Saanich council votes to allow homeowners to build carriage homes

Saanich council votes to allow homeowners to build carriage homes
WatchAfter four years of surveying, Saanich has approved a plan that allows homeowners to build and operate carriage homes or garden suites.

After years of discussion, Saanich council has voted to allow homeowners to build garden suites-or carriage homes- on their property.

“It took us for years for us to get here,” said Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes. “It brings vibrancy and connectivity in our communities and it lets people age in place, it lets people stay in Saanich.”

Backyard Bungalows, a company that specializes in building carriage homes in Greater Victoria, says the biggest reason customers decide to build them is for family members.

“This is a great option for them to be able to build something for their parents, the grandparent, have them close by, but also maintain their independence, so they don’t have to go into a home,” said Nick Kardum, owner of Backyard Bungalows.

The carriage homes aren’t just for relatives though. Haynes hopes this will bring some relief to the tight rental market.

“Imagine there’s 30,000 single-family homes,” said Haynes. “If just 1,000 properties do that, we’ve added a 1,000 rental homes without government involvement of housing, but of the homeowner, because they see the opportunity to look after their own equity.”

Even though council just voted to approve the idea this week, the demand is already there in Saanich.

“We’re already getting phone calls and emails, people contacting us because they’re interested in them,” said Kardum.

“We actually already have several Saanich clients who we’re doing designs for because they didn’t actually want to wait for the final approval, saying, ‘We know its gonna happen.'”

Kardum says the way Saanich has gone about the decision, creating a list of guidelines to be followed, takes the guesswork out of building carriage homes, and should be an example to other municipalities.

With an 85 per cent approval rate from the survey put out to the community from the municipality, many residents are excited at the idea.

But how many will spend the approximate $180,000 it takes to build one remains to be seen.

Victoria has a similar garden suite program, and last year, 25 people built suites on their property.

“I think its a great idea,” said Saanich homeowner Brenda Stevens. “I think that Saanich needs to be able to densify more, fit more people into the core, but not have huge high rises.”

Elyse Thorburn, a Saanich renter, says the addition of garden suites to any property is a big factor when looking at real estate.

“I was looking at houses, and I was looking at one with a carriage home, and that was a really big feature for me because it’s hard to get into the market without rental income to support the mortgage,” said Thorburn.

“Carriage homes are great. You can have your own space, and you don’t have to worry about noise and do your own thing without being so concerned. There’s no one over your head.”

The mayor believes the four-year survey was time well spent, hammering out the details on a plan that’s now ready for construction.


Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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