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Electrical Requirements for Legal Basement Suites


Basement suites are a great option for homeowners and renters alike. Homeowners can get extra help with their mortgage and give them an opportunity to put more money away in a rainy day fund. Renters get the enjoyment of a typically larger space than they would in an apartment or condo and oftentimes with access to an outdoor area, like a backyard. When thinking about transforming your basement into a rental unit, there are some electrical factors you need to take into consideration.

What is a Secondary Suite

A secondary suite is an area that is attached to the house, effectively including all basement suites in this category. To qualify, they must have their own sleeping, kitchen, living, and bathroom areas. Other areas can be shared or exclusive, depending on the layout of the house and the agreement between the landlord and the tenant.

Managing Electrical Load

Because a basement suite is attached to the main house, the law does not require two separate electrical panels for the landlord and the tenant. That being said, having another family living in your home will dramatically increase the electrical load on your system. In order to pass an inspection, your electrical system will need to be able to handle that load. This requires working with an electrical contractor who can help you calculate how much more energy you may be using and if any changes need to be made to your current system.

Maintaining Electrical Safety

Once you’ve determined that your electrical system can handle the day-to-day needs of potential tenants, it’s time to shift focus to safety. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are required in each unit. Furthermore, they must all be connected. This is so that the homeowners are immediately alerted if there is a fire in the basement, and likewise the renters are alerted if there is a fire in the home above. Another safety measure is adequate lighting in stairwells leading to an outdoor exit.

Converting your basement into a livable secondary suite can be a very rewarding experience if done right. Ensure to work with professionals who are certified, eligible to obtain the proper permits, and familiar with building codes as they adapt and develop. Serving Calgary and area, the experts at 4-Star Electric can help you convert your home’s electrical system to meet all the requirements for a secondary suite. Call us at 403-248-0037 for a consultation!

Written by 4-Star Electric

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