The 3 Things You Must Know Before Considering A Garden Suite in Your Toronto Home Backyard!

February 3, 2023
Sam Leika-Shukor, Senior design architect & Certified Passive House Designer - CPHD

Are you a homeowner or RE investor thinking of building a Garden Suite at the rear but not sure if the Garden Suite's zoning amendment applies to your property?

In this short article I share 3 essential pieces of information that you must know and understand, so that you can move your project forward confidently, or if not feasible, perhaps to abandon it altogether and move on to your next project.

First: Gross Floor Area - GFA

This is critical to understand. There is no cap on the total GFA for the new addition. Normally you'd have a principal resident or house, either your residence or a rental and that you're thinking of building at the back. What matters regarding the GFA from the zoning perspective is the footprint (or the total Interior areas) of the new addition (GS) compared to the main existing house at the front.

GFA is not a consideration

In other words the exact square footage of the new Garden Suite is not related to the total GFA. It is limited however by a ceiling of 60 m2 and to the size of existing house are. For ecample, if the existing house GFA is only 58 m2, your new Garden Suite can not be over 58 m2.

This can be challenged if it was considered as a Minor Variance, but as a rule of thumb, the new Garden Suite should be less than the existing but not above 60 m2.

Second: Emergency Access

Emergency access means that if the fire truck comes to your property, parks at the nearest point on the sidewalk, the distance between the truck, and the main entrance of the new Garden Suite must be less than 45 m. Additionally, the nearest fire hydrant should also be less than 45 m away from the fire truck. (total of 90 m). This is also related to the height and width of this emergency axis which should not be (width) less than 1 m.

Emergency Access for Fire Department

If there is a shared driveway with your neighbor, an agreement must be reached through a lawyer with the City that this 1 m. should not be breached.

Third: Max. Distance & the Angular Plane Roof

The distance I'm referring to is between the existing front house and the Garden Suite. There are 2 numbers here to consider; if the distance is 5m., you can only build up to 4 m. height. If have a distance of 7.5m, the Garden suite's height can go up to 6 m.

Angular Plan Roof is required if ht. above 4 meters.

This is essential if you want to know if you could go up to two-story Garden suite or just one. The 6 m. however has another condition. Starting at 4 m exterior wall, a 45 degree angular plane (pitched roof) needs to surround the building from all sides. This is to decrease the urban impact of the new Garden Suites in the neighborhood.

These are the 3 main elements you need to know before you consider engaging a designer or architect for your Garden Suite.

If you have any questions or inquiries please click on the link below to book a free strategic consultation with us:

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