Time and time again we get the question from buyers or real estate professionals that ask if a builder/developer is willing to finish a basement with a legal suite in our infill listings and 99 out of 100 times the answer is NO (remember I said 99% not 100). If you know someone that lives in a skinny home, duplex, 3 plex, 4plex that has a suite in the basement, you're probably better off keeping it to yourself because it's not a legal suite. As a matter of fact, the City has been enforcing this and making homeowners take the necessary steps to decommission the suite if they've become aware of it. If you know a builder that has finished the basement suite for someone living in an infill, then again...keep that to yourself. Now I'm not saying that I'm condoning all these illegal suites out there but I just don't want my poorly written blog post to get someone in trouble, that's all. Here's the thing...99% of the time the builder wouldn't be able to get the permits approved for a legal suite.
It's really straightforward and easy to understand. It comes down site area. The City of Edmonton bylaw for secondary suites (legal suites) requires the lot to be a minimum of 360m2 (you can check it out yourself by looking up section 86 in Part 1 of the "General Administrative and Regulatory Clauses" in the zoning bylaw). Even if the property has a side seperate entrance, it doesn't matter the answer is still no. Now I don't know the exact stat on this but I would be confident in saying that 99% of skinnys don't meet the minimum site requirements to allow for a legal suite. Let's say we have a 25x150 lot (original dimensions were 50x150 before it was subdivided), this is considered a great infill lot and a common one too for subdividing and building 2 "skinny" homes on it. The site area works out to be 348.39m2. A legal suite would not be permitted because it doesn't meet the minimum 360m2. I might get some slack from someone out there reading this that knows someone that lives in a skinny that has a legal suite. This is the 1% that I'm talking about and they would've received permits to develop a legal suite because the site area allowed for it. There are lots out there that are 52x150 (54x145 ... 57x140, so on and so forth) that would still fall under the skinny category to a degree and will actually meet the requirement and in this case, the half lot (26x150) would exceed the minimum with a site area of 362.32m2. The only issue is... finding this lot is like finding parking at West Edmonton Mall on Boxing Day.
BUT....there has been a huge push from stakeholders for a long time to change this bylaw and based on the Urban Planning committee agenda on the City of Edmonton website, the amendment to this bylaw is being heard this Tuesday, April 17, 2018. If this goes through, it will change the dynamics of infill...in a good way. I'll tell you why in a later post.