In-Law Suite or Secondary Suite? What’s the Difference?
March 14, 2024

Creating a legal secondary suite in the basement is a growing trend in Edmonton, giving homeowners the opportunity to earn a passive stream of income. Yet the terms secondary suite and in-law suite are often used interchangeably. This can cause some confusion when someone is looking to rent out their basement suite. Before you go looking for a contractor to renovate your basement into a secondary suite, read through the information below so you know which it is that you want for your home.

What is an In-Law Suite?

An in-law suite is a private residence built for the use of family members to reside close to the rest of the family. It does not need to comply with Canadian standards as a legal secondary suite must. Typically, Edmonton contractors create the in-law suite in the homeowner’s basement. It has its own full bathroom but not necessarily a full kitchen. As well, having a separate entrance with locks is not required. While fire code regulations still must be met, this basement suite is not considered legal for renting out to people outside the family.

What is a Secondary Suite?

A secondary suite, also called a legal basement suite, refers to a suite where the homeowner can rent out the basement legally. This means that the basement is built to fit all of the Canadian regulations for a secondary suite. This includes mandatory elements such as:

  • Meet zoning criteria
  • Separate entrance with lock
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Independent heating and ventilation

Each province differs slightly in what is mandatory to have a legal basement suite, so please check your province’s website for what applies to you.

If you work with Peak Improvements, we know the Alberta regulations for legal secondary suites and will ensure that your basement meets them for you, so you have one less thing to worry about.

Which is Right for Me?

While ultimately, you are the only one who can decide which option works best for your living situation, there are a few key factors that can guide you in making that decision.

  • Who will be living in this space?
  • What is your budget?
  • Is this your primary residence?
  • Is your residence zoned for a suite?

Having an answer to each of these questions will help both you and your contractor come up with a plan for your basement in the most effective manner. They will probably ask followup questions, ask for proof of documentation, and then send someone to take photos and gather the information that they need to give you a correct estimate.

Accurate Quotes, Guaranteed Price.

For an accurate quote without hidden costs or price changes without consent, contact Peak Improvements. We offer a guaranteed price + no surprise contract to our clients, so you can rest easy that the price you are quoted will not change after the building starts.

We are prepared to answer any questions that you have. Call us at ​​780-487-7100 or contact us online.

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