Nuts, Bolts, and Tips on How to Build and ADU: Ongoing Consulting Series with Contractor Kevin Garnier

So welcome back to the psych detectives in. It’s been a minute I have to share. And, and Kevin and I were talking this before the interview started that I am now working as a real estate agent . So I have expanded the psycho texture services to design prescriptions coaching as well. I can do real estate and I’m combining all these aspects of design and psychology and in supporting the home and living process.

So without further do I wanted to explain why I took a hiatus, but I always like to relaunch with my partner in crime, Kevin Garnier, contractor, extraordinary. And we are going to talk about. 80 use because it’s such a hot real estate and remodel topic. So we’re going to get the 4 1, 1 here. So let us introduce our guest.

Kevin welcome. Well, I’m so happy to be here, everything, but the tonight show orchestra playing me and I’m just thrilled to death to have our friendship. Professional and otherwise. And it’s always a pleasure to talk with you because I, I, I honestly leave our conversations motivated to do better. Great.

That’s how we should leave. All relationships is feeling better and motivated and that’s, that’s a good sign. So yeah. Tell me, Kevin, even before we get into ADU talk you are working with the. Projects right now. So give us an update on projects and where you’re at. W well, as I’ve said on other podcasts of yours that I’ve been on at one of my clients is a rapper actor ludicrous.

And we’re about to start remodeling one of his homes in Atlanta, it’s 15,000 square feet. And we’re going to do major renovations for that. So I’ll be flying from LA to Atlanta just to oversee this. And through him. He introduced me to a gentleman by the name of will. Packer will. Packer is he most recently just produced the academy award shows.

So we just remodeled his house here in Los Angeles. And so it’s, it’s very funny. I am, I’m not Hollywood, but I’m around all these Hollywood types. And you know, I, I am very happy to be there and the. Where I will say this we’re friendly, but we’re not friends. You know, it’s a professional relationship where you sometimes have friendly or friendly type exchanges, but Rachel, at the end of the day, I’m still the help and I’m still happy to be there.

Yeah. Well, that sounds like a great, like you’re saying you have healthy boundaries with your clients and some of them, I do, you, you have to, they, you know, you have to train people it’s you really do. You have to train people. And, and you’re not formally like, like a dog, you know, sit back, stand up or whatever, but you have to let them know that.

You know, this is what I do for a living, but I don’t do this every day on the weekends is it’s exclusively for my family, you know, unless your house is burning down and I started the fire. Please don’t call me. I don’t know. That’s great. Well, we talk about that with all design contractor, architects realtors, too, to establish those healthy working hours.

Really can, you know, maintain a healthier relationship with your client. So speaking of, so with ludicrous, tell me what is this house in Atlanta? Is this a new build? No, no. It’s sitting on 22 acres, so it’s quite expansive when you first pull up to the The compound, if you will, it’s about a quarter of a mile before you see the main house.

So you’re driving through these forests and it’s pretty cool. And then the first thing you see is this lake with this huge fountain in it, and then you see a fountain in front of the house and and it’s it’s pretty big, but it hasn’t been. Maintained, you know, every, a lot of people who don’t have big homes think that, oh, it must be the life, but it’s very expensive to keep those homes up.

And his house has not been maintained. So we have to go in there and do quite a bit of work before we can even make it look pretty again. And so this is, and that was the same case of the Hollywood Hills house. Yeah. That’s oh God, such a great memory. That was the same case in the Hollywood hill home. We, you know, new piping, lots of electrical.

I finally have had a month away from the Hollywood Hills home and everything is working the way it should. So so that home is now up and running you’ve it is up and running. There’s always going to be some issues there because hillside properties with this being Southern California and the ground always shifting.

You know, there’s going to be cracks. There’s going to be something. Most recently though, he had almost burglary. So we had to go up there and put these new type of security screens on where they’re somewhat invisible. And you got to do a lot of work to take them off. So we had to do that.

And this just always something, always something and home repair. And especially now with like, do you find just this as an off topic, but is there more security concerns, do you find now in the house you’re working with such, such, such an appropriate question because you know, the crime is up in LA for whatever reason, whether it’s.

COVID whether it’s just criminals doing their thing, whether it’s a, the da, I have no idea why it’s up, but it is, there are lots of follow home robberies. I mean, Melrose Boulevard. Has been plagued with horrible stuff. The decent people at Beverly Hills can’t even sit down at a restaurant without somebody taking their Rolex watch of which I don’t own any, but the point is right.

