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Apply for a secondary suite or backyard suite

About this page


  • Find information about applying for secondary suites and backyard suites, including basement, in-law, backyard and above-garage suites.

  • Find the documents you need for your application.



Illustration of the difference between a Secondary Suite and a Backyard Suite, click for a larger image  

How to start an application


City approvals are required to build a secondary suite or backyard suite. To determine requirements that apply to your home, follow these simple steps.

Step 1: Determine the rules and gather your documents

Please choose an option below.

Are you applying to build a new suite or make an existing suite legal?

Enter your address to determine if a suite is allowed as well as the City approvals required for a secondary suite or backyard suite.

Your land use district is


No backyard suite applications

Backyard suites applications in R-1, R-C1 and R-C1L land use districts will not be accepted until standards relating to the design of backyard suites are approved by Council. Administration is to return to Council on this topic before the end of 2018.


Development permit
may be required

A development permit for your existing suite is only required if you cannot meet Land Use Bylaw requirements noted for your property’s land use district.

Learn more about requirements for district.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite and a notice posting will be placed at the front of your home for public comment.

Learn more about requirements for district.

The City is currently examining the standards related to the design of backyard suites, learn more at Suite Reform.

The City is waiving the development permit fee until June 1, 2020

If your suite was built before March 16, 1970, visit Pre-1970 suites.

Building permit
required

City approvals are required to build or register a secondary suite or backyard suite.

These approvals are determined through the Alberta Fire Code.

These approvals are determined through the Alberta Building Code.

These approvals are determined through the Alberta Building Code.

Learn more about Fire Code requirements Building Code requirements Building Code requirements

Use the appropriate checklist below to see what information and documents you will need for your application:

Step 2: Prepare your drawings

To help you design your project, see the sample drawings section below.

Step 3: Apply

Apply online

Create a myID account, and complete your application.

Apply online

Apply in person

Complete the home improvement application and visit the Planning Services Centre with the required documents found on the checklist in Step 1.

Requirements


Do you meet the rules in the Land Use Bylaw?

Suites are only allowed within certain land use districts. Each district has different rules and requirements as defined in the Land Use Bylaw.

R-C1L

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-C1L.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings, or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite and a notice posting will be placed at the front of your home for public comment.

Secondary suite requirements:

  • Suites that are entirely located in a basement do not have a maximum floor area.*
  • Suites that are not entirely located within a basement have a maximum suite floor area of 100 m2.*
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space for the use of the suite tenant that:
  • Is outdoors.
  • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through development permit application.

A development permit, and a building permit application would be required to approve the suite.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites applications in R-1, R-C1 and R-C1L land use districts will not be accepted until standards relating to the design of backyard suites are approved by Council. Administration is to return to Council on this topic before the end of 2018.

R-C1Ls

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a permitted use in R-C1Ls.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings, or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

Secondary suite requirements:

  • Suites that are entirely located in a basement do not have a maximum floor area.*
  • Suites that are not entirely located within a basement have a maximum suite floor area of 100 m2.*
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space for the use of the suite tenant that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

If the Land Use Bylaw rules explained above are met, a secondary suite within this district would be exempt from obtaining a development permit, and a building permit application would be required to approve the suite.

If your proposed suite does not meet one or more of the Land Use Bylaw rules, you may be required to apply for a development permit, for The City to review your proposed suite and potentially grant a relaxation.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-C1Ls.

Backyard suites are only allowed on the same property as single detached dwellings, or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite.

Backyard suite requirements:

  • A maximum floor area of 75 m2.*
  • A minimum building setback from a rear property line of:
    • 1.5 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
    • 0.6 m for any portion of the building used as a private garage.
  • A minimum building setback from a side property line of 1.2 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
  • A minimum separation of 3.0 m between the closest facades of the main residential building to the closest facade of the backyard suite.
  • A maximum building height of 7.5 m.
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

R-C1

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-C1.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings, or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite and a notice posting will be placed at the front of your home for public comment.

