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Garden suites

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Garden homes are an exciting, affordable housing concept for homeowners and investors, but what are your plumbing options in Toronto for these projects?

If you want to build a garden suite in the City of Toronto, there are rules, regulations, and zoning bylaws for secondary dwellings or a rental suite in Toronto and the GTA.

We have all the information you need. Let’s talk about putting a garden suite on your property!

What Are Garden Homes in Toronto?

Also known as garden suites, these Toronto housing options are located in the rear yard of an existing house or primary residence. Other secondary dwellings in Toronto and the GTA are known as “laneway housing.”

In addition to supplying a need for affordable housing, garden suites in Toronto have become a valuable source of revenue for people living in the primary residence.

While there is a cost to build garden homes in Toronto, garden suites can be good income generators in residential zones. Garden homes in Toronto can be less expensive to build, because they are connected to the electricity and plumbing in an existing house. 

Some property owners convert an existing house into a primary residence on the main floor, a secondary suite on an additional level, and a garden suite for added income. 

Garden Suites: Drain and Plumbing Requirements in Toronto

The building code for garden homes and drain and plumbing requirements can be interpreted differently in Toronto than in other GTA municipalities. 

Generally, garden suites must be “non-severable” and not separate from the primary residence. So, all utilities, including sewer and water lines, must connect to an existing house. 

Some municipalities allow utilities to go through the primary residence, while other residential zones require a “Y connection” outside the existing house. If the connection runs outside, a garden home’s pipes can be serviced without entering the primary residence. Always consult a licensed plumbing expert on garden suite pipe requirements in Toronto!

In the worst-case scenario, you might receive a “verbal” okay from the city or municipality that utilities can connect through the house, only to have a building inspector tell you that you require an exterior Y connection.

Garden Homes Plumbing Upgrades in Toronto

We know everything that is required for garden suite plumbing in Toronto. Here are the specifics:

Rules and Regulations on Water Line Sizes 

Before you build a garden suite, it’s wise to figure out the dimensions of your incoming water supply line. That way, you can avoid water pressure drops when people turn on multiple fixtures simultaneously.

Some parts of Toronto have received water service upgrades. If your neighborhood hasn’t had city-side upgrades to water lines, it’s likely you have a ½ inch incoming water supply.

The minimum requirement for garden suite plumbing in Toronto is a water line to supply an additional bathroom, kitchen, and laundry area. 

If you have ½ inch water lines, your cost to build a garden home in Toronto should include upgrading your water supply to prevent poor water pressure.

City-Side Plumbing Upgrade to a Garden Suite on Your Property

Check the City of Toronto website for the cost of upgrading the water line to an existing house and secondary dwellings. Generally, property owners must pay to upgrade supply and drain lines. 

However, a customer service representative at the Toronto Water Counter should be able to confirm with you what is required for water line and drain permits on garden suites in Toronto.

Garden suites Toronto

Primary Residence Plumbing Upgrades for Laneway Housing or Garden Suites

The cost of building a garden suite may also involve upgrading the plumbing in your primary residence, sometimes both the supply and drain lines on your property. 

Remember that the city of Toronto typically hires third-party contractors to upgrade plumbing utilities on the city’s side, and you can ask the contractor for an estimate to complete your primary residence upgrades, too.

Plumbing Connections Between Existing House and Garden Suite

When you obtain a drain permit for garden homes in Toronto, you should know where the plumbing utility lines go between an existing house and the garden suite.

You can check by locating the main drain exit from the primary residence. Generally, the water meter and supply are there.

Digging the trench from the garden suite to the main drain exit should minimize digging in the basement. However, basement digging is unavoidable if an existing house is attached or there’s limited side access.

Frequently Asked Questions: Garden Home Plumbing in Toronto

1. Are floorplans required for a garden suite on my property?
The city requires New Garden Suite floor plans to obtain building and drain permits for garden suites in Toronto.

Here’s what your floor plan should include for any secondary dwelling in Toronto:

  • Full dimensions of the garden suite
  • Single or multiple levels showing how the space is currently used and what is being proposed
  • Location of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Location of all plumbing fixtures

The floor plan is also a blueprint of the existing construction (if applicable) and new construction plans, including the exterior walls and foundation, the interior partitions, and framing structure overhead.

2. What does “non-severable” mean?
Secondary dwellings, including garden suites, require water supply lines and sanitary pipes to connect to the primary residence, not be separate or severed.
3. What are the zoning bylaws for garden suites or laneway housing?
Zoning bylaws on secondary dwellings like garden suites can vary by municipality, although the common denominator is that utilities and other services must connect directly to the primary residence.

Before you build a garden suite, the most important thing to do is talk to a licensed plumbing professional about the best way to connect services to a secondary dwelling that meets local zoning bylaws.

Mechanical, Plumbing, and Drain Permits for Garden Homes in Toronto

Separate permits might be required to build a garden suite.

If you’re installing an HVAC system that requires a Related Mechanical (HVAC) Permit, you must obtain separate permits to build a garden suite. 

For plumbing or drain permits on garden homes in Toronto, a Plumbing Data Sheet must be submitted. 

There may be an exception for one or two-unit dwellings or a laneway suite on an even driveway, but if your one or two-unit dwelling or laneway suite is set on a reverse-sloping driveway, details must be submitted on the driveway slope and the drain plan.

What does “Separate Services” mean under the Ontario Building Code?

Separate services are a requirement under the Ontario Building Code, and generally, garden suites must comply with these rules and requirements.

“Separate services” means that plumbing lines and piping can be accessed for service and maintenance without disturbing another resident’s private living space. 

Plumbing cannot be installed “in or under another unit of the building” unless the pipe runs through a “tunnel, pipe corridor, common basement, or parking garage.” However, plumbing can be installed in or under a lower unit to service a unit located overhead.

Talk to Dr. Pipe and Plumbing About Garden Suite Plumbing in Toronto

There are so many considerations to adding a garden suite to your property. We have the information you need on garden home rules and requirements, including:

  • Site Drainage Plans: New garden suites require an adequately graded lot so that drainage is directed away from the existing house and secondary dwellings, as well as adjacent properties.
  • Elevations to Garden Suites: The top of the garden suite foundation wall must be at least 6 feet (150mm) above ground. This is necessary to avoid masonry weeping holes and prevent rotting along the bottom part of the framing.
  • A splash pad is required under roof downspouts to discharge on an even grade at least 1.0m away from the suite.
  • The splash pad should not drain towards adjacent properties.
  • There should be a well-defined swale along the side of lot lines.

The Ontario Building Code and ESA (Electrical Safety Association) regulate utility connections on garden suites, and electrical lines should typically have a separate meter.

It’s a lot of information, but Dr. Pipe Drain and Plumbing is your licensed plumbing expert for garden suite plumbing in Toronto. Call us with any questions about garden home plumbing or any plumbing issues that you have!

Give us a call today: 416 663 4777 for a free upfront estimate!