Healthy neighbourhoods include a mix of housing types and configurations. In 2019, the provincial government required municipalities to allow flexible unit types like additional dwelling units (backyard homes, tiny homes, granny flats) and duplex units (secondary suites, in-law suites).

There was a public meeting on April 19 to consider these changes in Kitchener. The agenda items are available online.

On this page:

  1. Additional dwelling units (detached) and semi-detached duplexes
  2. Proposed rules for additional dwelling units (detached)
  3. Proposed rules for semi-detached duplexes

Additional dwelling units (detached) and semi-detached duplexes

In 2019, Ontario passed Bill 108 (More Homes, More Choice Act). This requires municipalities to allow up to three units (two attached units plus one detached unit) on properties with a single detached, semi-detached, or street townhouse dwelling.

In Kitchener, duplexes in single detached dwellings and street townhouses has been widely allowed since the 1990s and this already meets the requirements of Bill 108.

To fully implement Bill 108, there was a public meeting on April 19 to consider allowing:

Additional dwelling units (detached) 

These would be allowed on a lot in the R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, R-5, R-6, and R-7 zone that contains a single detached, duplex, semi-detached, semi-detached duplex, or street townhouse dwelling. Most low-rise residential properties in Kitchener are zoned R-1 through R-7.

An Additional Dwelling Unit (Detached) is a separate self-contained dwelling unit located in a detached building on the same lot as a single detached dwelling, duplex dwelling, semi-detached dwelling unit, or street townhouse dwelling unit. You may know it better as a tiny home or laneway suite.

Semi-detached duplex dwellings

These would be allowed in the R-4 and R-5 zone. Currently, these are only allowed in the R-6 and R-7 zones.

Semi-Detached Duplex Dwellings are houses where one or both halves of a Semi-Detached Dwelling add an attached unit in the basement or upstairs

You can review these related documents:

To find out about the zoning on your property, check out our interactive mapping or visit our zoning bylaw page.


Proposed rules for additional dwelling units (detached)

Additional dwelling units (detached) can also be called tiny houses, laneway suites, or backyard homes. The proposed bylaw being considered at the public meeting on April 19 would allow these units on properties zoned R-1 through R-7 on a lot that includes a single detached dwelling, duplex, semi-detached dwelling, or street townhouse dwelling. Currently, detached additional dwelling units (coach houses) are only allowed if they existed in 1994 or earlier.

To help make sure that these new units are a good fit in our existing neighbourhoods, we're proposing new zoning regulations. Of the approximately 57,000 properties which would allow additional dwelling units (detached), we estimate that about 25,000 will meet all the zoning rules.

If you want to add a detached dwelling unit to your property but don't meet the zoning regulations, you can speak to our planning staff about your options.

Proposed zoning regulations

  • must have a minimum lot width 13.1 meters
  • must have a minimum lot area of 395 square meters
  • maximum of one additional dwelling unit (detached) per lot
  • must have full municipal services
  • must be located in the rear yard a minimum of 0.6 meters from property lines
  • maximum building height of:
    • 4.5 metres for a hip, gable, shed, or gambrel roof, measured to the mid point between the eaves and the peak of the roof, excluding the eaves of any projections
    • 4.5 metres for a mansard roof, measured to the deck line
    • 3 metres for a flat roof, measured to the peak of the roof

Graphic showing the measurement of building height for additional dwelling units (detached) with different types of roofs

  • for a shed roof where the peak of the roof is more than 4.5 metres from highest finished grade level, the highest exterior wall cannot face a rear or side lot line closer than 4.5 metres
  • if the main house is a single detached dwelling or duplex, the side yard setback of the main house must be 1.2 metres on both sides
  • if the main house is a street townhouse or semi-detached dwelling, the side yard setback of the main house must be 2.5 metres on one side
  • there must be a 1.1 meter wide unobstructed path to the entrance of the detached unit from the street or sidewalk
  • the total footprint of detached structures and additional dwellings cannot exceed 15% of the lot area
  • the maximum floor area is 50% of the main house (excluding basement) or 80 square metres, whichever is less