Secondary suite requirements:

  • Suites that are entirely located in a basement do not have a maximum floor area.*
  • Suites that are not entirely located within a basement have a maximum suite floor area of 100 m2.*
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space for the use of the suite tenant that:
  • Is outdoors.
  • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through development permit application.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites applications in R-1, R-C1 and R-C1L land use districts will not be accepted until standards relating to the design of backyard suites are approved by Council. Administration is to return to Council on this topic before the end of 2018.

R-C1s

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a permitted use in R-C1s.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

Secondary suite requirements:

  • Suites that are entirely located in a basement do not have a maximum floor area.*
  • Suites that are not entirely located within a basement have a maximum suite floor area of 100 m2.*
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area, or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

If the rules of the Land Use Bylaw explained above are met, a secondary suite within this district does not require a development permit; only a building permit is needed.

If your proposed suite does not meet one or more of the Land Use Bylaw rules, you may be required to apply for a development permit, for The City to review your proposed suite and potentially grant a relaxation.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-C1s.

Backyard suites are only allowed on the same property as single detached dwellings, or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite.

Backyard suite requirements:

  • A maximum suite floor area of 75 m2.*
  • A minimum building setback from a rear property line of:
    • 1.5 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
    • 0.6 m for any portion of the building used as a private garage.
  • A minimum building setback from a side property line of 1.2 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
  • A minimum separation of 3.0 m between the closest facades of the main residential building to the closest facade of the backyard suite.
  • A maximum building height of 7.5 m.
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area, or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

R-C1N

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-C1N.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings, or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite.

Lot requirements:

  • Minimum property width of 9 m
    Or
  • Minimum property width of 7.5 m when located on a corner property or a property with a lane; and three or more motor vehicle parking stalls are provided on the property

Secondary suite requirements:

  • Suites that are entirely located in a basement do not have a maximum floor area.*
  • Suites that are not entirely located within a basement have a maximum suite floor area of 100 m2.*
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-C1N.

Backyard suites are only allowed on the same property as single detached dwellings, or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite.

Lot requirements:

  • Minimum property width of 9 m
    Or
  • Minimum property width of 7.5 m when located on a corner property or a property with a lane; and three or more motor vehicle parking stalls are provided on the property

Backyard suite requirements:

  • A maximum suite floor area of 75 m2.*
  • A minimum building setback from a rear property line of:
    • 1.5 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
    • 0.6 m for any portion of the building used as a private garage.
  • A minimum building setback from a side property line of 1.2 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
  • A minimum separation of 3.0 m between the closest facades of the main residential building to the closest facade of the backyard suite.
  • A maximum building height of 7.5 m.
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area, or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

R-C2

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a permitted use in R-C2.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings, or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

Lot requirements:

  • Minimum property width of 9 m
    Or
  • Minimum property width of 7.5 m when located on a corner property or a property with a lane; and three or more motor vehicle parking stalls are provided on the property

Secondary suite requirements:

  • Suites that are entirely located in a basement do not have a maximum floor area.*
  • Suites that are not entirely located within a basement have a maximum suite floor area of 100 m2 when the property width is less than 13 m, and have no maximum when the property width is greater than 13 m.*
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area, or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

If the rules of the Land Use Bylaw explained above are met, a secondary suite within this district does not require a development permit; only a building permit is needed.

If your proposed suite does not meet one or more of the Land Use Bylaw rules, you may be required to apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite and potentially grant a relaxation.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-C2.

Backyard suites are only allowed on the same property as single detached dwellings or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite.

Lot requirements:

  • Minimum property width of 9 m
    Or
  • Minimum property width of 7.5 m when located on a corner property or a property with a lane; and three or more motor vehicle parking stalls are provided on the property

Backyard suite requirements:

  • A maximum suite floor area of 75 m2.*
  • A minimum building setback from a rear property line of:
    • 1.5 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
    • 0.6 m for any portion of the building used as a private garage.
  • A minimum building setback from a side property line of 1.2 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
  • A minimum separation of 3.0 m between the closest facades of the main residential building to the closest facade of the backyard suite.
  • A maximum building height of 7.5 m.
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

R-1

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-1.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings, or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite and a notice posting will be placed at the front of your home for public comment.

