If you are interested in real estate news, you know that the rental market has been a large part of the conversation for some time now. From bachelor pads to 2-bedroom apartments, the lack of availability has caused rental prices to skyrocket. This might not sound like a favorable situation if you are a renter, however, if you are someone who owns a house in Toronto GTA, and is looking for an additional income stream, while also increasing the value of your property, then this article is for you.
With crazy inflation and the rising cost of living, Toronto has seen an influx of people in recent years looking for ways to make some extra money. This has led to an increase in the number of people looking into converting their basements into legal basement apartments primarily because either they don’t use these basements at all or use them as storage space for seasonal stuff and toys.
However, before you decide to take the plunge, there are a few things you should know.
First, basement renovation in Toronto can be a costly affair up front, second, it’s not very straightforward as you would have to construct the basement apartment as per the city codes and regulations, as well it would require to clear inspection by city authorities to be deemed as legal Basement Apartment.
In order to legally rent out a basement apartment in Ontario, the space must meet certain requirements. Let’s look at what constitutes a legal basement apartment in Ontario.
Important Note: If a house is constructed in less than five years, there are different Building Code rules. For information, you will need to contact your local building department
Few Points to consider before you add a second unit
It is important to speak with your local municipal planning and building departments Before you install a second unit. They can explain to you the local codes that will apply to adding an additional unit to your home, whether you can alter the property, and other laws your local zone and building code are bound by.
You should carefully consider four important factors before proceeding with a second unit, including:
- municipal zoning requirements
- building permits
- Building Code needs to align with the design of your unit
- Necessary inspections during building construction
It is important to comply with required building and planning code conditions. By doing so, you can be assured that your house is as per the building code, a safe, and habitable place to call home. To ensure that the sometimes complex design and building process proceeds smoothly, we advise you to hire a qualified professional company like Milman Design-Build or other individual professionals such as a builder, architect, or engineer with the relevant licensing from the government of Ontario. These specialists, as well as your general contractor, serve as your agent when required, they can assist you with obtaining all local authorizations, including a building permit, and also coordinate the inspections.
Municipal zoning requirements
It is important to be aware of your municipality’s zoning by-laws and plan your project keeping in mind it meets all municipal zoning requirements. To timely pass all inspections and get the legal status from your municipality, it’s important to keep these municipal zoning requirements in consideration when planning your second unit.
You can ask your local contractor or the area planning and building department regarding:
- Standards and Zoning requirements for second units apply to your property. Including rules around parking requirements, exits, entrances, landscaping, etc.
- In case a rezoning application is required or any minor variance
- before you can add a second unit is there any other agreements and approvals required.
- Does your municipality need to give approval for license or registration on the second unit?
You will not be able to add a second unit to your property. In case you don’t comply with your municipal by-laws.
Building permits required
To get an additional unit for your home, you will generally require a building permit. You can use one from your local zoning office.
What you need to submit is-
- A completed application and accompanying documents and forms may be required by the municipality.
- Most of the municipalities require a minimum of two sets of drawings one of your building construction.
- Building Permit Fee Payment Receipt or proof.
In addition, it is advisable to check with your municipality – If it is required to hire a contractor with a license to do the work and if electronic permit applications are accepted so as to speed the process. As soon as your application has been finished, you’ll receive a response within 10 business days. If your application is not completely finished or contains errors, your permit may go unapproved or delayed.
Necessary inspections during building construction
As you receive your building permit, inspectors from the municipality will review work at different points during the process of construction. Inspectors will examine framing, insulation, plumbing, interior finishes, and more, as specified in the Building Code. Contact your inspector to confirm that all this needs to be inspected.
Both you and your contractor are responsible for informing your building department when certain stages of construction are ready to be inspected. Any second unit that you are working on or have recently developed should be a safe place to live. If you have a current second unit in your house and are concerned about its design, then you are encouraged to talk to your local building department
Building Code needs to align with the design of your unit
The Ontario Building Code’s minimum construction standards for building a second unit in your home are set forth in the sections that follow. In some cases, you may exceed the minimum requirements of the Building Code. Constructing beyond the Building Code offers homeowners a considerable advantage, such as greater home comfort and amenities making the second unit a liveable and nice place.
How old is your residence-
If your house is older than 5 years, it is regarded as an established building and allowed more leeway under The Building Code if you make renovations. If your house is younger than 5 years, it is considered a brand new building according to the Building Code, which generally enforces higher construction standards.
Which location do you want to build a second unit –
You can install another unit in almost any part of your home. It can be located on only one flooring or on multiple flooring. Most people build a second unit in their basements Building Code rules can be different on the basis of where your additional unit is situated in your house.
Floor Area and Room Sizes-
The Building Code establishes minimum standardized room sizes that residences are typically required to meet, including second units. Stand-alone rooms, as well as units with open floor plans, have different standardized room sizes. For instance, Oftentimes, the minimum space requirements of a dining room are 7 m2 (75 ft2), while an open-concept bachelor unit combining sleeping, living, and relaxing areas may be 13.5 m2 (145 ft2).
The basic minimum dimensions for rooms and spaces are listed in the table that follows-
|Room/Space||Minimum required floor area|
|Living area||13.5 m2 (145vft2)|
|Dining area||7 m2 (75 ft2)|
|Kitchen||4.2 m2 (45.2 ft2)|
|One-bedroom unit with Combined living, dining, and kitchen areas.||11 m2 (118.4 ft2)|
|Master bedroom (without built-in closet)||9.8 m2 (95 ft2)|
|Other bedrooms (without built-in closets)||7 m2 (75 ft2)|
|Bathroom||Enough space for a sink, toilet and shower stall or bath|
|Combined sleeping, living, and dining areas, and kitchen space||13.5 m2 (145 ft2)|
There are many other rules and regulations one must be aware of before constructing or renovating a second unit basement.
To conclude, if you are thinking of renovating your basement, it is important to understand the by-laws and regulations in your municipality. However, with the help of a professional renovation company, like Milman Design Build, the process can be much easier and less stressful. We can help you navigate the by-laws, design your renovation, and manage the project from start to finish. Get in touch with us today for renovation quotes and free consultation. In the brainstorming stage? Go through some of our basement renovation projects