Charlton Ave. Modern Coach House

Location: Hamilton, ON

Client: Graham & Emma Cubitt

Year of Completion: 2021

Final Construction Cost: $320,000

Architect of Record: Invizij Architects

The property was purchased by Emma & Graham Cubitt in 2005 when they first moved to Hamilton, in part because it was a double-wide lot in the Kirkendall neighbourhood with the future potential for development of a second dwelling. An old shed and the back yard had for years been neglected and underused. The property is a few doors down from the HAAA park backs onto Ryerson Middle School and has no laneway access, so the new development would need to allow for secondary dwellings (or SDUs, sometimes called garden suites) because of the lack of laneway access.

Emma’s masters thesis on incremental intensification through urban alley infill developments had led to a decade of advocating for a zoning to allow SDUs across the city. With no certainty of this vision being fulfilled, but a desire to demonstrate that it would be both technically and financially feasible, they decided a prototype was needed to help the idea gain traction in the community. They also wanted to demonstrate these types of buildings could be built to the Passive House standard, enabling low-energy, low-carbon all electric living.

By mid 2020, the design was finalized and a permit issued for a garage/workshop – but one which could be readily converted to a dwelling whenever an SDU bylaw was in place. The Cubitts were able to refinance the primary house to fund the new building. Just Working Construction built the coach house between November 2020 – February 2021. Fortunately, the City’s planning staff were implementing a new SDU bylaw simultaneously, which Council approved in May 2021. This fortuitous timing enabled them to submit for a building permit to convert the garage/workshop into a secondary dwelling. This interior work was quickly completed in August-September 2021, and a family of four moved in immediately.

With a total GFA of 110m2 including the garage, or 75m2 not including the garage area, this SDU of 22′ x 27′ can fit seamlessly in to many lots in Hamilton. Houses like this can provide ample living space for a family of four, with two bedrooms and two washrooms. With the “upside down” typology with the bedrooms below and kitchen/living spaces above, the girls who now live in the house call it their “tree house” because the living spaces are literally up in the trees. This type of layout would also work well for a home office. We hope this prototype for sustainable living will be something that can be replicated on other properties across the city as one part of the solution to the housing crisis.

Project Location