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850-sq.-ft. Small House Built Legally As An ADU In Los Angeles

Oftentimes not only is building a tiny house illegal but so is building a small one. One way to get around it, is by building what’s called an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or an ADU for short, if eligible.

Then this ADU can be operated as a guest house, in-law suite, vacation home, Airbnb, or what-have-you. That’s what Bunch Design did in Los Angeles, California with this Highland Park 850-sq.-ft. small home. Check it out! What do you think of small homes around this size?

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From Garage To 850-sq.-ft. Accessory Dwelling Unit Home in LA

This small house has a really incredible interior.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ceiling quite like this.

The house is open, inviting, and calming.

It seems perfectly designed doesn’t it?

From the plants to the rugs…

The 850-sq.-ft. ADU home features two bedrooms.

The bathroom features a skylight.

I like the classic white tiles in the bathroom, how about you?

The backyard area of the house with mood lighting.

What do you think of ADUs and small homes?

Are ADUs and small houses like this something that you would prefer over let’s say a tiny house? Why or why not? Let’s talk about it in the comments! Some eligible homeowners are building out new ADUs like this with the help of an architect and builder, then they move in and rent out their larger (and older) main home. What are your thoughts on this arrangement?

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 29 comments… add one }
  • vee
    June 16, 2021, 11:04 am

    What a perfect, small house. I love the design, the storage and all the light!!!

  • Jamila
    June 16, 2021, 11:44 am

    I love this house and the kitchen has lots of storage, however does the bedrooms have storage as well? This could be a house that I would certainly love to live in!!

  • K
    June 16, 2021, 1:35 pm

    Love the design & would love to live in one!
    How does one connect with a homeowner interested in building an ADU?

    • Amanda Wilcox
      June 16, 2021, 8:29 pm

      How fun! I agree about the contrast between the still-garagey exterior and an exciting interior.
      Where is the second bedroom? I went thru the photos twice…help! Thanks for posting, Alex!

  • Laura Ouellette
    June 16, 2021, 2:45 pm

    I like the accessibility factor in this place. I would love to see more like this. We have an aging population where I live, and I would like my place to be accessible to those with mobility issues. Well done. Love the layout.

  • Hudson
    June 16, 2021, 2:57 pm

    That is just beautiful. I cannot imagine what the work cost in CA to convert it to such a lovely space.

  • Marsha T Cowan
    June 16, 2021, 4:55 pm

    It is an absolutely beautiful home, and I love the way the ceiling is done and the openness it gives each room. The decorating and finishes are lovely. However, this is not a small house.

  • Renee
    June 16, 2021, 5:08 pm

    It is very interesting. Here in CO ( in my area ) an ADU must be no smaller than 800 sq ft, so I certainly think this qualifies as a small house. I am currently living, alone, in 1000 sq ft and it feels like I am squished…but if I had a large yard it would feel more livable. The ceiling of this home makes me a bit dizzy…and I would imagine construction costs would be very high…but it is quite contemporary and interesting. Love the kitchen area, and that there is an actual bathtub…I send at least an hour a day soaking and reading, so the skylight is lovely. As I am not overly tidy, I prefer a separation between cooking and lounging…but that can be easily created with furnishings, or I have used 12 or 14 ft silk curtains hanging from the ceiling. I would be interested on details of heating/ac and hot water and laundry for this home ; )

    • Paul
      June 16, 2021, 8:50 pm

      I think you meant no LARGER than 800 sq ft. LOL an ADU is smaller than a house.

      • James D.
        June 16, 2021, 11:50 pm

        Just to be clear, an ADU is a house, it’s just the secondary house on a property and thus smaller than the primary. On average they range from 600 Sq Ft on up to 1200 Sq Ft nationally, with usual minimum of 150 Sq Ft. Though, each city and county can decide their own minimum and maximum. So some places will be more limited than others and the scale usually involves being within 50%, some set it lower to 30%, of the size of the primary structure or the max size limit for the area, whichever limit is hit first…

        States like California are also starting to introduce the idea of a JADU (Junior Accessory Dwelling) that allows for a third living space to be added to a property in addition to the normal ADU, which is usually the limit for most municipalities. The JADU is just added as part of the primary structure or part of an attached structure but set up as a separate living space, with a normal max of 500 Sq Ft…

      • Renee
        June 17, 2021, 12:10 am

        I meant a minimum. In Boulder many homes are on acre lots in the city. I have friends trying to build an ADU, and the approved size is currently 800 to 1200. They feel any smaller will lower property values. My house in the mountains, on a half acre, has a minimum of 500 for an ADU, other than a garage, and prohibits “tiny homes” for the same reason. They also prohibit “mobile or manufactured” homes. My best friend owns a 3 acre farm in MN, and her county will not approve a tiny as housing for a caretaker. RV’s are fine; if they move it every 3 months.

        • Paul
          September 19, 2021, 8:11 pm

          My boo boo, I meant to say “smaller than the regular house.” I am suitably chastised.

        • Eric
          September 19, 2021, 8:13 pm

          Sounds like your local authority is trying to justify their exorbitant salaries as well as contributing to urban sprawl. : (

  • Donna Rae
    June 16, 2021, 5:12 pm

    Wow! You really had me fooled because the exterior is boredom central and the interior is unique and interesting so it was a nice surprise as I was scrolling down! I hope that the owners will have some fun with the outside at some point…or perhaps the point is that surprising juxtaposition! Bravo!

