Garden Suites

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What are garden suites?

Garden suites, also known as coach houses, backyard homes, accessory dwelling units (ADU), and laneway suites, are a growing trend in cities and towns across North America. They are a partial solution to the rapidly growing demand for housing, affordability and multigenerational living on one property.

  • They are a secondary dwelling unit

Meaning they can be built within the same building as the principal dwelling on the site. The secondary dwelling unit will have a separate entrance, living, sleeping and sanitary facilities. It can also be a freestanding structure attached to the primary dwelling or garage.

  • These suites are a great way to generate additional income from your investment property.

If you are looking for an affordable way to increase your investment portfolio, adding a garden suite can be a great option. Not only will you get more revenue, but the garden suite will add value to your property!

If you have elderly relatives or parents who require assistance, a garden suite can be the perfect solution. Having one of these garden suites on your property can ensure that they will always have a place to stay without compromising any privacy needs.

A garden suite can also be a great workspace for those who are working from home. Having a separate space away from the distractions of your primary home allows you to work in peace and quiet.

The best part is that a garden suite can be easily added to your existing property. You can even find prefabricated garden suite kits in a variety of styles, sizes, and options.

When planning a garden suite, you need to consider how it will interact with the surrounding property and trees on the site. You also need to keep in mind any local laws that you will need to comply with.

For instance, it is important that you make sure to follow the emergency access requirements in your neighbourhood. This will save you a lot of money in the long run, as well as protect your property from potential disasters.

So, What Are Benefits of Garden Suites?

Whether you’re an investor or a renter, garden rental suites can be an excellent choice for your housing needs. But before you commit to renting a garden apartment, consider the pros and cons first.

Garden suites can provide numerous benefits, including:

  1. Additional Income: Garden rental suites are an excellent way for investors to add additional income potential to their portfolio. 
  2. Extra Space: With a little bit of planning and a small amount of foresight, you’ll be on your way to a more comfortable living experience in no time.
  3. Privacy: It can also be a great way for young couples to continue living with their parents while having their own space. It’s even a good option for older folks who are looking for more privacy than a regular apartment.
  4. Accessibility: They are an ideal option for families who want to move their parents or grandparents closer, as well as for business owners who need to house employees that require a private area to work.
  5. Convenience: They’re a growing trend in cities and towns across North America and they provide a partial solution to rapid urbanization, housing affordability issues and an increasing desire for many multi-generational households to reside on the same property.

What Should You Care About Garden Suites As A Toronto Real Estate Investor?

1. Lot Size

To get started building a garden suite, you’ll need to make sure your lot is large enough for the structure. The lot size requirement depends on the location and size of the suite, lot width, lot coverage, emergency access, and other requirements.

If your lot is too small for the garden suite you want to build, you can try a minor variance application through the Committee of Adjustment. In the process, the City will review your application and determine if it meets zoning by-laws and plan policies. If not, you’ll have to look at other options for your property. To learn more about your options, reach out to a Billdr Project Manager. They can help you determine whether a garden suite is right for your needs and provide a feasibility study.

2. Building Height

The eave of a mono pitch garden office should not exceed 2.5 metres, while the ridge can be no higher than 3 metres. These measurements are set by Permitted Development rules, which can be found on the government’s planning portal.

Alternatively, you could opt for a dual pitched roof design that’s at least 2.5 metres high. This is a good choice if you’re looking to create a home gym, as it will offer more headroom than a standard office. It’s also a smart option for those with small gardens. However, you’ll likely need to go through the process of applying for planning permission. The insulated Garden Studio avoids this hassle, and is an excellent choice for those with smaller properties.

3. Zoning By-Laws

Luckily, there are plenty of resources available online to help you make the right choices. This includes information about zoning by-laws and what’s allowed in your area.

In addition, you’ll also want to take a close look at the rules for your particular lot. For example, if you live in a city, you’ll want to be sure that your building meets fire safety requirements and that you have sufficient parking space for emergency vehicles.

