Fastest ADU Builder in Los Angeles
6 Week Challenge
We are having a 6 week challenge to build the fastest garage conversion in Los Angeles. This will be the new norm for converting your garage into a rentable unit.
How long does an ADU take to build? Neo Builders can build a standard ADU conversion in 6 weeks.
Neo Builders started a garage conversion in North Hollywood. The project started on April 20th, 2020 and aims be finished before June 8th, 2020. The 6 Week Challenge will be from the first day of demolition until the final LADBS inspection.
NEO Builders will be uploading daily content on Instagram and Youtube. Don't miss out on the race against the clock!
Starting with demolition, the demo process includes removing all existing conditions, which can include illegal bathrooms, existing drywall, floors, and kitchenettes. This is the initial phase of demo. Other aspects of demo include: demolishing and hauling away garage doors, excavating under the former garage door to install a new footing, typically 12" x 24”. Ironically, Most garages in California dont have existing footings.
Many times, clients with non-compliant garages ask us to leave the existing shower stall, toilets and 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.
Demo usually takes between one and two days depending scope and size of the project.
ADU Underground Plumbing
The next step in the process is underground plumbing. This includes trenching to install new sewer lines, new gas line, and new water lines. Usually, we must run a line to connect to our main sewer line in the front yard. Keep in mind, new sewer lines can connect to the existing lines, but must be at least 5 feet away from the home. This phase usually take 3-4 working days
ADU Foundation and Framing
We simultaneously work on our foundation and framing elements because many times the underground plumbing must run through our new footing to reach the new proposed locations of the kitchen and bathroom.
ADU Ceiling and Roof Rafters
Next, we will discuss our framing, which typically require us to alter our ceiling joists and roof rafters and sometimes our roof sheathing, but these vary per plan.
Other framing elements that we run into during the garage conversation is the installation of shear walls on the corner of the existing garage as listed per plan. These need to be inspected by the deputy inspector and the building inspector.
Towards the end of the framing phase we will have the windows picked up from our local supplier and installed before the framing inspections.
Once the vast majority of our framing is complete, we will commence rough plumbing and rough electrical.
Rough plumbing includes the layout for the bathroom size. The size of the shower stall and the location of the vanity will be marked in concrete. This also extends to the layout of the kitchen and to the location of the washer and dryer as per plan.
Rough electrical includes the installation of the subpanel, recess lights, electrical outlets, and switches. Everything will be wired to the subpanel. Lately in Los Angeles county, we have been receiving numerous requests to install E-vehicle outlets in the front of our ADUs. This item should be planned ahead of time and discussed with your contractor as it requires our licensed electrician to do a load calculation for the entire electrical system in the ADU.
The next step is the HVAC. We typically install more ductless mini splits in our ADUs. They are easy to install and have heating and cooling as required by the State of California’s Title 24 Ordinance. For a standard 400 Sqf garage, we usually see requirements of 1.5 tons condensers.
Once we pass all of our mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEPs) inspections, we then receive permission to insulate the walls and ceilings.
The type of insulation that we are required to use is stipulated in our Title 24 sheet, which is stapled to our stamped plans. We assume that as of 2020, R15 insulation will be required in the walls and R38 insulation in the ceilings.
Fun Fact: The "R" stands for resistance.
The higher the R value of the insulation, the more resistant the insulation is to the outdoor elements.
We can only hang drywall after the insulation is inspected. Most projects use 5/8" drywall, unless otherwise instructed by the plans. We will use purple drywall boards in all wet locations such as behind the vanity, toilet and kitchen sink. We finalise this step by having an inspection on the nailing of the drywall.
ADU Mudding Taping Sanding and Paint
After the drywall inspection, we begin taping the drywall seams, mudding, and sanding in preparation for painting. Once all the surfaces of the walls and ceilings are skim coated, we will first prime then paint everything to the desired color.
ADU Stucco or Siding
Concurrently, we are working on fixing the exterior stucco or siding, whichever is required by plan. We then wrap the affected areas with exterior lathing paper, which is inspected by a building and safety inspector. After this, we receive permission to cover with stucco, which is a 3 step process..
The steps include: scratch, brown and final (color) coats.
Week 4 is going to consist of painting. Painting is an important process because it brings out the building’s characteristics. We suggest painting your ADU 2 colors. Check out our accent wall. We will usually use Don Edwards flat paint in the living units and eggshell paint in the bathrooms. Eggshell paint is usually used in more high traffic areas because it is easy to clean.
We only install flooring after we finish painting because the painting process must be cleaned up after completion. Flooring options vary per project, we suggest laminate or vinyl for rentable units. Laminate flooring is made out of layers of artificial materials such as plastic, fiberboard, and other materials. It is usually produced to imitate the look and feel of natural wood without any of the issues that go along with it, like the high price and weight. If you are looking for something more luxurious, engineered hardwood flooring is your best option, even though this may cost about 7 or more dollars per square foot.
Prior to installing our semi custom kitchen cabinets, we will mock up your design and confirm it. By week 5 your kitchen cabinets will be installed. With semi custom kitchen cabinets you can pick out your layout, kitchen design, and kitchen cabinets. We hand paint your kitchen cabinets so that they are full of life and energy. Not old, boring, cookie cutter white kitchen cabinets. This will vitalize your kitchen and give it a “pop” that will attract renters.
Before tiling starts, we will float 2 layers of concrete, this may seem excessive, but this differentiates us from our competition, because some bathrooms have hardiebacker cement boards, which will deteriorate over time. Bathroom tiles will be decided beforehand. We love to customize your bathroom tile. Neo Builders will hand lay each tile while you watch your grout dry. When picking out tile, we suggest at least 2 different types of tile for the bathrooms, one for the walls and one for the floors. Our design team always gives options for shower benches as well as shower niches.
At the end of week 5, we will also fabricate and install your kitchen countertops. Countertops come in an array of colors and sizes. For smaller ADU’s, we suggest a minimum of 10 linear feet of countertop space in your kitchen. Countertops are one of the most prominent parts of your newly built kitchen. There are a dizzying array of materials to consider; each material has its own features and benefits, as well as drawbacks and maintenance requirements.
Inspections and Permitting
Week 6 is always an action packed week. Inspections take place at the end of the work week. We always have the final plumbing, electric, and HVAC inspections. Usually, we will need separate inspectors per trade. If all three of those inspections are passed, you will have a final building inspection, which will allow you to rent your unit. A Certificate of Occupancy is a document that officially proves that a building complies with the development plans that were submitted to the local building authority, which would be LADBS, also known as the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. Your certificate of occupancy, or a “CofO” will come in the mail in the coming weeks. As of November 2020, Los Angeles Certifications of Occupancy take around 90 days.
In the bathrooms: toilets, vanities, and showerglass must be installed. Chrome is the most common theme for bathroom finishes. But polished brass is great if you are looking for a more vintage look. Brushed nickel is extremely durable and tends to keep its finish longer than chrome. It doesn't show fingerprints or water spots and is easy to clean. Relatively inexpensive, it also matches nicely with most other accessories and fixtures. There are lots of options when choosing what type of finishes you would like in your custom bathrooms.
In the kitchen, we have to install our kitchen appliances such as microwave hoods, washer, dryer, stove, and garbage disposal. This is also the time where our electrician puts caps on for your outlets and switches. There are two types of finishes, plumbing finishes and electric finishes. Plumbing finishes include your sinks, shower heads, bathtub handles, and more. Your electrical finishes consist of switches, plug points, electrical fittings, fuses, and interior lighting.