A laneway home is a unique residential build that’s become increasingly popular in Toronto and the GTA over recent years. Built on the lot of an existing property, laneway homes are versatile as they can be turned into rental properties, work/office spaces, or guesthouses. Laneway homes allow the opportunity for income generation and increased living space to enjoy your property to the fullest. The process of building a laneway home differs from the typical experience of building residential real estate, however, so keep reading to learn the top three things to consider before you build.

1. Laneway home zoning laws & by-laws

While the City of Toronto has embraced laneway builds, there are specific rules and regulations around building a second property on a single lot. The first thing to know is that in order to build a laneway suite, your property must share a property line with a public lane. That’s pretty easy to figure out. Once that’s confirmed, you’ll want to:

  • Revise the by-law requirements for laneway suites
    Regulations around laneway homes cover aspects including landscaping, building height and number of storeys, floor area, lot coverage and setbacks.
  • Research the incentive programs
    The city has developed two programs to assist homeowners in the building of laneway suites. These include the Development Charges (DC) Deferral Program for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units (allows you to apply for deferment of laneway home development charges) and the Affordable Laneway Suites Pilot Program (allows you to apply for a $50,000 loan that may be forgiven)
  • Apply for a building permit
    More than the construction permit, there are several others you may need to apply for, depending on the details of your project.

Check the City of Toronto website to find all the information you need to check these items off your list, and take the first steps towards building your laneway suite.

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2. Cost to build

Costs to build a laneway home differ from those that come with buying a primary resale residence. Consider factors such as:

  • Permits
  • Design
  • Materials
  • Labour
  • Management

Laneway homes in Toronto run an average cost of about $350,000. This can vary depending on your project specifications. A reputable builder or management firm will make cost containment a priority, so be sure to thoroughly interview the professionals you choose to partner with.

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3. A reputable builder or construction management firm

This consideration can not be overstated. Building a laneway home is a vast undertaking in terms of cost but also time and emotional investment. While the benefits of erecting a laneway suite are considerable, such a big project inevitably comes with the potential for stress. Partnering with a reputable home builder or construction management firm will alleviate your concerns by guiding you through the process with wisdom and experience. A team worth working with will:

  • Have a solid warranty program
  • Be in business for several years
  • Have worked in your neighbourhood
  • Have extensive experience building residential properties
  • Understand Toronto Building codes and City of Toronto zoning and by-laws
  • Clear and transparent project timelines, deliverables, and communication channels
  • Have stringent quality assurance policies, and a straightforward process with checks and balances in place

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Everything you need to consider about process, pricing, and planning for a laneway suite can be reviewed on the Government of Ontario website. It’s a good idea to create a checklist for yourself so you can stay on track with your project goals.

There are several ways to approach a laneway suite build. Bray Lyn Homes is a full-service construction management firm that covers all the aspects of your project in-house. Our team will connect you with vetted builders and other industry professionals, and facilitate and manage your build from start to finish. Our team is here to answer any questions you have, and help you navigate the process. Call or email us today to get started.