Secondary suite requirements:

  • Suites that are entirely located in a basement do not have a maximum floor area.*
  • Suites that are not entirely located within a basement have a maximum suite floor area of 100 m2.*
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space for the use of the suite tenant that:
  • Is outdoors.
  • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through development permit application.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites applications in R-1, R-C1 and R-C1L land use districts will not be accepted until standards relating to the design of backyard suites are approved by Council. Administration is to return to Council on this topic before the end of 2018.

R-1s

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a permitted use in R-1s.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

Secondary suite requirements:

  • Suites that are entirely located in a basement do not have a maximum floor area.*
  • Suites that are not entirely located within a basement have a maximum suite floor area of 100 m2.*
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

If the rules of the Land Use Bylaw explained above are met, a secondary suite within this district does not require a development permit; only a building permit is needed.

If your proposed suite does not meet one or more of the Land Use Bylaw rules, you may be required to apply for a development permit, for The City to review your proposed suite and potentially grant a relaxation.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-1s

Backyard suites are only allowed on the same property as single detached dwellings or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite.

Backyard suite requirements:

  • A maximum suite floor area of 75 m2.*
  • A minimum building setback from a rear property line of:
    • 1.5 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
    • 0.6 m for any portion of the building used as a private garage.
  • A minimum building setback from a side property line of 1.2 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
  • A minimum separation of 3.0 m between the closest facades of the main residential building to the closest facade of the backyard suite.
  • A maximum building height of 7.5 m.
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

R-1N

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-1N.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite.

Secondary suite requirements:

  • Suites that are entirely located in a basement do not have a maximum floor area.*
  • Suites that are not entirely located within a basement have a maximum suite floor area of 100 m2.*
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-1N.

Backyard suites are only allowed on the same property as single detached dwellings or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite.

Backyard suite requirements:

  • A maximum suite floor area of 75 m2.*
  • A minimum building setback from a rear property line of:
    • 1.5 m for any portion of the building using as a backyard suite.
    • 0.6 m for any portion of the building used as a private garage.
  • A minimum building setback from a side property line of 1.2 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
  • A minimum separation of 3.0 m between the closest facades of the main residential building to the closest facade of the backyard suite.
  • A maximum building height of 7.5 m.
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

R-2

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a permitted use in R-2.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

Lot requirements:

  • Minimum property width of 9 m
    Or
  • Minimum property width of 7.5 m when located on a corner property or a property with a lane; and three or more motor vehicle parking stalls are provided on the property

Secondary suite requirements:

  • Suites that are entirely located in a basement do not have a maximum floor area.*
  • Suites that are not entirely located within a basement have a maximum suite floor area of 100 m2* when the property width is less than 13 m and have no maximum when the property width is greater than 13 m.
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

If the rules of the Land Use Bylaw explained above are met, a secondary suite within this district does not require a development permit; only a building permit is needed.

If your proposed suite does not meet one or more of the Land Use Bylaw rules, you may be required to apply for a development permit, for The City to review your proposed suite and potentially grant a relaxation.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-2.

Backyard suites are only allowed on the same property as single detached dwellings or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite.

Lot requirements:

  • Minimum property width of 9 m
    Or
  • Minimum property width of 7.5 m when located on a corner property or a property with a lane; and three or more motor vehicle parking stalls are provided on the property

Backyard suite requirements:

  • A maximum suite floor area of 75 m2*.
  • A minimum building setback from a rear property line of:
    • 1.5 m for any portion of the building using as a backyard suite.
    • 0.6 m for any portion of the building used as a private garage.
  • A minimum building setback from a side property line of 1.2 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
  • A minimum separation of 3.0 m between the closest facades of the main residential building to the closest facade of the backyard suite.
  • A maximum building height of 7.5 m.
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

R-2M

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a permitted use in R-2M.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

Secondary suite requirements:

  • Suites that are entirely located in a basement do not have a maximum floor area.*
  • Suites that are not entirely located within a basement have a maximum suite floor area of 100 m2 when the property width is less than 13 m and have no maximum when the property width is greater than 13 m.*
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

If the rules of the Land Use Bylaw explained above are met, a secondary suite within this district does not require a development permit; only a building permit is needed.

