What should I consider when designing my suite?

Considerations may include elements to reduce costs, construction time and inconvenience, as well as improve space and efficiency:

  • Suite entrance: If you’re adding or moving the entrance, consider the location so it doesn’t disrupt privacy of the principal unit. Also, the BC Building Code requires the location be a safe exit in case of fire. Our staff can provide assistance regarding your suite’s entrance.
  • Minimum bedroom window areas: Bedroom windows are an important part of the exiting requirements of a dwelling. If your house is older, you may have to replace some or all of the bedroom windows to meet the current BC Building Code minimum requirements.
  • Fire and sound separations: The secondary suite must be separated from the main dwelling by walls, floors and ceilings that have a minimum required fire resistance rating and sound transmission rating. This will help you determine which walls will separate your suite from the rest of the space.
  • Pipes and ducts penetrating fire separations: Metal pipes and sheet metal air ducts may pass through fire-rated ceilings and walls between the suite and the main dwelling as long as they are tightly fitted. Ducts must be fitted with fire dampers if they are part of a shared forced air-heating system.
  • Heating: Homes with shared forced air systems will require heating and ventilation systems to be separated for health and safety reasons. If you want to control energy use in each unit separately, you must install separate heating and control systems.
  • Laundry: It’s not compulsory to provide laundry amenities in a suite; however, most homeowners do because it’s a convenience most renters seek. You can provide either dedicated or shared laundry.
  • Electrical and gas: Depending on your home’s age and its electrical wiring, an upgrade may be required. Electrical systems in older homes were not designed to power our modern needs, and the addition of a suite may cause serious interruptions or damage to your home. Contact the Technical Safety BC for suite requirements.
  • Alarms: Is your home equipped with modern smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors? Modern alarms are required to be continuously powered and "talk to each other"; an alarm in one part of your home will activate all alarms throughout your home. These systems are easier to install before finished materials cover the wall and ceiling framing.

Show All Answers

1. What is a secondary suite?
2. Can my home contain a secondary suite and what makes it legal?
3. What are the benefits of legalizing my secondary suite?
4. What should I consider when designing my suite?
5. How will a secondary suite affect my utility bill?
6. What City services are available to me?
7. Which documents are required for a Secondary Suite Permit Application?
8. How can you remove a secondary suite?