Garden Suites

Garden Suites, Granny Flats, Secondary Dwellings… What’s the difference?

A secondary SUITE is part of an existing residence (ie basement apartment, in-law suite)

A secondary DWELLING (often referred to as garden suite, granny flat, tiny house) is a detached standalone dwelling unit which is separate from the principal residence on the property.

Both types can be rented for additional income from property you already own.

Garden Suites are HOT right now as The Bill 108, “More Homes, More Choice Act” received royal assent in 2019.

Goal of Act: increase the supply of housing will help every person in Ontario by making housing more affordable, while renters will see lower costs and a mix of housing types to choose from.

Specifically the HOW… “by authorizing two residential units in a house and by authorizing a residential unit in a building or structure ancillary to a house.”

Check out this garden suite positioned above the garage to make double use of the footprint on the lot (below is heated garage, above its another revenue generating living space).

Basically mandating municipalities in Ontario to allow Garden Suites. For our investors, this means they can add a suite to their existing property (very rough cost of $150-$200K) and then rent it at a market rate that will cover the cost of the build and provide some cashflow. It also increases the value of the property overall.


What is a Garden Suite?

Garden Suites
generally will be limited to around 10% of the total lot size. They will require being built on a concrete pad (ie no wheels, not portable) and have sewer, water and electric tie into homes existing utilities.  Can vary from small 500sf to 1600sf or more depending on bylaws.

These are different from tiny homes. Tiny homes are generally around 300 sq ft and can be portable.  This term varies in definition and may be used interchangeably with garden suite or coach house depending on who you speak with so always consult local bylaws. All terminology will be municipality specific so don’t make assumptions. In many cases, if the dwelling is not built on a foundation or slab, it will not be approved by the city as a rental unit.

Services – all utilities must be tied into the main residence including septic. Many have electric heat. Generally the cities do not want “off grid” services.

Garden Suite Video Walkthrough

 Some important takeaways related to Garden Suites

Check city bylaws as they are very different in each area.

Connecting with City planners and companies specializing in the construction of garden suites is critical.

  • You can not assume that you have a large lot that you can add a suite.
  • Bylaws vary with municipalities, no two are the same so make no assumptions
  • Permits requirements are very specific and even a few inches short in a measurement can have your permit rejected. Be accurate and follow the rules.

Check with city zoning, Conservation Authority (watershed and floodplains)

Many properties close to water may be in restricted zones and with either not allow any additional buildings or require special permits from local authorities. In Peterborough it’s Otonabee Region Conservation Authority and this is one of the first contacts to get info on as it can immediately tell you whether you can proceed or not.

Zoning and Parking are not flexible and needs to be verified by the city. Generally you will need one parking spot for each unit and some municipalities allow the garage to count as one space, others do not. Tandem parking is allowed in some cities, others will not allow it and you will need to add additional parking.


Why go through the hassle of permits and registration?  Does it need to be “legal”?

YES. Absolutely.

  • for Emergency Services: Registration advises all City departments and other agencies that there are two or more separate units on the property.
  • to keep all tenants safe: In order to be registered, the dwelling must adhere to all applicable building codes.
  • to protect your investment. Legal registration and certification will protect you. If there was a fire and the suite was not legal, your insurance is void.


Questions about Garden Suites and how you can finance them?

 Book a FREE 15 min consultation with me and we can discuss if you can add a garden suite to your existing property and the options to finance it. Book here


Details matter to our Investors

Every property goes through our Property Analyzer to ensure your investment is strong. Not only do we look at Short Term Capital Needed but also the ROI, Cap Rate, Appreciation,… even the expenses right down to vacancy rates and property management fees.


Contact me today to find out how the process works, each step of the way.