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What’s the Cost of Building a House in Los Angeles?

Building a house in Los Angeles can be expensive. Learn how much it costs and how to minimize your building expenses with Cottage.
Updated Jan 01, 2018
If you want to call yourself a resident of the second-largest city in the United States, then you’re likely concerned about housing costs after experiencing some major sticker shock or scrolling through Zillow and Compass. The good news is that building in Los Angeles can be more affordable and realistic with some creative solutions in the form of ADUs from Cottage.
Here’s everything you need to know:

Why Build a House in Los Angeles?

Before we get into the costs of building a home in Los Angeles, it’s important to first discuss some of the benefits of living in the most populous county in the United States.

1. Great Weather

One of the biggest reasons why people choose to build and live in Los Angeles is the mild weather that lasts year-round. In the coldest months of December and January, the average high temperature in Los Angeles is 68 degrees, and the average low temperature is 49 degrees. In the warmest month of August, the average high temperature in Los Angeles is 85 degrees, and the average low temperature is 66 degrees.
Los Angeles is predictably sunny and sees little rain compared to other places. During the summer months, it averages no days of rain. During the rainiest month of February, it averages just five days of rain.

2. Beautiful Nature

Another reason why people choose to build and live in Los Angeles is its proximity to nature. Los Angeles itself is right on the Pacific Ocean, providing its residents with easy access to beautiful beaches.
If you’re looking for a change in scenery, you can head to the mountains to Big Bear. Finally, if you’re looking to explore the desert, you can check out Joshua Tree National Park.

3. Amazing Food

Los Angeles has an amazing food scene that will live up to the standards of even the biggest foodies. Los Angeles has everything from casual food trucks to luxurious Michelin Star dining experiences. Specifically, Los Angeles is known for its tacos, burgers, and donuts in addition to Asian cuisines, including Thai, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.

4. Countless Activities

You will never be bored in Los Angeles as there are countless activities for you to enjoy. Of course, there’s the theater scene where you can attend movie premieres and watch celebrities walk the red carpet.
Disneyland and Universal theme parks aren’t far away. There are plenty of museums to check out, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Getty Center.

5. Many Job Opportunities

Since Los Angeles is a big city, it comes with a significant and expanding job market with tons of opportunities spanning many different industries.
Los Angeles is particularly known for fashion, entertainment, finance, technology, and trade. Additionally, Los Angeles has many jobs available in the tourism sector, with 50 million people visiting the area in 2018.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a House in Los Angeles?

All of the benefits of living in Los Angeles come at the cost of living there, which definitely isn’t cheap. But just how expensive is it?
The average rent for an apartment in Los Angeles is $2,563 a month. If you’re looking to buy in Los Angeles County, the median home price reached a record high of $795,000 in September of 2021. But if you’re looking to buy in the city of Los Angeles, the median home price was much higher at $920,000.

Introduction to Average Building Costs in Los Angeles

Based on these numbers, you might assume that it’s cheaper to just buy land and build a brand new house. But is that really the case?
It really depends on where you build and how you build. If you’re looking to purchase raw land, you can expect to pay anywhere between $300,000 and $400,000 for 5,000 square feet of land.
But before you start building, you have to go through the permitting process and pay a variety of different fees, including permit fees, school fees, and architect fees. These fees can easily add up to tens thousands of dollars on top of the cost of the land.
Finally, it’s time to build, and unsurprisingly, the cost of actually building a house in Los Angeles varies depending on how you build. If you’re looking for a high-end home, you can expect to pay a minimum of $400 per square foot. So if you’re building a 2,000 square foot house, it will cost you about $800,000.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to save as much money as possible on the construction of your home, it’s possible to build a house in Los Angeles for as little as $150 per square foot with the right builders. Finally, if you’re looking for an average build, then you can expect to spend anywhere from $200 to $250 per square foot.

How To Minimize Home Building Costs in Los Angeles?

While building a house in Los Angeles certainly isn’t cheap, there are things you can do to minimize your costs so that it’s more affordable.

Tip 1: Build Onto Existing If Possible

Building a new home from scratch can be incredibly expensive when you consider the costs that come with the land, foundation, utilities, etc. So a cost-effective alternative is to build onto an existing home if possible.
For example, an attached accessory dwelling unit or ADU can be built onto an existing home. This is a great option if you’re looking for more space but aren’t able to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a completely separate unit. In order to be considered an ADU, the addition must contain a bathroom space, a kitchen space, and a bedroom space.
Home additions can be built to fit seamlessly with your existing home on the inside and on the outside. With the right plan, design, and builder like Cottage, no one would ever guess that the addition wasn’t originally part of your home.

Tip 2: Convert Existing Spaces

If you’re looking for the most cost-effective solution for more space in Los Angeles, then you should consider converting existing spaces into more livable spaces. For example, you can convert your basement, attached garage, detached garage, or even a spare bedroom into a conversion ADU complete with a separate bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, and living space.
This is the most cost-effective solution since you’re not really building anything. Instead, you’re just adding some walls and new utility lines for increased functionality.
So long as you have the right strategy and team, it’s completely possible for you to turn a dark and dim basement into a functional space that you can use for your parents, adult children, or the occasional houseguest.

Tip 3: Go Small

Since home building costs are generally calculated based on square footage, another way that you can limit your overall costs is to go small. Minimalism is more popular than ever, and it’s very possible to live in a tiny home of less than 1,000 square feet.
If you really want to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, you could even go smaller than 1,000 square feet—keeping in mind that building a home that’s just 100 square feet smaller can potentially lower your building costs by $20,000 to $25,000.

Tip 4: Maximize Your Lot

While you can build onto your house or convert existing spaces in your home, you can also maximize your lot with a detached ADU.
Unlike a conversion or attached ADU, a detached ADU is completely separate from the main home with its own entrance, foundation, and utilities in addition to the basic ADU requirements of a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen space.
The new ADU regulations in Los Angeles make it possible for you to essentially build a separate tiny home right in your backyard. In Los Angeles city, you’re able to build a detached ADU of up to 1,200 square feet.
However, you must also keep setbacks in mind. The city requires minimum setbacks of four feet from the side and rear lot lines, as well as ten feet from any existing structures.
Like an attached ADU, a detached ADU can be designed and built to match the style and overall appearance of your existing home so that it looks natural on your property. Working with an experienced ADU builder like Cottage can help you achieve the look and function that you’re looking for in a detached ADU.

The Final Rundown on Building Costs in Los Angeles

So if you own an existing home in Los Angeles and are considering moving to or building a bigger home, you may want to consider building an ADU instead. ADUs allow you to maximize your existing space and minimize your costs.
So reach out to Cottage today for a complimentary consultation to see what’s possible in Los Angeles.

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