Basement Suites in Calgary - What you Need to Know
Having a secondary suite in Calgary can be slightly challenging and flat out confusing unless you know exactly what’s involved. And even then, confusion may get the best of you.
Zoning and What You Need to Know about it
- What zoning is required for a secondary Suite? The answer is R-2 or RC-2. There are many zoning codes in Calgary, the vast majority of low density zoning in Calgary will be R-1, RC-1 or R-2 & RC-2.
- What is the difference between R-1, RC-1 and R-2 and RC-2? Below is the definition of the R2 designations, but the main difference between R1 and R2 is plain and simple. R1 zoning will only allow a single family dwelling on a given parcel of land. You are unable to have a secondary suite unless you apply for re-zoning with the city of Calgary. R2 zoning allows secondary suites either in the basement, garage or garden - yes I said 'garden' and we will touch on this later in other parts of the blog. But first, let's focus on R2 - the zoning that allows for secondary suites.
- R-2 – Residential One & Two dwelling district intended to accommodate residential development in the form or single detached dwelling, semi detached dwellings and duplex dwellings. They have several permitted uses – one of which is “Secondary Suites”.
- RC-2 – Residential Contextual One & Two Dwelling District is intended to accommodate residential development and contextual sensitive redevelopment in the form of Duplex Dwellings, Semi-detached Dwellings and Single Detached Dwellings in the developed area.
The Contextual portion of zoning particularly targets zoning in established communities in Calgary to ensure any new development falls within the context of the community. This gives the city more control over what can be re-developed. In Calgary’s new communities, R-2 is used as re-development is not a consideration.
“My lot is zoned R-2, this means I can have a secondary suite right?”
The quick answer is “no”.
Just because your lot is zoned R-2 or RC-2 does not mean you can have a secondary suite.
What to consider about your lot:
- Is your lot wide enough? Must be more than 9m.
- Do you have a parking stall?
- Do you have private amenity space available outside?
What to consider about your dwelling:
- Is it already a duplex or semi-detached home? If so, you are unable to obtain a legal secondary suite.
- Direct access outside?
- Suite Minimum Ceiling Height: 1.95M
- Must have interconnected smoke alarms between both dwellings
- Smoke separation between dwellings – usually ½” drywall.
- Electrical panel must be in common area
- Minimum Window size for bedrooms is .35m2 with no opening being less than 38cm.