Summary: 6 key property considerations when thinking about building a garden suite
Almost every residential lot in Edmonton can have a garden suite, however some properties are better suited than others. This article highlights a few things homeowners should consider when thinking about whether their property is a good fit for a garden suite.
For a variety of reasons, homeowners often mistakenly conclude that they are not allowed to build a garden suite on their lot. Here are a few misconceptions that we hear quite often:
Concern: “My property is not large enough for a suite”
There is actually no minimum lot size requirements in place limiting you from building a suite, so you are not limited by your property size.
Concern: "I don’t have a lane/alley"
You can still build a garden suite even if you don’t have a lane, however, it will be limited to a single storey (as opposed to 2 storey if your property backs onto a lane).
Concern: "I’m not on a corner lot"
You do not need to have a corner lot to build a garden suite. Under Edmonton’s old garden suite regulations, they were only allowed on corner lots, however, this has since been changed.
Ideal properties for garden suites will have the following characteristics:
Zoned to permit garden suites
Utility connections in the back (tie-in from the lane/alley)
Good clearance from power lines and poles
Lot coverage of the primary house isn’t more than 24%
Relatively flat lot
Good access to transit and local amenities
The first thing to look at is your property’s zoning, which will tell you what can be built on your lot. If you are unsure what your lot is zoned as, you can check here. Ideally, you’ll want your property to have garden suites listed as a permitted use, as opposed to discretionary.
Garden suites are a permitted use in the following zones: RF1, RF2, RF3, RF4, RF5, RF6, RSL, RPL, RR, RMD, TSDR, TSLR, GLD, HVLD, GHLD, SLD.
Garden Suites are a discretionary use in the following zones: RA7, RA8, RA9, HDR, EETR, SRH.
2. Utility Connections
Do you know if your utilities come from the lane or from your front street? Best case scenario, your property will have utility connections running from the lane to your house. This makes for easier tie-ins to your new garden suite.
That being said, if your utilities connect to the front street, all is not lost. Depending on your property and the orientation of your primary house, you can either run the utility lines beside your house, or use a technique called "directional drilling" to push the utility lines under your house and up to your new garden suite in the backyard. However, this would add cost to your project.
3. Power Lines & Poles
When looking at the suitability of your property for a garden suite, you’ll want to assess whether there are any power poles at the back of your property blocking where you’d put a suite. If a pole needs to be moved, this cost is the responsibility of the homeowner. If you are unsure if this will be an issue on your property, we recommend you contact EPCOR to discuss.
4. Lot coverage of primary house isn’t more than 24%
In total, all the buildings on your property can cover a maximum of 42% of the lot in a mature neighbourhood zoned RF1, RF2, RF3, RF4, RF5, RF6, RA7, RA8, RA9. Garden Suites can cover up to a maximum of 18%, however, if your primary house covers more than 24%, your suite’s footprint must be less than 18%. This isn't a huge deal - you may just have a slightly smaller suite. In all other zones, your garden suite can cover 2% more of your lot than you’d be allowed for a normal accessory building, like a detached garage (City of Edmonton, 2019).
5. Your property is relatively flat
This one is pretty simple. Excavation is costly. Following costly excavation, you may also be required to construct a retaining wall which can lead to additional costs.
6. Good access to transit and amenities
Any housing project should consider it’s access to transit such as buses, and LRT, as well as amenities such as grocery stores, schools, and recreation facilities like parks. A garden suite is no different. When designing your suite, you should consider what kind of tenant you believe will live there, and if the amenities around your property will suit them.
These 6 characteristics are a starting point for homeowners who are considering a garden suite. Keep in mind that each garden suite project is unique and that other challenges and considerations might arise.
Think we missed something? Let us know!
Interested in building a suite? Contact us for a free consultation.