For downsizing seniors, this coach house rules

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A new company in Ottawa, Coach Homes of Ottawa Inc., is pitching a downsized vision for aging, small backyard homes with a package of health services.

CBC News reports that Coach House revealed its model homes at the Ottawa Fall Home Show. And, Ottawa home owners may soon be allowed to build coach houses in their yards, if new rules presented by city staff are adopted this month.

City Planner Tim Moerman told CBC: "The idea of the coach houses is to allow for a gradual and discreet kind of intensification, particularly in lower-density neighbourhoods that might have originally been built as nothing but single, detached houses."

The City of Ottawa has long had zoning to allow for apartments within existing homes, but not for smaller, second units in people's yards. Now, it's had to come up with such rules, because the provincial government sees coach houses as a way to boost the stock of affordable housing.

After a year of consultation, and input from communities young and old, suburban and urban, staff have released the rules. Moerman believes the city has landed on a "winning formula" for the size of coach house that would be allowed:
  • In urban areas: one storey and a footprint no greater than 40 per cent the size of the main house, 40 per cent the size of the yard, or 80 square metres, whichever is smallest.
  • In rural areas: two storeys (above a garage) and a footprint that is no greater than 40 per cent the size of the main house, 40 per cent the size of the yard, or 95 square metres, whichever is smallest.
  • Rooftop patios would not be allowed.
  • There would be other required setbacks from the property line to try to protect neighbours' privacy.
  • The water and sewer services would have to come from the main house to prohibit the coach houses from being severed from the main property
  • A home could have an apartment within, or a coach house in the yard, but not both.
"We think that's a formula that works pretty much whatever configuration of house size and lot size you might have," said Moerman. "Whatever coach house you get in there will be quite discreet. It's not going to be a big change to the character of the neighbourhood."

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