When a dilapidated garage in East York sold for more than $ 700,000 back in 2019, it left some regrets about the state of Toronto’s housing market.
But for 22-year-old Andrew Gabriel, an aspiring new developer, it was an irresistible possibility.
“My first thought was, ‘This is something not too many people will be aware of,'” Gabriel said. “The garage does not really matter. What we buy here is land.”
Gabriel bought the garage and its 20 by 100-foot lot for $ 712,000 in March 2021. Today, construction on a three-bedroom house is underway. At about 1200 square meters, the house gets two floors, full basement and carport.
Gabriel said he hopes it will sell for between $ 1.8 and $ 2 million when it hits the market in the new year. It is based on the current market and other new construction in the same area, he said.
While Toronto’s housing problems will not be solved by building exclusive single-family homes, Gabriel sees this project as a good example of getting the most out of a small piece of land.
The city, for its part, has called for smaller homes to be built on vacant land as a potential solution to the ongoing housing crisis.
It launched an initiative to explore more housing options in residential neighborhoods back in July 2020. The Expansion of housing opportunities in neighborhoods The initiative prioritises allowing more housing types in areas of the city that have historically not allowed for them.
The city council also approved the construction of laneway suites in 2018 and is in the process of approving garden suites – secondly smaller homes built in the backyards of existing properties.
But while it is clear that the city wants to expand its available housing options, zoning ordinances and urban backlogs can be a challenge for those who want to build something new.
The original plans for the small plot included a slightly larger house with more space, but getting deviations for the building approved by the city would have delayed construction until 2022 due to delays, said Marin Zabzuni, design director at Contempo Studios, the company Gabriel hired for draw the new house.
Gabriel told the firm that construction was to take place this year to protect his investment. It forced the designers to be creative and come up with a unique plan that complied with the existing zoning regulations and did not contain any deviations that would require further approvals.
“It’s quite challenging,” Zabzuni said. “Every little thing, such as placing even a pillar, if it is a few inches away, would require less variance [and approval from the city]. “
In the end, both designer and developer are happy with the final design.
“It’s an exciting and very unique project,” Gabriel said. “Not the typical house style you see.”