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Secondary & Basement Suites

Maximize underutilized space and transform it into a steady income.

What is a Secondary Suite?

In a market where home prices continue to rise at increasingly faster rates, the only way to get ahead with a single home is to consider part of its use as a second suite or basement rental property. Not only will this make home ownership more affordable for you, but it can also help you establish a real estate portfolio and financial independence. Ask us if a secondary suite could benefit you, and we’ll show you how to plan and finance not just the apartment but a brighter future!

Also called a second suite, basement suite, in-law suite, accessory unit or basement apartment, a secondary suite is a self-contained, independently accessible private unit within an existing home that can be rented out to another person or family. While most are found in basements, some are added onto the original structure as an addition, or as a separate unit on the same property, such as a coach house. These spaces have their own bathroom, kitchen, and living areas, and may share certain amenities with the rest of the home (like a laundry area, yard, or storage).

Why Build a Secondary Suite?

Rental housing can be hard to come by in Ottawa, with some of the lowest vacancy rates ever seen in the city, and secondary suites are starting to fill a demand for affordable housing. In Ottawa, according to the CMHC, the rental vacancy rate for one-bedroom apartments is only 1.7%, which can make it a struggle for some families and individuals to find an affordable home in which to live. As secondary suites utilize existing infrastructure to create a rental unit, they fill a gap in the housing rental market.

There are many reasons why a homeowner may want to consider becoming a landlord. They may have an older family with children who have moved out and want to make use of the now-available space. Perhaps they want to increase the value of their home when it’s time to sell. To make renting a second suite even more attractive to homeowners, the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation provides 100% offset for rental income produced by legal second suites in an owner-occupied property.

The Benefits of a Secondary Suite

Building a secondary suite in your home gives you the opportunity to create a safe and affordable rental unit for residents. It also allows you to maximize underutilized space and transform it into a steady income.

Pay off your mortgage sooner, fund renovations to increase your property value, or consider other investments. Creating a legal second suite is one of the best upgrades you can make to increase the resale value of your property. Planned and managed properly, a secondary suite can also be your first step in building a property ladder to build real, real estate wealth.

Read the Province’s official policy on Secondary Suites.

Read All Things Home’s article about why a basement rental suite can be a smart investment.

Extra income from your secondary suite rental can:

  • Reduce your debt by helping you repay your mortgage faster
  • Help first-time homeowners afford property
  • Fund property renovations to increase a home’s value
  • Provide a source of back-up income

The Business Case for Adding a Legal Secondary Suite:

Adding $115,000 (an example of the cost of the entire Secondary Suite project) to a 25-year amortization, at 2.89% interest, adds $538/month to mortgage payment.

The average rental rate for one bedroom in Ottawa: $1583/month

The average rental rate for two bedrooms in Ottawa: $1998/month

This leads to a cash flow of between $1045 to $1460 per month!

Key Considerations for adding a Secondary Suite:

Your location needs to be attractive to tenants (close to transit or other amenities)

You should understand your neighbourhood demographics and target market (are there schools nearby? A university or college? Do you want to attract students, families, seniors?)

Understand the potential rental income. What are the apartments in your neighbourhood renting for? Is there a demand for rentals in your area?

Create a Legal Secondary Dwelling. Ensure that you are following all regulations in your area. To Do-Done will work with you to develop permit drawings, and we will meet with the appropriate city officials to review drawings, project milestones, and to obtain legal occupancy of the unit once it is complete.

Create a cash flow positive product. The goal of this project is to create a space in your home that is cash flow positive from the very first month in operation. It will also add significant resale value to your home instantly.

Download the Government of Ontario’s Secondary Suites Info Guide.

Building a Secondary Suite with Us

At To Do-Done, we have experience creating beautiful and functional basements and income properties. Our trusted team starts by inspecting your property to ensure that adding a second suite is feasible. If we determine that it is, we then put together a proposal based on your design ideas and your budget. We also have skilled design consultants on hand to help you come up with ideas for how to best use the available space effectively.

The next step is making sure that all of the appropriate permits are obtained. It’s crucial to follow all local legislation when creating an income property. We make sure that your new suite is compliant with ALL residential zoning requirements, property standards, occupancy standards, health and safety requirements and fire, and electrical codes.

When you work with To Do-Done, you’re working with an experienced team that knows what it takes to design and construct a beautiful, functional, and legal secondary suite in your home!

Contact To Do-Done Today

We can help you with your renovations, large and small! Contact us today and find out how we can make it better!



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A former public servant has discovered a whole new meaning to the word "service". Until earlier this year, Tonya Bruin was an associate director at Health Canada.


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