Benefits of adding a basement suite
1. Rental income to pay down your mortgage
2. Instantly increase your home’s resale value
3. Make an inviting home office
4. Live with family... while maintaining privacy
5. Private space for out-of-town guests
Now that you are convinced, here are some tips for creating or buying that basement apartment.
A basement apartment should be attractive. Clients look for updated finishings. modern or contemporary hardware, light fixtures, and faucets. Any other fixtures should be clean, modern and properly installed.
Sometimes you don’t have much control over the layout, but when there’s flexibility, open-concept is the way to go. The kitchen and living space should be as close to the entrance as possible and the main bedroom as far away from the entrance as possible. And in a basement, maximize open space, and it will make the space look bigger.
It goes without saying, but a basement apartment without a separate entrance sucks. If you have to install it yourself it can be very expensive, so definitely look for a property that already has one.
When it comes to basement apartment requirements, the ceiling height should be no less than seven feet for most of the space. However, the higher the better. It is common to see 9' or 10' ceilings from new builders in Edmonton. Once you start digging down, it becomes a very big project, you will want to avoid that so keep an eye out for low ceilings when house shopping.
A full kitchen that includes a dishwasher is the best way to impress tenants and command a high price. Just because someone is living in a basement doesn’t mean they have to sacrifice functionality. While you can get away with not having a dishwasher in the basement kitchen, we don’t recommend it.
Even if space is tight, providing tenants with a washer and dryer that is exclusively their own is a huge feature. In fact, it can really make or break a rental agreement. If the laundry units can only be shared with the upper floors of the house, it’s not the end of the world. But, remember, a separate laundry will usually get you a higher price.
Since ceiling height is often at a premium and that would make the windows small so lighting is very important. My favourite is recessed lighting, sure, chandeliers and pendants can look great, but recessed lighting will get you the best bang for your buck, and it will look great. If you want to have a pendant over an island or a decorative chandelier somewhere, do it, but not at the expense of recessed lighting throughout.
What do you need to make your basement suite legal?
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.
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.
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 furnaces, 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, fill out the form below. We have worked with many different builders who have helped our clients create a cost-effect plan that ensures the suite complies with municipal regulations.