Basement Suites: How To Legalize Your Illegal Suite In Calgary

Basement Suites: How To Legalize Your Illegal Suite In Calgary

Basement suites are rapidly gaining popularity throughout the city of Calgary and for good reasons.  They provide you a side income in addition to what you get from your regular work and believe me, that’s a bonus. However, less than ⅓ of the total number of people in Calgary with basement suites have registered them as the city of Calgary requires.  This means that they are illegal and the government can levy sanctions upon their owners. The bright side is that legalizing a basement suite has never been easier. The city of Calgary is paying for the legalization of all basement suites till December 2021.

As we go further, we will discuss how to legalize your illegal suite in Calgary.

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  • Organize your basement suite documents and plans

Visit the official website of the city of Calgary to review the complete checklist for basement suites. The checklist has information on the existing basement suite criteria, the documents you need for a building permit, an example of the city of Calgary drawing standards, and what your site plan should consist of.

  • Go over the list of requirements

The city of Calgary requires that you provide an exterior site plan that shows an outdoor living space and parking lots for each unit, and separate entrances into each unit. The city of Calgary will send officials to check if any outstanding work needs to be done on your property so that it falls in line with the fire code. If it does, you need to get permits to put in place the safety considerations the 2014 Alberta Fire Code requires for a basement suite. However, all of this will only happen if your property is zoned RC-1. In this case, the city of Calgary will require that you have a development permit.

  • Apply for a building safety approval (building permit)

A building permit is an official document that the city of Calgary grants to authorize construction work on your basement suite. Applying for one before doing a constriction work is an excellent step towards legalizing your illegal basement suite. You can apply for one online at the official city of Calgary website or you can apply offline at the Planning Services Center. Irrespective of the application route you choose, ensure you follow the instructions for applying to the latter. One such instruction is to have all the necessary documents so that your application gets accepted.

  • Get ready for an inspection

One thing the city of Calgary takes seriously is basement suite inspection. Do your utmost so that the inspection goes smoothly. The inspection team will go over your basement suite with a fine-tooth comb to see if it is in line with the 2014 Alberta Fire Code. The city of Calgary will be checking the following;

– If each bedroom has at least one window that has a window well that is greater than or equal to 30 inches in front of the window. It has an opening that is larger than 3.8 square feet and can fully open. Additionally, an egress window has dimensions that are greater than or equal to 15 inches.

– If the smoke alarms are interconnected, hardwired, or connected by Bluetooth between the basement unit and the primary unit. The reason being the fire alarms will go off simultaneously in both units if there is a fire in one of them. Furthermore, the team will check for smoke and or CO2 detectors in the mechanical room, the hallway if it is the unit’s common area and every bedroom that is to be inspected.

– If your basement suite has a cold air return. However, if both suites share a heating source, you may be exempted because it’s an existing suite.

– If the primary suite and basement suite are separated by complete fire protection. You can use a fire sprinkler or drywall in the mechanical room (if possible), beneath the adjoining stairs and the ceilings.


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Once you are done with the process and your basement suite is declared legal, you can start seeing the benefits. The value of your property will increase, renters will be more willing to stay in it, and you can go to bed knowing the extra income can pay your mortgage at a faster pace.


When it comes to your next Realtor, make the right choice. With Jesse Davies Team on your side, you’ll be worry and hassle-free. Contact us today and see how we can make your dream home a reality!

https://jdrealestatecalgary.ca/ | 403-969-2363