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Secondary suites and backyard suites

Secondary suites and backyard suites

What is a secondary suite?

A self-contained residence with two or more rooms and includes a kitchen, living, sleeping and sanitary facilities.

All suites must have:

  • Bedrooms with proper egress windows
  • A separate bathroom
  • Separate cooking facilities
  • An entrance that is accessible from outside without passing through the main dwelling unit. A shared stairwell is acceptable, but each unit must have a private entrance.

What is the difference between a secondary suite and a backyard suite?

A secondary suite is a self-contained residence, located within a main residence. This can be located on any floor within the home, like the basement, main floor or upper floor.

A backyard suite is a self-contained residence that is detached from the main residence. This includes garage suites, garden suites or laneway homes.

What is the difference between legalizing and adding a secondary suite?

A suite may be considered existing and need to be legalized if all of the below are true:

  • The suite includes a bathroom, cooking facilities and sleeping/living facilities.
  • The suite is accessible from outside without passing through the main dwelling unit. (A shared stairwell is acceptable but each unit must have a private entrance.)
  • The suite was built prior to March 12, 2018.
  • The suite is located in the same building as the main residence and not a detached garage.

If all of these requirements are not met the suite will be considered new. See add a secondary suite for more details.

If there is more than one suite on the property or in the building, Contact the Planning Services Centre for further assistance

A building permit is required for all secondary suites, regardless of when they were constructed. 

  • Secondary Suite Incentive Program

    The Secondary Suite Incentive Program supports safe housing for all. The program will provide up to $10,000 per qualifying homeowner.

secondary suite
  • Developing a safe and legal secondary suite

    January 24, 2023

    Watch our recorded Q&A on everything you need to know about developing a secondary suite in Calgary.

    Hear from Development, Business & Building Services they discuss permits, fees, and how to make your suite legal and safe.


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. ​