Secondary Suites

A secondary suite is a second dwelling located within a single detached house. It is a self-contained dwelling unit with separate living, cooking, sleeping and bathroom facilities. Also called a basement suite.

A backyard suite is a dwelling located in the backyard of a single detached house. It is self-contained with separate living, cooking, sleeping and bathroom facilities. Other names include a granny suite, laneway home, backyard cottage, garden suite or carriage house.

What permits do I need?

Development Permits

A Development Permit is always required for any proposed secondary or backyard suite.

Development Permits

A Development Permit must be approved before applying for Building and Trade Permits.


Building Permits

A Building Permit is always required for any proposed secondary or backyard suite.

Building Permits


Trade Permits

Trade permits are required for any plumbing, electrical, gas, and HVAC (mechanical) work needed in the construction of secondary or backyard suites. To ensure the safety of the suite, trade permits are only issued to licensed and certified contractors, and Homeowner Trade Permits are not available.

Trade Permits


Checklists

Secondary Suites:

Backyard Suites:

Rules and regulations

According to the Land Use Bylaw, Secondary Suites are considered a Discretionary use; meaning the situations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the Planning Officer within Planning & Development Services. The land use districts (zones) for which secondary suites will be considered are:

  • Low Density Residential District
  • Medium Density Residential District
  • Mixed Use District
  • Future Urban Development District

Zoning


  • Requirements vary for minimum lot width and minimum lot area, depending on the land use district and other circumstances. For details, see the Land Use Bylaw section 6.2.4, or contact us.
  • A maximum of one secondary suite or backyard suite is allowed on a site.

Construction regulations


Secondary Suites

  • Secondary suites must be located within a Single Detached House (i.e., are not allowed on a site which contains a Duplex).
  • It must have an entrance to the exterior that is separate from the entrance for the principal dwelling, or it may share an entrance to a common interior landing with the principal dwelling.
  • It must contain its own living, cooking, sleeping and bathroom facilities.
  • It must not contain more than two bedrooms.
  • It must have its own separate (independent) heating and ventilation system which complies with the Alberta Building Code.
  • The secondary suite and the primary dwelling must have electrically hardwired smoke alarms in each bedroom and all common areas, which must be interconnected.
  • A secondary suite must not be subject to separation from the Single Detached House through a condominium conversion or subdivision.

Backyard Suites

  • It must be located in a backyard.
  • The site must have access to an alley and there must be off-street parking allotted to the backyard suite that is accessed from the alley.
  • A backyard suite must not be more than 85 m2 (915 sq. ft.) in gross floor area, excluding the floor area of a deck or stairway.
  • Maximum building height of a backyard suite is 2 storeys.
  • A backyard suite is not allowed on a site which contains a duplex.
  • It must contain its own living, cooking, sleeping and bathroom facilities.
  • It must not contain more than two bedrooms.
  • It must not cover more than 15% of the total site (maximum site coverage.)
  • It must have exterior finishing materials that are consistent with the Single Detached House.
  • A maximum of one secondary suite or backyard suite is allowed on a site.
  • A backyard suite must not be subject to separation from the principal dwelling through a condominium conversion or subdivision.

Constructing a backyard suite is the same as building a new house, with all the same regulations. You must first apply for and be issued a Development Permit. From there, you may apply for a Building Permit and all trade permits (electrical, plumbing, gas, mechanical).

New Construction

Inspections

Inspections will be required for all construction work, including building, electrical, plumbing, gas and mechanical (HVAC). If a Building Permit was required for your project, then you must book a City inspection. At the discretion of the Safety Codes Officer, most projects require rough-in and final inspections, depending on the complexity of the project.

Book online

Book Online

Please review this user guide before booking online.


Book by phone

Phone 403-529-8208 or fax the Inspection Request to 403-502-8036. 

How to apply

Online

Apply online

In person

  1. Determine which application(s) you need. You can then download checklists and forms below to complete them, or come in person to Planning & Development Services and we will assist you.
  2. Have drawings ready, if required (ex: Site plan, elevation plan, floor plan, floor joist and roof truss drawings)
  3. Have utility locate slips: These show the location of underground and overhead utilities, such as gas and cable lines. See Line Locates below.
  4. Bring all these required documents (USB drive preferred) and apply in person at City Planning.

Payment methods

Online or phone

Visa or Mastercard

In-person

  • Debit
  • Cash
  • Cheque
  • Visa or Mastercard

Mail

  • Cheque


Fees and charges

Secondary suite search
Looking for a secondary suite?

Find or verify a legal and safe secondary suite on our interactive map.

Permit information

Development permit wait times
Timelines vary based on application type and the impact to the community.
Building permit wait times

 Typically less than 6 business days, provided that an approved Development Permit has been released.

Rules and requirements

Size and location

Planning regulations (such as the Land Use Bylaw) lay out details such as:

  • The type of development which is allowed in various land use districts (zones)
  • The amount of area on a lot that buildings can cover (site coverage)
  • The required distances from property lines and other structures (setbacks)
  • How high a building can be in various land use districts (elevation)
  • The restriction of building structures over gas lines or other utilities (UROWs)

For specific information about your property and your planned addition or enclosure project, contact a Planning or Development Officer at Planning & Development Services.

To learn more about the land use regulations for your property, visit Zoning.

Construction

The Alberta Building Code regulates the construction and safety of structures. Construction details of additions and enclosures are assessed and approved based on these provincial regulations.

There are a wide variety of types of residential addition and enclosure projects. For specific construction requirements related to your planned project, contact us.

Line locates

When planning your project, it is important to know where utilities are located on your property. Locates are free of charge but require at least two days notice.

You must provide utility locate slips with a development application. 

Line locates

What if I am not the property owner?

If you are not the owner of the property, then you must get the owner's consent to apply for any changes.

Owner consent