Sunday, January 11, 2015

Can I build a two story garage at my cottage?


I want to build a garage at my cottage; can I put a second story on top for more livable space?


In most municipalities they don’t want livable space above garages anymore. This creates the scenario that you have two livable residences on one lot (the other one being the actual cottage), this is one of the main rules that are heavily enforced in cottage municipalities that there should only be one residence on a normally zoned residential lot.

To stop people from doing this some municipalities have put height restrictions on accessory buildings (garages). That height limit stops people from being able to build a full second story on their garage. In the last municipality that I built a garage they set the height restriction so that if you tried to build a second story you would only end up with 6 ft at the peak and then the sloping roof would reduce the usable square footage to almost nothing other than a small portion in the middle.

The only way around the height restrictions is to have the garage directly attached to the house and then the livable space above the garage is actually considered part of the principal residence. Adding an attached garage though is an addition on your primary residence and is not considered a secondary out building (which what the municipality considers a separate garage).

What you should consider doing is building an out building with multiple rooms. This would give you a section of the garage as a true garage to work on your boat or car and then you could have another room that is completely separate that could be a hobby room, sitting room, storage room or an arts and crafts room.

The major concern you will have to address is that the wall dividing the garage part to the other livable space is gas proofed so that no one is injured from carbon monoxide fumes from idling gas engines.

You will also have to ensure that your garage doesn’t end up so large that it violates any of the restrictions or setbacks associated with building secondary out buildings.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

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