Build or register a secondary suite
A secondary suite is a self-contained unit within a single-family home that contains a cooking facility and living space.
Secondary suites have been permitted in the District since 1997. Sometimes referred to as a basement suite, nanny suite, or mortgage helper, a secondary suite can provide a homeowner with additional rental income while increasing the diversity of rental housing choices in single-family neighbourhoods.
Secondary suites are permitted in most single-family homes and cannot be stratified and sold separately from the main home.
The provincial government has introduced the Secondary Suite Incentive Program, which offers up to $40,000 in forgivable loans to help homeowners create new affordable secondary suites. Learn more about the Secondary Suite Incentive Program
Can I build a secondary suite?
To be eligible to build a secondary suite within your house, the general requirements must be met:
- the property is zoned to permit single-family homes with secondary suites
- the secondary suite is attached to the main house
- there is no existing secondary suite or coach house on the property
- the proposed secondary suite is no greater than 90 m2 (968 ft2) or 40% of the main house (whichever is less)
- the combined density of the main house and secondary suite meet the maximum density allowed by zoning
- three (3) off-street parking spaces are available on the property (1 space is for the exclusive use of the secondary suite)
- you plan to live in the main house or secondary suite
- you do not have boarders or lodgers
How to apply to install your secondary suite
A building permit is required before you can build a secondary suite in your house. If your proposal meets the general requirements, these are the steps:
- Review the Zoning Bylaw and current BC Building Code (Part 9) requirements and restrictions
- Complete a building permit requirements questionnaire
- Complete the building permit application form
- Schedule a building permit intake appointment with a District plans reviewer to submit your application
- Get your permit
- Hire qualified professionals to apply for other permits you may need, including electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and gas
- Request inspections during construction, as required
Registering your existing suite
All single-family homes containing a secondary suites must be registered with us to ensure additional annual utility charges for water and sewer services are collected. The additional utility charge will be shown on your property tax bill. View the District’s annual tax rates
This fee applies to all secondary suites, whether authorized by building permit or not, and whether currently occupied or not. We will not be inspecting your suite when you register it with us; however, you are responsible for ensuring that the suite is safe for occupation and complies with all applicable legal requirements.
It is an offence to use water and sewer services without paying for them. If you have an existing secondary suite in your home, please register it with us by contacting Development Services at 604-990-2480 (ask to speak to a property use inspector) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A secondary suite inspection may be required if it is learned that an un-registered suite exists or if a complaint is received.
Avoiding the additional utility charge on unoccupied suites
If your registered secondary suite is not occupied, and you would like to avoid the extra utility charge, you need to remove the existing cooking facility (such as a range) in the suite.
To remove the cooking facility, the following must be completed:
- hire a licensed contractor to apply for and obtain an electrical permit
- remove the range from the site
- remove the range receptacle and replace it with a blank metal cover
- remove the breaker feeding range and replace 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
Once the work is completed, your licensed contractor is required to schedule an inspection to verify that the cooking facility has been safely and properly decommissioned.
Watch for potential changes
In spring 2022, we asked for your input and feedback on potential changes to our secondary suite regulations.
We are working on multiple regulatory changes to increase options in single family neighbourhoods, including proposed changes to the secondary suite regulations.