cabinets, aligning it properly with the edges. Apply downward pressure to ensure good adhesion between the countertop and the adhesive. Use a level to ensure that the countertop is level both from front to back and side to side. If necessary, shim the countertop at strategic points to achieve a level surface. Once the countertop is level, secure it to the cabinets using screws or brackets as recommended by the manufacturer. If your countertop material requires sealing, apply a suitable sealant to the edges of the countertop. Cut and fit the holes for the sink, cooktop, or any other appliances that will be installed in the countertop. Use a file or sandpaper to smooth any rough edges or imperfections in the countertop. Apply caulk around the edges of the countertop to seal any gaps and create a finished look.
Timeframe: Countertops will take 4 days.
17 - Appliances
Measure the designated area for each appliance to ensure a proper fit. Make sure they are the appropriate size and fit within the available space. Select the appliances you need for your ADU, such as a refrigerator, stove/oven, dishwasher, and microwave. Ensure that the electrical and plumbing connections are in place and accessible. Position it in the designated space, ensuring it is level and flush with the surrounding cabinetry. If the refrigerator has an ice maker or water dispenser, connect it to the water supply. Place the stove/oven in its designated location. If it is a freestanding unit, position it against the wall and ensure it is level. A built-in or slide-in stove/oven may involve securing it to the surrounding cabinetry. Position the dishwasher under the countertop, aligning it with the opening. Connect the dishwasher to the water supply and drainage system. If you have an over-the-range microwave, mount it securely above the stove. Ensure that the power source matches the electrical requirements of each appliance. Follow proper electrical safety guidelines. Connect each appliance to its dedicated electrical circuit or outlet as required.
Note: For appliances that require water supply and drainage, like the refrigerator with an ice maker or the dishwasher, connect them to the appropriate plumbing lines.
Timeframe: This phase will take 1 day.