If your proposed suite does not meet one or more of the Land Use Bylaw rules, you may be required to apply for a development permit, for The City to review your proposed suite and potentially grant a relaxation.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-2M.

Backyard suites are only allowed on the same property as single detached dwellings or contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite.

Backyard suite requirements:

  • A maximum suite floor area of 75 m2.*
  • A minimum building setback from a rear property line of:
    • 1.5 m for any portion of the building using as a backyard suite.
    • 0.6 m for any portion of the building used as a private garage.
  • A minimum building setback from a side property line of 1.2 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
  • A minimum separation of 3.0 m is required between the closest facades of the main residential building to the closest facade of the backyard suite.
  • A maximum building height of 7.5 m.
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

R-MH

Currently, secondary suites and backyard suites are not listed uses in this land use district. To allow for this use, an approved land use redesignation is required.

R-CG

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a permitted use in R-CG and M-CG.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings, contextual single detached dwellings, semi detached dwellings, contextual semi detached dwellings and row houses. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

Secondary suite requirements:

  • A maximum suite floor area of 70 m2 when the property width is less than 13.0 m; when the property width is over 13.0 m there is no maximum floor area.*
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall in addition to what the property currently requires; however, no parking stall is required when the floor area of the secondary suite is 45.0 m2 or less.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

If the rules of the Land Use Bylaw explained above are met, a secondary suite within this district does not require a development permit; only a building permit is needed.

If your proposed suite does not meet one or more of the Land Use Bylaw rules, you may be required to apply for a Development Permit, for The City to review your proposed suite and potentially grant a relaxation.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites are listed as a discretionary use in R-CG and M-CG.

Backyard suites are only allowed on the same property as single detached dwellings, contextual single detached dwellings, semi detached dwellings, contextual semi detached dwellings or row houses. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite.

Backyard suite requirements:

  • A maximum suite floor area of 75 m2.*
  • A minimum building setback from a rear property line of:
    • 1.5 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
    • 0.6 m for any portion of the building used as a private garage.
  • A minimum building setback from a side property line of 1.2 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite. This may be reduced to zero when:
    • The accessory residential building or backyard suite on the adjacent property has a setback of 0.1 m or less at the shared side property line for any portion of the building that is recessed 0.6 m or greater from the front façade or the rear façade of the building and is setback less than 0.6 m from the side property line.
    • The building setback is not greater than 0.1 m from the side property line for any portion of a building that is recessed 0.6 m or greater from the front façade or the rear façade of the building and is setback less than 1.2 m from the side property line.
    • The wall at the shared side property line is constructed of maintenance-free materials and there is no eaves overhanging onto an adjacent property.
    • All roof drainage from the building is discharged through eavestroughs and downspouts onto the property.
  • A minimum separation of 3.0 m between the closest facades of the main residential building to the closest facade of the backyard suite.
  • A maximum building height of 7.5 m.
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires; however, no parking stall is required when the floor area of the secondary suite is 45.0 m2 or less.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

There is no requirement for a building setback from a property line with a party wall.

* Suite area does not include common area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

M-CG

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a permitted use in M-CG.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings and contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

Secondary suite requirements:

  • A maximum suite floor area of 70 m2 when the property width is less than 13.0 m; when the property width is over 13.0 m there is no maximum floor area.*
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall in addition to what the property currently requires; however, no parking stall is required when the floor area of the secondary suite is 45.0 m2 or less.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

If the rules of the Land Use Bylaw explained above are met, a secondary suite within this district does not require a development permit; only a building permit is needed.

If your proposed suite does not meet one or more of the Land Use Bylaw rules, you may be required to apply for a Development Permit, for The City to review your proposed suite and potentially grant a relaxation.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites are listed as a discretionary use in M-CG.

Backyard suites are only allowed on the same property as single detached dwellings and contextual single detached dwellings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite.

