Laneway living: A budding new trend emerges




Interior design expert Emmanuel Beliveau is an advocate of a unique housing initiative and on Thursday at the National Home Show it is likely anyone who heard him speak on the topic will soon be as well.

It is called Laneway Living and according to the HGTV personality and owner of Eva Lanes, a company that specializes in laneway suite design, it has the potential to relieve market pressures in the city of Toronto where the average home costs $780,000 and a historical low vacancy rate of one per cent exists.

Beliveau defines a laneway suite on his we site as a self-contained dwelling unit situated on the same lot as a detached house, semi-detached house or townhouse that is "generally located in the rear yard abutting a laneway.

Laneway suites are completely detached from the main house.

Laneway suites are completely detached from the main house.

“Generational houses are a thing of the past as parents must sell and children can’t afford to buy other siblings out or carry the property costs. A laneway suite is the best option for bridging the gap for millennials who want their own home.”

Helping the cause is that both Toronto politicians and planners believe they make sense.

Last year, council adopted a report called Changing Lanes, which allows laneway suites in an area stretching from Parkside Drive in the west to Victoria Park Avenue in the east and from Lake Ontario north to portions of Eglinton Avenue.

Beliveau estimates there are upwards of 10,000 homes that could potentially qualify.

A city planning report, meanwhile, noted that they "provide more opportunities for people to live close to where they work, shop, and play, and can help make the city’s urban lands more green, liveable and safe.

“Laneway suites can contribute to increasing the supply of rental housing and provide additional housing options for households at different ages and life stages.”

Changing Lanes also defines them as being subordinate in scale “and completely detached from the main house on the lot which fronts the street. They have outdoor access via both the street and the lane.”

At the National Home Show, Beliveau explained how homeowners can access their property to ensure their laneway space is suitable, the costs associated with building one and how to maximize return on investment.

He also talked about several conditions that must be met in order to be approved for a permit to build a suite, chief among them being ease of access for Toronto Fire Services and other emergency vehicles as well as certain building restrictions.

It can be, said Beliveau, a winwin for both a homeowner and a renter.

From a renter’s perspective, there is an opportunity to live in a self-contained unit without paying an exorbitant rate and if you are a homeowner and don’t have your car either in the backyard or garage, there is an opportunity to turn a residence into income-producing property.

“What’s possible with a laneway suite?” he asked. “Anything, really. Downsize and age in your own neighbourhood while your kids stay in the house. Nanny, granny, guest suites and work studios are great ways to keep precious square footage inside your home for your family.”

Toronto Sun | 16 Mar 2019 | PAUL BARKER Special to Postmedia Network