Proposed parking regulations

The parking regulations for an additional dwelling unit (detached) depend on how many units are on your lot. There are two possible combinations:

  • two units in total: one in the main building, and the second in an additional dwelling unit (detached) in the backyard
  • three units in total: two in the main building (duplex) and the third in an additional dwelling unit (detached) in the backyard

If there are two units on the property, two parking spaces are required. Here are the proposed minimum parking options for two units:

  • option one: an 11.5 metre long driveway (measured from the front property line towards the house) that is at least 2.6 metres wide. If the driveway goes along the side of the house, it must be at least 3 metres wide. An 11.5 metre long driveway meets the requirement for two parking spaces. The two spaces can be arranged in tandem (one behind the other).
  • option two: a single garage combined with a driveway in front of the garage. The garage must be located at least 6 metres from the front property line and be able to accommodate one parking space. The driveway in front of the garage must be at least 2.6 metres wide and will accommodate the second space. The two spaces can be arranged in tandem (one behind the other).

If there are three units on the property, three parking spaces are required. Here are the proposed minimum parking options for three units:

  • option one: a double garage combined with a driveway in front of the garage. The double garage must be located at least 6 metres from the front property line and be able to accommodate two parking spaces. The driveway in front of the garage must be at least 5.2 metres wide and will accommodate the third space. Two of the three spaces can be arranged in tandem (one behind the other).
  • option two: an 11.5 metre long double driveway that is at least 5.2 metres wide. Three parking spaces must be able to fit on this driveway and only one can be located closer than 6 metres from the property line. Two of the three spaces can be arranged in tandem (one behind the other).
  • option three: a 17 metre long single driveway (measured from the front property line towards the house) that is at least 2.6 metres wide. If the driveway goes along the side of the house, it must be at least 3 metres wide. A 17 metre long driveway meets the requirement for three parking spaces. The three spaces can be arranged in tandem (one behind the other).

Size of parking spaces

The size of parking spaces in Kitchener depend on whether it is an outdoor space (driveway) or an indoor space (garage or carport).

If it is an outdoor space, the parking space must be a minimum of 2.6 metres wide by 5.5 metres deep. If it is an indoor space, the parking space must be a minimum of 3.04 metres wide by 5.49 metres deep.

Permit process

The permit process to construct an additional dwelling unit (detached) will begin with a scoped site plan application and end with a building permit.

Step 1: Scoped site plan

Cost: $512

  • confirms zoning compliance (setbacks, floor area, etc.)
  • reviews building and parking layout
  • considers affected trees and emergency access
  • review of building elevations to confirm building height
  • approved by planning division

Site plan to include:

  • building location(s)
  • property boundaries
  • parking layout
Step 2: Building permits

Cost: varies

  • reviews plans and drawings to confirm requirements of the Ontario Building Code are met
  • issued by building division

Please note that additional approvals may be required on a case-by-case basis. For example:

  • if the property is located within the Grand River Conservation Authority’s (GRCA) regulated area, additional approvals may be required from the GRCA
  • if services such as water mains or sanitary pipes are required to be upgraded and a new connection to the municipal road is required, additional approvals from our engineering division may be required
  • if the property is a listed or designated heritage property or within a heritage district, a heritage permit may be required

We'll share more information about this process in the coming weeks. Subscribe to this page to get an email when we post an update.


Proposed rules for semi-detached duplexes

Semi-detached duplexes will not require site plan approval. If all zoning regulations are met, semi-detached duplexes can proceed directly to the building permit process.

New zoning regulations for all semi-detached duplexes were considered at the public meeting on April 19:

  • allowing semi-detached duplexes in the Residential Four Zone (R-4) and Residential Five Zone (R-5)
    • the R-4 and R-5 zone currently allows semi-detached dwellings but does not allow the ability to duplex those buildings
  • a maximum of one pedestrian entrance can face the street for each ‘half’ of the semi building
  • setbacks of new buildings which will become a semi-detached duplex must be generally in line with adjacent buildings on the same street

Other zoning rules such as maximum building height, minimum lot widths, or side and rear yard setbacks already exist in the zoning by-law. To see what those rules are, consult the following zones which allow semi-detached dwellings: