Legal VS. Illegal Suites in Edmonton

Two people renovating a suite

Building a secondary suite in your Edmonton home can add value to your home, aid in mortgage payments, and allow you to add more space to your house.

A legal suite is a self-contained and independently accessible private space within your home that you can rent out to tenants or allow your family to live in.

Even if you are not making a rental income from a secondary suite, there are still laws you must abide by when constructing one.

Ridgeline Improvements is dedicated to making your construction and renovation projects as easy as possible!

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to explain the differences between legal and illegal suites in Edmonton:

Why Build a Legal Suite?

A legal suite is built with the proper permits to ensure the construction is done correctly by a professional.

This protects you from responsibility should a tenant suffer injury or damage due to faulty work.

Plus, having an illegal suite in Edmonton could lead to heavy fines from the city. They can also force you to stop collecting rent and require you to apply for the permits retroactively.

To ensure your suite is up to legal standards, you may have to pay for further renovations and retrofits.

For these reasons, it’s not worth the risks of building an illegal suite in your Edmonton home!

What is Needed to Make your Suite Legal?

In Edmonton, there are guides that will walk you through the requirements for legal suites.

Apart from needing to have a reputable renovation company complete the job, here is a rundown of those requirements:


You will need to obtain a building permit as well as electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, and ventilation permits. A professional and certified general contractor can get these permits for you!

Keep in mind that the city may perform periodic inspections to ensure regulations are being followed during the construction of your new suite.


Your new suite needs to have its own entrance, even in the basement. This can be a back door or a shared door. However, tenants cannot walk through your living area to get to their suite.


Suites need to have their own appliances, including a fridge, stove/oven, and a full bathroom. Laundry rooms can be considered common shared areas, so these appliances can be shared.


Windows in sleeping spaces must be egress windows that can be opened from the inside. These ensure a safe fire exit.

Fire Protection

Speaking of fire safety, materials like gypsum boards need to be installed in the walls and ceilings to separate the suite from the main dwelling and common areas to prevent flames from spreading throughout your home.

You’ll also need smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your suite.


Edmonton suite regulations state that you must install soundproofing in the walls and ceiling between the suite and main living area and common areas.

Ventilated Heating Source

Your legal Edmonton suite also needs a separate ventilated heat source such as a forced-air furnace, electric baseboard heating, or radiant heating.

Different Types of Secondary Suites

Now that you know what is required when adding a legal suite to your home, let’s look at the types of secondary suites you can have constructed:

Basement Suite

Basement suites are a common choice for secondary suites in your home. They can be integrated into your home or with a separate entryway.

Renovating your basement into a suite is also a great way to provide additional living space for your family with its own bathroom, kitchen, and living area.


Duplexes involve merging two houses into one, either side-by-side or one on top of the other. You can add decks and garages to maximize living space. 

Converting your home into a duplex provides complete accommodations that will increase the value of your home and provide you with a rental income.

Carriage House

Carriage houses were originally built to house horses and cars, but nowadays, they refer to a living space built above a garage. You can use it as a guesthouse or rent it to tenants for additional income.


If you have space on your property, you can build a small, detached home with its own bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom. These rental properties are in high demand in Edmonton as they provide a warm and cozy dwelling.

Granny/In-Law Suite

Granny suites originated as living spaces for elderly relatives, but they can also be used for rental income. These small living spaces are often an addition to an existing home but provide amenities to create a comfortable rental space.

Ready to Get Started?

With years of experience in construction and renovation, Ridgeline Improvements has the expertise and skill to create a secondary suite for your home.

Get a quote today!