Prime Edmonton Real Estate - With the economy the way that it currently is in Alberta, many homebuyers in Edmonton are looking at purchasing homes with basement suites to help secure their investment and bring in extra income. Depending on the size of the home, a decent sized 1 or 2 bedroom basement suite can reduce half of a homeowner's monthly mortgage, or even more, through rental payments. Behind this well intentioned idea is a rather complex array of zoning, codes, and taxation rules that a homeowner should know about before committing to this type of property. Having a basement suite can be a blessing, but it can also cause a lot of headaches if not done properly.
As long as I can remember, there has been two types of suites - a legal suite and an 'in law' suite. The legal suite has been applied for by a homeowner somewhere along the way, has had the application granted, then had a city or county building inspector come to the home after suite completion. The in law suite may have all of the correct work done, but has never been applied for and/or never been given permission to have it by the City or County given its respective building codes. This means that at any given time, the local building authority may request an inspection and require that you change or remove the suite.
Some of the things that need to be checked out in a basement development include:
- Bedrooms - It is only considered a legal bedroom if there is a closet an a window that allows someone to escape should there be a fire or other emergency. The window should also be a 'hopper' style window, rather than a slider style window, and must be a minimum height and size to qualify. I had to change out brand new windows in a previous home when I tried to develop rooms into bedrooms, as the windows were not a hopper style.
- Bathroom - It is important the water feeds and drainage correctly feed into the main lines - meaning the drains slope down and towards the main drain. It is common for the basement bathroom plumbing to have a raised subfloor to help this type of drainage, rather than cutting the concrete floor and sloping it from there. For bathroom showers and/or bath, there is also the need for there to be either a window or a bathroom fan that vents directly outside.
- Kitchen - Correct electrical setup is imperative if there is a stove in the basement suite kitchen. This usually means 220V electrical service to the area, which usually mean that there needs to be an electrical upgrade needed to be made to the main panel. There will again also be requirements for proper ventilation of the cooking area to the outside. Finally, as with bathrooms, it is important that the kitchen sink also drains properly.
The best bet is to make sure you know all of the requirements that a basement suite requires so that if you find one available, you can check all of its components to make sure it is in compliance. Even better, ask the seller for documentation showing that the unit is permitted by the city. By taking the proper steps, a homeowner has the opportunity to get jump start on paying off their mortgages by purchasing a home with a basement suite!