Secondary Suites: 10 Things You Need To Do

Are you looking to create a secondary or a basement suite? Here are ten things you need to do in order to create a legal secondary or basement suite.

1. The minimum ceiling height is six feet, five inches.

2. The minimum window size is 5% of the living room space, and 2.5% of the bedroom space. For example, if the bedroom is 10 ft by 10 ft, which is 100 square feet, then the window has to be at least 2.5 square feet in size.

3. A second exit is required only if the main entrance to the secondary suite is shared with the main unit.

4. The minimum window size is 3.77 square feet, with no dimension less than 15 inches. In the above example where the 2.5% is 2.5 square feet, that window has to be at least 3.77 square feet.

5. If a second exit is required, it does not have to be in the bedroom. It could be out of the kitchen, could be out of the living room, but it does not necessarily have to be out of the bedroom.

6. The heating unit can service up to two units, so if you're going from a single family home to a duplex, then that furnace can service both units. If you're going to a triplex from a duplex, then keep in mind that furnace can service two units, and then you'll have to have another one servicing the third unit.

7. Parking is required for the second suite. This makes no sense to me, especially in the city of Toronto where we are reliant on transportation; TTC, streetcars and subways. I don't know why the code requires you to have an additional parking spot, and this is usually the one reason why in my personal experience I've had to go to Committee of Adjustment to get a variance for the second suite because there is no second parking and it's difficult to create a second parking, especially in the downtown core of Toronto.

8. Development charges are waived if you're going from single family to a duplex. If you are skipping, if you go from a single family to a triplex, you will incur development charges. Here's a tip for you, if you're planning to build three units out of a single family home, do it step-by-step. Go from single family to a duplex, once you have that approval done, then go from a duplex to a triplex to avoid paying development charges, which can be very costly.

9. Integrated smoke alarms are required, and you have to have a shutoff for the furnace if it's gas powered.

10. Access to laundry facilities is required for all units. It can be shared, but that's not ideal. Now, if you put on your investor hat, having separate laundry facilities for each unit can generate additional rental income. Think about it, would you want to share doing laundry with other people? Probably not, so from a tenant perspective, it's nice to have their own private washer and dryer.

Feel free to connect if you have any questions about adding a secondary suite or a basement suite.