+ Saskatoon Star Phoenix - January 19, 2015 - Infill Backyard Suites Are Coming Soon

The first wave of garage and garden suites could be built as early as this spring, say developers. After working for the past half-year on getting ready for construction, Jeff Nattress, owner of Laneway Suites Ltd., a company that's poised to build the suites in Saskatoon, has released the plans for his first project, which will go up early this year in North Park.

Nattress says that he now has close to 10 garage suite projects on the go.

"There is quite a bit of interest - I'm getting calls nearly every day," he said.

So far Nattress has two applications submitted with the city, and expects that more are on the way.

One is located on his own property, and will serve as a model suite. He also has another application for a suite to be built in King George, and is working with the owner of a lot in City Park who has already been approved for discretionary use.

"Many of the suites are in the application phase, which is the first step." Others are getting the initial survey, some are applying and some are just in discussion, says Nattress.

The suites are part of the city's neighbourhood level infill development strategy, which is designed to increase density. Earlier this month, the city debated changes to zoning bylaws that were intended to preserve the character of established neighbourhoods within Circle Drive and in Montgomery and Sutherland.

Councillors said more discussion would be needed before any bylaw changes are passed.

Crystal Bueckert of BLDG Studio has already designed a dozen garage suites for projects in Saskatoon, including one for Nattress, and says the majority of what is coming is located in the city's core areas.

"Because these suites are built in the back lane, they don't change the streetscape of the neighbourhood. You would typically only see them if you drove through the alleys," said Bueckert.

The current regulations enforce the look of the suites, says Bueckert, who adds that the size of the lot and the house will greatly inform how large a garage or garden suite can be built.

"Some people think they can build a long garage with these suites, but there are numerous factors to consider. The second floor of a garage suite has to be smaller than the main floor," said Bueckert.

Owners are also required to have two parking spots - one for the suite and one for the house. A double garage would typically cover that requirement, but it depends on the size of the lot, she said.

Nattress says that the designs he has seen are meant to utilize lots more effectively, and that the esthetics of the suites tend to change with the owner's personal tastes.

"Some people are going to want a design that will match what their current property looks like. Some may even want to go with something that matches the character of the neighbourhood, whether that's a peaked roof or whatever."

Nattress says that while he is mindful of the esthetics of the older neighbourhoods, many are already seeing more infill projects, and says there is always room for creativity.

"These suites have worked well in other cities and it's addressed a lot of issues in terms of urban planning and design," said Nattress. "If we can support it properly I think it can be a way to address rental concerns as well."

Infill backyard suites are coming soon

The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)

Mon Jan 19 2015

Page: A5

Section: Local

By: Chris Morin

Source: The Starphoenix