Thursday, April 3, 2014

Adding an apartment (in-law suite) to your home

Adding a single, self-contained rental apartment to your home provides your family with an additional source of income and provides your community (or a member of your family) with another source of affordable housing. These apartments – technically called secondary dwelling units but commonly known as “in-law suites” – are regulated by the Secondary Dwelling Unit By-Law.

Important things to consider before adding a unit to your home


  • If you are building a unit in an existing dwelling and the construction includes building an addition, enlarging any window or adding a new exterior door or internal shared entrance, you need a building permit before starting construction
  • No more than an amount equal to 40 per cent of the gross floor area of the principal dwelling may be developed for a secondary dwelling unit, except where a basement unit is created, in which case, there is no maximum size. 
  • The new unit must have a separate access on the ground floor of a principal dwelling (unless building or fire codes allow something else). However, the separate access is not allowed in an exterior wall facing the front yard. An internal shared lobby or entrance hall with a common entrance in the exterior wall facing the front yard is permitted.
  • A maximum of one unit is permitted in a detached dwelling, one in each half of a semi-detached building and only one for the whole of a duplex dwelling. 
  • The new unit must be on the same lot as the principal dwelling unit and must not change the streetscape character along the road on which it is located. 
  • No additional parking space is required but where a new one is provided, it cannot be located in the front yard. Tandem parking in the existing driveway is permitted.
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