Posts Tagged ‘garage conversion’

Mr. Stick’s Illegal Garage Conversion

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Mr. Stick loves his cozy home, but things go badly wrong when his new baby rushes him into converting his garage into a bedroom.

John can help you find your solution. Click here to return to the Home page. 

Garage conversions without proper permits are illegal and are a common reason why you may receive an Order to Comply.

The Importance of the Prevailing Set Back

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Whenever considering an addition to the front of your home, (the side facing the street you live on)  adding a carport, enclosing a front porch, the Prevailing Set Back becomes a key issue as to the feasibility of your project. Before doing anything the Prevailing Set Back needs to be determined in order for you to know exactly how much area you have to improve or develop. As no two houses on any given street are built the exact same distance from the front property line, an “average set-back distance” is calculated by determining the “Prevailing Set Back”. No two streets will have the same “Prevailing Set Back.” It is crucial to have this number in hand before considering any type of front yard addition, improvement or development to your home.

How do you determine a “Prevailing Set Back?”

To calculate a Prevailing Set Back you must have a Tract Map that shows the dimensions of the selected properties with the width of the frontage lot line. Write down the separate property frontage property line widths and then go to the site location and measure the distance from the front of each house between the two cross streets on the block to the front property line. OR, go to the ZIMAS, (Zoning Information MApping Service)  application provided by the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. You won’t have to leave your house. Here is the link: Once you enter an address a map will appear showing the site location tract map with outlines of each home on the block The ZIMAS application can be a little tricky at first but just explore around the site. It contains many tools and information for all types of homeowners Zoning/Planning/Building and Safety needs. You will find Zoning, Planning information as well as many maps with different types of overlays and appearances. For the the “Prevailing Set Back Map” you will need to click on the “Measure Tool.” The Icon will look like a compass and ruler. Right Triple Click on wherever you point your cross-hair to set your point. Roll the mouse to where you want the mouse to stop measuring and Right Double Click to end the drag measurement. A window pops up showing you the exact measurement in feet and decimals of feet. It will also for some reason show you the length in miles. Why? I have no idea. Here is the link to the City of Los Angeles explaining the prevailing set back procedure

Once you have collected all of the frontage distances and existing setbacks, enter this information into the Prevailing Set Back calculator provided by the Department of building and Safety and hit the calculate button. Your Prevailing set back will appear. This is the distance from the front property line you may not encroach upon. Should your proposed project encroach into this distance you will need to apply for a Yard Variance entitlement. These are not cheap. Currently the price for a Yard Variance is $6,804.70. This does not include the cost of document preparation such as the Radius Map, Owner/Occupant notification list and mailing labels plus the cost of the mailing itself.

Get the Prevailing Set Back First

As you can see it is quite costly and your application may not even be approved. It’s best to determine what is feasible on your property prior to project conception and development.

I can help. Call John Toll Free at 855.279.0118

Building Permit Information is Vital

Sunday, May 20th, 2012
Plan Check Submittal

Building Permit Information is vital Before you start your project.

Building Permit information,

Know it before you buy it.

When considering any new construction or alterations to any existing structure, Building Permit Information is Vital. You must first establish if your proposed project is even feasible. Ideas are great, I have always wanted to have an unground grotto in my back yard but I know that my idea and Three-Million dollars still couldn’t get it permitted. … Darn.

I really wanted that Grotto….

What’s your idea?

So many people go “Hog Wild” into their building idea without even thinking of what legal ramifications may ensue. They might hire and pay upfront fees for the services of a Homescape Designer, an Architect, Interior designer, Landscape Architect, Structural Engineer, and/or a plumber/cable disk-dude before even going to the Department of Building and Safety first to present their proposal.

DON’T DO THAT!!!.    

Call me first. It’s just that simple.

John Toll Free at 855.279.0118

Building Permits First – That’s a Start.

“Yes, you really do have to do it.”

Don’t put the cart before the horse — and this horse is of course Mr. City Hall -Department of Building and Safety. Sometimes you will find that the project you propose is not allowed under the Building Code and you will have to apply for an entitlement. These are not cheap and are very time consuming and require many different forms of documentation to be filed such as Radius Maps, Ownership lists, Occupant lists, Findings, Topographic Surveys, Photographic Surveys, Soils Reports, Neighborhood Letters of Project Support and of course Project Plan Sets.

Even with unlimited money you might not win. It’s truly a matter of public and private safety.  And Thank God for that.

Call me first, John Toll Free at 855.279.0118. I could save you a “Bundle of Cash”. Let me consult with you first. I can tell you countless stories of honest, well meaning people who spent a fortune..for nothing. Don’t be one of them!!!

Talk to me about your proposed project because I can and will look up all of the Land Records, Building Code statutes, Land Use and Zoning Code requirements that will eventually define your proposed project’s chances to come to fruition. Don’t waste a dream or a dime over something that “Legally” just cannot happen.

