Basement Suites: Everything You Need to Know!

Adding a basement suite to your home can be a great way to bring in additional income and offset your mortgage payments. Basement suites are also known as in-law suites, secondary suites, or legal suites. Discover the benefits of adding a basement suite to your home.

What is a Basement Suite?

A basement suite is a separate unit in the basement of a house or duplex that allows another family or separate person to live in a home. It makes a regular single-family home into a two-family home, essentially. Basement suites, sometimes referred to as legal secondary suites, can be a great addition to any home. Not only do they provide an extra source of income, but they also add value to the property itself. Basement suites offer privacy for both the homeowner and tenant, as well as separate entrances and living spaces. While this may require some initial investment costs, the long-term benefits can be significant. Basement suites are often in high demand, allowing for steady rent income and potential for increased property value. For those looking for a practical investment opportunity or an extra source of income, a basement suite could be the perfect solution

If you choose to build your home with Sterling, we can include an income suite in the design of your brand-new home. Since adding an income suite can help you qualify for a mortgage, this can make the home you want more affordable.


Current Available Sterling Homes with Basement Suites:

Have you considered developing an Income Suite for your new home?

What is an Income Suite you ask? An Income Suite is a separate dwelling inside a single detached house with separate cooking, sleeping, and bathroom facilities.

Let renters pay your mortgage

The average current rent for a 2 bedroom income suite in Edmonton is $1200,00/month. 
Cost of Home: $529,000
Mortgage Payments Before Income Suite: 2,263.53/month
Mortgage Payments After Income Suite: $1161.53/month (with rent being applied to your mortgage payments)

Is an Income Suite right for you?

An Income Suite can be very advantageous to people looking to purchase a new home. Did you know that secondary income suites can help supplement your monthly mortgage through rental income payments? This makes owning a home or building a new home much more attainable, as the CMHC allows 100% of rental income to be applied when qualifying for a mortgage.

As the CMHC states, secondary suites are an excellent source of affordable rental housing as they can also provide the needed extra income to first-time buyers for whom that additional income makes housing affordable in high-cost areas.

Interested in a Basement Suite?

Primary Home Requirements

While it’s possible to include an in-law suite in a townhome or duplex home for personal use, you cannot include an income suite. However, secondary suites are available in laned homes or in front-attached homes. 

Whether you’re including the income suite in a brand-new home or existing home, you’ll need a building permit. This involves filling out the application and paying the fee. Construction plans will need to be approved before building and inspected after building before you can allow a tenant to live in the space.

Building Requirements

Since the goal is to create affordable and enjoyable living spaces for renters, the city has developed some requirements for the look of the home. In particular, ceilings in each room must be a certain height. Many who have been thinking about including a basement income suite in an older resale home may be disappointed to learn the height of the ceiling in the basement is not enough to meet the current codes.

Income suites must also have a separate entrance from the main home. Some designs have a shared entrance from the exterior of the home, but the renter and homeowner then have their own separate doors off of an interior landing. This requirement makes sense. You wouldn’t want a renter to have access to the main part of your home, and no renter would want their landlord to enter regularly.

Any income suite built after 2006 is required to have a separate HVAC system for the secondary suite.

Fire Safety Requirements

Safety is, of course, a big concern. The current regulations require builders to use materials that will prevent the spread of smoke and fire. This includes smoke-tight gypsum boards and fire-proof walls in areas like the kitchen. If a fire does break out in either the main residence or the secondary suite, it shouldn’t spread to the other home.

However, you’re also required to have interconnected smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide detectors. These alarms will go off no matter where the problem is.

Parking Requirements

Think about where your tenant will park. You cannot require them to park on the street. You do not necessarily need to provide them with garage space, but you will need to share your driveway with your tenant. Consider how this might affect your choices when it comes to driveway design. For instance, you might want to choose a wide driveway rather than a long driveway because it can be difficult to manage tandem parking.

Grant Requirements

We’ve mentioned grants are available to help you build an income suite. If you qualify for a grant, the difference in building costs for including the suite will be minimal. Grants are intended to help low- and moderate-income families, so there are maximum income limits to qualify for the grant. 

Additionally, if you use grant funding to build the income suite, you must abide by the Maximum Allowable Rental Rates. The government sets these rates each year to ensure rental properties remain affordable for the average renter.

Rules Can Change

As you consider building your income suite, remember rules change. An experienced builder like Sterling Homes is deeply familiar with all of the regulations and is committed to staying on top of any changes. When you choose us, you won’t have to worry about the work we do not passing the final inspection. You can easily leave everything up to us.


Income suites are a viable way to help you afford the home you want, and the cheapest way to build an income suite is to include it in the build of your brand-new home. Once the renters move in, you’ll be able to easily pay your mortgage