The following has been prepared as an informational guide for persons wishing to better understand the process for creating a secondary suite in an existing home. It provides general information and is not intended to replace the Zoning Bylaw or BC Building Code requirements. If you require further information or clarification, please contact the City of Langford.
What is a secondary suite?
A secondary suite is an additional dwelling unit located within a building of residential occupancy containing only one other dwelling unit.
Are secondary suites allowed everywhere in Langford?
- The property must be zoned for a single family dwelling with a secondary suite
- The property must be connected to municipal sewer
- The lot must be at least 550m2 in area
- One off street parking space must be provided for the exclusive use of the occupants of the suite, in addition to the required off street parking for the principal dwelling
Please contact the Planning Department for land use regulations related specifically to your property.
Secondary suites and the BC Building Code
The secondary suite regulations of the BC Building Code were designed for the construction of safe, affordable accommodation within new and existing houses. These standards are more forgiving than those required for multi-family construction, providing flexibility without compromising occupant safety.
Secondary suites in new construction are reviewed during the planning, application and construction process for full compliance with the Building Code, while conversions in existing houses are reviewed on an individual basis. The basic requirements are as follows:
- The total floor area of the secondary suite cannot be more than 90 m2 (970 ft2) or 40% of the habitable area of the building in which it is located, whichever is less.
- The dwelling must be owner occupied
- The secondary suite cannot be strata titled to form a duplex. You must register a covenant at Land Titles to ensure future owners are aware of this restriction
Construction requirements are as follows:
- Heating and ventilation systems cannot be interconnected
- The suite must be separated from the remainder of the house by a 30 minute fire separation, unless the building is sprinklered
- There must be an interconnected photovoltaic smoke alarm in the house and the suite in addition to the independent alarms, unless the building is sprinklered
- The entry door to the suite must be a swing door, not a slider
- Every bedroom must have windows with an opening area of at least 3.8 ft2, with a minimum 15" in width or height. Windows must be openable from the inside without tools or special knowledge
- Stairs and corridors must be a minimum of 34" wide
- The minimum ceiling height must be 6'-7"
Prior to applying for permit, it is recommended you arrange for a site visit with a Building Inspector to ensure the basic requirements can be met.
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