Making a legal suite

bateman99

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Nov 15, 2011
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#1
Hi, I have an investment property in Edmonton and want to make my in law suite into a legal suite. I know the basement windows need to be bigger and wonder what the cost would be for that.
Also the gas heat is controlled by the upstairs and how would I go about separating that? Do I just put in electric baseboards?
It’s a two bedroom suite. What amount am I looking at to make it a legal suite?
Anybody know any good contractors that won’t charge me an arm and leg? This house has cost me enough as it is. I will sell within a year, I hope.
Thanks
 
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bb2

Frequent Forum Member
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Sep 10, 2007
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#4
At the moment in law suites can be grandfathered so requirements aren’t as extensive as if you were putting in a completely new suite.
You won’t have to put in another furnace but the basement Tenant will not have access to their own thermostat.

To determine costs more information is needed.
- Sq. Footage
- Does it need a new kitchen/ bathroom
- Are the walls drywalled or panelled
- Is the electrical panel upgraded
- is there enough headroom going into the basement

Making a window egress can run between 1500-2500

Feel free to connect with me at 780-446-3814 if you need some help. I have done a lot of legal suites in Edmonton and have learned a lot of lessons along the way.



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bateman99

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Nov 15, 2011
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#5
If you are selling the house, is it worth your time, energy and money to legalize your in-law suite?
Well I figure it would be worth more having it upgraded and legalized. I’ve had this house for 5 years now. I am in Vancouver and would hire a contractor to do it. Just looking for advice and thinking over what you said.
Thx
 
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Sherilynn

Real Estate Maven
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Oct 22, 2007
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#6
There is no way to tell how much it will cost to legalize without seeing the property. For example, you may need to drywall crawlspaces and storage areas and replace metal railings if they don't meet current codes. These two items can add thousands of dollars to your total bill and yet add absolutely no value to the property (other than completing the legalization of the suite).

If you are planning to exit the property within a year, it may be worth considering selling now to another investor or Joint Venturing with someone who handles renovations. Feel free to email me at Sherilynn@QDHomeQuest.com if you'd like to discuss this further.
 
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GaryW

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Mar 31, 2009
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#7
As stated above, seeing the property is vital and finding a contractor will take some research, as you may very well get quotes based on their work load. Sometimes contractors will bid high, as they may be too busy to take on more and this could be their justification for the addition. I'm not in the Edmonton market, so I don't have any contractor referrals, but here is a start as you've requested.

"Also the gas heat is controlled by the upstairs and how would I go about separating that? Do I just put in electric baseboards?"
If you put in extra electric baseboard heaters, you'll probably be opening walls to run the wiring, unless you have T-Bar in the basement as a ceiling, but still may have to open outside walls. Not sure if Edmonton allows T-Bar in the basement upon legalizing a suite, but I'm guessing not, so you could be opening walls anyway.

Also, you'll have to ensure your main panel have the capacity to handle the extra load. If it can and there's no space left in the panel, then you add a 2nd panel, called a sub-panel and put the extra breakers in that. Not knowing the electric load your property is drawing, I'm going to guess you have a 100 amp panel and adding a 60 amp sub-panel is common, but have it checked by a certified electrician. Just add the amount of heaters, total Wattage and divide by 240 volts to get the current draw. My guess is it will be below 45 amps, which makes a 60 amp sub-panel work. I'm also assuming you'll be adding multiple thermostats on the wall, rather than the relying on the heaters dial, as that's not all that attractive to tenants. They'll likely not turn it down if they go away for a while.

Of course the quick fix for now, is to add another thermostat in the basement and parallel the thermostats upstairs and downstairs, so the thermostat that is turned up the highest wins. Not ideal, but a quick fix and you'll have to let both tenants know that is the case. On one of my properties, I added the 2nd thermostat in the basement and installed a switch in the basement to toggle between up and down, as my basement tenant didn't like it to warm. This idea came to light, simply because the upstairs tenant went on vacation and left the thermostat too high. Also, not ideal, but its been working fine this way for years now and I do remind them all the time to remember the thermostat if you go away. Of course, this particular property is in close proximity to where I reside, which may not be ideal for you in Vancouver, but matching up and down tenants as best you can upon screening, should help as a mitigation.
 

bateman99

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Nov 15, 2011
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Burnaby
#8
Wow, thanks to all who replied. I will be thinking of the thermostat idea.
At the moment in law suites can be grandfathered so requirements aren’t as extensive as if you were putting in a completely new suite.
You won’t have to put in another furnace but the basement Tenant will not have access to their own thermostat.

To determine costs more information is needed.
- Sq. Footage
- Does it need a new kitchen/ bathroom
- Are the walls drywalled or panelled
- Is the electrical panel upgraded
- is there enough headroom going into the basement

Making a window egress can run between 1500-2500

Feel free to connect with me at 780-446-3814 if you need some help. I have done a lot of legal suites in Edmonton and have learned a lot of lessons along the way.



