Garden Suites Rendering. Image from https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/planning-development/planning-studies-initiatives/garden-suites/
So you are interested in having a backyard unit, but have no idea where to start?
You are not alone!
As a homeowner, it is important to find the best design that works for you and your family. Identifying your needs, wants, and knowing the differences, are key in designing your dream unit.
The most well-known backyard units are Laneway Suites. Simply put, they are independent residential units situated on the same property as the detached house, semi-detached house, townhouse, or other forms of low-rise residential buildings. A Laneway Suite is usually established in the back of the yard next to a public and accessible laneway, and is often built at a smaller scale and is entirely separate from the main house.
Currently, the City of Toronto has permitted the construction of Laneway suites, with the requirements that they are built on residential properties which share a property line with a public lane.
Likewise, Garden Suites are a new movement within the City of Toronto that offers an alternative solution for housing. A Garden Suite is a detached building unit, often situated in the back of the yard, and is separate from the main house. The initiative strives to tackle issues such as protecting trees and green spaces, privacy and shadowing, parking, and much more. Similar to Laneway Suites, they are often smaller in size compared to the main house on the property, and their purpose is to operate as a rental housing unit or to offer additional housing opportunities.
Additionally, the Garden Suites are meant to be “non-severable”, meaning they cannot be converted into a separate property from the main house, and they remain under the same ownership as the main house.
Currently, a key difference from Laneway Suites, is that the Garden Suite initiative does not require public access to a laneway.
On the other hand, Office Suites are meant to function as a space for the homeowners’ personal use and must be under 100 square meters; they cannot be rented and home occupation is not permitted. Additionally, the space cannot contain both a kitchen and a bathroom. Office Suites often fall in the gray area, as there needs to be a differentiation between personal office and work office, meaning each suite is permitted on a case-by-case basis. For further information regarding what defines home occupation under the City of Toronto Bylaws click here.