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6 Simple Ways to Customize Your Basement

Renovating the basement in your Toronto home is like many other home remodeling projects: overwhelming, yet exciting. When it comes to this area of your home, the opportunities are endless. There are many ways you can customize and design this space so it meets your family’s needs, increases your home’s value, adds cosmetic appeal, and so much more. However, before you jump into this long project, there are several things you should consider to ensure it is done correctly and you are happy with the final result. 

 What is your home currently missing? 

 Before your basement remodel, consider what your home is missing. This could be features like a place for your kids to hang out with friends, an area for guests to stay, a designated work or study area, etc. As you focus on your basement remodel, keep this list in mind. 

 How can I make this space comfortable? 

 The basement can be one area of the home that is rarely used. There are several reasons for this, but often, it is because this space is dark, crowded, poorly designed, etc. As you consider various customization options, projects, and layouts for your basement, consider how you can make this space more comfortable and welcoming. When your project is complete, you want to ensure this area of your home is well used. 

 What dirty work is involved? 

 A basement renovation in your Stouffville home is more than simply putting up walls and laying a new floor. There are many hidden details that must be taken care of including electrical and plumbing work to waterproofing. You may also need certain permits and have regular inspections completed as well. You should have a team of professionals handling all these small details to ensure everything is well cared for and you can create your dream living space. 

 Once you have asked yourself the above questions, it is time to get to work. No matter if you want to create the ultimate gathering and entertaining area for your family and friends, desire a few extra bedrooms, or even a home office, here are several simple things you can do to customize your basement and create a beautiful, cozy, and functional living area.

 1. Built-In Storage Options

 Basements can be excellent storage areas. This is the area of your home where you can place the belongings that you don’t need every day but you want to protect and access when necessary. A basement remodel in your Markham home is the perfect opportunity to create custom storage options. 

 Built-in shelves are popular options for any room in your basement. If you have a large living room, consider long, floating shelves for pictures and décor items. Cover one wall in your basement with built-in shelves and turn it into a small library. You can also create a room in your basement and line the space with built-in shelving, making it perfect for food storage, emergency preparedness items, holiday décor, tools, and other miscellaneous items.

 One unique storage option you may also consider is a built-in wine cellar. Customize this area of your home with unique wine bottle storage options such as shelves, drawers, glass holders, etc. To truly make this room shine, consider installing an air ventilation system and provide the proper insulation for all of your wine connoisseur needs. 

 2. Downstairs Laundry Room

Regardless if you have a laundry room on your main floor, an additional laundry room downstairs is an excellent way to provide convenience, particularly for those downstairs bedrooms. Your basement laundry room doesn’t have to be large or extravagant, but it is a great way to customize your space. Add a small sink and lots of cupboards and shelving in the room. You may also consider a small supply closet, which is perfect for all your cleaning supplies and extra linens. 

 3. Children’s Room

If you are looking to build an additional room for your child or you want a place for grandchildren or guests to stay, turn a room in your basement into the ultimate children’s space. Be creative with the different features in this room to give it a unique look and feel. For example, consider built-in bunk beds. This is a great way to open up the room and it offers plenty of floor space for your children to play. 

If you have a teenager who wants his or her own space, you may also consider a built-in desk. A small alcove with a desk and bench seat is a great way to give teens their own space to study. 

4. Forget the Walls

A basement is a part of the home that can cater to multiple interests and be used for many purposes. Often, basements can seem small and cramped. However, with a little creativity and design help, you can still enjoy many of these rooms but with a more open floor plan. 

One option is to create one large, open space for a family room, eating area, and media center.  You may consider using sliding glass walls or barn doors to act as a barrier in the basement but still provide a very open and bright atmosphere. 

Another simple way to break up the different areas of your basement, while still maintaining an open floor plan, is to use unique flooring in each section of your basement. For example, you can install carpet in your family room, hardwood in your eating areas, and rubber mats in your home gym area. 

5. Don’t Forget the Stairs

As your guests walk down into your newly-renovated basement, the first thing they will notice is your stairs. Take the time to truly customize this feature and give it a personal touch. For example, create a unique mural or pattern on the wall, install light-up steps, and more. You may also consider unique and fun railings or built-in shelving along the stairway. If possible, you may want to build your stairs with unique materials such as tile, metal, wood, etc. Have fun with this area of your home and make it a unique and creative focal point. 

 6. Brighten up The Space

There is no reason the basement in your home needs to be dark and dreary. When these areas of your home have very little light, it creates an unwelcoming and bleak space. As you work to customize the basement in your Vaughan home, pay attention to the lighting in the room. Choose unique and elegant light fixtures. Consider pendant lighting above seating areas and accent lighting throughout the entire space. You may also consider smart light fixtures that allow you to dim the lights, turn them off, or flip them on when upstairs or away from the home. 

Additionally, strive to add  natural light. If possible, install large windows or design a walkout basement. For smaller windows, add a creative touch with windows that feature unique designs and accents within the glass panes.

If you choose to work with professionals, like The Renovators of Canada, you will have a basement that you love. These home renovation experts will work with you to apply all of your great ideas and customize a space that not only increases your home’s value but is functional, spacious, and gorgeous. Call The Renovators of Canada today to schedule your consultation.   

What is the New Laneway Suites Bylaw and How is it Affecting the Toronto and East York District?

The GTA is one of the fastest growing areas in North America. Individuals are flocking to the Toronto area for many reasons, including immigration. While this is excellent for the region’s economy, it puts a strain on housing development. The city is actively searching for ways to welcome and accommodate this new demand.

