How to Legalize a Basement (Secondary suite) in Calgary to Make Money!


Today we will be looking at how to make your secondary suites, backyard suites and basements legal in Calgary to make money.

What is a legal Secondary Suite?

  1. It can be a basement, main floor, upper level, backyard or garage secondary suite built up to Alberta Building Code (ABC) and Fire Code. It must be registered with your local municipality, in my case C18ity of Calgary.

Why Should You Legalize Your Basement (Secondary Suite?)?

Here are some of the reasons why you should consider legalizing your basement –

  1. Your neighbours can’t shut it down by filing a complaint with the municipality.
  2. The municipality will not force you to remove it and fine you.
  3. It is safer to have your secondary suit legalized, for you
    • It will be safer in terms of liability if it is built up to the safety code..
    • Fire hazard safety.
  4. Many municipalities are giving incentives to do it right now. For example in Calgary you will be able to save about $900 in fees until December 31, 2021!

It is important to have it legalized especially if you are planning to have it help you pay off your mortgage and use it as a reliable source of income.

How to Legalize your secondary Suit?

There are two types of basement suits that you can have.

  1. Non Existing legal basement suite.
  2. Existing illegal basement suit.

Non Existing legal basement suite.

If you have a fully undeveloped basement, you need to have two furnaces in Calgary and it is way more complicated and demanding project that can cost you anywhere between $40,000 and $60,000 dollars! So we will not be going into details on this option. We will concentrate on the existing illegal basement suite in this video, because it is cheaper to get it up to code!

Existing illegal basement suit.

This part will be based on my experience.  The steps are as follows:

  1. Call the city to get your suit inspected.
  2. The city officers will inspect the property and provide you with the list of things that are needed to be done to get it up to code. They will give you a list of things that are needed to be done to make it legal. You will also know all the permits you need to pull for this. You will receive an inspection report.

There are two main types of permits.

  1. Development Permit: This step is not for everyone, I had a City official place a notice outside my property. It was basically an announcement to the public/my neighbours if they are ok to change my land use / zone to allow a secondary suite. I’m lucky my neighbours didn’t vote against it.
  2. Building Permit: Includes all kinds of permits.
    • Gas.
    • Plumbing.
    • Electrical.
    • Ect.  
  3. Once the Development is permitted (If applicable) go to the next step.
  4. Building permit: Do all the necessary renovations in accordance to the inspection report. Get all the inspections done that are applicable such as Electrical, Gas, Plumbing etc. Ensure to post this permit on your window or main door for visibility. Once all the inspections are passed and the property is up to code, book a building inspection. 
  5. Final Stage: If you passed the building inspection, congratulations! You got a legal secondary suite! The City will send you an email with Permission to Occupy, you will also get a sticker for your legal secondary suite!

Now you can rent, make income and do not worry about your neighbours! You have a reliable source of income that is safe and legal! Should your new tenants need a postal code, it is also provided by the city and is ready to use.


How Much Money Can I make from a secondary suit?

1) Short Term Rentals

Mostly I do Airbnb, so sometimes I make $3000 and other times it can be as low as $1000 a month. There are many other platforms that you can choose if you do not like Airbnb like Vrbo,

I prefer going for short term rentals as it gives me more freedom and ownership as an owner. It covers my mortgage interest, property taxes and utilities! 

2) Long Term Rentals

Depending on where your house is located, you can earn from a potential of $1000 to $1500 per month. Most tenants would like unfurnished suites but there is still a good market for furnished suites if you would like to try it that way.


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