What you should know in building secondary revenue suites

by | Last updated Nov 21, 2019 | Published on Oct 30, 2018 | Renovations

Believe it or not, the city of Calgary wants you to rent out your basement! It’s true. They even have a web page convincing you to do so.

According to the officials, secondary suites within homes are great for homeowners, renters, and the Calgary community as a whole. Homeowners get to make a bit more money, renters are given more choice as well as access to neighbourhood conveniences, and the community can invest less in housing and more in improving services for existing areas. So why not pad your monthly income a bit while doing some civic good?

First time home renovators would undoubtedly benefit from the advice of Alliance Renovations as the permit, application, and inspection stages can be incredibly complicated. Alliance Renovations can take care of all the legal and construction work for you or they can help with individual aspects of the project.

Man Holding Key of a House

It’s important to note that secondary suites and backyard suites are different, and require slightly different legal processes. A secondary suite is part of your home, and a backyard suite is disconnected from the main house. Both of them, however, are self-contained dwelling units with their bathrooms, bedrooms, and living spaces.

Before you start, you first need to head on over to the Calgary Permit Office website. This website will be your best friend throughout the process, so make sure to bookmark it! Find the red words “Property Information Tool,” click on it, and type in your address to make sure your area is zoned for secondary suites. It will give you the zone name, which is a mixture of letters and numbers with a hyphen in there somewhere. All the zones are listed below, and you just need to click on yours to see if it’s legal to build one in your zone.

Each type of zone has distinct rules regarding revenue suites; such as maximum sizes if it’s located in a basement or required private outdoor amenities or garage space for the tenant. Make sure you know what’s delineated for your zone.

If your address is not currently zoned for such a project, you may apply for a Land Use Redesignation to switch your property to a different zone.

This page will also tell you if you need a development permit or just a building permit. Typically, a development permit is required when somebody modifies the exterior of their home. And a building permit is required for interior renovation, but there are other caveats to the rule. If you’re planning on renting it out, though, you will also need a Trade Permit, which must be applied for in person.

Man Filing out a Survey Form

The list of requirements for the actual construction of the suite is long, but all of it makes sense. Regulations dictate door sizes, window dimensions, energy efficiency standards, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, stairwells and engineering, plumbing and electrical, and heating and ventilation.

Once you gather together all the permits you need, head over to the Planning Services Centre in the Calgary Municipal Building. In addition to the licenses, make sure you have detailed blueprints of the project ready to go. Although it’s possible to obtain permits after construction has begun, it’s not advisable as you may receive a fine. A Cease Work Order, or be required to take out the work you’ve already done.

At this point, your project differs little from other home renovation work. Make sure to get inspections along with every step of construction, and you are well on your way to making Calgary a better place (and making a little extra cash on the side)!

If you’d like to get the best quality of work done without the months of legal headaches, call us at Alliance Renovations for some help.

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