What is a Garden Suite?

What is a Garden Suite?

Put simple, a garden suite is a separate living unit on your property that you rent out for additional income every month. They are often small and used by students and young professionals. It must contain a bathroom, kitchen, living area, and at least one bedroom to be considered a livable space. Garden suites may also be known as garage suites, granny flats, carriage houses, backyard apartments, tiny houses, or coach houses.

Benefits of a Garden Suite

There are many benefits and rewards to having a garden suite on your property. they not only benefit you personally but your community and your renters as well. Here’s a list of all the benefits of a garden suite:

  1. Extra Income. The number one benefit of a garden suite is the additional income you get every month from your tenants. Depending on your location, the rent from your garden suite could be $1000 or more! You can use this extra income to supplement your employment income if you’re struggling to pay your monthly bills, use it to pay off your mortgage faster and build equity in your home more quickly, or go on that dream vacation you’ve been planning for 7 years.
  2. Multi-Generational Living. One of the great benefits to having a garden suite on your property is that you can keep your elderly relatives close without compromising either of your privacy needs. Grandma will love that she still has her independence and you’ll love that you can keep a closer eye on her as she ages. This living arrangement is a win-win for both parties.
  3. Property Value. Adding a garden suite on your property is a fairly steep investment, but it is a worthwhile one. Your property value and resale value will skyrocket after your garden suite is built since it provides an entirely separate living space on your property. Between the rent you receive every month and the generous increase in your resale value, a garden suite is one of the best investments you can make for your future.
  4. Reduce Urban Sprawl. Urban sprawl is a hot-button topic right now with many people on either side of the debate. The way our population continues to grow, there is a valid concern out there that we’ll run out of space to build, kill off dozens if not hundreds of species living in our surroundings, and so on. Garden suites help curb this issue just a bit since we build a second living space on an already occupied piece of land. Plus, people living in your garden suite will have access to the city infrastructure that already exists, rather than having to build new infrastructure and facilities for new neighborhoods.
  5. Affordable Living. Many students, young professionals, and elderly persons struggle to find affordable living these days. By building a garden suite on your property, you provide a comfortable and affordable living space for struggling people in your community. Everyone deserves a place to call home, and you can help provide that to someone in your community. Doesn’t that feel good?

Why Choose a Garden Suite Over an Attached Suite?

There are several reasons why you should choose a garden suite over a basement suite or attic suite. You might find that these pros make it worth the extra construction costs of a new structure.

  1. Privacy. Garden suites are especially beneficial for privacy when you are using the space as a rental unit rather than a living space for your family. Rather than have strangers living in your home with you, a garden suite provides distance, greater security, and much more privacy. It is likely that you could go days or weeks without seeing your garden suite tenant, which would not be true for someone living in your home.
  2. Legalities. Depending on your property, your garage, attic, or basement may not be able to accommodate a legal suite. There are many regulations that must be met including fire codes, height restrictions, reclassifying your home, and more. A garden suite is a brand-new structure so it won’t affect the status of your home, and you won’t have to handle any headaches such as shared utilities and separating costs of the home.
  3. Ease of Construction. Modifying your home for a rental suite requires many contractors to be coming and going through your home for a month or more, and you may not even want to occupy your home while all of the construction is going on. Rather than have to deal with contractors and inspections in your home, the garden suite is done on another area of your property so you experience zero changes in your daily life, aside from the noise of course.

What Are the Requirements for a Garden Suite?

Some requirements when building a garden suite on your property are:

  • You can only have one garden suite per lot
  • The garden suite must occupy no more than 10% of your property area
  • The garden suite must be accompanied by one off-street parking space for the tenant
  • Childcare programs cannot be carried out in the garden suite, but all other home-based businesses can be
  • The suite must be connected to municipal drainage, sewer, and water utilities
  • If your property is larger than two acres, you must obtain approval to build the garden suite on your property for non-farm use
  • The property owner must reside in either the main house or the garden suite, or use the services of a local property management company to oversee the tenancy
  • Garden suites are not permitted in combination with a bed and breakfast, a boarding facility, or a secondary suite
  • The garden suite must be in the back yard of the property

There are also a number of zoning requirements for garden suites no matter where you live, so make sure to read up on those before beginning construction to ensure everything is legal.

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