​The Alternative to Downsizing Your Home​

The traditional meaning of “downsizing” one’s home is being revolutionized in the province of Ontario. More and more we’re seeing urban homeowners opt to convert their single family homes into super efficient multi-site properties for their children, parents, or paying tenants.

Adding a second unit is a great way to provide independent living for a family member or make a little extra money to help pay off the mortgage. Building an energy efficiency second unit also future-proofs your home for subsequent generations.

The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has released an opportune resource on Adding a Second Unit in an Existing House, which can be found here. This resource provides homeowners and building professionals with a user-friendly guide and checklist to help build legal second units.

Why Stay Home?

There are some great benefits to living in the family home instead of moving to a smaller unit. Not having to uproot your life and move, keeping belongings that might be difficult or impossible to part with, and of course, not having to stress about finding a new home to buy are all good reasons to stay in the beloved family home.

On the flip side, some of the perks of traditional downsizing are mitigated with these new alternative solutions. One of the main benefits to downsizing is the increased cash flow. By including a second unit, homeowners can rent it out to paying tenants. Not to mention all the time saved cleaning less of the family home!


What is a second unit according to Ontario?

Simply, “A second unit is a self-contained dwelling unit with a private kitchen, bathroom facilities and sleeping areas”. This article refers to residential homes in Ontario specifically. It’s not a new concept, but is being more frequently adopted now that it’s becoming easier than ever to build an energy efficient second unit.


Noise and Vibration in Second Units

One key consideration of building a second unit in the home is the proximity between units. Noise and vibration travelling between each residence could potentially become a problem for people that live in second or multi-unit residential buildings.

According to Ontario.ca, they have recommended building extra noise protection in the walls, floors, and ceilings that divide the second unit from the remainder of the house. There are many different ways to construct a wall so that it has greater noise protection, including additional insulation.

Second Unit Checklist from the Guide:

Building for the Aging Future

In larger urban centres like Toronto and Ottawa, we’re seeing a shift away from traditional downsizing in the aging population. Instead, many homeowners are choosing to build a second or multi units into their existing home.

It is important to meet planning and Building Code requirements. Doing so will help ensure that your house and second unit are legal, safe and healthy places to live. Looking to start that second unit in your home? Click below to find Ontario’s Guide to Adding a Second Unit in an Existing Home.