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Garage Suites Creating Affordable Housing for Edmontonians

Garage Suites Creating Affordable Housing for Edmontonians

Garage suites (or Garden Suites) are taking Edmonton by storm. Acting as attic bedrooms or mother-in-law apartments, these units are gaining a lot of attention for both their affordability and accessibility. If you’re looking to cash in on this trend for yourself, here’s what you need to know about building a garage suite on your property.

They’re Fully Functional Spaces

There’s more to creating a garage suite than simply tossing a mattress by your toolboxes and workbenches. For example, it will need proper insulation to keep its tenants from freezing on cold winter nights. It will also need water, gas, utilities, and garbage pick-up if you’re renting it to a third party who won’t share household services with your family. Be prepared for a lot of wiring and plumbing if you’re fully committed to making your garage suite an independent living space.

They’ll Require an Investment

Speaking of preparation, you should know in advance that building a garage suite will require a certain amount of money. The exact figure will depend on how simple or how extravagantly you’re outfitting the space. However, if you intend on using a garage suite to increase your property value, you can’t cut corners when it comes to development. Some people even take out a loan to finish their garage suites; they know they’ll recoup the costs with rent money down the line.

There’s a Lot of Paperwork Involved

You’ll be asked for both a building permit and a development permit when you build a “secondary suite” for an Edmonton home. The city might also charge you for heating, cooling, plumbing or waste management permits, so those forms will need to be exchanged as well. Last but not least, don’t be alarmed if your EPCOR bill is larger than usual after you’ve built a garage suite. It’s common for the charges of a secondary suite to be tacked onto them.

The Main Tenants Are Seniors

Research into Edmonton’s garage suites has shown that 55 percent are rented to aging parents and grandparents. They essentially function as mother-in-law apartments where homeowners can keep grandma safely on the premises while also affording her the independence of her own living space. Some suites have even been remodeled with age-related mobility issues in mind; they’ll come equipped with things like handrails, door grips and non-slip floors.

Adult Children Are Also Taking Advantage of Garage Suites

Maybe they aren’t ready to leave the nest. Maybe they did leave the nest but came back after losing a job or getting a divorce. After senior citizens, adult children are the biggest rental group of garage suites; 15 percent of homeowners reported that they’d turned over the space to their offspring. Since garage suites are cheap, furnished and private, they’re basically studio apartments for young millennials where the landlords just happen to be mom and dad.

You Might Face Zoning Restrictions

The city of Edmonton has certain laws regarding secondary suites on private property. For example, they’re only permitted in single detached houses in residential neighbourhoods; they’re forbidden with duplexes, townhouses and semi-detached houses. For people living in places like Gold Bar and Maple Ridge, there might be further restrictions on building or powering a garage suite because of the industrial nature of the nearby Edmonton-Strathcona border. Keep these things in mind as you sketch the blueprints of your new garage suite.

Whether you’re building a simple space for a college student or a luxurious studio apartment for tourists passing through town, these are just a few things to know about garage suites. Take this information and use it to make a fantastic addition to your property!


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About The Author

Jeff S.

Proud father and husband. Loves music, Nine Inch Nails, UFC and inbound marketing.

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