  • Kimberly Janssen
    June 16, 2021, 7:40 pm

    I live in Florida in a 720 square foot home w/2 beds and 2/baths on its own lot built in 1965. It also has a darling 288 sq, ft. screen porch–the whole house including screen room is built with concrete block. Inside is retro, kinda MCM–wood paneled walls–ALL walls except bathroom with real terrazzo floors! My home is definitely a tiny house but I love yours just as well, also!

  • Amanda Wilcox
    June 16, 2021, 8:30 pm

    How fun! I agree about the contrast between the still-garagey exterior and an exciting interior.
    Where is the second bedroom? I went thru the photos twice…help! Thanks for posting, Alex!

    • James D.
      June 17, 2021, 12:09 am

      Looks like the only clue is the hallway photo with the blurred image of the person… Shows there’s 2 areas not shown…

      Layout from the front left is Kitchen > Room? > Master Bathroom > Shown Bedroom… From right is Living room > Half Bath > and big rear room that’s entered from the end of the hallway and has a big floor to ceiling door right at the end of the hallway that can close off that room…

    • James D.
      June 17, 2021, 12:13 am

      Okay, I found it on the architectural digest website in a article about ADU’s being on the rise… Back right corner appears to be the master bedroom, it has a closet… Master and Half bath doors are directly opposite each other, which means that second door is to the shown bedroom but they don’t show whether the shown bedroom has a closet or not…

      • Amanda Wilcox
        June 17, 2021, 12:47 am

        Thanks, James! That helps me visualize. I’m not great at 3D spatial concepts.

  • June 17, 2021, 9:13 am

    Ceiling treatment odd. Having variant angles in your room helps cut down echos – having all right angles does *not*. A normal room has four corners and four ceiling edges that reflect audio back to the source – which we’re reasonably used to. These rooms have significantly more corners to reflect audio back to the source, the difference is probably quite noticeable.

    • Amanda Wilcox
      June 17, 2021, 10:33 am

      Perhaps. Perhaps there is some sound cancelation. I’d be pleased with that–I really like this house!

      • James D.
        June 17, 2021, 7:30 pm

        While Stepped Ceilings don’t offer sound dampening like Coffered Ceilings do, they usually don’t produce any noticeable or strange acoustic effects either and this is still a vaulted ceiling. The steps are mainly just an architectural detail to make the space seem larger than it actually is and add more spatial interest…

        Though, functional benefits include the ability to use it to hide ducting, vents, wiring, plumbing, etc. that may otherwise be visible or make part of the ceiling stand out.

        Besides, sound dampening is usually done with a combination of Decoupling, Absorption, Mass, and Damping effects of certain materials and how they’re constructed in layers, rather than depending on any surface shapes.

        Having a false ceiling, like a Stepped Ceiling, allows for decoupling and layering of materials you may not otherwise put into the roof/ceiling. While just simple drywall is the most cost-effective and the most noise-reducing of the standard construction materials, since it has the most mass, and forming a Stepped Ceiling means adding extra layers of drywall…

  • Chas
    June 17, 2021, 4:51 pm

    Nice looking in the interior design and decor, but I am not a fan of the open ceilings. Unless you live alone, you will be sharing sounds and smells emanating from the other rooms. You could still have the high ceilings with the privacy of each individual room (bathrooms and bedrooms). The great room area is perfect, imo…

    • James D.
      June 17, 2021, 10:52 pm

      Well, something to keep in mind with a small space is that to an extent you will always be sharing sounds and odors. It’s hard to avoid when sharing a living space and mind, in a small space you’re pretty much always near the source and normal interior construction isn’t really air tight or offer that much in sound dampening. So, much more than you would need to do in a large house, you’d have to sound proof everything and add separate venting for each and every room to really isolate everything effectively.

      While you can still have high ceilings but closing off everything means there’s no reason for architectural details like the stepped ceiling, skylights, massive floor to ceiling door at the end of the hallway, the vertical beams, etc. that adds so much to the visual details of the interior and with each room isolated it will make the space feel much smaller and confining…

      Isolating each room also effects air flow, how hard it is to condition every part of the home, how hard it is to refresh the air and keep it from getting stale, etc. It can be compensated with proper venting and ducting but there’s always trade offs with any design/layout, just depends which you prefer to live with and how far you are willing to go to make it work…

      You can certainly do the changes you suggest but it will end up being a very different home…

      • chas
        June 18, 2021, 1:25 pm

        Thank you, Cliff Clavin!

        • James D.
          June 18, 2021, 1:49 pm

          Any time Woody Boyd!

  • Marilyn Haugen
    June 17, 2021, 5:39 pm

    Love the storage on the one side of the kitchen but that cabinet over the stove ruins that whole wall. I didn’t see where there could be a washer & dryer, something that would be a must for me. I like that it is light, bright & open. It is something I could live in otherwise.

    • James D.
      June 17, 2021, 11:03 pm

      Being directly over the range means that’s likely the vent hood, which the range needs for lighting and venting and you can see it lighting the range in the photo…

      While washer & dryer depends on the owner and the layout of the property. If there is one it’s probably in the half bath as that area is a bit bigger than you’d need for just a sink and toilet, but not everyone needs them in the ADU, it can be in the main house or in another structure on the property, or even none at all as some people use laundry services, or go to the laundromat, etc.

  • Denise
    September 19, 2021, 9:44 am

    I sure love all the unique warm wood floor, furniture and accents. The house is laid out beautifully and that ceiling is something else – I bet it would get people looking away from their smart phones for a bit just to stare at it. Imaginations and dreams come from looking at a ceiling like that. I can only imagine the amount of work that went into cutting and mounting each of the drywall sheets. Having built a tiny house and putting strips of wood on the ceiling, the idea of doing the work on this one featured makes my shoulders throb thinking about it, haha.

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