Backyard suite requirements:

  • A maximum suite floor area of 75 m2.*
  • A minimum building setback from a rear property line of:
    • 1.5 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
    • 0.6 m for any portion of the building used as a private garage.
  • A minimum building setback from a side property line of 1.2 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite. This may be reduced to zero when:
    • The accessory residential building or backyard suite on the adjacent property has a setback of 0.1 m or less at the shared side property line for any portion of the building that is recessed 0.6 m or greater from the front façade or the rear façade of the building and is setback less than 0.6 m from the side property line.
    • The building setback is not greater than 0.1 m from the side property line for any portion of a building that is recessed 0.6 m or greater from the front façade or the rear façade of the building and is setback less than 1.2 m from the side property line.
    • The wall at the shared side property line is constructed of maintenance-free materials and there is no eaves overhanging onto an adjacent property.
    • All roof drainage from the building is discharged through eavestroughs and downspouts onto the property.
  • A minimum separation of 3.0 m between the closest facades of the main residential building to the closest facade of the backyard suite.
  • A maximum building height of 7.5 m.
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires; however, no parking stall is required when the floor area of the secondary suite is 45.0 m2 or less.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

There is no requirement for a building setback from a property line with a party wall.

* Suite area does not include common area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

R-G or R-Gm

Secondary suite

Secondary suites are listed as a permitted use in R-G and R-Gm.

Secondary suites are only allowed within single detached dwellings, semi-detached dwellings, and row house buildings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

Secondary suite requirements:

  • Suites that are entirely located in a basement do not have a maximum floor area.*
  • Suites that are not entirely located within a basement have a maximum suite floor area of 100 m2.*
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

If the rules of the Land Use Bylaw explained above are met, a secondary suite within this district does not require a development permit; only a building permit is needed.

If your proposed suite does not meet one or more of the Land Use Bylaw rules, you may be required to apply for a development permit, for The City to review your proposed suite and potentially grant a relaxation.

Backyard suite

Backyard suites are listed as permitted use in R-G and R-Gm.

Backyard suites are only allowed on the same property as single detached dwellings, semi-detached dwellings, and row house buildings. There must not be more than one suite located on a property.

You must apply for a development permit for The City to review your proposed suite.

Backyard suite requirements:

  • A maximum suite floor area of 75 m2.*
  • A minimum building setback from a rear property line of:
    • 1.5 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite.
    • 0.6 m for any portion of the building used as a private garage.
  • A minimum building setback from a side property line of 1.2 m for any portion of the building used as a backyard suite, except if the party wall separating two or more dwelling units is on the property line.
  • A minimum separation of 3.0 m between the closest facades of the main residential building to the closest facade of the backyard suite.
  • A maximum building height of 10 m.
  • A minimum of one motor vehicle parking stall, in addition to what the property currently requires.
  • A private amenity space that:
    • Is outdoors.
    • Has a minimum area of 7.5 m2 with no dimension less than 1.5 m.

* Suite area does not include common area or the area below stairways and landings. Required floor area can be relaxed to a maximum of 10 per cent through a development permit application.

Direct Control District

Chat with us now, or contact the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 for more information about secondary suites and backyard suites in a Direct Control District.

Other districts

Chat with us now, or contact the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 for more information about secondary suites and backyard suites in this land use district.

Alberta Building Code - new and existing suites

City approvals are required to build a new secondary suite. These approvals are determined through the Alberta Building Code. The following list highlights some of the main criteria to consider if you are building a new secondary suite. Please note this list is not all-inclusive. Chat with us, or contact the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 for more information about secondary suites and backyard suites.

Illustrations of codes and bylaws

Secondary Suite vs. Backyard Suite diagram

Sample drawings

Ceiling and door heights

The Alberta Building Code requires a minimum floor to ceiling height of 1.95 m for basement suites.

  • Ceiling heights can be reduced to 1.85 m where ductwork and beams make drop ceilings necessary.
  • Doors within the suite may be reduced to 1.89 m where required.

Entry and exit points

The main residence and suite must have at least one exit that leads directly outside. This may be a door that leads to an exterior stair or a door to a common set of interior stairs that is separated from both the main residence and suite.

  • A stairway used in an exit requires a minimum width of 860 mm and must have at least one handrail.
  • Handrails should be mounted between 800 mm and 965 mm above the stair. The height is measured vertically from the front edge of the stair tread.
  • At least one light fixture that can be switched both on and off at the top and bottom of the stairs is required.
  • A landing must be provided at the top and bottom of all stairs. The landing must be at least 860 mm long and at least as wide as the stairs.
  • Doors serving the exit are required to be a minimum of 810 mm wide and 1.89 m high. Utility rooms, laundry rooms, furnace rooms and all other doors leading to the exit must also be at least 810 mm wide.