But with homes, are you seeing it, you know, just in terms of, yes, that people are calling you, clients are calling you, they’re calling me because they want the security that other people have. And And they, they, you know, they want to feel secure as you should in your home. So safety first, right? So they’re calling you to install what you were describing.

It ludicrous this houses, these screens, and maybe this is a whole nother pod. Yeah, it is. But these are, these are great. I have to say because they’re virtually invisible, but you have to have some real contractor tools that make a lot of noise to take these things on. So they don’t look like Bo, they don’t look like bars that make you feel like you’re in.

Right. And so let’s actually, I think we’re going to table that for another podcast, which would be great, is to learn more about safety, arming our home and just all the aspects that are involved in. Topic now I, because it’s, you know, really going to be helpful. Yeah. We could talk all day about that. Cause I’ve learned a lot myself.

Great. Okay. So from now, and we’ll also want to update on the ludicrous house and hopefully we can maybe even get him on the shower. He might need some psycho texture. Chris and his wife could use it. God bless them, but they could use it because you know, they’re so comfortable around me that. Argue a lot about the design process and they have their own designer who, you know I’m not really impressed with, but I’m not at Liberty to at, even though I’ve known them for quite some time.

Now I’m not at Liberty to suggest someone like yourself to come in and take over because the designer happens to be a friend. And I think therein lies the. Well, that can be the boundaries of how friends work with clients in the design world. And just a little plugin though. It’s like a texture services.

We don’t always need to take over the design job. We can be the designers and the project managers, but we can also go in as just intervention support between the designer, contractor, and client, so that the process doesn’t. Workout smoother in terms of communication. I assess the variables that are important for the psychology of the home.

So it can be more of a consultant position too. So I just always trying to plug that in. I guess my point is they need both though, because the designs they’re coming up with a horrible too. This is your house and you’re, you’re going to spend half a million dollars. You better make sure. You know, you love this, not like it, but you love it.

That’s right. Well, you know, these dynamics better than anybody and you are such a strong foundation of these teams. That’s why I like working with you. And so now, since we’ve got a great foray into your projects, that you are really, you know, working continuously on with very exciting clients, let’s move into the topic of ADU.

You know, we have been seeing so many of the different zoning and law changes and, and this is a way to increase you know, ability to house. But you know, to kind of get like a just a breakdown as to what 80 and 80 you accessory dwelling unit is and how, how you, how you work with. Well, you know 80 use granny flats mother-in-law houses, all one in the same.

They’ve they’ve, they’ve been around for a while, but as you, so appropriately put it A lot of the regulations have been loosened because they’re trying to do something to solve the housing crisis. Particularly when it comes to low cost housing, will it probably not. You know, this is, this is LA and with a home in the hood selling for $800,000.

I don’t think anybody’s going to put up an ADU and rented out a low cost, but neither here, nor there. This is not about politics. This is about 80 use. They are there, they’re a win, win, win situation for a homeowner because you add value to your house and also a passive income that, that, that you could use, you know, you’re not really, you put it up and you charge whatever the market will give you for.

And you go about you, you go about and do your thing. The, the laws have been loosened up where, where they just make it easier for you to put up an ADU and ADU is, you know, it’s like a fixed up garage with a bathroom, a sink, its own heating system. And it’s a little house that somebody can live in and they can be attached to the house or detached like a garage.

And of course some garages are attached to the house. So that would be an attached ADU. They can be as small as I think, 400 square feet and as large as 1200 square feet. So you have a wide range of things from which to choose. And for the city of Los Angeles, you don’t even need an architect now because they have a whole lot.

If you go to their LA DBS website, building and safety’s website, they have just a ton of pre-approved standard plans that you can use to construct your ADU. So that saves you time and money because the city has already approved them. So you don’t have to go through. The normal processes of getting your plans approved and then having the inspectors going, wait, we need you to correct this on, on the plans.

So they made it easy. The only thing that they haven’t made easy is the expense of building one. Huh? Tell us more about that. Well, first of all the permits between plans and permits. Before you even cut a piece of wood and hammer in one nail, you’re going to probably be out of the pocket. I’m going to say easily $10,000.

Okay. No, no. Getting around at $10,000, because there are so many fees associated with, with this type of construction, new construction, or even remodeled. Get involved in building your ADU, whether it’s attached or unattached without a budget of 10 grand. Well, yes, but now let me give you a good part about that because there are grants out there in specific to California and maybe specific to Los Angeles that will give you up to $25,000 of the startup.

