A secondary suite situated above the garage, often called a carriage home, can provide homeowners with many pluses, including design flexibility, an income source and financing leverage.For Calgarians Sarah and Ivan Li, making the choice to design a home with an over-the-garage-style carriage suite was a natural progression.They had been living in the inner-city community of Currie since 2011, but as their family grew — they now have a two-year-old and a four-year-old — and the family dynamic changed, with both couples working full time and their eldest starting kindergarten, child-care options became top of mind. When Sarah’s mom began tossing around thoughts of selling her home and downsizing, the plan solidified.“We started looking at condos that were a decent size for my mom and the prices really didn’t make sense,” recalls Sarah.“And we knew that new lots were going to be released in Currie with carriage-style options, so we started talking about the concept. For us it made financial sense,” says Li.Her mom could help with child care, be steps away from the family and yet everyone could still maintain their privacy.“It just really worked for us. But having the ability to customize was critical for us, so that the design worked for privacy and convenience,” says Li.The Lis chose to build with Crystal Creek Homes, designing a three-storey, five-bedroom custom home with walk-out lower level. The master suite is on the third-level with the kids’ rooms, bonus room and play room on the second floor. A piano room and a formal dining room were also important additions to the layout.The 818-square-foot carriage home is located above the detached, triple-car car garage located at the rear of the home on a paved lane way.“We really put a lot of thought into how my mom would use the space, into entry points for privacy, what direction the doors and windows should face and how to best optimize the backyard, which is in between our home and the carriage home, and the pathway and green space that is next to our home. And we had the ability to do that with Crystal Creek,” says Li.The carriage home has two bedrooms with an open living area, laundry, bathroom and large kitchen with lots of storage. It has its own separate entrance from the outside, as well as access to the garage.“With my mom being on her own, it is really suitable for her. We are really connected and the design flows really well, but everyone has their own privacy,” says Li.Jason Benko, Crystal Creek’s area community manager in Currie, says the carriage home design is a value proposition.“With a carriage home your buying power increases exponentially. If you can show a lender that you have a revenue suite that will bring in $1,500 a month, which one-bedroom designs in Currie consistently do, you can qualify for greater financing. When people learn this, they are super excited to explore the options,” says Benko.The cost to build a carriage suite hovers around $160,000. “That is the fraction of the cost of an apartment or condo in Calgary, plus Currie’s location is phenomenal. It’s a master-planned community in the inner-city,” says Benko.Designs in Currie range from contemporary, English Romantic, Georgian, Arts and Crafts and Modern Farmhouse. Designs sporting carriage homes are all custom designs with lots fronting onto Alexandria Park with its aviation-themed playground and most with triple-car garages.New West Custom Concepts is another builder that is offering over-the-garage-style secondary homes in an exclusive enclave in Five Lakes at Rock Lake Estates in Calgary’s northwest. Situated on a private cul-de-sac, surrounded by lakes and mountain views, the collection of 14 homes features Prairie Contemporary estate level designs on 42-foot wide lots with rear-detached, triple-car garages. Carriage homes range in size from 326 square feet to almost 800 square feet with beautiful kitchens, plenty of storage and outdoor terraces. The main home home designs — there are three models to choose from — hover around 2,400 square feet.“There is just so much value in this design, not to mention the number of ways you can use the secondary home, from a place for teenagers to hang out to a nanny suite or income property,” says Ron Butler, president of New West Custom Concepts.THE DETAILSCarriage homes are a secondary residence located above a detached double or triple car garage, with a private separate entrance.BUILDERS: Crystal Creek Homes, New West Custom ConceptsCOMMUNITIES: Currie in Calgary’s inner-city (Crystal Creek) and Five Lakes at Rock Lake Estates (New West Custom Concepts).PRICE: Crystal Creek in Currie — custom designed home and carriage home including lot and GST starts at $1.3 million. New West Custom Concepts in Five Lakes at Rock Lake Estates starts at just under $1 million including home, carriage home, lot, landscaping and GST.SHOW HOMES: The Crystal Creek show home is located at 105 Trasimeno Cres. S.W. and is open Tuesday through Thursday from 2 to 8 p.m. and weekends from noon to 5 p.m. The New West Custom Concepts show home is located at 63 Rock Lake View N.W. and is open Monday through Thursday from 2 to 8 p.m., and weekends from noon to 5 p.m. INFORMATION: www.crystalcreekhomes.ca and www.rocklakeestates.ca.