A garden suite is a small, separate, ground-oriented rental suite which is situated in the backyard of a single family detached home. Garden suites are projected to be a long-term rental houses and can’t be used as a short-term rental like those listed on Airbnb. To construct a garden suite, a delegated development permit is needed along with the other supporting building permits.

Building a garden suite offers a rental suite or an in-law accommodation alternative on your property if no secondary suite exists. Landowners have the option to turn an existing attached building into a suite if it passes policy guidelines, or they can completely create something new. To build a garden suite, property owners must get the approval to do so by following an application process. See below for an overview of that process.

Where are garden suites allowed?

Permitted areas for garden suites include properties with a single-family detached house that are suitably zoned, which means most single family locations except for small lots. The proposal for building a garden suite must meet all of the requirements under the Garden Suite Policy and Guidelines and must also integrate the design guidelines that are enclosed in the policy. Properties with existing secondary suites or duplex aren’t permitted.

Applications for a garden suite will be taken into consideration on a site-by-site basis, mainly to see if the property has a single family house as the main use and is appropriately zoned. Properties that are over 6,000 sq. ft, corner lots and double-fronting lots offer better chances of developing a garden suite.

Steps in Building a Garden Suite

  1.       Study the Garden Suites Policy.
  1.       Contact and discuss with the Development Services Division of the Planning and

Development Department to check if your property is appropriate for a garden suite application. Be informed with the requirements along with advice and information from the staff, and remember a legal survey plan is needed to determine the accuracy of possible development statistics.

  1.       Meet and talk with the City Neighborhood Planner concerning your neighborhood. They will help you assess the rezoning process and forward you to important contacts on other departments of the city before formally starting your rezoning application.
  1.       Start with rezoning application.


Garden Suite application requirements are purposely made to be applied on all qualified zones. But given that the city has various property sizes and configurations, unique lot conditions and the presence of pre-existing accessory buildings, existing accessory buildings requirements may not be achieved. However, staff may take into consideration the approval of Garden Suite with the following circumstances:

  1. Existing Garage Conversions

If a property has an existing accessory building or garage, a Garden Suite may be permitted inside a structure that goes beyond the standard requirements as long as:

  •         The accessory building was not altered and it was built with all the right permits
  •         The accessory building is totally upgraded and meets all building code requirements for residential use
  1. “Plus Sites”

Plus Sites are properties that fall under the following criteria:

  •         A corner lot
  •         A lot with two street frontages
  •         A lot with rear yard laneway access
  •         Lots greater than 557 square meter or 6,000 square feet in total area

Under the “plus sites”, there is an option to increase a Garden Suite’s floor area to a maximum of 56 square meters or 600 square feet. The extra floor area may be taken into consideration if the homeowner can demonstrate that it will not have an undesirable impact on shading, privacy or overlooking neighbouring properties.

  1. Protected Trees

In cases where the area of a Garden Suite is extremely restricted with the existence of protected trees that are listed under the Tree Preservation Bylaw, a height alteration maybe taken into consideration to lodge a sleeping space provided that it has:

  •         The Garden Suite’s maximum floor area doesn’t go beyond the normal requirements
  •         The sleeping space floor area doesn’t go beyond 50 percent of the ground floor area
  •         Design actions are made to alleviate shading or overlooking concerns on neighbouring properties

Note to Applicants

  •         A complete rezoning application must be submitted.
  •         It is recommended that the proposal is discussed with your adjacent neighbours before detailed plans are developed. Integrating input in a proposal may aid in addressing possible problems that neighbours may encounter.
  • It is recommended that applicants review their initial proposal with the City’s Engineering and Public Works Department to fully recognize the possible servicing costs and also with the City’s Planning and Development Department to fully recognize the process and requirements of rezoning. Applicants must also take into consideration the features associated with having utilities in the Garden Suite such as cable, internet, and phone line.

What are laneway houses?

Laneway houses are known by several names, including “Fonzie suites”, “carriage houses”, “granny flats” and “coach houses”. They are fairly small, separated, individual houses that are constructed on pre-existing properties. They are normally built in a backyard or laneway of single-family properties.

