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Understand What’s Involved In A

Secondary Basement Suite

Secondary Basement Suite

The City of Calgary recently passed laws that makes it easier to put up an additional living space in the basement. Building owners that had also put up these spaces without authorization can also have these spaces legalized under the provisions of these new rules.  This is a positive development that has been received with an upsurge of families taking advantage of the more flexible rules to put up secondary basement suites.

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What Defines A Secondary Basement Suite?

This is a living space that is built in the basement of the main family residence. Secondary basement suites must be fully self-contained, i.e. they must have living and sleeping quarters, as well as kitchen and bathroom spaces. Desired additional spaces include parking, laundry, storage, and backyard.

What are safety features required in these secondary suites?

Secondary basement suites must have safety features as set out in the Alberta Building Code, revised in November, 2015. These safety features are:

•    Bedroom windows – Each bedroom should have at least one window that can be opened from the inside without the need for special tools or keys. The window should be easily accessible and not obstructed by other building features. It should also be large enough for the average adult to fit in. Where there are security bars on the window, they should not hamper the ability to open the window without special tools or keys.

•    Exits – A secondary basement suite must have an exit leading to the outside of the house.  The doors should be solid core and self-closing.

•    Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors – Each space in the secondary suite, e.g. the kitchen should have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors that should be connected to each other. The landlord and the tenant should test these alarms regularly.

How can an unauthorized secondary basement be authorized?

The new rules allow for the exemption of permits for suites that already meet the Land use bylaws, under the Development Permit exemption program. Building owners can find out if they are eligible for this program by using the Property Information Tool provided by authorities. This exemption program allows saving upwards of $2,200 in form of fees, commission and architectural drawings.

If the property does not qualify for the DP exemption program, the owner can apply for Land Use re-designation to change the district of a property.

When do you need a permit for a secondary basement suite?

•    If doing changes that affect the structure of the building

•    If there are walls to be added or removed

•    If the renovations being carried out are more than cosmetic

If you or a loved one is thinking of building a secondary suite or converting an illegal suite into a legal one, make sure to give Golden Acre Renovations a call. We are basement and whole home renovation specialists who get the job done right the first time.

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Secondary Basement Suite
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