If you’re a budding real estate investor eyeing a property in Toronto, you might have heard about the possibility of building a garden suite. Garden suites are a fantastic way to add value to your residential-zoned property. However, before you start drafting blueprints and envisioning your dream backyard oasis, it’s crucial to understand the city’s bylaws and regulations governing these structures. This blog will explore aspects of navigating Toronto’s garden suite regulations and how they shape the city’s real estate landscape.

Eligibility Criteria for Garden Suites

Before starting your search for a garden suite, note that all homes might not meet the requirements established by the City of Toronto, so here are a few things to consider if you’re planning to build a tiny house in your backyard. 

Proximity to Fire Hydrant

One of the primary eligibility criteria for building a garden suite is its proximity to a fire hydrant. According to Toronto’s regulations, your intended garden suite should be within 90 metres of the nearest fire hydrant. It may seem like an extra step, but establishing safety guidelines and positive outcomes is necessary. By ensuring your garden suite is within the prescribed distance, you contribute to the overall safety of your property and those around you.


Another essential criterion relates to driveway access. You’ll need to create one if your existing property needs a driveway leading to the designated garden suite area. Toronto’s regulations stipulate that this driveway must have a minimum width of 90 metres. This width isn’t arbitrary; it’s based on recommendations from emergency services. Additionally, there is a minimum height requirement of 2.1 metres.

An adequately sized driveway ensures paramedics can efficiently reach your garden suite and transport individuals on a stretcher. It’s all about providing a safe and accessible space, especially during emergencies. So, when planning your garden suite project, account for this crucial aspect of accessibility.

Limiting Distance Agreements

But what if your property shares a mutual walkway with your neighbour, and neither owns 100 per cent of the required 90 cm width for the driveway access? This is where a “Limiting Distance Agreement” comes into play. A limiting distance agreement is a formal arrangement that allows neighbouring properties to share a walkway and meet the minimum driveway width requirement. It’s a solution to ensure that both properties can access their garden suites safely while maximizing available space.

Moreover, the Limiting Distance Agreement option applies to neighbouring properties with a mutual walkway. It provides a practical solution for scenarios where space constraints might otherwise prevent garden suite development. To strike an agreement, both properties must ensure the mutual walkway meets the minimum 90-centimetre width requirement. You and your neighbour must work together to create a suitable access point that complies with the city’s regulations.

Ownership of Needed Space

It’s important to clarify that ownership of the required space doesn’t have to be 50-50. In other words, one neighbour can own more of the walkway than the other. The key is that the combined space meets the minimum width requirement, ensuring both parties have safe and efficient access to their garden suites.

Planning and Permits

Before you break ground on your garden suite project, you’ll need to navigate Toronto’s planning and permitting processes. Here’s what you need to know: 

Design and Planning

Creating a design for your garden suite is exciting, but ensuring it complies with Toronto’s zoning regulations is essential. The design should meet your aesthetic preferences and adhere to the city’s rules regarding height, setbacks, and other architectural standards. 

Building Permits

Obtaining the necessary building permits is also an essential step in the process. These permits ensure that your garden suite meets safety and structural requirements. Working with an experienced architect or builder like Densecity, which understands Toronto’s permit requirements, can streamline this process and prevent delays.

Construction and Inspection

With the design approved and permits in hand, it’s time to start construction. During this phase, regular inspections by city officials and work by us will ensure that your garden suite is built according to the approved plans and meets all safety standards.

Property Value and Investment Potential

Now, let’s explore how adding a garden suite to your property can impact its value and investment potential.

Increased Property Value

One of the most significant advantages of building a garden suite is the potential increase in your property’s overall value. Moreover, properties in Toronto with additional living spaces, like garden suites, tend to command higher prices upon sale. Additionally, you can separately zone the property to be able to sell a garden suite, which can be profitable in times of need. 

Rental Income

Furthermore, garden suites can provide a valuable source of rental income. Toronto’s housing market is in high demand, and many individuals and families are seeking affordable and well-located rental options. Your garden suite can serve as a rental unit, generating monthly income to help offset your mortgage or fund other investments and passion projects. 

Multi-Generational Living

Garden suites offer flexibility for multi-generational living, too. Whether you need space for an immigrant family member or provide a space for international students, the dwelling is amenable to any purpose. You can use the space to accommodate aging parents, adult children, or guests. As mentioned, the versatility of your property can be a significant selling point, appealing to a broader range of potential buyers.

Final Say 

If you’re thinking about constructing a garden suite in Toronto, it’s crucial to understand the city’s legislation and restrictions. Densecity can guide you through the process. To guarantee the security and accessibility of these extra dwelling units, the eligibility requirements, such as proximity to a fire hydrant and emergency access, are in place. This is what we do!

Although navigating Toronto’s garden suite legislation may seem complicated, you can make your dream of a garden suite a reality with the correct information and planning. Therefore, trust your process with us and watch as we make it painless for you and your family, whether you’re a novice in real estate or a seasoned pro. 

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