21 Jun 2017

The design options and possibilities for a coach house in Ottawa are very exciting for homeowners looking to create more space on their property.

Homeowners can now design and build a separate structure on their existing property that will increase their property value and also provide them with more living space, room for a rental income, or room for family members to live.

Currently, there are specific guidelines in place to follow when looking to design and build your new coach house in Ottawa. These guidelines can get complicated, so it is important to speak to experienced professionals to learn how to properly plan for your coach house.

What are the new coach house guidelines in Ottawa?

There are many guidelines to follow when looking to plan and build your coach house in Ottawa. You can view the official guidelines online at the City of Ottawa website here.

Keep in mind that only properties with a single family or semi-detached dwelling or duplex can apply for a coach house. Townhomes are also allowed under certain specific circumstances.

Here is a quick rundown of some of the general rules to follow:

  • Coach houses must be located on the same lot as your current house
  • Coach houses must be free standing and separate from the main house
  • Coach houses cannot have their own new driveway.
  • Coach houses must have a kitchen and a bathroom
  • Parking is not required for a coach house
  • You can only have one coach house per property
  • You cannot have a coach house if your primary dwelling unit already contains a secondary dwelling unit (rental apartment, basement apartment, rooming units)
  • Coach houses in urban areas must share municipal water and wastewater services with the main house as well as electrical and they may share a natural gas line if desired
  • Coach houses share their utility bills with the main house on one bill
  • The City of Ottawa recommends that coach houses have their own separate hot water tank
  • Coach houses must integrate into the style of the streetscape in urban areas
    Coach houses in urban areas must take into consideration tree conservation prior to cutting down any trees on the lot to build
  • Coach houses must be located in the rear yard, unless the lot has frontage on both a street and a travelled public lane, then the coach house must be located in the yard adjacent to the travelled public lane

What about lot sizes, building height and building dimensions?

  • Coach houses must always be smaller than the primary dwelling and cannot be taller than the primary dwelling. Specifically, coach houses must not be greater in size than 40% of the footprint of the main building
  • Coach houses must not exceed 40% of the size of the yard they are in
  • Maximum sizes for a coach house: 80m² footprint of lot in urban areas, 95m² footprint of lot in rural areas
  • If the lot is less than 125m² in footprint, then the coach house can be up to 50m² but still not more than 40% of the yard size
  • Coach houses can have a footprint as small as 23m². These will still meet the minimum Ontario Building Code requirements for a dwelling unit of approximately 18m²
  • Height restrictions: 3.6m tall in urban areas, and no wall can be higher than 3.2 metres
  • One-storey coach houses can have lofts by lowering the main floor below grade to meet height restrictions
  • Coach houses in rural areas can only be built on properties that are 0.8 hectares or larger and those properties must have a private well and septic service
  • Coach houses in rural areas must share at least one of private well or septic system with the main building

What are the rules for lot setbacks?

  • Coach houses can be placed 1 metre maximum away from the rear and interior side yard property line. The other option is 4 metres minimum away from the rear and interior side yard property line.
  • Corner side yard setbacks: same rules as for principal dwellings

Can I have a two-storey coach house in Ottawa?

Yes. You can have a two-storey coach house in urban and rural areas of Ottawa, however you must apply for it specifically. In addition, you must consider all variance conditions and the coach house planned must have all its habitable space above a garage.

Are there any other guidelines I should know about?

  • Coach houses are not allowed in the former Village of Rockcliffe Park as this district contains heritage status that protects its low-density characteristics
  • Rooftop patios are not allowed
  • You require a building permit for a coach house
  • Walkways must be provided to the coach house
  • Coach houses have specific requirements in terms of windows and entrances
  • You can convert existing accessory structure such as garages, sheds or stables, with certain restrictions

Start your coach house project today

Keep in mind that coach houses are a brand-new building option in Ottawa. These guidelines and regulations are likely to change and become stricter as the city reviews how coach houses are being built, if there are complaints from neighbours, and if the guidelines are accurately providing proper setbacks and privacy for all residents involved.

This is why it is best to start your coach house plans now in order to take advantage of the existing guidelines that allow many options for your coach house construction.

Contact the design and build experts at Holland Homes and Renovations today to discuss how we can help to guide you through the coach house building process.

We can guide you through the zoning bylaws, design options and dimensions for your coach house in Ottawa. We can also discuss the best placement for your coach house on your property, and test the soil for the ability to hold your coach house structure and foundation.