Getting Started With Legal Secondary Suites

Apr 24, 2018 | Blog | 0 comments

If you’ve read our previous piece on legal secondary suites, you’ll know that Edmonton property owners have shown an increasing interest in adding an additional source of income that utilizes unused space within the home. If you’ve decided that you want to take the next steps towards pursuing a secondary suite, be sure to follow our two-part series featuring can’t miss info, as well as tips and tricks from our renovations experts. Check out part one below!

Getting Started

Before you proceed with any official plans or designs, there’s a couple of things you need to ensure you’ve taken care of. First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure you’re familiar with the City of Edmonton’s guidelines and requirements for secondary suites. In order to be eligible, your space will need to have a private entrance, shared access to mechanicals, and if your suite is located in the basement, you’ll need to ensure that there is sufficient ventilation, as emergency exits available in the case of a fire.

Designing Your Layout

Prior to renovations, you’ll need to have a blueprint to work from. To make sure you’re making the best use of your space and creating a suite that is ergonomic as well as safe, it’s typically best to work with a professional who can help you evaluate the needs of your home. This is particularly helpful, because each property will have unique circumstances that require addressing, and can potentially lead to future complications if missed. Slopes in your foundation, aging plumbing systems, and existing insulation are all vital components that have a direct impact on your renovation capabilities, so knowing what you’re working with upfront can save valuable time and money.

Choosing the Right Materials

Secondary suites need to stand up to the wear and tear typically encountered by rental units. This means that you’ll want to find materials, appliances, and lighting solutions that are durable and cost-effective. Some examples include:


Selecting stylish, but sturdy flooring options like luxury vinyl tile gives you a finish that easy on the eyes, but won’t break the bank. In addition, vinyl planks require minimal prep work, are easy to install, and individual pieces can be replaced as needed.


LED lighting is a fantastic option for secondary suites as it is energy efficient, and, best of all, the bulbs never have to be changed.


While wood and granite counters may look stunning in your home, you’ll want a hardier option for a rental unit. Plastic laminate finishes are easy to clean, resist water damage, and are more cost-effective to replace as needed.

Last Steps

Once you have these factors addressed, you’re nearly ready to get started on your project. Your contractor will be able to help finalize your design, perform any final walkthroughs, solidify your product selection, and confirm your budget. With these steps complete, and once you’ve obtained your permit (if you haven’t already), you’ll be ready to go!

Next up: what to expect during a secondary suite renovation/build. Check back next week for more!