A basement suite is a separate unit from the main residence that has regular facilities and is found beneath ground level. Many people are turning towards either building a basement unit or putting up their already existing basement unit for rent. However, the city of Calgary has set up rules that you have to follow to protect yourself and any other person who will occupy the basement unit.
➢ Egress windows
The international building code requires that all basements have egress windows. They are big enough to serve as an escape route and as a rescue route for emergency workers. You should be about to open the egress window from inside without tools, special knowledge, or keys. They should be at least 20 inches wide, at least 25 inches high, and the bottom of the clear opening should be 44 inches from the floor. If it is more than 44 inches, place a ladder there permanently.
➢ Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
Each unit of the house must have these two in each unit and they must be interconnected. This is so that all the alarms go off at the same time the instant one alarm is activated. This is an effective way to keep yourself, your family, and even your tenants out of harm’s way in case something goes wrong. Do well to hire contractors that are aware of the 2014 Alberta Code to do maintenance work every so often. You should also test these alarms and detectors to know if they are functioning properly.
Within each unit, there ought to be at worst, one exit door that can swing inward and lead people outside.
➢ Living area
Basement suites must have a separate kitchen, living, sleeping, and bathroom areas from the main residence. However, they may share the same laundry area, backyard, parking spaces, and storage area with your main residence. The goal is to ensure that whoever lives in the basement suite has some sort of autonomy through unlimited access to living space.
All basement suites must be registered on the suite registry of the city of Calgary by the 31st of December 2021. After the cut-off date, you will be charged the usual $900 for registration and a development permit.
➢ Separate heating source
All basement units built after March 2018 must have a separate heating and ventilation system from the main residence. These systems must have independent ductwork for each basement suite. You can either use hydronic radiant heating or electric board heaters as the basement unit’s heating system. You can install any of these heating systems with a separate ventilation system. You can also choose to install a second forced-air furnace in the basement suite. Kindly note that all heating equipment ought to include access to areas for cleaning, inspection, and maintenance whenever the need arises.
➢ Basement and Backyard suites
A basement suite and a backyard suite cannot be found on the same property. You either have a basement suite or a backyard suite. Furthermore, a dwelling unit can only have one secondary unit. If it has more than one, the city of Calgary considers it illegal and the owner can face sanctions.
➢ Electrical panel
The main residence and the basement suite can share an electrical panel as long as they do not share branch circuits. The electrical panel should be in an area where everyone has access to it (common area).
All basement suites ought to have at least a bathroom sink, a shower or a bathtub, a kitchen sink, and a separate hot water supply from the main residence. Additionally, the branch drain of the sanitary sewer line should have a device to prevent backflow.
The city of Calgary has specific drawing plans that each basement unit owner has to follow. You can find samples of these drawing plans on the official city of Calgary website.
There are numerous advantages to building or renovating your absent suite which may include a raised income, more space for visitors, and privacy. However, you have to ensure you know all the Calgary basement suite rules to avoid legal trouble.