Bedroom egress windows

Each bedroom must have at least one window that can be fully opened and used to escape during an emergency.

  • The window must have an unobstructed opening of 0.35 m2 in area and a minimum height and width of 380 mm. See the acceptable window style illustration below for examples and additional requirements.
  • When a window well is required, a clearance of 760 mm must be provided in front of the window. If a casement-type window is used, it must swing open a full 90 degrees. See the window well illustration below for more details.
  • Security bars serving a bedroom window must be removable from the inside without the use of tools, keys or special knowledge. A large majority of security bars do not meet the requirements and are not accepted.

Acceptable window styles

Shaded areas illustrated below represent unobstructed openings that must be 0.35 m² with no dimension less than 380 mm.

Adding or increasing window size

Adding new windows or increasing the size of existing windows in a concrete foundation impacts the wall’s ability to resist soil pressure.

  • The Alberta Building Code restricts opening sizes and configurations. For example, a single window may be 1.2 m in width while two windows, spaced less than their average width apart, are considered one large opening. When adding multiple windows in one wall, the maximum width of all window openings that exceed any of the above requirements must be designed by a professional engineer registered in Alberta. This is typically called a lateral support design. It must include the engineer’s details andrecommendations on how to provide adequate support for the openings, in accordance with Part 4 of the Alberta Building Code.
  • Safety codes officers can require that a registered engineer be hired to make any structural changes or alterations to your property, based on the size and complexity of the project.

Energy efficiency requirements

Your secondary suite may be required to meet energy efficiency requirements under Section 9.36 of the Alberta Building Code. If the application for the building of the house was submitted on or after Nov. 1, 2016 any new renovations must comply with these energy efficiency requirements. If the application for the building of the house was submitted before Nov. 1, 2016 you do not need to comply with the energy efficiency requirements of Section 9.36 of the Alberta Building Code.

The changes for the secondary suite must include building construction and mechanical components (furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters, etc.) that perform as well as, or better than, any similar existing construction or mechanical components that are in the home or that are being replaced. In addition to energy efficiency requirements, all changes must also meet applicable Alberta Building Code requirements.

New heating, ventilation, air conditioning and service water heating systems are always required to be properly certified.

New work and replacement of "like for like" mechanical components and systems normally requires building, gas and/or electrical permits. Please see the Alberta Permit Regulation and the Calgary Building Permit Bylaw for details.

When maintaining and repairing building components or mechanical components in homes, replacements are allowed as long as you replace the component with a similar material or part that performs as well as, or better than, what you are replacing. This includes exterior cladding, windows, doors, mechanical systems, etc.

Exterior stairways and protection of secondary suite exits

There are additional requirements to consider when the only exit for a suite is served by an exterior staircase.

  • If the exterior exit staircase is not fully enclosed with walls and a roof, the windows themselves must be protected. This is achieved by installing fire-rated glass block or wired glass in fixed steel frames. This is required for all windows located within 5 m vertically, 3 m horizontally or 10 m below the exit staircase. This will protect the basement exit from being compromised if a fire occurs.
  • It is important to know that only fixed windows can be fire-protected in this way. Bedroom windows must be operable.

Protection of secondary suite exits

There are additional requirements to consider when the only exit for a secondary suite is served by an exterior staircase. If the exterior exit staircase is not fully enclosed with walls and a roof, the windows themselves must be protected. This is achieved by installing fire-rated glass block or wired glass in fixed steel frames. This is required for all windows located within 5 m vertically, 3 m horizontally or 10 m below the exit staircase. This will protect the basement exit from being compromised if a fire occurs. It is important to know that only fixed windows can be fire protected in this way. Bedroom windows must be operable.

New exterior stairwells and engineering

The Alberta Building Code requires all foundation footings in Calgary to have at least 1.2 m of ground cover for protection.

