Backyard suites are a popular type of “home improvement” project being taken up by many homeowners in cities across Canada. As these types of projects become more prevalent in Calgary, we have been asked repeatedly about the procedures and costs associated with utility connections.
As Calgary’s premier garage suite builder, we’d like to share some vital information regarding utility connections for any backyard suite. So, here are answers to several of the most common questions we get about utility connections for garage suites in Calgary!
If you still have questions about your potential project after reading our Q&A below, don’t hesitate to contact us anytime or give us a call at 403-797-4918 and we will be happy to assist you! Also see:
Q#1 – Are sewer and water connections included in the price for my garage suite?
Answer: It depends. Utility connections are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
For example, if the natural gas, water and sewer lines are connected to the home, do not need replacement and no extensive trenching is required, then the costs may be included in our price. However, if you have an older home with cast iron pipes, then these lines may need to be replaced entirely.
In some instances, older inner-city homes with utility lines running from the front street require the city to get involved. To replace these lines, a grade slip needs to be applied for and then indemnified contractors provide us with a quote which is then passed on to the client.
Expect to spend $20,000 to $30,000 or more if you need sewer or water lines running under public property to be replaced for your garage suite. These lines will already have been replaced for newer infill owners, making it easier to build a backyard suite and keeping the costs down.
Q#2 – Are my natural gas and electricity connections included in your pricing?
Answer: It also depends. Gas and power utility connections for your suite may or may not be included in our pricing depending on the lot’s characteristics.
Like sewer and water, the natural gas connection for your suite is also evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If a new natural gas line is required, then you will have to pay ATCO’s fee to install a new line.
The electrical connection also may be a limiting factor in your ability to build a suite. If your suite’s power is connected to the back alley pole, this is included in our price. However, suppose you need to trench to a nearby transformer box, require a new 200A panel, or have to replace the power pole altogether to name a few examples. In that case, there will be extra costs associated with your electricity connection.
Upon our site evaluation for your project, we will ensure you are aware of any potential extra costs associated with your utility connections. And don’t worry, as most utility connections we’ve encountered are straightforward and don’t end up costing our clients more very often!
Q#3 – Does having a power pole on my side of the alley affect my ability to build a garage suite?
Answer: You should be fine if you have a deep lot and can pull the garage suite back to meet the required clearances from the power pole(s). However, if you don’t have much room to move the suite back, then you may have to replace the power pole entirely.
The cost of replacing a power pole isn’t cheap. Expect to spend anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 or more depending on what ENMAX decides to quote you for.
We carefully examine how the electrical connection will be made for a potential backyard suite during our site evaluation. If we believe the power pole clearances may be an issue, we ensure the lot owner is made aware and then discuss what options are available to move forward.
Q#4 – If I have a developed basement, is the interior demolition and repair included in your pricing?
Answer: Once again, it depends. Given the uniqueness of every property we see, the interior demo and repair may or may not cost more.
For example, if the utility room is on the front end of the house and we have to cut through the floor to install new piping, then any demo and repair to a developed basement will be priced accordingly.
However, if the utility room is at the back end of the house (which it usually is) and only a bit of drywall needs to be torn out, then the demo and repair costs will likely be included in our pricing.
Q#5 – I am a contractor. Can I do the utility connections myself?
Answer: Unfortunately, we do not allow contractors other than ours to perform utility connections for any of our backyard suite projects. This is because under the Alberta New Home Warranty, we are responsible for everything up to the building envelope.
If you’re a contractor and want to save some money on your garage suite project, we can provide you with a quote for up to the drywall. We do this regularly for clients who want complete the interior on their own time while saving a buck or two.
Q#6 – I would like a 200A panel to connect to my future suite and my house. Is this included in your pricing?
Answer: No, a new 200A panel is not included in our pricing for backyard suites. Our standard construction includes a 100A panel, therefore anything above that will cost extra.
Q#7 – Can I bury my electrical connection so it doesn’t stretch over the top of my backyard?
Answer: Yes, you absolutely can. We can bury the power line for you during the construction of a garage suite on your lot for an extra cost.
Many clients of ours choose to bury the existing electricity connection for added safety and for more aesthetic appeal (out of sight, out of mind).
Q#8 – Can I build a garage suite on a utility right-of-way?
Answer: No, you cannot. If your property has a utility right-of-way and isn’t wide or deep enough to accommodate a backyard suite somewhere else on the lot, then you’re out of luck.
Q#9 – Can I install solar panels on my garage suite?
Answer: Yes, you can utilize solar panels to power your garage suite. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that you’ll have to connect to the city’s electrical grid to see a return on investment.
Solar panels aren’t cheap. Nor do they work on every garage suite as the roof’s orientation is an important detail when determining if solar panels will be worth it.
Ideally, garage suites with east and west-facing roofs are the best option for solar panels due to the exposure received by the sun throughout the day.
Q#10 – What can I do with my utilities to reduce my environmental footprint?
Answer: Apart from solar panels, other options you have include upgrading to a higher-efficiency furnace, triple-pane/energy-efficient windows and an on-demand water tank to name a few.
If you’re focussed on reducing your garage suite’s environmental footprint even more, we have other options for you to explore. Contact us anytime and we’ll be happy to chat!
Calgary Garage Suite Utility Experts
Garage Suites Calgary has a professional team of construction, permitting, architectural, marketing and sales experts ready to serve you. The questions and answers on utility connections for your potential project are just a glimpse of our knowledge of and experience in building backyard suites in Calgary!
Put your trust in the pros to complete your garage suite project! Give us a call anytime at 403-797-4918 or contact us online to discuss your goals and we will be happy to chat! We are looking forward to helping you accomplish your backyard suite goals!