The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety is out there to protect us and prevent improperly planned or un-permitted unsafe construction from happening. — It’s to save lives and create a safer and better quality of life for everyone in Greater Los Angeles.

Let me help you.

Call John Toll Free at 855.279.0118


Illegal Garage Conversion Tragedy

Friday, April 20th, 2012
The Los Angeles Housing Department can issue an Order to Comply in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Housing Department is looking to save lives by citing illegal garage conversions.

Tragedy Due to Illegal

Garage Conversion

On Wednesday April 4th, a young woman lost her life in Pacoima CA as a result of a reportedly illegal garage conversion that led to a fire:

KTLA. 1 Dead 1 Injured In Pacoima House Fire. CBS Local. PACOIMA CBS A house fire claimed the life of a 40-year-old woman and injured her boyfriend Wednesday morning. The fire broke out shortly before 9 am at a converted garage at a home in the 12900 block of Sunburst Street in Pacoima. Woman Succumbs When Fire Sweeps Through Converted Pacoima Garage.

This type of tragic event should never happen. Our hearts go out to the victims. However, it is an all too common story.  This is why the Department of Building and Safety and the Los Angeles Housing Department crack down on the unsafe practice of illegal garage conversions.  The entire reason for the inspections and the extensive building permit process is to insure the safety and habitability of structures.

A Garage is supposed to be a Legal Garage

A garage conversion

A garage conversion—Rich Moffitt (

A garage is designed for its intended use – to park a car and be a garage. Nothing more than that. Personally, I do not think the standard acceptable construction concept and design for legal garages is very safe. When you consider  the lack of ventilation – generally some tiny air vents located just above the floor of the garage -  it’s a wonder that more people aren’t asphyxiated more often from carbon monoxide , gasses from stored paint cans and natural gas combustion fumes. When you take this “acceptable design” of a garage and illegally convert it into habitable space, it is a recipe for disaster.  As few illegal garage conversions ever take into account the critically needed safety elements, preventable tragedies such as the one reported in Pacoima happen again and again.

The problem and tragedy of Illegal Garage Conversions has a solution.

If you intend to do an illegal garage conversion, at the very least install smoke alarms and at the very most – just don’t do an illegal garage conversion.  The results could be devastating to you and your loved ones, as we just witnessed. Convert your garage legally and with permits. Here is where I can help. First, find out if the conversion is even feasible. You will save time and unnecessary expense and prevent being ordered to rip it all out someday. And perhaps even save someone’s life.

Let me help you to be safe.

Call John at for helpful  garage conversion information call Toll Free at 855.279.0118.

Garage Conversion

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
Illegal garage conversion

Illegal garage conversion

An illegal garage conversion is a very common violation that triggers an Order to Comply.  The violation is the conversion of a garage to “habitable living space” without a permit. A garage conversion may have been done to simply add an extra bedroom or to provide a room that generates income as a separate rental unit within a Single-Family Residence. The term “Single-Family Residence” is the correct Zoning designation you will find on your Certificate of Occupancy. Having a rental unit on a single-family residence is a strict code violation. You need to rectify this situation by obtaining permits through the Los Angeles Department of Building & Safety.  Unfortunately, most people have no idea they have committed a “crime” by means of their garage conversion until they receive an Order to Comply from a building inspector.

 HVAC, carports and parking problems

There a a couple of issues generally associated with most garage conversions. The first is the lack of proper Heat, Ventilation and or Air-Conditioning (HVAC) needed for living space to be permitted and approved.

A second concern for the Department of Building & Safety when you convert your garage is the question of where will you park your car? Where else but in the street? Over-crowded street parking is an on-going obvious problem that we all face on a daily basis in greater Los Angeles. Imagine if you have a two-car garage and do an illegal garage conversion for the purposes of creating a rental unit. Your two cars plus the car of the renter will now be parked in the street. Three cars become orphaned overnight to the street.  What if everybody did this?

One solution to the parking problem is of course a carport. This is an easy solution as long as you have enough room on your property to fit the carport while still legally complying with Property Line Set-Backs, the allowable ratio of landscape to lot coverage and proper parking stall dimensions and turning radius. Many people will use the carport solution without checking to see if can be legally built on their property. Since carports are easily visible from the street you may more than likely attract attention that leads to an Order to Comply. This may require returning the garage conversion back to its legal use as a garage and could require demolition of the carport.

Here’s an example of some problems found in an unpermitted (illegal) garage conversion in Carolina, but rest assured, the same problems happen every day in Los Angeles.

Legal garage conversion

There are ways to add living space by means of a garage conversion and comply with the law. This is where I can help you. A property record analysis and code search must be completed to verify if a garage conversion is feasible. This step alone can save you thousands of dollars and give you the peace of mind that your garage conversion will be legal and you will not attract an Order to Comply in Los Angeles.

Call John Toll Free at 855.279.0118