Legal Secondary Suites 101

Jan 22, 2018 | Blog | 0 comments

Legal secondary suites are becoming a popular source of additional income for many homeowners across Alberta. If you have extra space in your single detached home, a secondary suite can be a great use of property and reliable long-term investment. Before you get started planning your new source of income, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. Consider the tips below to make sure a secondary fit is the best fit for your lifestyle and financial goals.

Know How to Make Things Legal

If you’re planning on using your suite as a legitimate source of side income, you’ll need to take the time to educate yourself on your municipalities legal requirements regarding secondary suites. The City of Edmonton has clearly defined guidelines for homeowners to follow. A few of the top requirements to know are:

  • All suites must have a dedicated secondary entrance, either in a common landing area or directly from the side or rear of the house.
  • Suites are only allowed within a single detached home. Duplexes, townhouses, etc., are exempt.
  • Creation of a secondary suite requires both development and building permit
  • Suites may be created through conversion or development of a basement or other interior space.

Have a Professional Perform Detailed Inspection of the Property Before Construction

One the biggest favours you can do for yourself is to have a professional inspection before moving ahead with construction. A thorough evaluation will help you identify problems or areas for improvement that need to be tended to before renovation and construction are possible. Professionals will also be able to partner with you to come up with a feasible renovation budget (which you’ll want to have set before you start building) and timeline for completion. From there you’ll be able to determine if your venture is worthwhile, or if you’ll need to spend a little longer building your financial resources before you begin.

Choose Fixtures, Appliances, Flooring and Other Features That Can Take Abuse

The unfortunate reality of any rental space is that tenants are less likely to care for your property as carefully as may like. Scuffs, dents, chips, and stains are an inevitability, and you’ll want to protect your investment by insuring your new unit can withstand extra demand, and your fixtures are cheap to repair/replace when necessary. It’s also worth ensuring that you have a solid insurance policy in place to protect you against any unplanned mishaps.

Understand That This is A Long-Term Investment

If you’re looking for a quick way to boost your cash flow, rental units may not be your best bet. The reality of secondary suites is that they do take time and money to get up and to run. It may be tempting to try and save by taking a more DIY approach, but if your wanting a sustainable unit, your best bet is to work with professionals for renovations, utility set up, etc. Expect to pay a decent amount upfront, and build a plan to recoup your cost through your tenant’s rent payments (the typical break-even point takes roughly 12-24 months for most owners). Patience will help alleviate a lot of potential stress.

Partner with an experienced construction professional, and rest assured that your secondary suite development will run smoothly. Call Carmax today to learn more!