Legal secondary suites are one of the most popular trends for homeowners right now. Many see second units as a house renovation project that results in a high return on investment—and it definitely is. Nevertheless, there are many criteria for adding a legal secondary unit to your property that ensure it is safe for occupants of the house.

But First, What Is a Legal Secondary Suite?

secondary suites

A legal secondary suite is a dwelling unit that is registered with an Ontario municipality. Second suites typically come with a private kitchen, bathroom facilities, and sleeping areas within a dwelling or within structures accessory to a dwelling.

Secondary units also come in many forms and there are differences between each one in terms of requirements.

barrie building permit

Types of Legal Secondary Suites

For the most part, legal secondary suits are a result of interior alterations to a property. Other types of legal secondary units include home additions. Basically, a secondary dwelling unit can be a legal basement apartment, garage conversion, bump-up addition, or a bump-out extension.

Furthermore, every secondary unit must comply with health, safety, and municipal property requirements no matter what type it is. This means it must adhere to the Ontario Building Code, the Fire Code, as well as local city bylaws.

permit drawings

Second Unit Requirements

If you’re considering adding a legal secondary suite to your house, there are a few points to bear in mind. Legal secondary unit requirements differ from one municipality to another, which means the process of adding a secondary dwelling in Collingwood, for example, is a lot different from the process in Barrie.

The first thing to check when adding a second unit is whether your property is eligible. For your house to qualify for a second suite addition, it must be single detached, semi-detached, or a street townhouse. If your home falls under one of these categories, it is eligible for a secondary suite alteration.

garage conversion

Moreover, when the house is deemed eligible, there can only be one secondary dwelling unit per property. For specific information about legal secondary suite criteria, check your city’s municipal requirements.

Just like any other home remodeling project, adding a secondary dwelling unit begins with an accurate design sketch. Although the Ontario Building Code allows homeowners to design their own home alterations, it is recommended that you hire a qualified designer to do it. This is because if the design doesn’t follow property bylaws, it will delay obtaining a building permit and create scheduling problems.

Legal Secondary Suites: An Investment

For a homeowner looking to earn additional income, a legal secondary unit is a worthy investment—and it all begins with a well-drawn design sketch. The most practical way to go about designing a second suite is to consult a licensed building designer. AJD Design Group offers turnkey solutions for permit-ready designs. All you have to do is contact us, and we’ll help you make the most out of your property.

Our clientele includes homeowners in Barrie, Orillia, Muskoka, Midland, Alliston, King, and across the GTA. For more details about our legal second suite basements, reach out to us. Our team is more than happy to answer any and all your questions.

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