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The sq ft is approx 850-900sq ft. I don't exactly, there wasn't any measurements done. It does need a new kitchen and the washer/dryer is in the kitchen which is odd.
The walls are drywalled. And I can't remember if the electrical panel was upgraded and the upstairs was renovated.
The headroom in the basement is roughly 7'.
Thx
Stan
 

The Hanly Man

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Feb 25, 2014
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Edmonton Alberta
#9
Well I figure it would be worth more having it upgraded and legalized. I’ve had this house for 5 years now. I am in Vancouver and would hire a contractor to do it. Just looking for advice and thinking over what you said.
Thx
Hi there, my name is Mark and I have been a REIN member for three years. I run a general contracting company specializing in plumbing/heating, excavation and onsite wastewater. Typically, a legal suite requires a heating and ventilation system. This is typically where you will have difficulties with baseboard heat when legalizing a suite in any municipality as it is just a heating system. With that being said, some cities have rules about existing non-conforming suites where they will let you put in a dual climate system off the same system, but this is rare. There are other alternatives to the ventilation portion. Just give me a call at 780.267.1862 and I can take a look for you. Mark.
 
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Tina Myrvang

Client Care Lead
Staff member
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Nov 15, 2010
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#10
At the moment in law suites can be grandfathered so requirements aren’t as extensive as if you were putting in a completely new suite.
You won’t have to put in another furnace but the basement Tenant will not have access to their own thermostat.

To determine costs more information is needed.
- Sq. Footage
- Does it need a new kitchen/ bathroom
- Are the walls drywalled or panelled
- Is the electrical panel upgraded
- is there enough headroom going into the basement

Making a window egress can run between 1500-2500

Feel free to connect with me at 780-446-3814 if you need some help. I have done a lot of legal suites in Edmonton and have learned a lot of lessons along the way.



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Hello BB2,

Can you please call me or email me at info@reincanada.com. The email we have for you on file is not working.

Thank you,
 

Michel Lafleur

Inspired Forum Member
REIN Member
Apr 30, 2015
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#11
To legalize an in-law suite may or may not be easy - depends on how long the suite has been in existence and the quality of the work that has been done already. If it was a suite prior to 2007, its easier to "grandfather" as they will hold you accountable to the old safety codes.
If the suite was put together after 2008 without permits, they will look at is as a 'new suite', which typically means that you will have to bring it to the 2018 safety codes.
With the new codes, the city wants independent ventilation for each suite (usually means 2 furnaces) & HVAC work for the stove/bathrooms exhaust fans.
You need soundproofing & fire-separation between the suites. Is it a T-bar ceiling, or drywall? Are the bedrooms panel board or drywall?
Electrical code now requires arc-fault protection in the basement suites, and interconnected smoke detectors. They dont like junction boxes, so you'll need to ensure your panel is large enough to accommodate the arc-fault circuits, and that you have proper circuits for the stove & washer/dryer.
And yes, bedroom windows need to be egress and there are minimum height requirements.
You can do baseboard heaters, but with the electrical required, it may not be a whole lot cheaper than adding another furnace.
The city can be sticky about little things - as Sherilynn mentioned above, old railings and fire-proof drywalling all the little nooks & gaps that really don't do anything for value or livability. They want a solid core door and self-closing apparatus for the mechanical room.
Through this forum, I think you should have more than enough info to proceed. If you dont have any local contractor contacts yet, I can refer you a few who would be able to help.
 

Willyboy

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Aug 19, 2016
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#12
Why you wanna sell at all? Edmonton is coming out of recession and heading into a boom in a few years. Keep your house and enjoy the boom.
 
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Willyboy

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#14
End of recession: yes.

But: Boom ? Evidence ?


Thomas Beyer, Asset Manager, Investor, Community Improver, Author, Father, Mentor www.prestprop.com
I don't mean a boom to happen soon. I think at least a few years or even more like could be 5 or even more years just to take off in somehow a significant way because even though oi price is up I know many global oil companies left Alberta and not coming back anytime soon.

Besides if we compare the data we have now on average prices to the data from the recession of the 80's we can see that in the 80's prices went down about 20% over three years in a row and were flat before and a while after then they recovered more than 20% before the end of the 80's whereas this time prices dropped only a few percentage points so there's not much to recover soon.

But my point is as Alberta is approaching the end of the slump phase of real estate eventually in the next 10 years it should see some price appreciation but who knows how much? And because most of REIN investors are in the game for the long term I thought it would be better for him not to sell specially if he's a younger guy who can wait easily more than 10 or 15 years.

But again who knows, I could be wrong though.
 

Novice

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REIN Member
Feb 2, 2017
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#15
At the moment in law suites can be grandfathered so requirements aren’t as extensive as if you were putting in a completely new suite.
You won’t have to put in another furnace but the basement Tenant will not have access to their own thermostat.

To determine costs more information is needed.
- Sq. Footage
- Does it need a new kitchen/ bathroom
- Are the walls drywalled or panelled
- Is the electrical panel upgraded
- is there enough headroom going into the basement

Making a window egress can run between 1500-2500

Feel free to connect with me at 780-446-3814 if you need some help. I have done a lot of legal suites in Edmonton and have learned a lot of lessons along the way.



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Thank you for the details

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Matt Crowley

Senior Forum Member
Registered
Dec 14, 2013
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Calgary
#16
This house has cost me enough as it is. I will sell within a year, I hope.
Thanks
Don't suite the property if you plan to sell in the near future. There is no premium achieved on sale from suiting a property, especially if you have to use a GC (which you will as you are not located in the city).

Top dollar will be from repairs / upgrades to to a whole-home user. Especially valuable if you are a little below average in the neighbourhood right now. The investor market is much narrower, and you will not get a premium. Rents are down in Edmonton right now and only timidly recovering - so getting a FOMO premium from anxious investors who need into the market right now is not likely.

A market specialist realtor should be able to provide guidance on comps maybe interview a few and get some CMAs.