You might also be interested to learn that some zoning by-laws are actually a bit more complex than others, so it’s a good idea to seek out expert advice before you start building. This will ensure you get a product that complies with all of your local building regulations.

4. Electrical

Getting electricity to the garden room should be done as part of the design process rather than at a later stage. This will ensure that you have a seamless connection and it will also save you money in the long run as you won’t have to pay for an electrician to make any adjustments later on.

5. Plumbing

Unless you plan to put in a separate septic tank, the best way to handle waste water is by piping it directly into your municipal sewer system. The main drawback to this approach is the cost, but it can save you a lot of time and heartache in the long run.

You might also want to look into the latest technology in hot water heating, such as an electric hot water heater. There are a number of benefits to this, including a smaller carbon footprint than a gas boiler and lower utility bills thanks to their efficient heat recovery system. The top of the range models can be found at your local home improvement store, and come with a warranty to boot.

6. Insulation

Garden suites are typically located away from the house, or semi-detached, so they need to be insulated to keep them warm during the winter and cool in the summer. Insulation stops heat from escaping from the room and helps increase its energy efficiency.

There are several different types of insulation, from acoustic mineral wool to rigid foam boards. The type of board used determines the insulation’s thermal properties.

7. Flooring

The flooring of a garden suite will have to be strong and durable, but it must also look great. A good choice is laminate, as it can come in a variety of colors and finishes.

Some garden suites also have carpet tiles as an option. They’re easy to install and provide a comfortable place to work.

Before flooring is installed, it must be acclimated in a temperature-controlled room for a minimum of 48 hours. The room temperature and RH (relative humidity) should be maintained between 65-80degF.

Why Should You Care About Garden Suites As A Toronto Real Estate Investor?

Choosing Garden Suites as a Toronto Real Estate Investor offers you the following:

  1. Affordable Housing: Garden suites are an affordable option for young families and aging residents who need extra support to age in place. These units are located on the same lot as a primary residence and include all the basic living spaces needed for an entire family to live comfortably.
  2. Increased Property Value: As part of this initiative, garden suites are being allowed in more properties than ever before and are a great option for investors who are looking to create more affordable housing options and boost their cash flows in the process. This is in line with Bill 108, the More Homes More Choice Act, which received Royal Assent in the province of Ontario in 2019.
  3. Increased Resale Value: Garden Suits can be leased out to tenants on a short-term basis, which can generate some extra income. This can offset your mortgage payments on your primary residence and put the money back into your pocket.
  4. Increased Resale Value: Garden Suits can be leased out to tenants on a short-term basis, which can generate some extra income. This can offset your mortgage payments on your primary residence and put the money back into your pocket.

Toronto Garden Suites Rules and Regulations

Lot Size

While the zoning requirements associated with garden suites does not require a minimum lot size, not all properties will be able to accommodate a garden suite. Various factors such as the location and size of a suite, lot width and/or depth, the size of the main dwelling, adequate emergency access, and the location of mature trees will influence whether or not a property can accommodate a garden suite.

Ontario Building Code & Emergency Access

In order for the Chief Building Official to issue a building permit for a garden suite, a proposed garden suite must comply with the relevant Ontario Building Code regulations and the Zoning By-law. The provision of appropriate access and travel distance for emergency services, minimum building area and room sizes, as well as minimum required floor heights, are components of the Ontario Building Code review.

  • Fire Requirements for Toronto Garden Suites
    • From the entrance of the Garden Suite to the main street: 45m (148 feet)
    • From the highway to the hydrant: 45m (148 feet) 

Existing trees on your property and nearby

To protect existing trees, Garden Suites should not lead to the removal of healthy, proprietary trees. A key part of the City’s efforts to improve neighborhood housing opportunities is its development approach to protect and enhance the city’s canopy for all types of homes, including garden suites. 

If the Garden Suite design requires the damage or removal of trees, the General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation shall obtain tree approval pursuant to local ordinances and official planning chapters 608, 658, and 813. You can refuse. If your garden suite proposal may result in damage to your personal tree, please contact City Planning and Forestry staff to discuss how your suite design can be achieved to ensure healthy trees. 

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