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ADU in Torrance City Requirements for 2024: Complete Guide
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ADU in Torrance City Requirements for 2024: Complete Guide

|Jun 6, 2024

Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Torrance, CA, requires understanding specific regulations. The Torrance ADU requirements are designed to streamline the process while ensuring safety and compliance. Whether you're considering a prefab ADU or custom-built unit, knowing the city's rules is essential. The city of Torrance ADU guidelines cover everything from design standards to placement criteria. Additionally, California ADU size limits play a crucial role in your planning, affecting both the footprint and height of your unit. Staying informed about these requirements ensures a smoother construction process and a legally compliant ADU in Torrance.

Creating an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Torrance, California, involves understanding specific regulations designed to facilitate construction while ensuring safety and compliance. As of 2024, these regulations are crucial for homeowners who want to add an ADU to their property for additional income, housing family members, or increasing property value.

Understanding ADUs and JADUs in Torrance

An ADU, often referred to as a granny flat or second unit, is a type of residential dwelling unit that offers fully furnished independent living quarters for one or more individuals. It must be on the same land as the main house and can be attached or detached. Additionally, a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) is a smaller unit, up to 500 square feet, contained within the walls of an attached garage or a single-family home. JADUs are designed to be self-sufficient, providing all necessary living amenities within a compact space.

State Law Changes and Local Adjustments

Between 2016 and 2022, California significantly altered its ADU laws in response to the state's housing crisis. These changes aimed to expedite the construction of new homes and alleviate housing shortages. In December 2022, the City of Torrance also approved changes to its ADU Ordinance (O-3910), aligning local regulations with state laws and encouraging more ADU developments within the city.

State Law Changes and Local Adjustments

Development Standards

The development standards for ADUs in Torrance are clear and structured to ensure uniformity and safety. On single-family lots, homeowners are permitted to construct one detached ADU with one JADU or one attached ADU. Multi-family lots can accommodate a maximum of two detached ADUs. The size of these units varies: studio and one-bedroom ADUs can be up to 850 square feet, while two-bedroom ADUs can have a maximum area of 1,000 square feet. It is essential to consult local zoning laws to determine specific height limits and other dimensional requirements.

Occupancy and Ownership Requirements

ADUs built between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2024, are not required to be owner-occupied. This flexibility encourages more homeowners to develop ADUs, knowing they can rent them out fully. For single-family residences, one ADU per property is permitted, and the property can also include a Junior ADU if it is owner-occupied.

Occupancy and Ownership Requirements

Permit Process

The Building & Safety Division in Torrance reviews and processes ADU projects ministerially as part of the building permit procedure. Applicants must submit a building permit application, construction documents, and a covenant limitation following the ADU Plan Review and Permit Process. This streamlined process is designed to make it easier for homeowners to get the necessary approvals without excessive red tape. For more information about building permit requirements, homeowners can contact the Building & Safety Division at (310) 618-5910.

Covenant Restriction

Property owners must record a covenant before occupying the ADU or JADU. This legal requirement ensures that all ADUs meet the city's standards and are used in accordance with local laws. The covenant typically includes details about the use of the ADU, ensuring it remains compliant with zoning and building codes.

Covenant Restriction

Benefits of Building an ADU in Torrance, CA

Building an ADU in Torrance offers numerous benefits. It provides homeowners with an additional income stream through renting, adds value to the property, and offers flexible housing solutions for family members. Additionally, ADUs help address the housing shortage in California by providing affordable living spaces within existing neighborhoods. The increasing popularity of prefab ADUs also presents a practical and cost-effective option for homeowners, as these units are built off-site and then assembled on the property, reducing construction time and labor costs.

Benefits of Building an ADU in Torrance, CA


1. What are prefab homes in California, and are they allowed as ADUs in Torrance?

Prefab homes in California are factory-built units that are assembled on-site. These homes are a popular choice for ADUs due to their cost-effectiveness and quicker construction times. Yes, prefab homes are allowed as ADUs in Torrance as long as they meet the city's zoning, size, and design requirements.

2. Are there any California ADU grants available for building an ADU in Torrance?

Yes, there are California ADU grants available to help homeowners offset the costs of building an ADU. These grants can assist with construction costs, permitting fees, and other expenses. It's advisable to check with local and state agencies for the latest grant programs and eligibility criteria.

3. How big can an ADU be in California, and does Torrance follow the same size limits?

In California, an ADU can be up to 1,200 square feet or 50% of the main house's size, whichever is smaller. Torrance follows these state size limits for ADUs. For attached ADUs, the size is limited to 50% of the existing or proposed primary dwelling unit, and for detached ADUs, the maximum size is 1,200 square feet.

does Torrance follow the same size limits

4. What are the new ADU laws in California for 2024, and how do they affect Torrance?

The new ADU laws in California for 2024 continue to support and streamline the construction of ADUs to address the housing crisis. These laws include provisions for reduced parking requirements, faster permit processing, and allowances for JADUs. The city of Torrance has adopted these laws, making it easier for homeowners to build ADUs. Read new ADU laws in California 2024 to know everything about them.

5. Can I build a backyard tiny home as an ADU in Torrance?

Yes, you can build a backyard tiny home as an ADU in Torrance. These units must comply with the city of Torrance ADU requirements, including size, zoning, and design standards. Backyard tiny homes offer a flexible and affordable solution for adding additional living space.

Can I build a backyard tiny home as an ADU in Torrance?


Navigating the ADU requirements in Torrance, CA, involves understanding zoning laws, size limits, design standards, and utility considerations. By adhering to these guidelines, homeowners can successfully add an ADU to their property, enhancing their living space and contributing to the local housing supply. The supportive regulatory environment and the various options available, including prefab ADUs, make building an ADU in Torrance more accessible than ever. For specific questions or more detailed information, homeowners are encouraged to contact the Planning Division at (310) 618-5990.

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