A Frank Discussion on Basement Suites in Alberta

By Bo Fric – President ReImagine Builders

In this blog I am going to go off course a little bit and rant about my feeling regarding legal basement suites in Alberta.

As the owner of a basement development company, I have a very strange policy regarding basement suites – we don’t build them!

The current state of the bylaws regarding secondary suites has made it so difficult for most homeowners to add a legal suite that it just isn’t worth our time looking at them anymore.

The problem is that by the time a homeowner finds out all of the associated costs and the time and effort it takes to get a development permit, nine times out of ten they either decide not to bother or decide to take their chances and develop a non-conforming or illegal suite.

I don’t believe in trying to circumvent the bylaws so I just stay away.

It has never made sense to me though why they make it so hard for homeowners to add legal suites when there is such a lack of affordable housing in our city. I find this especially frustrating since the result is that so many homeowners take short cuts and create illegal suites which is a total disservice to our citizens.

From my time running Rentfaster.ca and also working as a Real Estate agent, I have seen hundreds of illegal suites. Some of them seem very habitable, but many are dungeons that I wouldn’t put my worst enemy in.

If the requirements were eased just a little bit, then we wouldn’t be faced with this inconsistency.

I don’t want to get too political, and I know that there are good people making strong efforts in this regard. However, I do believe that something needs to be done about this and would encourage you to contact your representatives and have a voice in this matter.

For the time being we will just keep on developing our basements. Just not the ones of the basement suite variety.