Is A 3-Bedroom Laneway House Even Possible In Toronto?

Is a 3-bedroom laneway house even possible in the city of Toronto? It’s something that many wonder about, property owners and renters alike. It’s only recently become possible, but yes, it is theoretically possible to build them. Keep reading to learn out more about this and answers to many related questions. They can help you open your eyes to one potential future answer to Toronto’s housing problems.

What Is A Laneway Home?

A laneway home is usually a small home built in the back of a previously existing residential lot. However, it’s detached from the actual primary home. It gets its services from the front street and not the laneway. These include water, electricity, garbage, mail, gas, and sewer. A family might use it to expand their living space to friends and relatives, or they might rent it out. However, it isn’t severable. Given how the city of Toronto has 250 kilometres of laneways available, they’re seen as a way of maintaining neighborhoods as they are while increasing affordable and sustainable housing across this property market.

What Are 3-Bedroom Laneway Homes?

By nature of their name, they are simply homes that are laneway homes that have three bedrooms inside of them. It’s very rare for a single-story laneway home to have that many bedrooms unless the rooms are tiny and often share one bathroom. On the other hand, two-story laneway homes can easily have three bedrooms. These typically have two bathrooms, and either put all three bedrooms on the upper floor, or they have one downstairs and two upstairs. Some people might wonder if these even exist, and they do, but there are not many of them yet.

Who Wants Them?

Two groups of people think and ask about 3-bedroom laneway homes. The first is families or property owners looking to add a home to their lot, which they might use for extended family or rental income. The other group is anyone looking to rent such a home. Three roommates could easily split such a home and divvy up the bills rather affordable. Some enjoy the idea of embracing the concept of sustainable living. A couple could move in and have an office and guest bedroom at the same time, and of course, a family could move in with one bedroom for parents and then separate bedrooms for boys and girls among the kids.

What Are The Costs Involved?

Laneway homes were only officially legalized in Toronto in 2018. The available inventory is quite small, and only two or three hundred such homes are expected to come to the market each following year. As such, there simply aren’t that many ‘comps’ that real estate professionals and sellers often use to price such homes. They are touted for their affordability, so renting should be relatively cheap, especially given their small size and backlot locations. However, actual rental rates will vary from one neighborhood to the next, and even from home to home given how unique each one is.

The only real city that can offer comparison points equal to Toronto would be Vancouver, where laneway homes have been around longer and are more widespread. However, that city as a whole has a very expensive property market, so the prices don’t translate well in terms of Toronto.

Families looking to build any laneway home, regardless of the number of bedrooms, are likely curious about the costs of building one. However, again, it varies lot by lot based on local ordinances and regulations, the land available, and the cost of possibly extending utility connections to the back of the property, which can involve expensive digging and infrastructure. Neighborhood bylaws can also interfere greatly with city ordinances and even Ontario laws, making for a patchwork of red tape to cut through.

What Is The Appeal Of Laneway Homes?

For starters, they help property owners generate equity in their own real estate, which helps economic growth and stability. For that matter, it’s a great thing for everyone when underutilized spaces like laneways and the adjoining land get used and better woven into the urban fabric. This sustainability promotes neighborhoods that are more breathable, walkable, and livable, while still providing privacy for residents. They encourage residential development while at the same time slowing it. Since they’re built on pre-existing lots, the face of the neighborhood largely stays the same, respecting the character of the community as it is. It also gives renters and younger generations a chance to enjoy life in established neighborhoods that might be closer to economic activity and jobs, reducing traffic clogging up the roads.

What Are Some Downsides To Laneway Homes?

Privacy is often a problem, since windows from laneway homes can offer direct views of neighboring backyards or even into adjacent homes. Servicing is also a potential issue, because services don’t happen on many laneways, so connections to the main street have to be established, sometimes at great cost or disruption to the property owner. That access might need to include room for emergency and waste collection vehicles. The provincial building code also mandates life-safety systems and non-combustible construction to avoid spreading fire to neighboring structures. Parking is also a serious issue, as laneway home construction tends to happen in already congested communities.

In Conclusion

As you can now see, 3-bedroom laneway homes in Toronto are now a reality, but not that much yet. A handful already exists on the current market, but there are only expected to be a few hundred laneway homes added each year, given the complications in constructing them. The benefits are myriad, but each lot has its own complexities the owners must face if they even choose to undergo it. Also, many already have occupants, so supply is going to be even more scarce if you’re a renter. Having said that, if you’re an owner looking to build one, you should have no trouble making money off the occupancy, assuming the construction or renovation doesn’t cost that much, and that’s a highly variable price tag given the unique nature of this kind of home.

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