Secondary Dwelling units in accessory structures, termed Coach Houses in the City of Ottawa, were approved by Council on October 26, 2016.
A Coach House means: A separate dwelling unit that is subsidiary to and located on the same lot as an associated principal dwelling unit, but is contained in its own building that may also contain uses accessory to the principal dwelling. These new housing units are permitted in Ottawa's urban, suburban and rural areas subject to Section 3.1 of the Official Plan and Section 142 of the Zoning By-law.
The City has created a document, titled: How to Plan Your Coach House in Ottawa [ PDF 6.1 MB ] . This document helps to understand the process and costs associated with building a coach house. This guide also provides answers to many questions associated with constructing a coach house.
Important things to consider before adding a Coach House
If you are adding or retrofitting an existing accessory structure to create a Coach House, you need a building permit before proceeding. For the urban area, the coach house must have servicing from the primary homes municipal water and sewer connection and for lots in the rural area with private servicing they must first proceed with a Site Plan Control Application to confirm on site water suitability for the Coach House before applying for a building permit application.
Only lots with a single family dwelling, semi-detached dwelling, duplex dwelling or in certain circumstances a townhome (which has road frontage on two public roads or a laneway and a road) are permitted to apply for a Coach House.
Lots which already have a Secondary Dwelling Unit (separate apartment) within the primary residence, a garden suite or rooming units, do not qualify to build a Coach House. There are maximum unit size restrictions for the urban and rural area which are tied to the size of your lot and the size of your principle dwelling unit, as detailed in Section 142 of the Zoning By-law.
No additional parking is required, but where provided it must meet the related parking Zoning By-law provisions. Parking in tandem in the existing driveway is permitted.
Secondary dwelling units are not permitted in the former Village of Rockcliffe Park
Your property taxes, as determined by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, may change as a result of adding a coach house in your home. Rent counts as additional income under the Income Tax Act, so adding a coach house will affect your income taxes. Notify your insurance company or broker as early as possible about your plan to build a coach house. Your policy may need to be adjusted to reflect the changes in liability and the adjusted value of your home after the addition is completed.
City Costs for Constructing a Coach House
City Costs for Constructing a Coach House
|Rural Site Plan Control
||Rural un-services areas
|Committee of Adjustment
Note: only the transit portion of a development charge applies to a coach house. To find your applicable fee, you need to find your area (for example inside the greenbelt, outside the greenbelt, rural serviced or rural unserviced) and then select the fee that corresponds to the size of your coach house (for example a one bedroom apartment or a two + bedroom apartment).
A number of City processes must be completed before starting construction of a coach house. In all circumstances, a building permit is required. There may also be situations that require a Site Plan Control application and/or a Committee of Adjustment Minor Variance application. These processes are described in more detail below.
All applications require a building permit. Should the homeowner move forward with building a coach house, all building permit applicants must arrange for a service consultation meeting prior to applying for a building permit by calling 3-1-1 and asking to speak to the Building Code Services office assigned to your property address.
Building permit applicants should review the following information:
Application for a Permit to Construct or Demolish
Site Plan Control
All applications that have a private septic system and well are required to apply for a Site Plan Control application. Site Plan Control applicants must arrange for a Pre-Application Consultation Meeting with City Planning Staff by calling 3-1-1 and asking to speak to the Development Review, Rural Services, or by going to ottawa.ca and searching "information for development applications".
Site Plan Control By-law, Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendment Proposal Summary
Site Location: The proposed amendments will affect residential lands City wide.
Details of Proposed Site Plan Control By-law, Official Plan & Zoning Bylaw Amendments:
The proposed amendments are housekeeping items that clarify the intent of the recently-approved Coach House policy and zoning frameworks and associated provisions. A number of issues with the implementing Site Plan Control By-law, Official Plan policy and Zoning By-law performance standards have come to the City’s attention and require clarification. The proposed amendments will adjust a number of policies and implementing provisions to reflect the intended coach house residential permissions and apply them to residential lands city-wide.
