Companion Unit - Getting a permit

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Submitted by wallers on December 26, 2014 - 8:18pm

Wondering if anybody has any experience with getting a companion unit permitted in the rs 1-7 zone? (Residential areas of s park, n park, univ heights).

What the problems were and what type of lot with an existing house on it to look for that would have the best chance of being permitted for this?

I looked through the code and it looks like adding an extra covered parking space could be an issue? What did you do? Signing off saying that I wont rent both is not an issue for me and I will live in one. I think if understood correctly for this area you need at least a 5000 sq foot lot (used to be double).

any experience and feedback with this would be much appreciated.

Submitted by NotCranky on December 28, 2014 - 8:33pm.

I built a two story second house behind a single story house in Normal Heights in 2003 the lot was 50' x100'. I didn't get the permitting done, the owner hire his own draftsman, but I know it took the owner about a year because the draftsman he was working with was pretty slow. The lower floor too small for the size of house, with a single car garage and stair well taking up a lot of space. Upstairs had 3 bedrooms and a bath. Upstairs had a larger footprint due to cantilever floor design.

Everything was easy as the builder. We put a 2 meter power main on the new house and underground the electrical from there to the new house. Dug up the yard and replaced the old cast iron drain pipe with 4" ABS that served both houses. I don't think you can have a plumbing main under either house so make sure it can be routed around if necessary with the proper additional fall for any new length of run required to accomplish that if needed. Upgraded the water main from 3/4 to 1" and put in a mandatory anti-siphon station on the main ( another contractor did that).

I don't think the owner had to sign any agreements not to rent both houses.

This was an alley property. The owner had to hire an engineer to finish the alley in concrete even though the alley had sections of dirt behind other houses.

I think an off street non tandem space is required for each bedroom of both houses, but check that out, the existing house may be grandfathered in.

Submitted by UCGal on December 29, 2014 - 11:22am.

I believe our zone is RS-5. 5k sf lots minimum in our area. (So bigger minimum lots than the minimum in the area you're talking about where parts have 3k sf lots.)

At the time we got the permit/built (2007) the requirement was for nominal DOUBLE the size of the minimum lot size for your hood - so we had to have a 10k sf lot.

The parking didn't need to be covered - but it did need to meet the "street wall" requirements - which was a PITA. Street wall has to do with the space to either side (setback) from the front corner of the main house and the property line... parking had to be in that side area, between the front of the house and the street. So if you have a short front yard or narrow setbacks you might have issues with this requirement. The rules might have changed. This was the hardest requirement to meet.

We were limited to 700sf for the companion unit.

I believe (but could be misrecollecting) the unit had to be on the back 1/3 of the lot.... which for us made it more expensive because of a slope issue.

I've read that they have relaxed some of the requirements (perhaps lot size) since we built. At the time we built it was almost impossible to meet the requirements - but we managed to jump through every hoop and roadblock they threw up in front of us. The mayor, at the time, was on record for NOT liking companion units and was rumored to have told development services to find reasons not to approve. Fortunately, that situation has changed.

Good luck and keep us posted. Our project was a nightmare to build - but turned out great.

Submitted by wallers on December 30, 2014 - 8:27pm.


even though the rules are more relaxed it sounds like parking is still an issue with the street wall and construction can add up especially with the plumbing.

thanks again

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