A suite or secondary dwelling can be a great way to create income—a practical solution to being able to stay in your home rather than downsizing or moving to a more affordable property.
Secondary suites are subject to a number of provincial, territorial or municipal requirements, including:
- building code;
- unit size;
- parking; and
- inspections and licensing.
What is a Secondary Suite?
A secondary suite or secondary dwelling unit (SDU) can include a suite within your home (primary dwelling)—a basement suite or upstairs flat. A secondary suite is a private, self-contained unit within an existing dwelling.
What is a Secondary Dwelling?
A secondary dwelling is in addition to the primary dwelling on a single property and commonly for the use of family or a rental income.
At this time, there are no secondary dwelling structures allowed in the Fraser Valley Regional District, but this may change! The FVRD is in the process of evaluating the need for secondary dwellings, and has conducted a public consultation program. The greatest support for secondary dwellings comes from more rural areas where properties are larger.
You can find more information and updates on the public survey on the FVRD’s Planning and Development web page.
The graphic below shows a variety of secondary dwelling types (supplied by the Fraser Valley Regional District). A and B are currently not allowed, but C (suite within a dwelling) is permitted with approval.
Your realtor can research the zoning of your property and whether suites or coach homes etc. are permitted.
What You Need to Know Before Adding a Suite
Research & Plan! Examine the area you live and whether rentals are scarce or in demand. Look at your home—is there a natural division or easy way to create a suite? What regulations for suites are in place for your town or city?
Any alteration or renovation to an existing building must have permits before any work begins. Start by contacting your municipality, the Fraser Valley Regional District or the Province of British Columbia.
The District of Mission states: “As a home owner you should investigate benefits of legalizing your suite (conforming to zoning bylaws and building codes) as it relates to issues such as the value of your home when selling, special considerations when applying for a mortgage, greater safety assurance for the occupants of the suite, home owner’s insurance premiums and insurance coverage should a claim be made resulting from the suite.”
Please contact the District of Mission to ask about zoning bylaws regarding Secondary Dwelling Units. You can find answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and whether you qualify for an exemption HERE.
Info on Mission’s Secondary Dwelling Unit Program
Of course, before beginning to plan an income helper like a suite, consult a trusted realtor with expertise in this area. Suites might not add value to the home and, in some cases, can make it more difficult to sell in the future.