legalize your basement or secondary suite Vancouver | Authorized VS Unauthorized Suites |


With the high cost of houses and the shortage of land in the City of Vancouver building more rental suites is an excellent way to reduce our carbon footprint, and expand affordable housing choices.

To accommodate this, the City of Vancouver now permits suites in every detached single-family home in Vancouver within the RS, RM, and RT zones. The vast majority of single family homes in Vancouver are zoned RS-1 and RS-5.

Council has also relaxed a number of building codes to make creating rental suites easier. For instance, they have:

Reduced ceiling height requirements
Relaxed sprinkler system requirements
Permitted full basements, to accommodate more functional, liveable basement suites


There are 6 main steps to follow when applying to have an authorized basement suite in Vancouver.

Step 1 – Apply for a special inspection from the City of Vancouver. This combined inspection will cover electrical, plumbing, and building upgrades you will need to carry out to make your suite legal.

Step 2 – You will receive a letter from the City of Vancouver listing all permits, plans, and upgrading requirements.

Step 3 – Obtain all permits from the City of Vancouver. Note that Electrical, Plumbing, and Gas permits will only be issued to a licensed contractor.

Step 4 – Progress inspections will be required throughout the process. Several inspection may be required before the job can be finalized.

Step 5 – Suite approval will be granted if all requirements are met.

Step 6 – Purchase an annual business license.


A Development and building permit will be required to officially turn your house from a one-family dwelling to a one-family dwelling with secondary suite. Plans (drawings) will be required at this time. Two sets of simple floor plans will most likely be acceptable.  While these plans do not have to be professional, they must be to scale and include all details in locations. All bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, living, stairs, windows, electrical, doors must be clearly market.

A minimun ceiling height of 6’6″ is required over 80% of the structure including all exit routes.

Parking is an important issue when considering a secondary suite. Street parking can be very hard to find and your neighbours may not appreciate the extra cars on your street due to your basement suite.

Houses built prior to April 20th, 2004 require one on-site parking space.

Houses built after April 20th, 2004 require two on-site parking spaces, one for the suite and one for the primary dwelling.

Parking spaces should be 8′ x 18′ with a durable surface.

There are additional requirements for Fire Separation including self-closing doors between units.

There are standards for sprinklers, carbon dioxide and smoke alarms as well as electrical panels being 100amp service.

You will be required to pay flat fees yearly for the additional garbage, recycling, water, and sewer.


For more detailed information, please contact me with any questions:


Simon Clayton


[email protected]



legal basement suite Vancouver

legalize your basement or secondary suite Vancouver | Authorized VS Unauthorized Suites |