Toronto recently joined the roster of Canadian cities allowing for garden suites – secondary freestanding backyard homes that tie into a main residence’s services and utilities – which has many people wondering how this could help make housing more affordable.

Garden suites are expected to help with affordability as they add density to the city, and that’s the direction housing development is currently headed. The theory is that, over time, whether it’s a laneway suite, a garden suite or even an addition, adding more of this infill development within residential low-rise neighbourhoods will help with pricing.

With HST and drawings, a garden suite can average about $500 a square foot. A comparably sized condo in Toronto starts at around $1,000. A lot of the value comes from the land itself and, with a garden suite, you or someone you know already owns the land, so you’re just building on top of it as an added bonus.

How are garden suites typically used?

Two key ways garden suites are put to good use are as rental properties or somewhere for family members to live – such as children or parents. Garden suites are a good option because your renters, parents or children aren’t living with you, but you can still earn rental oncome or help support your family.

There are many ways to structure a garden suite agreement, including partnering with a family member who owns a property where a garden suite it plausible. You could cover the building costs or even arrange something like a rent-to-own agreement. You wouldn’t be able to own the land because you can’t sever a garden suite from the main property, but technically the suite could be yours.

There are a lot of parents helping children these days with down payments on a home or even mortgage payments. This is an interesting in-between option, and it’s always great to have choices available.

Have questions about housing options or your mortgage in general? Answers are a call or email away!