Lane and garden homes offer excellent options for families

(Edmonton) – The stats speak for themselves. More Canadians now than ever before find themselves in the “sandwich generation.” In fact, about a fifth of Canadians are challenged with the responsibility of managing their aging parents’ care and, at the same time, either still raising their teenage children or having grown-up children return home. As the population ages, it’s only going to become a more normal part life for Canadians.

The bad news is that, in all likelihood, their parents will find it difficult to find an affordable retirement home, as waiting lists for seniors’ homes continue to grow exponentially. Financially constrained governments can’t keep up with construction and privately developed facilities are too expensive for most. Also, facilities are poor substitutes for homes. Thousands of Alberta seniors are on waiting lists for suitable accommodation, while they no longer can manage to live in their own houses with stairs and other mobility barriers.

There is good news. Many Alberta municipalities have responded to the looming shortage of senior and affordable housing by recently amending land use by-laws and allowing for development of Lane Homes (above-garage suites) and Garden Homes in residential backyards. These attractive, self-contained homes, with separate utility metering can now be built on many city lots, allowing seniors to either move into such home in their own yard and rent out their large home, or move into their children’s back yard. For many families it’s a win/win proposition.

“It is a brilliant and affordable solution that offers many benefits of multigenerational living. As a parent of a young child, I see endless benefits of having grandma and grandpa living nearby,” says Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta’s former Deputy Premier who saw the dire need for such housing while serving in government and who now is the Managing Director of – local design and building company specializing in such products.

“At Urban Mews, we combined decades of experience and expertise in community development and architecture to design attractive, economic, and ecological garden homes and above-garage suites to meet the growing demand for such housing. Urban Mews homes can be disability friendly, they exceed all building and energy codes and are covered by government approved New Home Warranty,” says George Iligan, Designer at Urban Mews. The Urban Mews team designs each home to their client’s liking and they take care of all municipal permitting and administrative tasks.

The Urban Mews team applauds Alberta’s municipalities for allowing orderly densification of cities, while preserving the architectural integrity and vegetation of mature neighbourhoods. This is not a new concept. In Europe, USA and Vancouver, above-garage suites and garden homes have been part of the urban landscape for decades and serve families and renters alike.

While these homes are still a relative novelty in Alberta, property owners are starting to realize that their backyards can serve a more practical purpose than just growing grass. Lukaszuk says that while multigenerational housing is a major market for Urban Mews, above-garage suites and garden homes in Edmonton can fetch as much as $1,600 in monthly rental revenue. That makes these homes great mortgage payment helpers for younger families or pension supplements for seniors.

Lukaszuk points out that building an above-garage suite or a garden home can be very quick and easy, if a dedicated, experienced and reputable builder is selected. “At Urban Mews we realize that we are building in our clients’ backyards, which means that we must be respectful of their neighbours and existing trees and landscaping. There is no need to have months of noisy construction in your backyard.” Urban Mews suites can also be partially pre-manufactured off-site and erected in your yard in a matter of days, if timing is of essence. This construction process guarantees same results and quality, but speeds up the construction timeline.

Here’s another statistic to leave you with. More than 60% of those working and caring for an older person, while still having children at home, felt that caring for a senior was simply giving back what they had received, and 70% stated that their family relationship was strengthened. You are given piece of mind that your loved ones are close and being well taken care of. Urban Mews homes allow families to remain together in the same yard – mere steps away, but with the privacy you desire.

Whether it’s for your parents, for your teenagers, for rent or simply a guest house or a quiet place to pursue your hobby, this Spring, now that the snow is finally gone, you may view your backyard a little differently. You now have options that you didn’t have last year.

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