Real Estate

Laneway Suite of the Week: How an Annex contractor built a $500,000 in-law unit in his backyard

Including heated floors, coffered Douglas fir ceilings, camouflaged storage, a carport and tons of natural light

By Teagan Sliz
Laneway Suite of the Week: How an Annex contractor built a $500,000 in-law unit in his backyard

Neighbourhood: The Annex Owner: Craig Fournier Architect: Jason Halter Size: Roughly 1,000 square feet Budget: $500,000 Photography: Birdhouse Media

The place

A two storey, one-bedroom-plus-den, two-bathroom laneway suite in the Annex. It shares both a carport and a courtyard with the main house.

The history

In 2018, contractor Craig Fournier purchased the house that sits on this plot of land to rent it out. But, by 2021, Fournier, his wife and his three children had instead decided to move in and build a backyard laneway suite for Fournier’s father-in-law. The goal was to create a contemporary home with warm accents and plenty of natural light. In the summer of 2023, Grandpa moved in—thrilled to be so close to his grandkids while also having his own space. 

The build

After receiving the city’s blessing to start construction, Fournier, his architect friend Jason Halter and their crew of contractors got straight to work. Inspired by nearby Central Tech’s brutalist addition, they poured heavy concrete for the structure’s base while lining the upper floor with stained cedar planks. Inside, Fournier installed 30-foot Douglas fir beams. “You need that structure and support anyway,” he says, “so you might as well use a material that’s nice to look at.” Aside from some pandemic-related supply chain delays, Fournier and Halter had such a positive experience that they founded a laneway-suite construction company with a special focus on mass timber. 

The tour

The top-heavy build cantilevers over the carport for protection from the elements and bonus square footage.

The facade is cedar with a concrete base.

Inside, residents are greeted by dramatic Douglas fir beams. Under the stairs is a storage space that can be accessed via a trap door. 

That hidden space under stairs is opened by a trap door.

The many windows, white paint job and studio lights illuminate the open-concept space. There are heated engineered hardwood floors throughout.

There are heated floors throughout.

In the kitchen: new appliances and Douglas fir accents. 

The coffered Douglas fir ceilings might be the place's greatest feature.

It also comes with porcelain counters, a KitchenAid gas cooktop and a subway-tile backsplash.

The kitchen counters and backsplash are porcelain.

Next door is the space-saving powder room, equipped with a pocket door and a compressed sink.

The powder room comes with a space-saving pocket door and compressed sink.

Heading upstairs reveals the second-floor landing, which comes with a skylight and sliding barn doors leading to the den.

Those barn doors lead to the den.

Here’s that den, overlooking both the laneway and the shared courtyard out back. It has a pull-out couch for when the area needs to be converted into a guest room.

The den can be converted into a guest room.

A reverse view highlights the balcony.

The den walks out to the balcony.

The balcony is about 30 square feet and features stained cedar and a custom railing.

The balcony is 30 square feet.

Down the hall is the bathroom, complete with a second skylight, porcelain tiles and a glass shower. 

Another skylight in the bathroom.

The moody rainfall shower is 24 square feet.

The shower: elegant and moody.

Now for the main bedroom. That nook to the left will soon house a built-in California Closet.

A California Closet will take up that nook on the left.

The corner lounge overlooks a 200-year-old maple tree.

The main bedroom lounge overlooks the laneway.

Finally, here’s the shared courtyard, which has a firepit and a dining area for family meals. 

Here's the shared courtyard leading to the main house.

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