Coach Houses are Coming to Ottawa

An exciting proposal has recently been approved by the City of Ottawa’s Planning Committee: the construction of coach houses in urban and rural neighbourhoods. If you’re thinking of renting out some space on your property, or if you are looking for a suitable home for elderly parents, a coach house may be the answer you’re looking for.
What is a Coach House?
A coach house is a small apartment that is detached from the main place of residence but located on the same lot as the principal dwelling. Unlike trailers or portable garden suites, a coach house has a foundation and is a permanent structure. They can be converted sheds or garages, or they may be built specifically as coach houses.
Benefits of a Coach House
Coach houses can serve many purposes for home owners. For example, you could rent out a coach house to help pay off your mortgage. The driveway and services for your principal residence must be shared with the coach house, but the coach house can be used as an entirely independent building. If you want to rent out part of your house but aren’t fond of the idea of having strangers live in your home with you, a coach house would be an ideal way for you to make that extra income without living under the same roof as your renters.
Another option coach houses offer homeowners is the chance to live close to their elderly relatives. You could continue to live in your own house while your parents enjoy a cozy and comfortable little home on your property. You can stay close to them and care for them as needed. Conversely, perhaps you are finding your house too big now that all of your children have moved out and you are looking to downsize. In that case, you can rent out the main house and you can move into the coach house. This will allow you to save money for your mortgage, retirement funds, or for vacations you’d like to take.
Is My Lot Eligible?
If you’re interested in building a coach house, an individual analysis will need to be completed to determine if your lot is suitable for one. In general, a lot can accommodate a coach house if it is serviced by municipal water and wastewater. In rural areas, the lot must be serviced by a private well and septic system. Your main dwelling has to be a detached, semi-detached, duplex, or townhouse unit. If you own a row house, it must be on a corner lot or have access to a travelled lane. If you want to have an analysis completed to see if your property is eligible for a coach house, you can call 3-1-1 and ask to speak to a Development Information Officer (DIO).
Size Restrictions
There are specific size restrictions that have been outlined for coach houses. The allowable size varies depending on whether you live in an urban or rural area. The zoning by-law sets a maximum footprint for coach houses. The footprint is defined as the area of the ground floor of a building. In urban areas, the footprint of a coach house can’t be greater than 40 per cent the size of the main house, 40 per cent of the yard, or 80 square metres, whichever measurement is smallest. In rural areas, the same percentages apply, but it can measure 95 square metres rather than 80. These restrictions are to ensure that the coach house is clearly secondary to, and smaller than, the main house.
The approval of coach houses will help diversify neighbourhoods and bring more housing options into established areas. They can help bring family members together and provide homeowners with extra income that they can use to their advantage. For those looking to rent, coach houses offer a comfortable living space that isn’t shared between a large group of strangers. If you are interested in adding a coach house to your property, you should contact your real estate agent to help you take advantage of this new and exciting opportunity.

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