Whether you are looking to rent out your basement to a tenant, move-in a family member (older child or an elderly parent), or you simply are interested in a new renovation project converting your basement into a basement apartment is a splendid idea. Basement apartments can be a great way to make some extra income, and increase the value of your home as well. Now, before you jump onto YouTube and call your local hardware store there are some things to consider that may affect your budget.

Things to Consider Before Building Your Basement Apartment

There is some work to be done before you begin to reap the benefits of a basement apartment conversion. When living in a basement tenant will need a few things included in this renovation so you must consider the following:

1. Is There a Second Entrance for The Basement?

“Does a basement apartment need two exits?” If you do not have a secondary entrance to the basement already you will need to install one, and the spot for this new door will need to reflect the basement apartment floor plans including plumbing and electrical wires. The secondary entrance will also help to keep any renovation clutter from entering the main floor of your home, reducing the need for clean up. Additionally, you will legally need a fire exit (separate from the initial entrance).

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2. What Is the State of The Plumbing in Your Basement Currently?

This is where you ask yourself, or better yet your contractor if you need to replace any pipes, install a shower/tub, toilet or sink, and make sure there are no rusty pipes.

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3. Do You Have Plans for The Kitchen?

Many renovators choose to opt for the basement kitchenette rather than a full-sized kitchen in their basement suite.
This is a sectioned off area or island with a microwave, hot plate, and fridge and a small place to prepare or cut food.

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4. Size

How big or small is your basement?

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5. Your Budget

You are essentially creating a new home in your basement and this can become costly. Furnishing, painting, and basement apartment design can add up. Additionally, the cost of labour and appliances should be considered.

Basement renovation

6. Can I Convert My Basement Into an Apartment?

Is your basement set to be a legal basement apartment? We will dive into this next.

What Are the Requirements for A Legal Basement Apartment?

Within Ontario, there are 5 main requirements to legally rent out a basement apartment and they go as follows:

  • Do the local bylaws permit basement apartments?
  • Does the apartment comply with fire code?
  • Does it comply with building code requirements?
  • Does it comply with electrical safety requirements?
  • Has the apartment been “registered?”
inspecting property

Do the Local Bylaws Permit Basement Apartments?

This will vary by location of the home in question, but your local councillor will easily be able to answer this question for you.

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Does the Apartment Comply with Fire Code?

This is a safety requirement! Meeting with the fire code involves the following four requirements: fire containment, escape exits, fire detection and alarms, and electrical safety needs.

A separate (secondary to the entrance) exit is required. However it does not just mean doors, the basement window is acceptable if it meets the certain size and location requirements.

A smoke detected is mandatory, and the electrical safety needs can be inspected by a professional, answering the next question: Does it comply with electrical safety requirements?

finished basement

Has the Apartment Been ‘Registered’?

Not only will your basement apartment require you to obtain a Certificate of Compliance to prove that it has passed fire and electrical safety inspections, to be ‘registered’ you must contact and meet the Municipal Property Standards. Additionally, if it is newly constructed, it must meet Building Code requirements for your area.

RELATED ARTICLE: Basement for Rent: Basement Rental Preparation

Create Your Basement Apartment Plans

This is the fun part after you have done the needed legal research and code researching it is time you begin finding a trusted contractor and designing your dream basement apartment. There are many add-ons to consider for your new basement apartment conversion. Many homeowners choose to include these additions to their basement apartment:

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  • On-site washer and dryer
  • Mini home-gym
  • Kitchen or kitchenette
  • Newly renovated bathroom
  • Kids playroom
  • Study
  • Recessed lighting
  • A fireplace

While these are not required they can add a flare to drum up more possible tenants and increase the property value. You can also discuss your own basement apartment ideas with your contractor and fellow household members.

Building a Legal Basement Apartment

“What are the requirements for a legal basement apartment”

To recap you will need to have the following 5 requirements/considerations completed to assure you basement apartment is legal:

finished basement
  • Do the local bylaws permit basement apartments?
  • Does the apartment comply with fire code?
  • Does it comply with building code requirements?
  • Does it comply with electrical safety requirements?
  • Has the apartment been “registered?”

Ultimately the choice to convert your basement into a basement apartment is entirely up to you, but with the assistance of a trusted, and professionally experienced contractor your project could be more than you imagined and create a new flow of profit for you as a landlord.

RELATED ARTICLE: Basement Ideas