Laneway houses greatly help in contributing to the total sustainability of a city. They offer people more chances of living close to work and entertainment. They also help in making the urban lanes of the city greener, cozy and safe. Moreover, laneway houses help in providing affordable rental housing for people who are just starting.

There are a lot of reasons why building a laneway house is beneficial. Below are just five of these reasons:

  1. Additional income

Everyone wants to have more income. Having more income helps in paying the bills, putting kids to school, getting a new car and investing for a retirement. Having a laneway home is a great source of additional income by having it rented out.

  1. Increases property value

In a harsh economy where property values are persistently increasing, a laneway house will help you to be ahead. Building something worthwhile in your property and making it a rental income opportunity will provide added value for your property.

  1. Provides housing solution for family members and guests

Whenever your in-laws, relatives, and friends come to visit you, you may face the dilemma of not knowing where they will stay. Having a laneway home will help you with such predicament.

  1. Gives opportunity for homeowners to downsize without leaving their community

If you are searching for an extra rental income without having to leave your area, a lot of people are building laneway homes and moving into it.

  1. Support sustainability

By having a laneway home inside your property, you are giving someone else a chance to live near where he/she works, shops and plays.


Laneway houses are becoming widespread on Canada’s west coast, particularly in the Greater Vancouver area. These hot property trends are normally built on pre-existing properties, typically in a backyard with its opening facing the back lane. Many laneway homes are small, although public issues have stirred in a number of communities because of the effect that bigger laneway homes have on privacy.

Though it is gaining popularity in Vancouver, laneway homes have been appearing in other cities in Canada. Toronto has also built laneway houses until the year 2006 after staff reassessed its effect on safety and services. This type of housing was introduced in Vancouver thanks to the initiation of its former Mayor Sam Sullivan as part of the EcoDensity initiative of the council to help raise urban density in pre-existing neighbourhoods, while at the same time keeping the single-family feel of its neighbourhood.

Considering the idea of living in a laneway house? Here are the pros and cons:


• It’s your very own house.
• You have a private entrance.
• You can listen to your favorite music with full volume since there are no shared walls or floors.
• The concept of laneway housing is still fresh.
• No need to wait for elevators; you will only have to take one flight of stairs, max!
• More appealing compared to basement suites.


• The cost for heating is much higher. Electric baseboard heating for the 4 walls and 2 floors of this home type is quite pricey.
• You can clearly hear the noise that comes from green waste, recycling and garbage trucks.
• Curious onlookers and aspiring laneway home builders taking a lot of pictures.
• Laneway curb appeal just isn’t there among garages and garbage bins.


A frequent question for our custom home builders is “what is the best time to begin building a home?” Surprisingly, winter is the best option! Here are a few reasons:

1. You won’t rush through the design process and can make sure it’s just right.

You really don’t need nice weather to design your dream house, but it does take some time. When the window of nice weather is closing in the spring and summer you might be tempted to make quick hasty decision about the design, just to get things moving along. In the winter you can take your time and make sure you don’t make poor choices.

2. You can choose a good winter lot.

Victoria custom home builders sometimes see a situation where home owners choose a lot based on summer conditions and then home owners are disappointed in the winter. In the winter you get a chance to assess potential lots at their worst. How does the water run through or does it pool? Will you get any sunlight with the lower winter sun?

3. Set up financing

Realistically it takes 30 – 60 days to set up financing for new home construction. This timeline is an aspect that many new home construction clients forget. It’s important to consider and if you begin the process in the winter it will likely end up great timing for breaking ground.

4. You can complete many of the preliminary items during cold weather.

There is so much to do before you actually begin digging. Clearing property, excavating, preparing ground and getting utilities set up are all cold weather activities. Also in Victoria, the rain makes the ground softer and easier to dig. So if you’re putting in a basement, late winter is a great time to get going.

Contact us today to start the process of turning your dream home into a reality.


Building a custom home in Victoria BC is a goal that many strive for. When you undertake this process it’s important to have a builder along for the entire process to avoid disappointments down the road.

When you’re shopping for a lot, you’re probably comparing things like, proximity to work or family, privacy, noise level, traffic, yard situation and lot size. Custom home builders see situations where people have picked out the perfect lot according to their wish list and then find out they can’t actually build on their new lot or it will be outside of their budget to do so. Many times clients buy their lot without any guidance from a builder and when digging begins, it becomes a nightmare. Large boulders that become very expensive to remove, poor ground structure that is saturated with moisture makes some site unbuildable.

