So you’re looking to build a backyard suite in Calgary but are unsure where to start. That’s okay, because at Garage Suites Ltd. we provide a complete service from design and permits to utilities and construction.

In other words, let us take care of your backyard suite project for you. However, with that said, there are several things you should know about laneway house construction in Calgary before thinking about starting the process.

#1 – Property Line Setbacks

Unless you have a “zero lot line” where a suite can be built right up to the property lines, your suite will need to adhere to certain minimum setbacks which should be considered relative to the size of your lot:

    • 2 feet from rear property line
    • 4 feet from either side property line
    • 16 feet from the back end of the house

#2 – Required Lot Sizing

Most zonings are not considered “zero lot lines,” therefore you will have to follow certain rules on setbacks, lot coverage and utilities in order to build a backyard suite. Therefore, in order to build a two-car garage suite, you need at least 28 to 30 feet of width on your lot.

Many people call us about suites on a 25-foot RC1 or RC2 zoned lots, and are disappointed when they find out about the setback requirements which only allows them to build a large one-car garage with a studio to one bedroom above.

#3 – “Discretionary” Permits

Permits are considered by the City of Calgary and surrounding municipalities as “discretionary,” therefore, you do not have a 100% guarantee that your project will be approved.

However, we do not take on laneway house projects for clients unless we have complete confidence that we can get your permits approved by the municipal authority!

#4 – Potential Utility Costs

If your backyard suite has its sewer, water and gas lines connected to the house, then the cost to connect those is included in our package. If your electrical connection is to the pole in the rear lane, then that is also included in our package.

However, if you have to connect to a transformer box, replace your power pole, or connect directly to the city, then you may have to pay anywhere from $10,000 to $35,000 or more depending on the situation at hand.

We have seen electrical connections cost anywhere from a few grand up to $35,000 or more. While we can provide you with an educated guess on the cost of an electrical connection done by a third-party, we cannot give you an exact number.

#5 – Permit & Construction Timelines

Some people ask us if we can start building their suite within a matter of months after they first contact us. Unfortunately we can’t do that, as there is a lengthy process we must follow – which can take anywhere from 11 to 14 months or more.

On average, we typically tell people to expect to wait 4 to 6 months for design and permits and another 4 to 5 months for construction.

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The City of Calgary’s dedicated backyard suite website has a lot of details on it – so many, in fact, that you may feel lost and/or confused about how to proceed. With all the steps involved, the task of pursuing a garage suite for your property may also feel daunting or stressful.

Why do it yourself when we can do everything for you? Contact us today anytime at 403-797-4918 to discuss your backyard suite goals in the Calgary Metropolitan Area, and we will be happy to assist you!