It’s been seven years since the city of Ottawa started permitting homeowners to construct coach houses in their rear yards as a modest second residence for tenants or relatives.
Since then, the city says it has issued 88 building permits for these properties as of January, and averages about 12 permits a year.
It was in late 2016, after the Ontario government encouraged cities to create additional affordable housing, that Ottawa started to allow homeowners to use their rear yard space to construct a modestly scaled coach house or adapt an existing structure, like a detached garage.
Before that, the city only allowed homeowners to create a secondary unit inside their homes, such as a basement apartment.
But if you’re considering one, be sure to research all the rules and requirements and the costs involved and talk with city information officers, as taking on the construction of a coach house is not a minor renovation.
In addition to the costs of construction, you could be facing thousands of dollars to ensure proper drainage and to extend water and sewage servicing from the main house to the secondary house.
A few of the rules:
To minimize the impact of coach houses on neighbourhoods and neighbouring properties, the city created numerous rules, including limits on height and square footage. To give you an idea, here are just some of the rules:
- If you already have a secondary unit such as a basement apartment or rooming units, you cannot build a coach house.
- A coach house cannot be larger than 40 per cent of the footprint of the principal dwelling, and it can’t exceed 40 per cent of the yard in which it’s located, to ensure amenity space remains for the primary residence and the coach house.
- In the city (rules are different in rural areas), they can be only one storey and cannot be taller than the primary dwelling. They must remain part of the lot of the main residence and cannot be sold separately. They must also be designed and located to ensure that mature trees are preserved, in accordance with the city’s urban tree bylaws.
- The coach house must have servicing from the primary house’s water and sewer connection. Electrical connections are also required to be provided from the principal home to the coach house. This could require additional electrical capacity for the main house. The city recommends consulting a qualified electrician to determine the work and cost that would be involved.
- Whether you are building a new unit or adapting an existing structure, a city building permit is required, and the structures must meet the rules of the Ontario Building Code.
Ottawa General Contractors, a local company that has constructed many coach houses, says the properties usually range from 500 to 700 square feet, about the size of many new condominium units. The company says construction cost usually ranges from $400 to $550 per square foot. So, the construction of a 500-square-foot unit would start at about $200,000. They typically require four to six months of construction.
The city of Ottawa advises homeowners to carefully consider the extra expenses they will face in addition to the construction costs, servicing and fees.
Constructing a coach house could affect your property taxes, as the new unit would increase the value of your property.
If you are considering a coach house, you should contact your insurance company to ask about changes in liability and increases to your insurance costs with the increased value of your property.
If you are expecting rental income, this will affect your income tax.
For more detailed information about what’s required if you are considering a coach house, the city of Ottawa has a detailed 32-page guide, “How to Plan Your Coach House In Ottawa,”.
If you have questions, you can contact the city of Ottawa at 311 and ask to speak to a Development Information Officer.
If you are considering buying or selling property in Ottawa, I’d be happy to chat and fill you in on the current resale market and conditions in your area of the city. With more than 30 years of experience as a Realtor, I’ve helped hundreds of clients buy and sell in Ottawa, in a range of market conditions.
You can read more about me at www.nancybenson.com Feel free to give me a call, at 613-747-4747.