So I don’t have the information off the top of my head, but if someone, one of your listeners would just Google a D U grant, it’ll pop up by for the grant, give them your story. And it’s not hard to get, as I understand. That’s great. 25 K to start off your project and that’s or up to 25. K. So you, you have to come out of your pocket first and then they give you the money back.

But nonetheless, you know, that’s, that’s great. That’s a great thing to give. Up to $70,000 to build an ADU, but that money was exhausted probably three months after the program came out. Okay. So they already exhausted that fund and that was to promote. Increased housing. Exactly. Okay. So in terms of expenses after your initial, let’s say 10 to $15,000.

Then if we were to put a price tag on how much it’s going to cost to build this ADU on the low end $200 a square foot. Okay. And up, and I’ve, I’ve seen them as high as eight, 900 a square foot, depending on where you’re building. And depending on what the design scheme is eh, you know, this better than anybody design determines budget.

Right. And so, but we’ll say a basic ADU, a box with walls. That’s nice. Without furnishing 200 a square foot. You got what let’s say you got ’em. What are we about to start up an ADU? How big is this going to be? Are you starting one now we’re going to start one. Now she has an interesting situation because.

There are a lot of preexisting or now they’re called illegal ADU, you know, that people had done throughout the years and not only do, does she want us to get her current ADU legalized, but she also wants to build another one on the property. I met with my engineer yesterday over there and we actually think the city is going to make her tear it down because it’s, it’s there are poorly constructed wall.

You know, for you to get an ADU grandfathered in, as they call it to, to get it past everything has to meet current code. And if this was built 20 years ago, with someone who didn’t pull a permit, odds are, they didn’t know the code back then. And so it’s not going to be constructed properly. And already we, we see, we saw problems with the foundation and we saw problems with the installation or lack of it.

We saw problems with. A lot of stuff, it looked nice, but you know, nice. Doesn’t always mean safe. So so, you know well, so that’s, that’s a situation where you might find a lot of residents, you know, here in LA or elsewhere that they have these illegal. 80 are these, you know, these back houses that were not permitted, and now they go back to want to do construction.

So they have to, then they’re trying to reapply for the ADU permit and they might not get grandfathered in and they might have to tear it down and then build a new one. They can be your best friends or your worst enemy. And if, and if they say tear it down, That’s it, you know, unless you want to go through an expensive, legal battle, which I refuse to do tearing it down is your only option.

And sometimes it’s a less expensive option because it’s cheaper to build new than it is to actually. Renovate and fix that’s right. And so you will determine those costs, what I will determine all of those costs. So, but it’s, it’s a very hot thing and we get calls all the time about it’s. But when, when they get, you know, 400 square feet, we’re talking what, $80,000.

So a lot of money, it’s a lot of money, a lot of money. So you’re going to end up spending a hundred thousand dollars. With the plans and the permit. So, you know I certainly don’t have $100,000 to toss around lightly, so it’s and not do a lot of people, even people with money, they, they should, you should think carefully about where am I going to spend this hundred thousand dollars?

Do I really want this? Do I really need this? What are my long-term goals? What are my short term goals for my house? Do I want somebody living in my, on my property that I don’t really know? We, we did one in Woodland Hills Canoga park rather, which is not far from Woodland Hills. And, and she had a nice situation because her ADU was probably, she had a huge backyard.

It was probably 20 yards away from the house. 20 yards or more. So there was a good separation and she knew her tenant. But if you don’t know your tenant, you know, you, you know, that’s another thing. Think about you’re now going to become a landlord. Do you really want that responsibility? And then to the other end of it, which I find to be a dream like a mother-in-law, but a mother-in-law’s in your house to have.

Back house, some place when visitors come or your mom visits to, to have a separate space, can also be such a mental health break to have that separation. Absolutely. You know that, that’s great. You know, that that’s the preferred way I would do it if I had family coming in. But some people. Are using them also for this new thing.

It’s not new, but relatively new Airbnb. Right. And, and so I don’t think you can legally, but a lot of people do. So you know, it’s, it’s, it’s a good thing for the property owner because it increases the value of your property. That’s what I was going to ask. So that is an investment strategy that it will increase the property value or the house.

It does raise your property taxes by how much? I, I don’t know because my property taxes are paid through my mortgage, so I don’t even remember what mine are, but it’s it’s it’s you can’t go wrong. You just have to, you have to have a plan before you go in. You have to know what you want it to look like.

