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101 Home Series: Adding a Secondary Suite to Your Vancouver Home

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Adding a Secondary Suite to Your Vancouver Home

Vancouver Mortgage BrokerBuying a home in Vancouver is a fairly expensive proposition these days. But, there is one strategy you might consider to offset the amount you pay on your pricey mortgage. You might consider adding a secondary suite to your Vancouver home.

A secondary suite which is also sometimes known as an “in-law suite” or “accessory apartment” is essentially a self-contained living unit that offers both kitchen and bathroom facilities. You can convert a portion or your home such as the basement area and rent it out for additional income.

However, before you jump on the band wagon and start renovating, there are number of things to consider beforehand.

Know What Regulations Apply

If you do plan to renovate your home or an already existing secondary unit you must ensure that you are in full compliance with any and all applicable zoning, by-laws, and any municipal/provincial building code and fire codes that must be satisfied.

Check Out Your Vancouver Zoning By-Laws First

Fortunately, Vancouver has one of the more liberal zoning by-laws when it comes to adding a secondary suite to your home. In Vancouver, you can add a secondary suite to any detached home in the city located in the RS, RM and RT zones.

The City of Vancouver has also relaxed requirements for the following:

  • Reduced ceiling height requirements
  • Reduced requirements for sprinkler systems
  • Allowing full basements to include basement suites which are both liveable and functional

The City of Vancouver also provides a detailed guide which explains how you can legally conform to all their requirements for either an existing suite or what you need to do to create a new suite.

The best way to get started to find out what you need to know to meet the health and safety requirements you should contact the city and arrange for an inspector to come out and examine the space which you plan to renovate.

Make Sure You Comply with Building and Safety Codes

Your secondary suite must also comply with any applicable municipal and provincial building and safety codes. Their purpose is to protect the health and safety of your secondary unit occupants.

British Columbia has construction and design requirements that specifically address the renovation and alterations that apply to secondary units and which differ from new construction.

Some municipalities within the Vancouver also have additional specific requirements that must be followed so you should ensure that you are in full compliance in the area where you live.

Other Consideration for a Secondary Unit

You should also be aware of some other aspects of constructing a secondary suite you will encounter. You will likely be increasing the value to your residence by adding a secondary unit which will most probably result in increased property taxes.

You will also have to contact your insurance agent as you will have to make changes to your policy and you will need to make any appropriate changes to your policy in case of an accident. A claim could be denied if the insurance company was not notified about the addition of a secondary suite.

You will also have to declare any income you receive from a secondary unit with Revenue Canada when you file your tax return.

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