Laneway houses and coach houses are both growing in popularity throughout Canada. They are very similar in the majority of their aspects. However, there are a few key differences between the two that are worth noting. These differences are primarily related to the legality of the home. If you are planning to live in one of these homes or add one to your property, then it’s very important you understand exactly what they are, how they are the same, and how they are different.

What Is A Coach House?

In general terms, a coach house is a second house on a lot. These homes come in a range of sizes and design styles. Some of them were previously garages that were later converted into a single-family dwelling. Others were built alongside the primary home to serve as a guest house. There is really no single rule for what is or isn’t considered a coach house. The most important factor to consider is the local law.

The name coach house comes from the history of such dwellings. In the past, many homeowners would have outbuildings on their property that were used to store horse-drawn carriages and gear. They were often open-faced buildings with high ceilings and a single story. Homeowners eventually began leasing these carriage homes to tenants rather than storing carriage supplies. It was an easy way to secure a new income and quickly spread throughout Canada, Great Britain, and the United States.

A modern coach house may or may not have been used to store carriage supplies in the past. Even so, the same term is still used. It’s simply an additional building on the property that can be rented as a house. Most modern coach houses are very nice, yet considerably more affordable than the average home.

A major difference between the coach houses of today and of the past is the strict set of building laws that govern them. Not all cities in Canada will allow homeowners to rent a coach house to tenants and those that do have very strict guidelines. If you’re building one of these homes in hopes of earning extra income, then you need to familiarize yourself with local regulations.

What Is A Laneway House

A laneway house is very similar to a coach house. As a matter of fact, you could say that a laneway house is a specific type of coach house. It’s a small independent home built on the property of another house. It is generally built in the backyard and faces the road or laneway that runs behind the home. They are often built in the space where the garage would be and are becoming very common in cities with high population densities.

Laneway homes are currently on the rise along Canada’s western coast. A recent movement in Vancouver by Sam Sullivan, the former mayor, has led to the issuing of more than 3,000 laneway permits. These permits are required before a laneway house can be built or leased to a new tenant.

Some parts of Canada have had similar initiatives in the past to build laneway homes. Toronto is one such example. A piece of 2008 legislation declared that homeowners with properties facing a laneway could build small laneway houses to serve as rental properties or granny suites. Ottawa is another city that is adopting similar laws.

Are They Different?

The primary difference between a laneway house and a standard coach house is the location. Laneway houses are allowed in Vancouver, Ottawa, and Toronto in an attempt to help with population density. More than 100,000 people move to the Greater Toronto Area each year and space is a major issue. By adding laneway houses to existing lots, the city can successfully utilize around 300 kilometres of unused space.

In comparison, the standard coach house is seen in rural areas. Regulations regarding coach houses are far more relaxed in towns without high population densities. Yes, it is now possible to build them in the metro areas mentioned above, but they must still meet the strict guidelines enforced in each city.

The style of living can vary between the standard coach house and a laneway house. The fact that the laneway house faces a separate road makes it a more individual experience. The tenant will park in a different place than the owner of the property and they may have very little if any, interactions. Meanwhile, coach house tenants often face in the direction of the primary home, use the same parking area, and encounter the homeowner on a regular basis.

Important Facts Regarding Laneway Houses

There are a lot of questions regarding laneway houses as they become more popular. Following are some important answers and facts that you should know.

What’s The Cost?

The average cost of building a laneway house is estimated to be around $300,000. Of course, there are a lot of variables that can influence this figure. That includes the construction team you work with, how easy it is to access the lot with heavy machinery, and how easy it is to make the necessary mechanical and electrical connections. The size, shape, and style of the house will impact the cost as well.

Don’t Sell The Property.

A lot of homeowners are interested in the idea of selling the part of their lot that faces the back laneway. This would allow someone else to build and own the laneway home. However, the local government strongly advises against this and will likely fight any attempts to do so.

The idea behind the movement is to create suites on owned property that can then be leased to new tenants. It’s believed that Toronto does not have enough rental units to support the growing population. There are plenty of salable homes, though, and laneway houses are not meant to add to that number.

Get To Work

If you’re interested in building a laneway home in one of the supported areas, then you should start speaking with local laneway building firms. Just make sure to research local rules and regulations because they vary from one area to the next. The same applies to coach homes. If you’re interested in renting one, then you won’t need to worry as much about the laws. Simply decide which type of unit is best for you and begin searching.