Site Plan Control By-law Amendment Summary:
The proposed Site Plan Control By-law amendment will adjust an existing clause within Section 5 of the Site Plan Control By-law to allow Coach Houses to proceed without needing a Site Plan Control application where a lot has a municipal service connection. The proposed amendment addresses this clarification issue that has come to the City’s attention since the Coach House package was approved.
Proposed Site Plan Control By-law Amendments
Section 5, Policy 1 (i)
Amend the following clause with regards to coach houses:
A coach house, where the coach house is connected to public or communal water and wastewater services.
Amend this clause so as to not require any lot with a municipal water connection to go through a Site Plan Control application. The intent of the Site Plan Control requirement is to require lots in the rural area which have private servicing to obtain City review and approval of the water quality and quantity before proceeding to the building permit application. Where a lot has municipal water, this planning process is not needed.
Official Plan Amendment Summary:
The proposed Official Plan amendments adjust existing policy in Section 3.1 of the Official Plan to allow Coach Houses as an appropriate form of secondary infill housing. The proposed amendments address three clarification issues that have come to the City’s attention since the Coach House package was approved.
Proposed Official Plan Amendments
Section 3.1, Policy (1)(b):
A coach house in conjunction with a townhouse dwelling will only be permitted where the lot containing the townhouse has direct frontage on two public streets, or on a public street and a travelled public lane.
- Amend this policy to allow all townhouse lots that can provide direct pedestrian access from a coach house to a public road to qualify
Section 3.1, Policy (1)(c)(ii) and (d):
A lot that is 0.8 ha or greater in size and is located in the rural area or village and where: (i) the primary dwelling is serviced by a private water and wastewater system and the coach house will share either the water or wastewater system with the main dwelling; or (ii) the primary dwelling is serviced by one public or communal service (water or wastewater) and one private service, and the coach house will share the public or communal service with the main dwelling; (d) A coach house serviced in accordance with c.ii. will be subject to site plan control.
- Amend this policy to allow rural lots that have municipal water service to not require a rural Site Plan Control application. The purpose of the rural Site Plan Control is to confirm that the onsite water quality and quantity is sufficient for the primary home and the coach house. Where municipal water is provided, this planning process step is not required.
Section 3.1, Policy (1)(i):
The Zoning By-law will limit the coach house to a height of one storey for lots in the urban area. An application to allow a height of up to two storeys through a minor variance may be considered where, in addition to the considerations noted in h. above, the coach house is proposed to contain all of its habitable space above a garage.
- Amend this policy to allow two-storey coach houses to contain habitable space on the main level. Where a two-storey coach house is provided, maintain the requirement that a garage is required on the main level, however additional habitable space may be included on the main level within the footprint of the structure.
Zoning By-law Amendment Summary:
The proposed Zoning By-law amendments adjust existing performance standards within Section 142 of the Zoning By-law to allow Coach Houses as an appropriate form of secondary infill housing. The proposed amendments address clarification issues that have come to the City’s attention since the Coach house package was approved.
Proposed Zoning By-law Amendments
Where Permitted, Section 142, (4)
Clarify that a coach house in the rural area on lots that are 0.8 hectares or larger may locate anywhere on the lot, provided the unit meets minimum setbacks, and not be restricted to the rear yard.
This proposed amendment addresses the reality that larger rural lots are configured differently than smaller urban lots and a coach house could locate in a variety of spots on the lot. In most circumstances the location of the new coach house will be restricted based on the existing and proposed locations of the private services. Allowing the coach house to locate anywhere on a rural lot that is 0.8 hectares or larger addresses these varying needs. Further, the intent of this provision is most applicable to the urban area, where community character is being protected. Larger rural lots have the ability to locate coach houses without affecting community character.
Where Permitted, Section 142, (5)(d)
Clarify that a coach house on a townhouse dwelling lot must only provide direct pedestrian access from the coach house to a public street and will not require direct access to two public roads.
This proposed amendment builds on the above proposed Official Plan amendment. The current Zoning By-law provision is worded to prohibit any end unit townhouse dwelling from being permitted a coach house, where it does not have access to two public streets or a public street and a rear lane. There are several scenarios that have come to the attention of the Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department where large end unit townhouse lots exist, which can provide direct pedestrian access from the new backyard coach house unit to a public street, however do not have access to two public streets to meet the qualification provision.
