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A new trend is taking root in Toronto real estate — garden suites. These backyard homes transform urban spaces, providing affordable housing options while promoting sustainable city living. However, before you start dreaming about your cozy garden retreat, read this; the guide will break down the process step by step, making it easy to bring your garden suite vision to life.

Understanding Garden Suites

Garden suites, also known as ADUs or coach houses, are standalone residential units built in the backyard of existing homes. They’re like hidden gems behind the primary residence, offering a unique living experience. The numerous benefits include additional rental income for homeowners and increased housing options in densely populated urban areas. The demand for these charming abodes is rising in Toronto, reflecting a shift toward more sustainable and flexible housing solutions.

Zoning Laws in Toronto

Before breaking ground, you must grasp the ins and outs of Toronto’s bylaws regarding garden suites. These laws dictate how properties can be used and developed, ensuring that urban planning remains cohesive and functional. When it comes to garden suites, specific requirements must be met. Setbacks are vital considerations determining how far the suite must be from property lines and lot coverage, specifying the maximum ground area the suite can occupy. Additionally, there are height restrictions and rules regarding parking spaces. Toronto’s regulations stipulate that this driveway or walkway access must have a minimum width of one metre (for garden suites). This width isn’t arbitrary; it’s based on recommendations from emergency services. 

Additionally, this access must have a minimum height requirement of 2.1 metres. The site of the proposed garden suite must also be 90 metres from the closest fire hydrant. The proposed garden suite must be a minimum of 6.5 meters from the back of the main house.

Familiarizing yourself with these regulations is the first step toward a successful garden suite project.

Design Process

Once you have a handle on the zoning laws, the next hurdle is obtaining the necessary permits. The permitting process involves several steps, each crucial in bringing your garden suite to fruition. It starts with a pre-application consultation, where you can seek guidance from city officials. Then comes the submission of your application, followed by a thorough planning review. Depending on the specifics of your project, you may need to go through the Committee of Adjustment or the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) process. Finally, you’ll receive your building permit once all the boxes are ticked. While the process may seem daunting, understanding each step and being prepared can make your garden suite dreams a reality.

You have a handle on the by-laws and have determined that your property is eligible. The next step would be to engage with an architect to begin the design of your garden suite. They can tell you what you can build, size-wise, within the bylaws. You do have the option to design a garden suite that is outside of the bylaws. For example, your structure can be higher than the bylaws allow. However, you must go through the Committee of Adjustments to get approval. 

Once your design is approved by Toronto zoning,  you will have to engage with other consultants to get your structural and mechanical drawings to submit for your permit. Think about going with Densecity, a firm that can handle all aspects of the planning process. This will streamline this aspect of your project.

Design and Construction Considerations

You have submitted your permit, and it has been issued. Now, you can speak to different construction companies and get an idea of the cost of your build. A good practice is to talk to at least three companies to gauge better how other companies charge for the exact scope of work. See projects that have been completed and speak to previous clients.

Community Engagement

If you are planning to go to the committee of adjustments, go around, speak to neighbours and give them a better understanding of what you are looking to have done on your property. Additionally, you should gather letters of support from the community. This will increase your chances of approval as the panel members will better understand where the community stands regarding your build.

Resources and Support

In Toronto, you’ll find plenty of resources and support to assist you. It’s crucial to have access to information. From comprehensive details on zoning by-laws available on official city websites to contact information for city officials and relevant departments, you’ll have the essential tools at your fingertips. Support networks and organizations have also been dedicated to developing garden suites, providing a community of like-minded individuals ready to share their experiences and knowledge.

Future Trends and Developments

Stay informed about potential changes to zoning laws and emerging trends in garden suite design and development. Anticipate challenges and opportunities, and position yourself to adapt to Toronto’s evolving urban planning landscape. By staying ahead of the curve, you can ensure that your garden suite remains a sustainable and relevant addition to the city’s housing landscape.

Final Say 

By understanding and navigating the zoning laws and permit process in Toronto, you can unlock the full potential of these charming backyard dwellings. So, whether you envision a serene retreat for yourself or contributing to the city’s housing diversity, see this blog as your roadmap to success. Embrace the journey, connect with your community, and watch as your garden suite blossoms into a vibrant addition.

A new trend is taking root in Toronto real estate — garden suites. These backyard homes transform urban spaces, providing affordable housing options while promoting sustainable city living. However, before you start dreaming about your cozy garden retreat, read this; the guide will break down the process step by step, making it easy to bring your garden suite vision to life.

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