The GTA’s housing supply and affordability challenge is a complex problem that needs to be addressed from a variety of angles. Part of the solution lies in changing restrictive zoning rules to enable the addition of gentle density -- multiplex homes, semi-detached homes, townhouses, laneway and garden suites -- in existing neighbourhoods, as many planning and housing experts, including the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), have long advocated. 

The City of Toronto in its Housing Action Plan, and the Province of Ontario in its new housing legislation, are now laudably permitting up to three housing units per lot in existing neighbourhoods without requiring the builder to apply for a special permit. This is a step in the right direction, but as we implement these policies, we need to ensure we are supporting their intent.

A great example is a recently completed project by Eurodale Design + Build, a member of BILD and RenoMark. The company purchased an older single-family home in Lawrence Park North in Toronto and transformed it into a rental dwelling with three family-sized units. From the curb it presents as a single-family home, consistent with other buildings on the street. Its stylish interiors have been designed to use space efficiently and to withstand the demands placed on a dedicated rental. The home now provides much-needed rental housing in a family-oriented community, walking distance to schools and transit.

READ: Toronto Claims it Wants More Missing Middle Housing, So Why Isn’t it Making it Easier to Build?

Because this project started prior to when the city and the province changed the rules, it faced more than a year in bureaucratic and legal delays to obtain the necessary approvals. These delays added more than $100,000 to the cost of the project, ultimately reflected in the final rent on the units. And while this development took place in a community where multi-unit dwellings are permitted, that permission only applies to buildings that are smaller than the surrounding single-family homes. This effectively limits the number of units it is possible to build in an established neighbourhood. As we implement the new provisions across Ontario, we must ensure these types of arbitrary distinctions do not counter the housing goals of the City or the province.

Converting single-family homes into multiplex homes and building laneway or garden suites are great ways to add housing in existing neighbourhoods. For owners, the new dwellings can be sources of additional income or provide creative ways to house family members. 

A RenoMark renovator or custom home builder is your best ally in planning a conversion or addition. RenoMark members commit to a Code of Conduct that requires that they offer a minimum of one-year warranty on all work, carry a minimum of $2M in liability insurance and provide a detailed written contract.