Of Granny Pods and Secondary Suites

Yesterday, some friends and I were discussing online the benefits and pitfalls of secondary suites. It began when one friend had shared a picture from HGTV of a granny pod that looked inviting.  I pointed out that it would probably be very dark inside but otherwise, I thought it looked appealing.

Granny Pod
Grandma’s In The Back Yard from HGTV http://www.hgtv.ca/real-estate/blog/grandmas-in-the-backyard-kids-granny-pods-are-becoming-a-thing-1897303/)

The friend went on to discuss some “carriage houses” she had seen in her city. She felt that they looked unattractive and not nearly as pleasing as the images in the promotional brochures. To be fair, the project is still under construction, so she is trying to reserve judgement, albeit with a somewhat jaundiced eye.

Houses with Carriage Houses
Houses with Carriage Houses under construction. Photo by S. Bannerman via Facebook.

We talked about mother-in-law suites, micro homes, rental units, local government regulations, and parking problems, but our focus was on families that provide accommodations for family members as separate from but adjacent to their own homes.

This brought to mind an above-garage suite that I had seen near my home, and that seemed to me to be pleasant to look at.  It provided access to the shared back yard and could be either a guest space, a place for a teenager, or a mother-in-law suite.

After I had gone to take pictures of it, I continued my walk and came across some other examples of garage suites. I also found that some old houses have been removed to make room for two homes on one lot; usually in the form of duplexes. I noted that these seem to sacrifice back yards for buildings.

Anyway, for the benefit of the friends who were a part of the original discussion and anyone else who may be interested, here are my pictures of above-garage living spaces and single-lot duplexes near my home.


    • I think that the over-garage suites would give a senior person more independence than the end-of-the-garden suites. The basic idea is to save on property costs, so buying or renting a place within walking distance of a family member probably wouldn’t do that. If money were no object, then I agree that would probably be preferable. Assisted living facilities provide more community involvement, but they have become unaffordable for a lot of people. The choices people make depend on a lot of different factors.

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