  • New exterior exit stairs must include a shallow foundation design by a registered professional engineer, since stairwell excavation impacts the required frost cover.
  • Retaining walls required alongside the new staircase opening often retain greater than 1 m of soil. In these cases the retaining wall may be required to be included in the engineered design.

Plumbing

Secondary suites must have:

  • A supply of hot water and at least one kitchen sink, bathroom sink, toilet and a bathtub or shower.
  • A space for laundry facilities in each residence, or a common location that is easily accessible to all occupants.
  • A back-flow prevention device on the branch drain of the sanitary sewer line.

Electrical

A common electrical panel can serve both units, provided there are no shared branch circuits between the suites. It is recommended the electrical panel be located in a common area, or that sub-panels be installed in each suite.

Airport vicinity protection area (AVPA)

On a property locaed inside the airport vicinity protection area (AVPA), the suite must be located in the basement of an existing single family development.

Chat with us now, or contact the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 for more information about secondary suites and backyard suites in the AVPA.

Alberta Fire Code - existing suites

City approvals are required for existing secondary suites. Secondary suite requirements from the Alberta Fire Code may be used to bring an existing suite to an acceptable level of safety.

Below are some of the different criteria to consider for your secondary suite, for further information please see our Secondary suite code questions & answers advisory.

Chat with us, or contact the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 for more information about secondary suites and backyard suites.

Bedroom egress windows

Each bedroom must have at least one window that can be fully opened and used to escape during an emergency.

  • The window must have an unobstructed opening of 0.35 m2 in area and a minimum height and width of 380 mm. See the acceptable window style illustration below for examples and additional requirements.
  • When a window well is required, a clearance of 760 mm must be provided in front of the window. If a casement-type window is used, it must swing open a full 90 degrees. See the window well illustration below for more details.
  • Security bars serving a bedroom window must be removable from the inside without the use of tools, keys or special knowledge. A large majority of security bars do not meet the requirements and are not accepted.

Acceptable window styles

Shaded areas illustrated below represent unobstructed openings that must be 0.35 m² with no dimension less than 380 mm.

Casement window
Casement window: Casement windows must open a full 90 degrees when a window well is required.
Horizontal sliding window
Horizontal sliding window
Vertical sliding window
Vertical sliding window
Inward swinging awning window
Inward swinging awning window: must hold open at 90 degrees unassisted

Adding or increasing window size

Adding new windows or increasing the size of existing windows in a concrete foundation impacts the wall’s ability to resist soil pressure.

  • The Alberta Building Code restricts opening sizes and configurations. For example, a single window may be 1.2 m in width while two windows, spaced less than their average width apart, are considered one large opening. When adding multiple windows in one wall, the maximum width of all window openings that exceed any of the above requirements must be designed by a professional engineer registered in Alberta. This is typically called a lateral support design. It must include the engineer’s details andrecommendations on how to provide adequate support for the openings, in accordance with Part 4 of the Alberta Building Code.
  • Safety codes officers can require that a registered engineer be hired to make any structural changes or alterations to your property, based on the size and complexity of the project.

Smoke and fire protection

Preventing the spread of smoke and fire is essential for safety. The Alberta Building Code requires the installation of a smoke tight separation between the main residence and suite.

  • A smoke tight separation is constructed by installing a minimum of 12.7 mm (0.5 in) thick drywall on the ceiling and on both sides of wall studs that separate a suite from main residence. All drywall joints must be taped and filled with drywall compound to provide a smoke tight joint.
  • Any services, such as pipes or ductwork that pass through a protective separation, need to be tightly fitted and sealed with a drywall compound. In retrofit situations, existing furnace rooms may have many obstructions that make smoke tight separation difficult to construct.
  • One option may be to remove all existing HVAC ducts to ease the installation of drywall. Once the separation is constructed, new holes may be cut to install ductwork.
  • Doors installed in smoke tight separations must be solid core wood at least 45 mm thick and have a self-closing device.
  • Smoke detectors must be installed at or near the ceiling on each floor level in the main residence and suite. They are also required in each bedroom, common space and any supplementary spaces. They must be interconnected, so the activation of one smoke detector causes all units in the home to sound.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are required in each unit. They should be installed at the height specified by the manufacturer. The CO detectors should be located within 5 m of any bedrooms, interconnected and permanently wired. One detector should be centrally located in the main residence and the suite, and one CO detector is sufficient. A CO detector that is a combined smoke detector and carbon monoxide unit is permitted at the owner’s discretion.
Cross-section illustrating smoke detector and carbon monoxide locations
Cross-section illustrating smoke detector and carbon monoxide locations

Exterior stairways and protection of secondary suite exits

There are additional requirements to consider when the only exit for a suite is served by an exterior staircase.

