Housing choice is an important part of creating a community that is inclusive, as peoples’ lifestyles and income levels vary. Some prefer large, detached homes, others prefer modest condos, and some are content with simply having a roof over their heads, preferring not to contend with the maintenance of a fully-fledged living space.
Edmonton secondary suites (sometimes called basement suites) are an integral part of any community, providing individuals with a safe, regulated, and affordable alternative to houses and apartments. They offer the ability to live in a variety of neighborhoods, but without the responsibilities and costs associated with traditional home ownership.
Basement suites are also beneficial to homeowners, providing them with a rental income stream, which can ease the financial burden of mortgage payments.
A basement suite is a self-contained dwelling within a home, be it a detached, semi-detached, duplex, or rowhouse. It has all the amenities of a typical home, including a bathroom, kitchen, living room, and bedroom. It is specifically developed to function as a living space on its own, separate from the rest of the home. It can be thought of as a home within a home.
Basements are a very common area of a home to convert into a secondary suite, given their large space, the inclusion of different facilities, and their seclusion from the rest of the home, which affords any user with privacy.
Secondary suites are permitted in most Edmonton communities, though it’s imperative to be aware of the zoning bylaws. In addition, becoming acquainted with the various regulations surrounding the health and safety requirements for these suites is also important. The regulations cover areas such as suite entrances, ceiling height, fire escapes, smoke alarms, heating and ventilation systems, and parking.
Regulations are not written in stone, so suite owners should ensure they are in compliance with any amendments. As an example, the provincial government has been allowing suites constructed before 2007 to be issued a permit without having separate heating and ventilation systems, but that will end with new codes to be released in the spring of 2019.
This summer, basement suites became legal in most types of homes (previously, they were only allowed in single-detached homes), giving more options for renters and homeowners.
To ensure compliance with zoning bylaws and regulations the City of Edmonton has published a list of all permits online, Edmonton currently has about 3,500 legal basement suites.
The new list will provide prospective suite owners with details on which properties are legally permitted to rent out basement suites, as well as pressure suite owners to apply for a permit. The City hopes this will help ensure standards for new and existing basement suites are met.