Building a Hollywood Guesthouse – Part 1 (of Many to Come!)

So this happened in my backyard this week:

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A team of burly men hacked, sawed, and hauled away our old garage.

With the passage of legislation easing restrictions on adding accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in California, we had jumped on designing a bigger structure for our backyard that would provide us with much needed extra space for storage and guests. (Somehow a 1700 sf. house that felt spacious when we moved in from a downtown loft 8 years ago had shrunk with the addition of a second child and the rapid expansion of our children’s plastic toy empire).

That was two and a half years ago.

The building process in California is certainly not for the faint of heart. Our architect, Eric Lin of LineWork Development, drew up plans for a viable design within a few months. Then followed months – no, years – of waiting, through multiple rounds of permitting and approvals from the city and the neighborhood preservation group. We also applied for a home equity line of credit (HELOC), which turned out to be a walk in the park compared to the approvals process. Once we finally got the green light from the city, we learned that costs had risen dramatically during the intervening time, and that the estimate for the construction had gone up $100K! Lots of scrambling to find cheaper alternatives, competing bids from contractors, negotiations back and forth, another round of HELOC applications, and finally, we brought our costs down enough and raised a bit more money to proceed to move forward with our architect’s building team.

At last it all started this past Monday.

And on the first day, all the walls came down.

On the second day, the foundation was jack hammered loose and removed.

This is what we have left of the garage. Gulp, no turning back now!

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Over the next months, I am going to be chronicling the building of our backyard garage and guesthouse, from the pouring of the foundation to the design of the interior. If you are curious about what the process of building an ADU looks like, follow along by subscribing to the blog. And if you have specific questions, ask away in the comments.

Mina Yang

Mina Yang is a certified feng shui and design consultant and coach (as well as the mother of two energetic kids). She helps people transform their space (and life!) through her designs and online course on feng shui-inspired design.

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