Tuesday, October 5, 2021 / by Earl Gaddi
A secondary unit, or secondary suite, is a living accommodation separate from the main living area of a residential building—usually a single-family home or row-house—existing either above or partially below ground level (some are even built in attics).
Some homeowners choose to bring family members and in-laws closer and they’re also one way to avoid downsizing once the littles have flown the coop, keeping adult children closer while offering privacy and independence. A basement apartment can also be a great source or supplementary income for those looking to invest, but according to our expert REALTOR®, Rita, it’s important to know the market you’re in.
While renting out an apartment in your house can present long-term financial benefits, building a legal basement apartment requires a substantial financial investment, plus the ongoing time and resources needed to maintain the unit in a state of good repair for your tenant(s).
Because basement apartments are considered official residences, tenancy laws come into force according to the province or territory in which you live.
While all residences must comply with the National Building Code of Canada, specific fire, and safety codes apply to secondary units, differing from one province, territory, and municipality, to another. Here are some key items to be aware of:
Due to the precise safety and legal requirements for second units, it’s best to hire licensed professionals for your design and execution—unless you’re professionally qualified to do so, this should never be approached as a DIY.
There are numerous procedures and details to track along the road to ensure a safe and effective build of your future basement apartment, just as there are with major renovations. Take your time, rely on experienced specialists to guide you through the process, and don't be afraid to ask questions so that you're completely involved, aware, and comfortable at all times.