Build a Legal Secondary Suite 17 Apr 2020

Build a Legal Secondary Suite

It is no secret that Calgary is growing at a steady rate and with this growth comes the need to make better use of the city’s existing footprint. While condos and townhomes are becoming more prominent in the current real estate market, secondary suites are also creating a name for themselves. Calgary is one of few cities across Canada that permits secondary suites, creating a unique opportunity for homeowners and renters. In May of 2018, Calgary City Council approved amendments to the Land Use Bylaw that allows secondary suites as discretionary use within certain districts. This now means that applicants can apply for a development permit and all fees will be waived until December 31, 2021.

Now what exactly is a secondary suite and what is required for it to be deemed legal? A secondary suite can be classified as a separate living space created within a property originally designed to accommodate a single family. It is a private, self-contained unit that most commonly takes the form of a basement suite, however, can also include garden suites, above-garage laneway units and in-law suites. Before choosing to create a secondary suite in your humble abode, it is important to consider that there are certain requirements that must be in place before a secondary suite can be deemed legal.


  • Separate entrance/exit leading directly outside
  • Full kitchen, including an oven and hood fan
  • Full bathroom dedicated to the suite
  • Each bedroom must have at least one egress window
  • Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector that is connected to main residence.
  • Second forced air furnace and HRV dedicated to the suite
  • Smoke tight separation between suite and main residence (including ceiling, walls and doors)
  • Designated parking stall
  • Shared amenities yard space
  • Adhere to Calgary Land Use Bylaw 1P2007 Part 5, division 6: R-1S and Division 8: R2.


  • Increase hot water tank size
  • Provide separate laundry where possible. If separate laundry cannot be provided, then you must be able to provide shared laundry.
  • Storage space

The city of Calgary has made it easier than ever to check if your property qualifies for a secondary suite. Simply click here, then fill in your address and it will determine the requirements for that specific area. Although there are many rules and regulations that must be followed, there are countless benefits to be considered when creating a secondary suite - not only for the homeowner but for renters and the City of Calgary alike.

Benefits of Secondary Suites

  • To Homeowners:
    • Boost income and help pay down mortgage
    • Increase property value
    • Downsize your home without moving
    • Allow for relatives to live nearby
  • To Renters:
    • Increase options available for people to live and afford
    • Access to a yard
    • Live in an established neighbourhood
  • To the City:
    • Maintain population with modest growth
    • Maximize existing infrastructure
    • Improve safe rental stock
    • Better use of land and city services

While there are several reasons to pursue a secondary suite, it is essential that homeowners familiarize themselves with the changing rules and regulations. Cedarglen Homes is happy to help you build a secondary suite in your new home and ensure it follows all the necessary guidelines. Check out the virtual tour of our Carbon 26 showhome in Livingston where we built a full legal suite in the basement. Feel free to ask one of our Area Sales Managers or book a meeting with them directly to learn more.