Carriage House Build (Stage One)

Turning our dreams into reality – one step at a time!

Join us on an epic journey as we turn our backyard into a lavish carriage house oasis. We are sharing all of the details as we embark in crafting a luxurious studio from the ground up!

3 Stages of Building a Carriage House

Our project is one where a simple storage solution evolved into a cozy living space for our future. Today’s blog post details all of the steps that were involved in stage one of our build: from rezoning to concrete.

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More Carriage House Posts

Why build a carriage house?

We started with a vision – a vision that outgrew the four walls of building a simple garage (our original plan). With three teen boys at home, we knew that we would need to utilize extra living space in the near future.

We are located in Kelowna, BC where the current rental market is skyrocketing and where less than 1% of housing is available for rent.

When talking about the idea of building a garage for our recreational equipment, I asked Martin how hard would it be to add a living space on top? Not hard, was his confident response. Alrighty then!

Carriage House Plans Front Elevation
Front Elevation

As the kids graduate and grow into young adults, they are going to need their own space, as are we. Affordable living in Kelowna is hard to come by! So while the primary goal of this build was the additional storage space provided by a two car garage, creating a living space above the garage would be a welcome relief with the current housing crisis.

Carriage House Plans Side Elevation
Side Elevation

Armed with this knowledge we decided to, in true do-it-yourself fashion, build a carriage house ourselves. I, being the property owner, would apply for permitting as a “home owner build” and finance the project while Martin, who is a construction superintendent, would work on building the carriage house on his days off.

Seems simplistic hey?! But it really has been. We make a great team between my focus and organizational skills and Martin’s know-how of all. the. things. this was a project that we were fairly confident that we could tackle.

Carriage House Site Layout
Site Layout

Navigating Zoning and Permits: The Bumpy Road to Approval

We started with having architechtural drawings created for our Carriage House. Our architect was familiar with all of the city bylaws. Having knowledge of these rules helped to dictate how our space was designed and made the whole process a lot smoother.

The garage was drafted to be 21 ft x 29 ft (609 sq ft) with the studio space above being 21 ft x 21 ft (441 sq ft) for a total square footage of 1,050.

Before the first shovel hit the ground, we had to navigate zoning hurdles. Our initial excitement turned to surprise as we discovered our property fell just short of the city’s grand rezoning plan.

A rezoning application in March of 2022 and a nerve-wracking wait until August, finally brought us city council approval. The green light for our project was all we needed!

Permitting became a dance of paperwork – from being denied an accessory building permit in May to compiling all of the needed documents in September. With each hurdle, we grew closer to our ground breaking.

Carriage House Layout
Upper Floor
Carriage House Layout

Our building permit was finally granted in October 2022. Hallelujah! Luckily we got our permit in right before the province of British Columbia increased development fees from $2,500 to $25,000.

Now, in order to get a permit to build any kind of structure, it will cost you a whopping 25K. In our opinion, this is a poor decision made by our government during a housing crisis where we should be making small developments like ours easier, not harder.

Sadly for us the weather turned cold after Halloween. We had an early deep freeze and snowfall that left the ground frozen and unable to be worked for the rest of the year.

Carriage House Ground Prep

The Building Blocks: November 2022 to April 2023

The first months of 2023 marked significant progress. Plans drawn, permits acquired, and zoning battles won, we began the physical transformation in earnest.

  • Excavation and Foundations: November 2022 saw EBK Construction remove soil, setting the stage for our build. Electrical upgrades followed, paving the way for a duel meter base.
  • Forming the Future: December brought the arrival of forms, the foundational structure delivered by Rona. January and February 2023 focused on the footings and walls, with concrete pours and the delivery of essential materials. We worked in mud and snow to get an early start on concrete.
  • Windows, Doors, and More: February was a pivotal month, as exterior windows and doors were ordered. Retaining walls and the slab were carefully planned, with a keen eye on both aesthetics and functionality.
  • Heating Up: March welcomed the arrival of our HVAC unit, ensuring comfort in our future space. The concrete journey continued with multiple pours, setting the stage of a solid foundation for our carriage house.
  • Rolling with the Challenges: April witnessed the dynamic dance of skid steers, rock deliveries, and meticulous preparations for the slab.
Carriage House Concrete Stages

Our friend John was a huge asset in all aspects of this stage as he helped to network with local trades and showed us how to set up all of the concrete prep work. He really got the ball rolling! We could not have got to this point without his guidance and contacts.

