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Home»Getting a Permit in the City of Calgary: Basement Permit vs Secondary Suite Permit

Getting a Permit in the City of Calgary: Basement Permit vs Secondary Suite Permit

city of calgary basement permit

For many Calgary homeowners, the idea of finishing off their basement is an exciting possibility, whether they want to increase the value of their home, make more usable space, or build a legal second suite. To make sure your project is safe, legal, and up to code, you must navigate the permit process.

This article will walk you through the steps of getting a basement or secondary suite permission in Calgary, from what you need to know to how to apply for the permit and why it’s crucial to adhere to the rules set down by the city.

Understanding the Permit Process

In Calgary, a building permit is required before any work can begin to change the layout or use of a property. Developing or renovating a basement falls under this category. The first thing to do is learn about the many kinds of permits and when each one is needed.

A building permit is necessary if you plan to:

  • Construct a basement that was not there before.

  • Modify the building's framework by repositioning or removing walls.

  • Open up additional door or window apertures.

Permits are usually not needed for small, purely cosmetic interior renovations like new flooring or paint.

If your intended renovations will cause them to violate any provisions of the Land Use Bylaw, you will need to apply for a development permit. The addition of a legal secondary suite is one example of a change in the space's intended usage.

You need to show that your plan satisfies all building safety standards to get a building permit to develop a basement. This entails checking that the National Building Code (Alberta Edition) applies to your project. Ensuring the safety and longevity of your renovation, this code governs the materials and building procedures to be employed.

With the decision-making and appeals processes included in, the time it takes to get planning clearance can easily exceed ten to twelve weeks. This usually takes around a week and includes checking for conformity with safety codes and bylaws. Make sure your application doesn't get delayed by forgetting to include any necessary documents or plans.

Cost and Payment of Permits

In addition to the permit’s base cost, there is a safety codes council fee equal to four percent of the permit fee. Your project’s specifics and extent will determine its final price tag. Full payment by credit card is required for online submissions; however, cash, check, or debit card can be used for in-person submissions.

Additional Permits and Inspections

Different permissions are needed for plumbing and electrical work. If you are a homeowner and want to conduct the work yourself, you might be able to apply for these. It is the responsibility of the contractor to acquire the necessary permissions if they are engaged.

Verification of compliance with provincial and municipal regulations is carried out through inspections. Several inspections may be necessary for your project, such as:

  • Rough-in inspections

  • Framing inspections

  • Final inspections

Legal Implications of Non-Compliance

Working without the proper permits can lead to significant consequences, including stop work orders, fines, and legal action. If you’ve started or completed work without a permit, it’s crucial to apply for the necessary permits as soon as possible. The work may need to be revealed through the removal of drywall for inspection, and the homeowner will be responsible for any corrections required to meet the code standards.

Other Considerations

The date of issuance is the last day during which a building permit can be used. You have the option to request an extension if you require further time. The job must also be safe and follow all regulations for mechanical components, such as fireplaces and HVAC systems. The Alberta Building Code states in Section 9.36 that any modifications must maintain or improve upon the performance of the original buildings.

Last but not least, a crucial decision that could affect your project’s success is selecting the correct contractor. Thoroughly reviewing prospective contractors, including their references and permission history, is recommended by the City of Calgary.

What are secondary suites and their permit requirements?

A Secondary Legal Basement Suite is a basement living space that is designed to accommodate tenants who do not reside with the main occupants of a house. It deals with the following:

Separate Entrance: A dedicated entrance separate from the main living area is required for the suite.

Parking: There is a need for one more parking space on the property that meets certain dimensions.

Amenity Space: The space must have an outdoor area where the renter can enjoy their leisure activities.

Heating Source: An additional means of generating heat that is separate from the main heating system in the house. Here’s what it includes:

  • Suites should have their own dedicated furnace.

  • A Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) combined with an electric baseboard heater.

  • Both a building permit and a development permit are required.

  • Things like egress windows, ceiling height, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors are governed by the Alberta Building Code, which a space must adhere to.

The application review process is typically around 60 days for approval.

Basement Development (Non-Secondary Suite)

Renovations or finishing a basement that does not involve building a separate housing space is referred to as basement development for non-suite purposes. Most people do this for their benefit, including expanding their living space, creating a home office, or storing more belongings.

  • No Additional Parking: Since it’s not a standalone house, nobody needs extra parking.

  • Shared Amenities: The constructed portion and the primary residence share common areas like a yard and parking.

  • Heating Source: The basement can be heated using the same furnace or boiler as the rest of the house.

  • Any major construction or renovation, including modifications to the structure, wiring, or plumbing, requires a building permit.

  • A permit is usually not necessary for smaller projects, such as small cosmetic alterations.

Timelines for building permits vary based on the scope of work and compliance with safety codes.

Comparing Basement Permits with Secondary Suite Permits

The primary distinctions between a standard Basement Development and a Secondary Legal Basement Suite are the intended use, the necessity of an additional heating source, and the extra parking and amenity space that is required for the latter.

In addition, a development permit is typically required in addition to a construction permit for a suite, since it is a distinct living area, making the permit process more complicated.

FAQs on Basement Development Permits in Calgary

The following safety, zoning, and construction regulations must be met by a basement in Calgary before it can be considered:

  • Sufficient exit windows for bedrooms.

  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed as per the code.

  • Sufficient ceiling height.

  • Additional parking spaces and outdoor amenity space for secondary suites.

  • Compliance with the National Building Code (Alberta Edition) for all construction and materials.

Do I need a permit to finish a basement in Calgary?

Yes, if you’re planning on making structural alterations, installing new windows or doors, or creating a separate apartment in your Calgary basement, you’ll likely need a permit.

What happens if I finish my basement without a permit in Alberta?

There are a lot of problems that can arise from finishing a basement without the proper permits. These include fines, having to undo the work, paying more for inspections and permits later on, and even legal action. Your home’s insurance premiums and market value could also be impacted.

The square footage, layout, materials, and age of the basement – as well as any renovations or additions—determine the final price tag for a Calgary legal basement suite. You need to account for the price of the building as well as the price of any required permits and inspections in your budget.

How much is a basement permit in Calgary?

Basement permits in Calgary can be expensive, depending on how extensive the project is. The total cost of a building permit includes both the base price and an additional 4% fee set by the safety codes council. Check the City of Calgary’s official website for the current fee schedule or use their online cost estimator for a precise estimate.

For a basement to be built or rebuilt legally in Calgary, it must adhere to the Alberta Building Code and have all the required permits authorized by the city. This involves conforming to all building safety standards and laws.

Do you need a permit to develop a basement in Calgary?

Yes, if you’re planning to make structural improvements or add a supplementary unit to your basement development in Calgary, you’ll likely require a permit.

Do I need a development permit in Calgary?

The modifications you intend to make will determine if a development permit is required in Calgary. Any alteration that deviates from the Land Use Bylaw must get a development permit. In the absence of a new secondary suite, a building permit can be all that’s needed to renovate an internal space, such as a basement.

Do I need a permit to frame my basement in Calgary?

Yes, in most cases, a building permit is necessary for framing a basement, since this constitutes a structural alteration.

Do I need a permit for bathroom renovation in Calgary?

Any improvements to the home’s plumbing, electrical wiring, or structural framework that are part of a bathroom remodel may necessitate a building permit.

How big of a shed can I build without a permit in Calgary?

A shed up to 10 square meters (about 107 square feet) in size can be constructed without a building permit. It must, however, adhere to specific height and location regulations outlined in the Land Use Bylaw.

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