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Coach Houses in Port Coquitlam

Blog by Rod & Rhea Hayes | March 26th, 2017

Coach Houses
What is a Coach House?
A coach house is a small self-contained dwelling located on the rear portion of a lot, either at street level or above a garage. These are sometimes called laneway houses, granny flats, carriage houses or garden cottages.

The City is considering allowing coach houses as a way of adding modest, private and ground-oriented dwellings. We expect this type of accommodation could:
  • Help owners stay in their homes,
  • Make better use of established infrastructure and school capacity, and
  • Increase housing choice.
If allowed, coach houses would be required to remain part of the property (not subdivided) and could be either rented to others or occupied by family members. They would also be subject to design guidelines to help mitigate impacts such as shading or overlook on adjoining properties.
Project Status

From July to mid-September 2016, Planning Division staff collected input through an online survey and at local events and other places where residents gather. Staff reported back to Smart Growth Committee in November to communicate the feedback received. Committee supported allowing for coach houses in February, 2017. Council is now considering the detailed bylaw amendments. A public hearing has been scheduled for 7pm on March 28th at City Hall: Coach House Public Hearing notice. If you are interested in providing additional feedback regarding the proposed changes to allow for coach houses, please feel free to attend.
The proposed bylaw amendments can be read in the March 14th Council meeting agenda package.

Coach House Examples
Where Could Coach Houses be Built?
The City is proposing that coach houses be permitted on lots designated for single-family residential use in the Official Community Plan and zoned as residential (RS1, RS2, RS3 or RS4) in the Zoning Bylaw.

Lots would need to meet the following requirements to be eligible for a coach house:
  • Minimum lot area of 370 m2 (3983 ft2) if there is no secondary suite
  • Minimum lot area of 740 m2 (7965 ft2) if the main house includes a secondary suite
  • Minimum 10m (32.8 ft) lot width if a corner lot or if the coach house could be accessed from a lane
  • Minimum 12m (39.4 ft) lot width if there is no lane access
Is there enough space on the lot for a coach house?
Each residential zone provides a maximum buildable area for a property. A coach house could only be located on a lot if the floor area of the main house is less than the total floor area allowed by the lot’s zoning.

In other words, if the house has already used up all of the buildable area, a coach house would not be permitted.
How Could We Ensure Coach Houses Fit into the Neighbourhood?
Coach house example
Sample lot layout with a coach house
The City has two ways to help ensure coach houses fit within a neighbourhood’s character:
  1. Zoning regulations to prescribe the location and size of coach houses on a lot, and
  2. Development permit guidelines to address the design and character of coach houses.
Size and Parking
The proposed zoning regulations are:
  • Maximum size of 70 m2 (753 ft2)
  • Maximum height of 8.5 m (27.9 ft) to the peak of the roof if the roof slope is 9 in 12 or greater; maximum height of 7.5 m (24.6 ft) for a less steep roof
  • Provision of private outdoor space
  • One independently accessible parking space

In the case of a mid-block lot without a lane, along the part of the street that abuts the lot, there must be an uninterrupted 5-m portion available for parking vehicles. 

Click here
for a detailed list of proposed regulations for coach houses.

Design and Privacy
A coach house could be subject to development permit guidelines to ensure:
  • the architectural style is respectful of the neighbourhood characteristics
  • privacy is protected by minimizing overlook, and
  • landscaping enhances the lane and neighbourhood.
Click here for details on the proposed development permit requirements for coach houses.
How Would Coach Houses be Approved?
Council is considering amending the Zoning Bylaw to allow for coach houses in residential zones when the properties meet certain requirements. If this took place, any property owner in those zones could build a coach house as long as they met the requirements and obtained a development permit. A specific development permit process offering an opportunity for neighbours' input on the design is being proposed.