Family in Front of Concrete for Carriage House

Everyone, including our teen boys, was involved in: moving building material from the front driveway to the backyard, operating machinery, putting together concrete forms, taking apart concrete forms, finishing concrete (ask us about the tar day) and mucking around in the constant spring-time mud.

Isaiah With the Concrete

The only thing that we hired out during this stage was the finishing of the concrete slab that was poured for the garage. Otherwise all three concrete pours were completed by our team of friends and family.

Martin worked tirelessly during his time at home. Working away on a 1:1 weekly rotation allowed him to focus solely on our project when home.

Concrete Pour Process

Stage One Status

With an initial $50,000 line of credit from the bank, we hoped to reach the crucial “lock-up” stage. In reality, we knew that we would likely triple that budget at least!

Find out what our project total was by visiting Carriage House Build – Stage Three.

Constructing the project ourselves was guaranteed to provide cost savings however, with the rising price of materials, it was hard to say just what the final cost would be.

To date, we’ve invested $61,460 into this dream-turned-reality. The financial twists and turns are part of the journey, and I have been hustling to pay off as many of the expenses as I can as they are incurred.

As we forge ahead, stay tuned for the next stages of our carriage house build! From framing to finishes, this is just the beginning of our story.

Cement Tar Process

Financing the Dream: Stage One Expenses

January 2022Engineer & Draftsperson for Plans$3,000
February 2022Rezoning Application$1,015
July 2022Rezoning Application to City Council$70
September 2022Compile Permit Documents$150
Letter of Approval from Water District$2,185
Home Owner Builder Exam$475
Carriage House Permits Application$175
Site Survey$1,942
October 2022Site Plan Addition to Drawings$200
New Plans Printed $110
Retaining Walls and Bushes Cleared$2,000
Development Cost Charge$2,500
November 2022Excavation & Soil Removal$5,200
Electrical Upgrade$5,550
December 2022Forms Package Delivery$2,767
January 2023Forms for Footings Labor$1,000
February 2023Windows & Doors Order$6,305
Retaining Walls Forms Package$931
First Pour (Footings) Concrete & Line Pump$4,200
Lumber $222
March 2023Emco HVAC Order$7,634
Second Pour (Walls) Concrete & Line Pump$4,521
Form Rental for Walls$2,103
Sealant & Drain Supplies$1,130
Tech Cable for Electrical$530
Rock & Stone Slinger$1,085
April 2023Skid Steer for Fill$1,200
Rock $100
Supplies for Slab Prep$675
Third Pour Concrete$3,885
Concrete Finishing Labour$1300
To DateTotal Project Cost$61,460

This table provides a comprehensive breakdown of the costs up to April 2023, offering a clear picture of the financial journey involved in this exciting carriage house project. The numbers reflect the dedication and hard work that we invested in turning the pile of dirt into our backyard into something one hundred times more useful.

Stage One Cost to Date: $61,460

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Carriage House

Follow our journey, and who knows, our experience might just inspire your next project! Remember, dreams are built one foundation at a time, and we’re laying ours with hard work and dedication. Let the transformation continue!

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about heather

Hello, I’m Heather!

I'm an active mom of twin boys who is always looking for opportunities to inspire creativity through fun crafts, do-it-yourself projects and delicious recipes. This blog has been an integral part of supporting my little family and I am so grateful to have you become a part of our journey! Let's create together... Read more...

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