Property Issues That Influence ADU Placement in Your Backyard

If you have started to investigate everything about ADUs to see if they make sense to you and your property, you should know that before entering into the specifications of ADU types and sizes, Our Backyard Conversion Contractor can help you because it is critical that you are aware of these three property issues that may affect the location and even qualification of a potential ADU:


Setbacks are basically the mandatory space between a new structure and your property line.  These zoning guidelines are in place for your own safety and to allow for proper light and air access between you and your neighbors.
In the R1 zone in Los Angeles, the setbacks that matter most for an Accessory Dwelling Unit are your side and rear yard setbacks. Let’s have a look at the usual setbacks for both a primary home and an ADU on an R1 zoned lot in Los Angeles, California:

Setback Primary Home Accessory Dwelling Unit
Side 5 feet 5 feet
Rear 15 feet 5 feet

In Los Angeles, California, you can typically place an Accessory Dwelling Unit five feet from the side and rear property lines. However, there are other issues (explained in the following texts) that can change these setbacks.

Power Lines

The unappealing power lines that extend across many backyards in Los Angeles can cause major problems with the ADU placement. If you have power lines running through your yard, chances are you are lucky enough to have a Public Utility Easement in your yard. LADWP has strict prerequisites for how close your new structure can be to these easements and high voltage power lines. This may be a bit complicated, but here are the basics:
– If your proposed structure is more than 10′ from the easement, no clearance is required.

–  If your proposed structure is less than 10′ from the easement, an encroachment permit is required from LADWP.
–  To get an encroachment permit, you must prove that the structure is outside of certain clearances. These rules can be confusing, but we’re here to help you.

Existing Structures

Backyard conversion San Diego

Due to fire code, the Accessory Dwelling Unit must either be attached to the existing home/garage or be separated by 10 feet. But to make life easier for you, at ADU Resource Center we have developed a few ways to make a new structure work alongside already existing units.

The simplest way, if possible, is to provide 10 feet between your ADU and your existing house or detached garage. However, if this is not feasible, we can “attach” the new ADU to either the primary home or the garage with a small roof structure or a storage room.

Discovering the precise place in your backyard for an ADU while working around setbacks, power lines, and existing structures can be a complicated undertaking, but we are to help you navigate them. Let us help you determine if your property works for an ADU! Call us at (310) 974-3174 or schedule a free consultation for Backyard conversion San Diego.