If you want to use your Katana Home as your principal residence, recreational residence or rental property and there is no other building on the property, just apply for a building permit.


However, if you plan to place it on a lot that already has a home, then there are generally four types of municipalities that you will experience for Garden Suites/Coach Houses or Accessory Dwelling Units:

  1. Places where these units are allowed “As to Right” permanently – If you meet their criteria just apply for a building permit

  2. Municipalities which allow them with a “Temporary Bylaw” – Apply to your municipal council, if they approve it and you meet their criteria, then you will sign an agreement with the municipality and apply for a building permit

  3. Not allowed – We suggest that you or a group of you approach your local politicians

  4. Haven’t revised their Official Plan/Zoning Bylaws – As above in #3

Where do you start?
You own a house/property – First Step: Look at the Official Plan

Start by going to the municipal website and finding out if the Official Plan is published on the Internet. This is usually hit or miss. Be sure that the most up to date version is online. In all cases, we strongly recommend that you visit the municipal office after reviewing the official plan since the printed copy held in the office is the only official version of these documents. 

There are many terms to search online since each municipal government planners use different definitions. Here is a partial list used commonly in Canada: 


  • Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) – which are apartments built within the existing house only or may include detached units built on the lot 

  • Coach Houses – Separate detached dwelling units on the lot that are permanent

  • Garden Suites – Separate detached dwelling units on the lot that are removed after a number of years (In Ontario 20 years) or permanent in some municipalities

  • Secondary Dwelling Units (SDU) – see above Accessory Dwelling Units

  • Second or Secondary Suites  – see Accessory Dwelling Units

Be careful when looking for the term “Accessory” or “Ancillary” a pool, shed or pergola may be considered accessory/ancillary units. These are separate from the main use of the house which is as a living space. 

Official Plan Wording:

Example #1 "As Right" permanent unit.

Example #2 "Temporary Bylaw" unit.

Example #3 Municipalities that allows Secondary Suites in the house but none in the back yard

About ADU/Garden Suite/Coach House Criteria:

Whether a municipality allows permanent or temporary units most of them enforce some or all of these criteria which may include:

  • Lot coverage (a percentage or maximum)

  • Existing Building Area (a percentage or maximum)

  • Setbacks from property lines

  • Location – usually back yard only

  • Height of the Garden Suite/Coach House

  • Lots cannot be severed (i.e. made into two properties)

  • Garden Suites/Coach Houses must use the existing house's water and sewer lines

  • Number of Parking Spaces


Other criteria which may not be constitutional or unenforceable include:

  • Restricting building a Garden Suite based on the age of the existing house

  • Restricting who can or can’t live in the Garden Suite (i.e. immediate family members)

  • Adding Development Charges in addition to the fees for a Garden Suite or Coach House (Illegal according to the Ontario Minister of Housing)

Second Step: Look at the Zoning Bylaw

Some municipalities may not have up to date Bylaws, some may not be available online and others may not have included Garden Suites/Coach Houses or ADU’s. There may be a lag between the Official Plan and the Zoning Bylaw.

1) Look up the term in Table of Contents:

4.11  Garden Suites .................................................................................................... 54

2) Review the section:

4.11 Garden Suites

A garden suite may be located on a lot in any Urban Residential Zone or NonUrban Residential Zone or Agricultural Zone or Agricultural Employment Zone through the passage of a Temporary Use By-Law under the provisions of Planning Act, subject to the following:

  1. One (1) garden suite shall be permitted on a lot provided the lot does not contain a second unit and shall comply with the provisions of the Zone.

  2. One (1) parking space shall be provided for the garden suite in addition to the parking required for other uses on the lot.

In this case you will have to apply for a Temporary Bylaw. 

3) Look up the Rules for passing a Temporary Bylaw.

In Ontario, temporary bylaws for Garden Suites have been extended under the Affordable Housing Act to twenty (20) years. In some jurisdictions this will be relatively simple to apply and in others they will want signs posted, public meetings and perhaps site plan assessment. This last process may be time-consuming and costly. We would advise that you schedule a meeting with your local planning department before spending any money. The planning office will probably ask for your address and perhaps your Property Identification Number (PIN) which may be found on your tax assessment documents. At that time, ask them for an estimate of the Temporary Bylaw fees. While these fees may seem a lot, they are basically paying the municipality for the extra time and effort of their employees to research you situation. Remember, if you are considering using the property for rental income these fees may be tax deductible. If it starts to get complex consider hiring an independent urban planner or lawyer.



Final Step: Apply for a Temporary Bylaw.

First: Speak with your neighbours and let them understand why you want to build a Garden Suite. (i.e. House elderly parents, for a disabled family member, raise extra income etc.) If possible show them your building diagrams, talk about who will live there, how they will not disturb the neighbourhood and depending on how it goes, ask them for a letter of support. You might want to return that lawnmower that you borrowed last summer. Most people are reasonable and pay special attention to your immediate neighbours whose property borders yours.

Second: Reach out to your local councillor as you did with your neighbours. Explain your plans and ask them for a letter of support. Since they will be voting on the Temporary Bylaw they probably won’t feel comfortable doing that much but see if they can be your internal municipal champion.

Third: Contact the planning department again and the building department before officially applying. In smaller municipalities they may be in the same office. The planning people may be interested in the Garden Suite concept as planners because it increases the housing density and in Ontario it is supported by the Affordable Housing Act. When speaking with the Building people explain that Katana Homes are prefabricated and meet or exceed the Ontario Building Code (OBC).  Explain that you will give them stamped engineering drawings that show that all of the standards have been met. Mention that the unit will be made in a factory and that it will have an Electrical Standards Authority (ESA) inspection. This lays the ground work so that when politicians ask staff about your property, they are familiar with your situation.

Fourth: When all the paper-work is done you may/will be informed of when council will vote on the Temporary Bylaw. By all means attend and invite your friends and supporters to join you. You may be asked to speak or not. Just come prepared to answer council’s questions. Don’t be surprised if opponents are asked to speak be ready to reply.

Most opposition deals with:

  • Noise and disturbance – This can happen in any neighbourhood whether or not the unit is a Garden Suite or a Secondary Rental Suite. A good landlord will have good tenants who are quiet and respectful. Convince your council that you are a good property owner

  • Garbage – This may entail extra trash charges. Tell council that you will encourage your tenants to recycle and dispose of trash as per municipal rules

  • Parking - Since most of these units are 1 bedroom, make sure there is extra space with no parking on the lawn or the street. (Note the Ontario Minister of Housing has stated that unreasonable extra parking requests cannot be used as a way of restricting Garden Suites)

  • Water and Sewage – Studies in Ontario have shown that an additional rental units have a minimal effect on these services

  • Sightlines – Make sure that your Garden Suite is positioned so that your windows do not look into your neighbours bedrooms

  • Design – Our units are designed to be permanent however they are removeable so that they meet the criteria of a temporary use bylaw. They are fully insulated with siding that can be matched to the original look of the existing house on the property