If you hire a builder before you purchase a lot the likelihood of these kinds of situations coming up is reduced to zero.

Working with a builder while you shop for a lot means, they can do a lot of the testing before you actually purchase. This means you can have soil tests done, so you have a clear understanding and expectations on what you’ll need to spend on excavation.

Hiring a Victoria based custom home builder before you purchase the lot also means you’ll have a heads up on the building codes needed in the area. For example, some regional districts require a water collection system and some areas you don’t. These unknown expenses can really add up, so it’s important to know ahead of time.

Hiring a builder before you purchase a lot is a small investment considering the hundreds of thousands you could waste on the wrong lot. Contact us today to start the process of turning your dream home into a reality and before you chosen a lot to build on.


5. Clean your gutters

This is such a simple step and one you can mostly do on your own. If you don’t have the proper ladders and equipment we urge you to call a professional instead of trying anything unsafe or procrastinating until you end up with problems. Clogged gutters can cause roof leaks, ice damming, and ruin your gutters.

6. Assess your roof

If you have traditional shingles look for wear and tear, missing or broken shingles. Also inspect the flashing around the vents and stacks and ensure there aren’t any leaks. If you have metal roofing it’s unlikely you have any leaks but have a look at all attachment points and repair as needed. If you have flat roof, make sure you remove all debris that holds moisture without displacing the cover material.

7. Seal cracks in sidewalks and driveways

If water gets into concrete the freezing and thawing process causes it to crack even more. Over time these cracks will get bigger and bigger and you’ll end up with large chunks of concrete missing. Deal with the small cracks now before they get bigger.

8. Inspect the exterior

Look for signs of rot, especially around the bottom. You’ll want to replace any rotten wood or siding and then assess for the cause of the rot. Is there water constantly leaking, splashing or dripping on the area? If so make sure you take care of the problem now so, your repairs aren’t all in vain.

9. Seal cracks in foundation

The foundation is a very important part of your house. If there is any damage to it at all you’ll want to have it assessed by a professional. If there are small cracks, it’s important to get them sealed up right away before water has a chance to seep in, and later freeze causing the crack to get larger.

We hope these tips will help you ensure your home is ready for this fall and upcoming winter.


Fall is in full effect here in Victoria. The trees have pretty well shed all of their leaves which means you’ve probably spent a few hours raking them up.

Outside of raking leaves, there are a few things to make sure your home is ready for winter.

  1. Turn off outdoor hoses  

You might think that it doesn’t get cold enough in Victoria to turn off all your outdoor faucets and disconnect the hoses, but when temperatures dip below freezing it can turn into a serious mess. Frozen water expands and contracts as it freezes and thaws and that can cause pipes to burst, which can costs thousands of dollars to repair. Custom home builders in Victoria usually install shutoffs to outdoor faucets.

  1. Blow out your sprinkler system

If you’re lucky enough to have an irrigation system it’s important to get it blown out in the fall (and then again in the spring too). Professional landscapers or yard maintenance companies will have the proper equipment to do this and if they’re reputable they’ll have a long line of customers so book early.

  1. Assess your yard and run off water drainage

Predict the flow of excess water. If you have downspouts, extend them at least 3 feet away from the house and foundation. Take a look at the slope surrounding your house. Make sure it is sloping away and not towards your foundation. If it’s sloping towards it, you will need to change the grade before the rain and snow come.  

  1. Close the gaps

Assess all the openings to your house, like windows, doors, vents, etc. If there are gaps in the doors you’ll want to add weather stripping. Are there gaps between the window and the walls? Make sure you seal them up with caulking. Are the vents fitting properly and sealed around the openings? If not you can have cold air and rodents rushing into your house. Add some steelwool to any large opening that you can’t close up with caulking- this will keep the mice at bay!

We’ll have more fall maintenance checklist items in our next post. Stay tuned for that.


Building a custom home can be a massive undertaking and many people try to do interior design on their own. Here are 4 reasons to put that Do-It-Yourself attitude aside for this project.

