What is needed to build a legal secondary suite in Edmonton

Transforming your basement into a legal secondary suite has many benefits. Your basement suite will bring in extra income and helps you build equity faster. It can also be an excellent solution for multi-generational families. Plus, secondary suites help reduce urban sprawl and provide housing diversity in mature neighbourhoods.

Four Elements Construction offers quality major home renovations in Edmonton. If you want to start renting out your basement to tenants, you want to make sure your suite is legal.

Why bother making my basement suite ‘legal’?

There are indeed illegal secondary suites in the city. Just because they exist doesn’t make them okay. A legal suite will have proper permitting. That makes sure things were done correctly and by a professional when the basement renovation was complete. You don’t want to be responsible for injury to a tenant or damage to the suite due to faulty work.

Plus, you could face heavy fines from the city for operating an illegal suite. They could force you to stop collecting rent or to apply for permits retroactively. The suite will likely require retrofits and Edmonton basement renovations to get it up to legal standards.

What does a legal secondary suite in Edmonton need?

The City of Edmonton lays out its requirements quite simply in this Secondary Suite Design Guide. You’ll still need a reputable renovation company to do the job. Here is a breakdown of what you’ll need to ensure the suite is legal:


This includes a building permit and permits for electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, and ventilation in the basement. A certified tradesperson but obtain these permits. They might require periodic inspections throughout the construction stage.

Entrance requirements:

The basement needs to have its own entrance. It can be a shared side or back door, but the tenants cannot be walking through your living area to get to their suite.


The basement suite needs its own appliances, including a fridge and cooking appliance and a full bathroom. Laundry rooms are often considered common shared areas, and so sharing those appliances is okay. You don’t have to outfit the suite with a separate laundry room, but it is an attractive feature for tenants.

Additional soundproofing:

Sound absorbing material, like insulation, must be installed in the walls and ceiling between the basement suite and the main dwelling. Soundproofing should also occur between the suite and any common areas shared with others.

Egress windows for bedrooms:

The windows in any sleeping spaces must be egress windows that can be opened from the inside without obstruction. Egress windows provide a safe fire exit.

Fire protection and alarms:

Additional fire protection, like gypsum board, needs to be installed. Installers will put it between any wall or ceiling to separate the suite from the main dwelling and common areas. It also needs to be on walls and ceilings between any rooms containing fuel-fired appliances. You’ll need smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the suite.

Dedicated, ventilated heating source:

The secondary suite needs a separate ventilated heat source. Acceptable options include forced-air furnace, hydronic radiant heating, or electric baseboard heating.

Basement development in Edmonton

If you’re ready for a major home renovation in Edmonton to transform your downstairs into an attractive, functional, and lucrative secondary suite, connect with Four Elements Construction. They can help create a cost-effect design plan that ensures everything is done right. Then you can start earning that extra income.

Get started today! Contact Four Elements Construction.



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