Garden Suites are Here in Toronto: What Does That Mean For You?

For Home Owners

After an almost two-year uphill battle, the Toronto City Council has finally voted in favour of brand-new garden suites regulations across the entire city. It’s an exciting announcement for many people in the area. Like those who are looking for ways to make homeownership more affordable or who want to ramp up their investment portfolios. 

But what does the announcement really mean for buyers and sellers in South Etobicoke and across the GTA? Here’s a closer look at everything you need to know about garden suites. 

What is a Garden Suite?

Garden suites, coach homes, carriage homes, garden apartments, laneway suites, infill housing–they have a bunch of different names. But in general, a garden suite is a secondary, detached dwelling located on your property that can be occupied by a family member or rented to a tenant. 

Think of it this way, a garden suite is like an in-law suite except it is its own building, not at all connected to the primary residence on the property. 

Garden suites in Toronto have gained popularity over the years, especially in the past two or three years as average prices went up and affordability became a hot topic issue. 

At the same time, garden suites have become even more sought-after as the popularity of “tiny homes” has skyrocketed. No longer is a tiny home something to be ashamed of. They can be functional, affordable, cute, and surprisingly spacious. 

The Etobicoke real estate market is hotter than ever, here are a few blogs to get you up to speed:

What Kind of Properties Do Garden Suites Work Best For?

For a Toronto garden suite to be considered “legal” it must meet specific criteria outlined by the City Council’s regulations. For example, factors like size, location in comparison to the primary dwelling, parking, privacy, and utilities are all considered when determining whether a garden suite is legal or not. 

In Toronto, where space is at a premium, it might be challenging for some homeowners to meet these requirements and adhere to the regulations. That’s why garden suites are often best suited for a really specific type of property. Some of the best properties to build a garden suite on include:

  • Properties with large, deep, private lots
  • End lots
  • Corner lots
  • Properties that already have a garage or other type of secondary building

But that doesn’t mean you can’t build a garden suite if your property doesn’t fit into one of these categories. You just need to make sure that you meet the requirements and specific building/zoning codes. More on that later. 

What are the Benefits of Building a Garden Suite?

If building a garden suite sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. Like anything, building a dwelling on your property takes a lot of planning and investment. But, the upside is that for many homeowners, the benefits absolutely outweigh the hassle of getting it done. 

Some of the most impressive benefits of building a garden suite are:

  • You are adding living space to your property for under $500,000 in most cases. 
  • You are creating space that can be used for your own family or for renters, providing affordable housing in a time when it’s needed. 
  • The income property potential could outweigh the costs and help improve your own housing affordability
  • A garden suite will add value to your property if you decide to sell down the road

Interested in finding other ways to increase your property value? Read our blog about big renovations that bring a big return here.

Things to Consider When Building a Garden Suite

With all the benefits of building a garden suite, you might be wondering why it’s not something everybody is going to do. There are some considerations you have to make when thinking about building a garden suite. 

And some of them might be enough to turn you off from the process altogether. 

Size: A garden suite can’t be bigger than your current above-grade square footage (basements are excluded). This means that small bungalows, like those we see all over Etobicoke, are limited in what they can build. 

By the way, did you know we love Etobicoke bungalows? Read our post about them here.

Privacy: Do you like the idea of sharing a backyard? If you have family or renters living in a garden suite on your property, you essentially have someone living full-time in your backyard! 

Cost: Although the cost of building the suite is quite often offset by any rental fees you collect and the increase in your property value, there’s still more to pay. Garden homes are often not separately metered so they’re hooked up to your existing services. Also, as a landlord, you’d be required to pay for anything that needs fixing. Just like you would if you owned a traditional income property. 

Parking: If space is at a premium in Toronto, finding parking is like a needle in a haystack. Building a garden suite could potentially result in losing some of your parking space either from the building itself or from tenants needing a place to park their own cars. 

Want to learn more about buying or selling a home with a garden suite? Let me be your guide! Call or text me at 647-239-7587 or send me an email at to get started.

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