How to design a functional basement suite

Many homeowners are looking to add value to their home by creating legal basement suites.

Adding income suites is on the rise today, many homeowners are looking to add value to their home by creating legal basement suites. Here are a few things to consider when designing your basement suite.

  1. Permit Process
    City of Edmonton permits can be a daunting process to undertake on your own. In addition to the normal building permit requirements, adding a legal basement suite takes into more considerations from the city. Shift Interiors can help explain this process in more detail during our preliminary meeting.

  2. Functionality
    Ensuring the space you design is functional is the key to creating successful basement suite layouts. Consider things such as beam and telepost locations, plumbing rough in locations for bathrooms and kitchens, window placements and window sizes for egress. Not every basement will be a prime candidate for a suite, and moving existing structural and utility services can increase a project’s budget if these crucial items are not taken into account.

  3. Common spaces
    Will your basement suite share the mechanical room and or laundry with the upstairs dwelling? Will there be a separate entrance or stairwell from the exterior of the home?

  4. Sound proofing and Fire Proofing
    The National Building Code states a minimum STC (Sound Transmission Class) rating and fire rating for basement suites. This can be achieved in a variety of ways and may require upgraded insulation and drywall throughout the shared walls and floor of the suite. The City of Edmonton will ask for a Sound Transmission Declaration Form signed by the owner during the permit process that the construction will meet this requirement. Shift Interiors can help explain in more detail the routes you can take to meet this requirement.

  5. Storage
    Ample storage is a key feature potential renters will look for. If you are planning on living in the upstairs dwelling you also will be interested in adequate storage. Consider the following questions:
    Will the upstairs dwelling be losing once utilized storage from the basement? Will the suite have adequate storage for things such as coats and boots, clothes, bikes and outdoor equipment? Will common areas such as hallways and mechanical rooms be kept free of clutter for ease of access by both parties?

  6. Ideal renter
    It is wise to think of who your ideal renter will be when designing your space. Many basement suites are purpose built for family members such as “mother in law” suites, or a young adult who will be attending university. Will your ideal renter be a single person or a couple? This may help you when deciding how many bedrooms to have, how to layout the space etc