Toronto just got it’s first garden suite in Leaside after the neighbourhood came together this summer to build the city’s first home of its kind in an incredible act of community spirit.
Cathy Faye had the idea to provide a friend with the affordable housing option right in her backyard after they were priced out of the neighbourhood nearly a decade ago.
But between the cost of construction (her initial quote was around $500,000) and logistical obstacles (garden suites weren’t legal until 2022), she couldn’t actually start building until this year.
The bylaws state that there is no minimum lot size required to build a garden suite, but also stipulate that “not all properties will be able to accomodate a garden suite.”
Adam Baguley, who grew up nearby and currently builds custom homes in the city through his company The Mada Group, says that he was between projects when he got contacted about the idea.
“My friend called me and said that his mom wanted to build a house in her backyard for her friend, so that her friend could have affordable housing and retire,” he said.
At first, Baguley was content to provide Faye with a list of companies that could build the suite for her, but when he heard that everything he recommended was out of their price range, he decided to take on the project himself — free of charge.
Faye covered the costs of the materials and paid the labourers’ wages, but in the end, paid a fraction of the cost it would’ve been otherwise.
Baguley says that once each stage of her build was approved by a city inspector, the three-month construction process went smoothly thanks to the help of local architecture firm, Rubinoff Design Group.
“[Rubinoff] knows all the bylaws, so the process of getting the building permit was quite smooth,” Faye said.
“This was a community endeavour,” she continued. “I had friends, neighbours, and family helping out whenever possible to keep costs down.”
The result? Toronto’s first garden suite, which officially became occupied on August 1.