How much you’re willing to spend. You certainly don’t want to do a project and end up broke. You know, you’re paying for the project. We don’t have any money to go anywhere and enjoy your life. So and $80,000 to put a dent in someone’s a lifestyle. Right? So the reality is, and I liked that recommendation is to have a plan for your ADU and in that plan, what, what you just taught us.

It’s not necessarily going to be in the architectural rendering or the design, because these are templates that the city can give. So you’re going to save money on the architectural design, unless you want it to have a different design, right. That you have to then get permitted and do yourself. You are free within limits within certain guidelines to adjust some parts of those standard plan.

Nothing that is structural. You know, if it’s structural, then you’re starting all over with a new plan.

Like if you don’t like the windows, if you don’t like even the location of the windows, you can, you can make, feel it, you make changes to that. But in terms of. Out now changing the entire design of it. You know, that’s just, that’s a job for another architect. And so, you know, that the standard plan was put in because many people couldn’t afford.

An architect because architects are, are you know, they’re professional people, professional people deserve professional salaries and some people can’t afford it. They don’t factor that in that’s. Right. And so now with somebody looking to build an ADU and if they were to hire somebody like you.

Would you say that it would, you know, if they get the permit or they get the, the template or this design from the city, they hire, they have to get a contractor like you on board though. Yeah. It, it w it would help if they get someone with experience you can, you can pull the permits without a contractor, you know, you can do owner builder, but that to me is tantamount to a lawyer.

But what is the saying? A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. You know, I’m just learning about that in real estate. The good thing about hiring people, okay. We know that this is going to cost, but the good thing about hiring someone who has real-world knowledge of whatever it is you need they can be objective, you know, they, they can be at Liberty to tell you this is not a good idea.

This is a good idea. You know? Yeah, so, so really, yes, delegating the permits and getting all the building design and the project management on board. It would be really worth their while financially almost ultimately gonna save yourself so much time, money and stress. It’s a lot of work, you know? I’m 99% of the time on chill mode.

You know, I’m not gonna let you stress me out. You just no one. And I say, no one has that ability. Just don’t Kevin. We all need more of that energy where especially in the work you do, which can be so stressful and all the emergencies. Deal with in housing crises, remodels engineering issues and your temperament.

It’s so good with that. So I continually, this comes from a desire to keep as few gray hairs off of my head as possible, even though I generally keep my head ball, but it’s. You can’t give people your lodge like that, because if you do, they’re just gonna run all over you and they don’t even mean to that’s just how it goes.

That’s right. So yes, the psychology of how to, and that’s a whole nother podcast we’ll get to even more is how we work professionally in the design world under high stress. You know, building situations, but to kind of finalize on our podcasts discussion on 80 use. This has been such a wealth of information.

Just you giving us the understanding of pulling the permit. What’s legal, attached, unattached the real listing costs that are involved and the. Pros and cons you know, the pros of being a landlord, increasing value of property, but the C you know, as well as, you know, having what I look at in psychology is having this separate space to maintain boundaries with, you know, visitors, friends, and family.

So there’s so many variables to consider, and I so much appreciate you. Who are so knowledgeable about this, giving us all these great tips, finding out. And let me just say one quick thing. There are many things that people hire me to do that could be DIY projects and ADU is not get a professional. And you’ll, you know, you’ll come to appreciate that decision very quickly.

Okay, great. Well, that is a good note to end on. And one of our tips, you know, our second texture tips. 80 years are not DIY. That’s a lot of acronyms. Okay, Kevin. Well, thank you for taking the time to share your project with the exciting ludicrous and your expertise on 80. Use more to continue and always, you know, if you need any access to Kevin, you can email him at what is your.

Contact information. Well, now I use a, a different email address, but the other one is still active, but I use solo and S O L O a N D solo and Jacobs, J a C O B S. Solo. And Jacob’s dad at Gmail. Got. Okay, great. Hope you guys all wrote that down and we have some of the, you know, the information that we provide for our guests and listeners on the actual podcast description.

So thank you, Kevin. I appreciate you. And I look forward to more exciting updates and you take care. God bless you. Thank you. I’ll talk to you soon. Talk to you soon. Bye.

This is not psychological advice, always consult your licensed healthcare providers, and never disregard or delay medical advice based on information provided in this blog or articles. Our goal is to educate, guide, consult, and empower clients regarding mindfulness, design with intention, and experience to create spaces that reflect an elevated psychology of wellbeing.