Understanding the new Okanagan carriage home zoning

Understanding the new Okanagan carriage home zoning

Carriage homes are a popular income helper in the Okanagan, and recently it became even easier to build one. So what is a carriage house and is your property eligible?

Why is it called a Carriage house?

Source: Realtor.com (Jacob Lilley Architects)


Originating in the United States, carriage houses were, once upon a time, just that: a smaller building out back which housed the horses, their carriages and their gear downstairs, with their caretaker on the floor above them.


While you typically won’t find any horses or carriages in modern carriage homes, the premise is generally the same today: a smaller detached home, with a garage downstairs and full living quarters upstairs.

What is a carriage house in the Okanagan?

A modern carriage house is a smaller, secondary detached dwelling on the same property as the primary home. Carriage houses are considered secondary use—they don’t subdivide the property or behave as a stratified unit.


The City of Kelowna has been issuing permits for these secondary mortgage-helper dwellings in downtown neighbourhoods for decades. Gaining popularity on properties in Kelowna’s downtown core with heritage and war-time homes that may have actually seen actual carriages passing by in their early days.

Who can build a carriage house in the Okanagan?

The City of Kelowna states that a carriage house is permitted on all RU1, RU2 and RU4 zoned properties within The City of Kelowna’s designated area. Learn more.

Carriage homes can only take up an allotted percentage of your property as well and while there are several building codes and regulations to contend with, it has recently become easier to add a secondary home to your property.

City of Kelowna Carriage home expansion zone

On August 20, 2021, the City of Kelowna’s planning department began to move forward on a proposal to deregulate carriage home zoning in many parts of the Kelowna urban core.

How to build a carriage home in Kelowna

There is an application and extensive checklist to get you started however a carriage home is not the only mortgage helper opportunities available. Secondary suites, guest houses and extensions are potential solutions which may provide a better return and cost savings on your property.

What is the cost of building a carriage house

While the cost of building in the Okanagan has grown to $400/square foot, there are ways to save on building costs. In the end, everything depends on square footage, City of Kelowna permits and finishing materials. Call a member of the Working Hands team today for a no obligation quote today.

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