Case Study: Award Winning Accessible Garden Suite Project

Project Facts

Name: Unio

Size: 1080 sq ft living space + attached garage

Bedrooms: 1 bed 2 bath

Neighborhood: Laurier Heights

Awards won: BILD 2023 Best Garden/Secondary suite

Media links: 

Sweet garden suites

Top in home building industry honoured at BILD Alberta Awards:

Design Intent

This garden suite project was designed to accommodate an immediate need for aging in place with inclusive, accessible design. Accessibility for our clients’ aging parents required wider hallways/doorways, larger turning radius in the rooms, curbless shower, reinforced walls for grab bars, an elevator, and a lower kitchen island that accommodates a wheelchair, all of which was met with this design without sacrificing aesthetic appeal and comfort. The suite will also enable future rental income potential with unique features, such as the elevator access for easy move in. This garden suite home allows for privacy of the occupants, balanced with close proximity to the main residence and common space to come together. The suite supports aging in place and helps to maintain close family ties to combat loneliness and isolation. 

Floorplan and Design Features

The single car garage, exclusively for the garden suite occupants, is attached to a main floor mudroom with accessible cubbies and shelves for storage. The space was designed with storage in mind for occupants to store and display their belongings in accessible spaces. The mudroom leads to an open foyer and family room/office with a double murphy bed and a two-piece oversized powder room. There is a set of stairs as well as an elevator leading to the second floor.

The second floor leads to an open concept sitting room and kitchen with a low kitchen island and open shelving. The bedroom includes an ensuite with accessible curbless shower, in-suite laundry and reinforced walls for grab bars. The vaulted ceilings create an open feeling while remaining within height restrictions. We used vinyl plank flooring in warm brushed oak throughout the suite with tile flooring in the bathroom, all designed without thresholds.

Special Considerations

As builders who focus on energy efficiency and sustainability, we approached this project the same way. Energy efficiency was achieved with 2×8 exterior walls filled with R28 Batt Insulation; triple-glazed, argon-filled windows; south facing windows to allow for passive solar gain and natural light; rigid insulation under the on-grade concrete slab; and thermal break with insulation from concrete foundation wall.

The garden suite exterior materials were designed to match the existing  home to create a cohesive look and feel on the property. The neighbours surrounding this suite were all considered in the design to minimize impact on their property, including planning around their window locations and access points to maintain privacy. We were creative in meeting our requirements for maximum height of the suite by using sloped rooflines, which also created a unique exterior appearance. 

Photos by Merle Prosofsky

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