  • If the exterior exit staircase is not fully enclosed with walls and a roof, the windows themselves must be protected. This is achieved by installing fire-rated glass block or wired glass in fixed steel frames. This is required for all windows located within 5 m vertically, 3 m horizontally or 10 m below the exit staircase. This will protect the basement exit from being compromised if a fire occurs.
  • It is important to know that only fixed windows can be fire-protected in this way. Bedroom windows must be operable.

Protection of secondary suite exits

There are additional requirements to consider when the only exit for a secondary suite is served by an exterior staircase. If the exterior exit staircase is not fully enclosed with walls and a roof, the windows themselves must be protected. This is achieved by installing fire-rated glass block or wired glass in fixed steel frames. This is required for all windows located within 5 m vertically, 3 m horizontally or 10 m below the exit staircase. This will protect the basement exit from being compromised if a fire occurs. It is important to know that only fixed windows can be fire protected in this way. Bedroom windows must be operable.

Protection of Secondary Suite exits option A: uncovered entry
Protection of secondary suite exits option A: uncovered entry
Protection of Secondary Suite exits option B: covered entry
Protection of secondary suite exits option B: covered entry

Heating and ventilation

For pre-existing secondary suites, the use of a single heating and ventilation system to serve both the main dwelling and the secondary suite is acceptable under the Alberta Fire Code.

Timelines

The redesignation of a piece of land typically takes between three to six months; however, the process may be prolonged further if there are difficult policy or technical issues that need to be resolved.

If you require a development permit, these timelines vary based on the type of application and the impacts to the community. Development permits must be approved and released before a building permit can be issued.

Building permits for secondary suites require a more in-depth examination and will take approximately one week for issuance.

We’re committed to providing you with a timely response on your permit application.

Inspections

All inspections for residential construction, electrical, plumbing and gas fireplace installation permits can be booked online using our 311 app or calgary.ca/311online. When choosing the service type, scroll down to Inspection and choose your project. You will need to provide your permit number, address and contact information

Inspections for building permits

Rough-in inspection

  • Install and complete any structural changes.
  • Install and complete all the wall and ceiling framing.
  • Install proposed windows and exterior doors.
  • Install and complete any HVAC changes.
  • Rough in, install and complete all plumbing and electrical components that are required under associated permits.
  • Have requested documentation on site.
  • Do not install interior drywall or other finishes.

Final inspection (completed at the safety codes officer’s discretion)

  • The building should be completed

Inspections for plumbing permits

Rough-in inspection

  • Install and complete all plumbing drainage and venting.
  • Install waterlines and connect to the rest of the water distribution system.
  • Properly support all drains, vents, and waterlines.
  • Install the bathtub/shower valve.

Final inspection

  • Install all fixtures and equipment.
  • Temperature of water at the bathtub and shower must not exceed 49 degrees Celsius.
  • Seal all piping designed for future fixtures with an approved plug or cap.
  • Provide a shut off valve for toilets.

Inspections for electrical permits

Please visit Inspections for the required tasks that must be completed prior to rough-in and final inspection of your project.

Permit reports

Permit Services Reports are produced once a permit is closed. The report is a summation of any outstanding inspection outcomes and explains the permit closure condition(s). Permit Services Reports are available upon request to property owners and permit holders. To request a Permit Services Report please call 403-268-5311.

Note: Although preferred, it is not necessary to have the wallboard installed for a final inspection.

A development completion permit inspection may be required if a development permit is involved in your project. Contact our Planning Services Centre to determine if a development completion permit is required.

Call before you dig


Always call Alberta One Call before you dig: 1-800-242-3447.

For more information or to submit a locate request, visit Alberta One-Call.

Disclaimer: This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically.