Share this page Print

Adding a secondary suite

If you are adding a secondary suite (including basement suite), this is the right page for you. Find information on the rules for your specific property, how to apply, and how to register your suite. See calgary.a/suites for backyard suties and how to legalize an existing suite​.

ID: 423

ListCategory: Secondary

Title: Step 1: Review

Description: <div class="ExternalClass158752A63E8A44B49D735BCE80F28E05"><p>​Review rules and fees</p></div>

MultiCardImage: http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/pd/PublishingImages/secondary-suites/basement.jpg, /PDA/pd/PublishingImages/secondary-suites/basement.jpg

MultiCardImageRatio: ratio-16x9

MultiCardLink: http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/pd/Pages/Home-building-and-renovations/new-secondary-suite.aspx#step1, #step1

LinkTarget: True

ShowOnline: True

SortOrder: 1

Tag:

Edit multi card item

Step 1: Review

​Review rules and fees

Edit multi card item

Step 2: Prepare

​Prepare the checklist

Edit multi card item

Step 3: Apply

Apply online

Edit multi card item

Step 4: Inspect

​Book an inspection

We're waiving up to $700 in fees until May 31, 2020

There’s no better time to add a secondary suite to your property. The City is waiving fees for the development permit and secondary suite registry until May 31, 2020.

What's changing in 2020?

  • In June 2020, we will reinstate fees for the development permit ($471) and suite registry ($232).
  • All secondary and backyard suites must be on our suite registry by May 31, 2020, in order to avoid fines.
"" 
​​​

Step 1: Review the rules and fees


Property information

Fees:

​Suite type ​Permit Fee ​Safety Codes Council Fee (4%) ​Total
​New secondary suite ​$402 ​$16.08 ​​$418.08

Step 2: Prepare your application


  • Use the Secondary Suite checklist to determine your project’s drawing requirements.
  • For online applications, review the criteria for information on how to organize your plans and documents
  • Complete plans and collect supporting documents. Review the sample drawings​ if needed.

Step 3: Apply


​​​​​Apply online​​

In person
You can also apply for your permit in person by visiting the Planning Services Centre. Make sure you have all of the required documents. To skip the line, book an appointment.

Step 4: Inspections and managing your permit application


Building Code Requirements


Secondary suite 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. 

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 back-flow prevention device on the branch drain of the sanitary sewer line.

Electrical

A common electrical panel can serve both suites, provided there are no shared branch circuits between the suites. It is recommended the electrical panel be located in a common area, or that each tenant has access to the electrical panel. ​

Use the secondary suite electrical load calculation sheet to ensure your current electrical service is adequate. Before an electrical permit rough-in inspection occurs, the form should be emailed to us. If the main electrical service must be increased from 60 amps, 100 amps, or 200 - amp service, please have your Contractor contact ENMAX​.

Installing a furnace or gas appliance in secondary suites

An independent heating and ventilation system that includes independent ductwork is required for secondary suites.

Several heating systems can be used:

  • A second forced air furnace may be installed for the suite.
  • Electric baseboard heaters or hydronic radiant heating may be installed with an independent ventilation system, like a heat recovery ventilator.

If a single boiler is being used for both units, separate zone controls are required for each unit. Heating equipment must include easy access to compartments for inspection, maintenance and cleaning.

Airport vicinity protection area (AVPA)

On a property located 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 in the AVPA.​​

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.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

790

Customer support - suites

Three

<div class="ExternalClass4B24EC9075B740C3AF35C5C03FD585BE"> <p> Monday - Friday <br /> 8 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. <br /> <span class="livechat_button" id="live-chat-button" style="font-size:2rem"> <a href="https://www.livechatinc.com/customer-service-software/?partner=lc_9451334&amp;utm_source=chat_button" target="_blank">Chat with us</a> </span> 403-268-5311​<br /><a href="mailto:planninghelp@calgary.ca" target="_blank">planninghelp@calgary.ca</a></p> <p>Planning Services Centre, <br /> 3rd floor, Municipal building<br /> <a href="https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Calgary+Municipal+Building/%4051.0455957%2c-114.0564404%2c15z/data=%214m2%213m1%211s0x0:0x59565213bbf65222" target="_blank">800 Macleod Trail SE</a> </p></div>

No Image

landscape

Neither

True

1

True

Edit flexbox card

Customer support

Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Chat with us 403-268-5311​
planninghelp@calgary.ca

Planning Services Centre,
3rd floor, Municipal building
800 Macleod Trail SE

Edit flexbox card

Legal and safe: suite registry

Check the registry to find or verify a legal suite in Calgary. Registry suites include all necessary permits and have been inspected to meet Alberta's Safety Code requirements. The registry is continually updated as we approve suites.

If an operating suite does not appear on the registry, you can contact Customer support to submit a complaint.

Edit flexbox card

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.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​