Maximum Size & Accessory Uses, Section 142, (9)
Clarify the maximum permitted size of a coach house when paired with an accessory use.
The current Zoning By-law provision is worded to require any future one-storey coach house that contains an accessory use within the footprint of the same building, to be counted toward the maximum permitted size. It is not the intent of the maximum permitted coach house size to include an accessory use to the principal dwelling unit. Accessory uses are regulated by the Section 55 of the Zoning By-law and Section 142, provision 10 provides further maximum yard coverage’s for both the rural and the urban area. The proposed clarification will exclude an accessory use for the primary dwelling from being included in the maximum permitted coach house size calculation.
Maximum Height, Section 142, (7)(b)(ii)
Adjust the maximum wall height provision in the urban area.
The current coach house maximum height provisions for properties in the urban area includes a maximum wall height, this provision requires amendment as it does not work for any roof type except a flat roof. For example if the following roof types: gable, mansard, gambrel and shed roof, were built to the maximum permitted height of 3.6 metres, measured to the mid-roof line, it results in two elevations having a wall the extends from the ground to the highest peak in the roof thus exceeding the current maximum permitted wall height of 3.2 metres on these two walls. These roof types would therefore be in contradiction with the current Zoning By-law provision as written, or the proposed building would have to have an outermost wall height that is significantly lower than 3.2 metres. A lower interior wall height than 3.2 metres was not the intent of the provision and would significantly affect the construction practices and livability of the coach home interior. However, the intent remains to restrict non-peak walls to 3.2 m in height and the new zoning provision will clarify this.
Setbacks: Rear and interior lot line, Section 142, (8)
Remove the application of a maximum setback in the rural area.
The current setbacks for the rear yard and/or interior side yard include a maximum setback of 1 metre where no windows are proposed on a wall that faces the interior or rear lot line. This provision is appropriate for the urban area where lots are small, however in the rural area there should be flexibility for the rear and interior setbacks of a coach house.
Driveways, Section 142, (12)
Clarify the driveway permissions to allow a driveway to extend to a coach house.
Currently the extension of an existing driveway to a coach house is not permitted. Clarify this permission to allow an existing driveway to be extended, within its width, toward a coach house.
Approval Timelines & Authority:
The target date the proposed amendments will be considered by Committee are:
- Planning Committee – May 9, 2017
- Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee – May 4, 2017.
Please contact the undersigned planner.
Notification and Submission Requirements:
If you wish to be notified of the adoption of the proposed Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments, or of the refusal of a request to amend the official plan, you must make a written request (i.e., return the attached comment sheet) to the City of Ottawa.
If a person or public body does not make oral submissions at a public meeting or make written submissions to the City of Ottawa before the proposed Official Plan amendment is adopted, the person or public body is not entitled to appeal the decision of the Council of the City of Ottawa to the Ontario Municipal Board.
If a person or public body does not make oral submissions at a public meeting or make written submissions to the City of Ottawa before the proposed Official Plan and/or Zoning By-law amendments are adopted, the person or public body may not be added as a party to the hearing of an appeal before the Ontario Municipal Board unless, in the opinion of the Board, there are reasonable grounds to add the person or public body as a party.
Please provide any comments to the undersigned planner by March 16, 2017.
Emily Davies, Planner
City of Ottawa
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department
110 Laurier Avenue West, 4th floor
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1
Committee of Adjustment
Applications that cannot meet the Zoning By-law performance standards must be redesigned to comply. In cases where circumstances peculiar to a property prevent you from developing your coach house in a way that strictly conforms to the Zoning By-law, you may apply to the Committee of Adjustment for a minor variance. Minor variance applicants should arrange for a Pre-Application Consultation Meeting with City Planning Staff by calling 3-1-1 and asking to speak to a planner in the Planning Infrastructure and Economic Development Branch. More information on a minor variance with the Committee of Adjustment can be found on ottawa.ca.
For further information on Coach Houses or how one can be built on your property call the City of Ottawa help line at 3-1-1 and ask to speak to a Development Information Officer (for pre-planning questions) or a Building Code Client Service Representative (for building permit related questions).