With rising interest rates putting pressure on homeowners and prospective buyers, and rental housing at a premium, the prospect of adding extra accommodation can seem like a pretty ‘suite deal.’
Depending on your needs, and the regulations in your community, a secondary suite could be used as rental accommodation, an independent retirement space for parents, or a “first apartment” for a college-aged child.
But building an inviting space that’s safe and functional goes far beyond adding drywall, stove and a shower, emphasizes Blaise McDonald, of MAC Renovations.
“Not every home is suitable for a suite, so it’s important to work with a contractor who is both familiar with the many regulatory bodies throughout the region, and who understands the full scope of what goes into creating a new living space,” McDonald says.
What are some of the factors to consider? McDonald shares a few essentials:
1. Feasibility. Is a suite even possible? A feasibility study will look at everything from local regulations on secondary suites and parking – which vary across our 13 municipalities – to the home’s age, location and siting, and what the homeowner is hoping to achieve.
2. Age. While older homes may have undeveloped areas that could provide valuable livable space, outdated heating, plumbing and drainage systems can make accommodating a suite prohibitive for some.
“Older homes are typically more expensive to upgrade, but it’s essential to ensure your electrical, plumbing, drainage and other essential housing components can accommodate the extra load,” McDonald says. Choose to create a suite cheaply, without taking these considerations into account, and you may face far costlier repairs down the road, or negatively impact the value of your home.
3. Temperature. When you add liveable space to a home, you also affect its heating and cooling capacity. Why? The furnace and ducting was likely designed for the current size and layout, so altering or expanding it can strain the system’s capacity or create areas that are either too cold or too hot, depending on the season. A renovation must consider how it will heat and cool the new space, and any impacts on the rest of the home.
4. Soundproofing. Soundproofing – or lack of it – can affect your enjoyment of your home at any time, but if you’re adding a second living area, it becomes even more imperative. “Will you want to hear those late-night movies or early morning preparations as you’re trying to sleep? Will your tenant be bombarded with footsteps or dogs barking from the residence above? These are things to think about before you start building,” McDonald advises.
5. Style. While we may typically think of a secondary suite as a basement or attic conversion, those with larger properties and where local regulations allow might prefer a garden or laneway suite that can provide a little more privacy from the main home.
Questions about adding a secondary suite or additional space to your home? MAC Renovations has delivered award-winning Greater Victoria renovations for more than 40 years. Visit macreno.com or call today at