According to a 2018 Fraser Institute study, Toronto has room to grow and its overall popular density — which is 4,457 individuals per square kilometer — is significantly lower than cities such as New York City and Vancouver. Changes must be in place to help accommodate the growth and increase the housing supply in the Toronto and East York District. One of these changes is the new Laneway Suites Bylaw.

What is the New Laneway Suites Bylaw?

In June of 2018, the city of Toronto passed a bylaw permitting the building and use of laneway suites. According to the bylaw, a laneway suite is defined as:

“A self-contained living accommodation for a person or persons living together as a separate single housekeeping unit, in which both food preparation and sanitary facilities are provided for the exclusive use of the occupants of the suite and is in an ancillary building abutting a lane.”

This laneway suite will receive all of its services and resources such as gas, electricity, water, etc., from the front street, not the laneway. It can be used for the family to live in or as a short-term rental.

Why is this Bylaw Important?

One of the greatest benefits of permitting laneway suites throughout Toronto and the East York District is because it provides a significant increase to the housing development. It allows individuals to live and enjoy spaces throughout the city that were not being utilized to their full potential and that are essentially wasted space.

Additionally, it helps beautify these regions. What were once laneways filled with garbage, graffiti, and more will now turn into living areas. Old garages and sheds are transformed into gorgeous living spaces individuals can be proud to call home and visit each night.

It also helps open up and expand various neighborhoods. More individuals can live in neighborhoods close to schools, their jobs, and specific amenities than ever before. It is creating valuable living opportunities for residents in Toronto and the East York District that were once not available.

Furthermore, for owners of these laneways suites, this is an additional source of income if they plan to rent the properties. For those who have sick or aging family members such as in-laws or parents who need a place to live, it provides close proximity, yet gives both households their own space and privacy.

What are the Permitted Uses of Laneway Suites?

If individuals are interested in building a laneway suite on their property, there are specific regulations they must follow. These include:

  • An ancillary building — which is a type of shed, garage, or any other type of enclosure on the property — can be used to create a living space or a laneway suite.
  • The laneway suite may contain both a kitchen and a bathroom area.
  • Residents can occupy a laneway suite, and it can be deemed the principal residence.
  • The laneway suite can also be used as a short-term rental if it is occupied as the renters’ principal residence.
  • Only one ancillary building that contains a laneway suite is allowed on a property owner’s lot.

However, not every lot will meet the requirements for a laneway suite. There are specific requirements for the lot and the landscaping on the property that must be met. A few of these requirements include:

  • The lot must have a rear lot line and a side lot line abutting a lane for at least 3.5 metres.
  • If the lot’s frontage is 6.0 metres or less, 60% of the area between the rear main wall and the front main wall of the ancillary building must be for soft landscaping. For a lot frontage greater than 6.0 metres, this percentage increases to 85%.

What Are the Drawbacks to Laneway Suites?

While laneway suites certainly offer a plethora of benefits, there are drawbacks and concerns that many residents and homeowners have expressed. A few common concerns include:

Privacy: This is one of the biggest concerns as many homeowners are worried that their privacy will be hindered as these dwellings will be able to overlook neighboring yards, into windows of other homes, and more.

Parking: Parking is another concern for many individuals. With the addition of residents living in the laneways, there is a concern for where homeowners and renters will park. Parking will be limited and access must be available for homeowners and emergency personnel. However, the parking issue was addressed in the bylaw itself. It states that “no parking space is required for a laneway suite.” Although, it also states that a laneway suite “must have two bicycle parking spaces within the laneway suite or within any required yard setback.”

Receiving Services and Resources: A laneway suite does not receive its utilities from the lane, rather it comes from the main front street. This means that during the construction stage of the laneway suite, all servicing must be thoroughly examined and determined. Additionally, those living in laneway suites may feel inconvenienced as city employees such as waste collection will not drive down the laneway to collect garbage, but it must all be brought to the main front street.

What If I’m Interested in Building a Laneway Suite?

If you are interested in building a laneway suite, it is important to work with a contractor who understands the specific building regulations, codes, and requirements to legally build the property. These requirements are listed in the bylaw itself but a few include:

  • There can be no less than 5.0 metres between a residential building and the ancillary building if the ancillary building is smaller than 4.0 metres.
  • There can be no less than 7.4 metres from a residential building and the ancillary building if the ancillary building is taller than 4 metres.
  • The maximum length for an ancillary building with a laneway suit is 10.0 metres.
  • The maximum width of an ancillary building with a laneway suite is 8.0 metres and is measured perpendicular to the lot centerline.
  • An ancillary building that contains a laneway suite can have a maximum of two stories.

In addition to the building regulations, there are also several guidelines for structures placed on the exterior of the dwelling. For example, satellite dishes and weather vanes all have specific regulations that must be adhered to if placed on the exterior of the dwelling. You can find more information about these structures and regulations in the bylaw itself. There are also specifications on the roof, equipment such as vents, pipes, etc., , as well as awnings or canopies.

If you are in the market to create the perfect home for your in-laws or family members, or you want to supplement your income with rental property, a laneway suite may be worth your consideration. Do your research and determine if you live within the boundaries that permit this type of dwelling.

Also, speak with builders about the process, time, and money to create this type of structure. With the right team, you can easily create a beautiful dwelling that will provide the space and the living accommodations that many families need. However, you need to carefully ensure that the lot and the ancillary building meets all guidelines and requirements before proceeding.

If you are ready to transform your home with a beautiful addition, a bathroom renovation or even a kitchen remodel, contact a team member at The Renovators of Canada today. They will work closely with you to ensure that your dream living space becomes a beautiful reality.

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