It’s a bold headline for 2021:
Brand new Downtown Toronto 2-level townhomes, 1,200 square feet – $350,000 each
… and each with zero shared walls with neighbours, all-new built-in appliances, and the latest smart-home features too. Oh, and maybe a sub-headline: INVESTORS WANTED: only 35,000 available.
If you read the above headline and description, it’d be pretty hard to believe. But it’s truly happening, all over Toronto. Several hundred new laneway houses – which are essentially free-standing small houses – similar to townhomes, but with no shared walls, are being completed, built or being planned right across Toronto.
According to Toronto.com in early December, Toronto had issued 119 building permits for laneway suites since it expanded the bylaw across the city in August 2019. Another 42 permits are under review, but there are 372 preliminary zoning review applications, the first step in the building process.
SIZE: While there is no minimum size for laneway house, the smallest we’ve seen, in a 2-floor model. is a 495 sq. ft. build that has already been completed, off Danforth near Greenwood Station. There is an upper size limit: 1,722 square feet over two floors (main and upper), with more square footage available if you add a basement. A basement can be fairly costly though, and it’s not allowed to contain a kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom.
BUILD COST: Here’s where we like to compare these to the cost of a downtown condo or townhouse. While size, finishing detail, features and appliance grade can vary the costs widely, there is no reason to believe that a 1,200 sq. ft. economy model can’t be built for $350,000 – all inclusive.
Now compare that to a brand new downtown (most laneways are south of St. Clair) townhouse or condo. It’s 1/2 the price, and has no monthly condominium maintenance fees. Yes, of course there will be upkeep expenses, but it’s located right on your own property where you can look after it yourself.
USES: There is nearly no restrictions on usage. All, or just part of it may be rented out. Ir can contain as many as 4 bedrooms, den, office, workshop, garage, studio. We’ve seen many with two bathrooms.
HOW MANY?: The short answer is, nobody is quite sure. We know there are nearly 49,000 Toronto properties that touch a laneway, the first and most important criteria for qualifying.
But we know thousands of properties do not qualify because they can’t meet fire access regulations. However, those regulations were recently revised to allow many more homes to make the cut.
So a good guess? 35,000 properties might qualify now.