1.They will help keep contractor’s true to design.

A designer can make sure things are being done as it was decided on paper. This saves you from having to deal with any hassles. A designer can be your best advocate, for getting things done just the way you want them.

2. They’re experienced in the industry

This has two implications. The first being they already know the ins and outs of the process, and how to communicate properly with a contractor. A designer will also know people in the industry and this can be a major resource for you. If things go wrong in some of the details, you definitely want a professional to handle it.

3. Their job is to deliver your needs and wants based on realistic limitations

Because a designer understands the process it means you get a great combination of what is actually possible and your desires. Using their expertise they can create a plan based on these two factors and then make sure the plan is followed through on.

4. Your time is precious

The design process can take a lot of your time and energy. This is a valuable commodity these days. Because designers are experts and have a lot of practice at this means they’re much more efficient than you. Being a beginner means you’re going to make mistakes and take much more time to come to a feasible plan. This will probably delay your home building a little bit. Contractors prefer to work with professionals making the building process smoother and less stressful for everyone involved.

At LIDA Homes, our Victoria BC custom home builders focus on both the inside and the outside of your home. Contact us today to start the process of turning your dream home into a reality.


Fall is here in Victoria and as the weather starts to cool down, heating your home is something we all have to do. Building a custom home requires good decision making when it comes to choosing a heat option. There are so many available so it’s important to know all the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

Central Furnace

Fueled by oil, natural gas or electricity a furnace requires ducting to distribute heat throughout the house and a thermostat controls the temperature of the entire home. One disadvantage is you may end up heating areas of the house you don’t use.

Heat Pumps

Commonly thought of as a two way air conditioner. In the summer, the pump moves hot air outside and in the winter it reverses and uses an electrical system to bring in warm air. Heat pumps are considered an efficient way to heat your house and one advantage is that it also serves as air conditioning in the summer.

Baseboard Heaters

Think of a baseboard heater as a space heater but the only difference is that it’s hardwired. They are cheap to install but expensive to operate if you don’t have superior insulation. However one advantage is only heating the room being used, so rooms that are empty aren’t wasting heat.

Wood and Pellet Stoves

Woodstoves are a popular choice for custom home builder in Victoria because our climate is so moist in the winter and wood stoves offer a very dry heat. The only disadvantage is the manual labour that comes along with burning wood. Pellet stoves are a little less labour intensive, but it does still require purchasing and storing pellets and then filling the stove.

Radiant Floor Heat

Basically tubes under the floor filled with warm liquid. It’s considered highly efficient but two disadvantages is that it is expensive to install, and limits floor choices as many floor coverings insulate against the heat instead of letting it into your room.

Contact our custom home builders for more information on your new home and about the heating options.


After going through the process of building a custom home in Victoria BC, you’ll want to take these necessary steps to protect your invest and your family.


If you have shingles make sure you check for loose shingles or any signs of wear and tear. This is especially true if you live in a well treed area, as trees can wreak havoc on a roof. If you have a metal roof check for signs that it has loosened off.

Attic Insulation

If your roof doesn’t have proper insulation a nasty thing called ice damming can happen if we get some ice or snow. This is when the heat from your house escapes into the ice and snow sitting immediately on top of your roof. It then melts and has nowhere to go as it’s trapped by more ice and snow above it. So the only place it has to go is down through your roof! Yuck.


Check for signs of rust or disrepair. Also make sure they remain clean and free running at all times.

Door seals

A properly sealed door will keep the heat in, where you need it. Don’t pay for heat if it just flies out the door.


Look for holes or gaps. Anywhere water can get it, it will and cause rot and mold.


Make sure they’re extended far enough away from your foundation, usually 5 feet is the  minimum if you do not have a two pipe system. A two pipe system involves removing the rain water from your roof with a solid PVC pipe and the ground water from your foundation with a perforated PVC pipe.  This system connects together just as it leaves the house and takes all water away from the house.

Also check for any holes or rust. Keep water away from your foundation is crucial for preventing floods.


Wood should be properly sealed with a quality weather resistant stain or paint to prevent rot.

At LIDA Homes, our Victoria BC custom home builders create beautiful homes that stand the test of time.