wHY’s Solution for L.A.’s Affordable Housing Challenge

Invited by the City of Los Angeles to participate in its Accessory Dwelling Unit Standard Plan Program, wHY Los Angeles delivered two basic solutions.

One’s a one-bedroom, 500-square-foot unit. The other’s an 800-square-foot, two bedroom unit. Both can be pre-manufactured and lowered into a homeowner’s backyard via crane.

“They can get bigger or smaller – and you can combine the units,” says Chung Kim, senior associate at wHY Los Angeles.

The city’s looking at ADUs as an affordable housing fix. In January 2020, it enacted a new ordinance that loosened requirements for them. “Homeowners can put in 1,200 square feet now, regardless of planning code,” he says. “As a result of the ordinance relief, ADU building permits increased by 300-400 percent, with preapproved plans for the permitting process by the city.”

wHY’s foremost goal for its HUD-certified pre-manufactured ADUs is affordability for a homeowner who’ll lease the unit to someone else. “The potential for a pre-manufactured home is that it’s faster and the home costs less than a stick-built house,” he says.

That makes the cost predictable for the homeowner – and wHY also is working through design nuances. “We are collaborating with a local manufacturer to push the design boundaries and mix metal siding and fiber cement boards, plus the window size and roofing materials,” he says.

The firm’s design inspiration is derived from what the manufacturer offers, what the city allows, and lot sizes in the marketplace. “One plan shows the maximum height and floorplan area of what the city allows,” he says. “We also researched the typical lot in the San Fernando Valley.”

If everything goes well, its favored manufacturer says their ADUs can be built in two weeks. “But permitting requires a foundation and a fire sprinkler system and that can take up to two to three months,” he says. “And everything is slow now in L.A, due to Covid – you can’t just get the permit over the counter.”

Still, the Standard Plan Program provides clients in L.A. easy access to a range of pre-approved ADUs, offering them a user-friendly process to find a design suitable for their property. And wHY’s is one of many.

At an estimated price range of $200 to $300 per square foot, wHY’s price is right, though there will be some variances, like the crane to move it in, for example.

But considering that there’s an option to add a personally commissioned mural by an LA street artist, it seems the once-banal days of the “Granny Flat” have come and gone.

For more, go here.

[slideshow id=2287]