Secondary suites in single family homes

A secondary suite — often referred to as a basement suite, nanny suite, or mortgage helper — is a habitable room or rooms within a single-family home that contains a cooking facility. 

The District zoning bylaw allows secondary suites in single family homes, with some exceptions.

Can I install a secondary suite?

You can install a new secondary suite in your single family home, unless:

  • you do not live in the house
  • you plan to build it in an accessory building or parking structure
  • there is already an existing suite in your home (a maximum of 1 suite is allowed)
  • you have boarders or lodgers
  • you have a home occupation (home-based business), such as an office or daycare
  • you want it to be larger than 90m2 (968 sq ft) or 40% of your residential floor space

Get complete bylaw and zoning requirements

Applying to install your secondary suite

You will need a building permit to install a secondary suite. These are the steps:

  1. Review the relevant parts of the zoning and building bylaws, as well as the BC building code, to make sure you understand all of the requirements and restrictions 
  2. Schedule an appointment with a Building Department Plans Reviewer
  3. Your application is reviewed and, after you pay a refundable security deposit, your permit is issued
  4. Have the work done by certified electrical contractors, bonded gas contractors, and trade qualified plumbers (only qualified professionals can obtain permits to work in a single family home with a secondary suite)
  5. You or your contractor requests inspections during construction, as required 

Get more details

Utility charges for secondary suites

Annual utility charges for water and sewer services are applied to all single family residential buildings containing a secondary suite.

This fee applies to all suites, whether authorized by building permit or not, and whether currently occupied or not.

Registering an existing suite

If you have an existing secondary suite in your home, please register it with us.

You are responsible to ensure that the secondary suite is safe for occupation, and complies with all applicable legal requirements.

Please contact us for more details and regulations.

Avoiding the additional utility charge on unoccupied suites

If your suite is not occupied, and you would like to avoid the extra fee, you need to remove the cooking facility (kitchen).

To remove the cooking facility, you remove:

  • the range from the site
  • the range receptacle and replace it with a blank metal cover
  • the breaker feeding range, and replace it with blank filters or 15 amp breakers as spares
  • remove the hood fan and terminate the wire in an electrical box with a blank cover

If you do the work yourself, you will need to have us do an electrical safety inspection. If you hire an electrical contractor to do it, your contractor needs to take out a permit and call for an inspection.