Make Money with a Secondary Suite

Creating a secondary suite just got way simpler for Windsorites. Rental income, space for granny, or a place for live-at-home kids to relax, a secondary suite is a perfect use of neglected square footage. 

Quick Read

What is a secondary unit?

Create a laneway suite  

Tax wins for legal suites

Make a legal duplex in Ontario

Mortgaging a secondary suite

Insuring home renos and contractors

Right at Home in Your Second Home

Up to 47% of young adults in the GTA live at home because of high housing prices. Picture how that impacts adults with disabilities and it’s clear why changes to bylaws in Windsor, Toronto, and Guelph are so important to families. A secondary suite makes living easier and gives everyone more privacy and independence. What is a secondary suite in Ontario? 

Suburbs Are Handy to Services 

Getting around on city buses or finding accommodation near college or university can be a big deal. Suburbs are accessible to everything renters, students or young adults need to have a life of their own. With stair lifts and senior-friendly finishes, a basement suite or apartment over a detached garage can be a second home for older adults on fixed incomes. It gives them independence, with support if they need it. Can you build a guest house in your backyard in Ontario? 

Deducting Rental Income From Taxes

Secondary dwelling units in Ontario are legal mortgage helpers. Windsor’s central housing registry has over 4,700 adults looking for a place to live. You can deduct a share of your property taxes, insurance and utilities, legal or accounting services, advertising or fees to find renters and materials (but not labour) for minor repairs, like fixing the plumbing. Capital appreciation on your home is deductible, but you may have to pay it back if you sell. 

Tax wins when buying income property. 

Let’s Get To It

Ontario home reno specialist Mike Holmes has advice from homeowners pondering developing a secondary suite. He recommends checking with your municipality first, then hiring an architect, engineer for structural changes, or qualified residential designer with a BCIN (Building Code Inspection Number) to draw up the plans. The plans allow you to apply for a building permit, a must for any project that changes occupancy from a single family home to multi-unit dwelling. Even the smallest of changes can require a permit. You could get fined or have a stop work order pinned to your front door if you plunge in without a permit. 

When building permits are needed

What Does It Mean When a House Has Two Units?

What is considered a secondary unit in your municipality depends on local zoning bylaws. Talk to your municipal planning or building department for advice. Add second units – how to make a legal duplex in Ontario. 

How Big is Big?

Your municipality will let you know how big you can go with your secondary suite reno. Windsor, for example, sets the limit at 1,076 square feet and 50% of a home’s gross floor area. You may need parking or upgrades like a sump pump or backflow prevention valve in case of spring flooding. More on zoning bylaws in Toronto

Meeting the Ontario Building Code

Older homes can have outdated wiring, plumbing and insulation. Up to the late 1970s, hazardous asbestos ceiling and floor tiles and insulation were still being used in Ontario  homes. That will have to be professionally remediated if your building plan disturbs it. Windows, ceilings and staircases have height requirements and fireproofing, such as sprinklers or smoke alarms, is mandatory. A dark, dank, windowless space won’t cut it.

Is Your Space Suitable for Living?

Some spaces are just too awkward to make livable. Low ceiling heights can complicate adding extra layers of drywall or fireproofing materials. Expect to spend a lot for structural changes if your basement lacks large windows or an outside entrance. Getting estimates from reputable contractors, knowing your limits, and keeping a reserve fund can prevent unforeseen grief. Mortgaging laneway suites. 

Hire a Contractor You Can Trust

Cash transactions or low bids that seem too good to be true usually are. If your reno doesn’t pass inspection, you may have to pay to have it fixed. A contractor dodging taxes by charging you cash can be hard to trace if anything goes wrong. They can even get your project audited by the Canada Revenue Agency. You can miss out on tax deductions yourself or be held liable by unpaid sub trades. Remove a construction lien

Insuring Your Reno

What about that home insurance? Let your home insurer know before you start a reno project. You can protect yourself from personal injury claims, fire, gas leaks or theft and ensure your policy is right for your home’s new replacement value by being proactive. Find licensed insurance companies in Ontario. 

Consider this:

  • Your policy only covers unexpected perils, not renovations. Coverage for construction-related damages can be denied if you take on a reno without telling your insurer. Reasons claims get denied. 

  • Course of construction insurance or builder’s risk insurance for homeowners covers you if a contractor or you get injured on site.

  • Thieves steal everything, including the kitchen sink, from construction sites. You may need to replace broken windows or locks and stolen construction materials.

  • Your insurance policy may be voided if you move out for an extended period during construction. Home insurance policies require homeowners to live on the premises to ensure it is safe and secure. Even a lengthy vacation can put you at risk.

Signing a Contract the Right Way

Before you sign any contract for a reno project, show it to a real estate lawyer. They know all the ins and outs of construction contract language and can spot errors, omissions or clauses that could trip you up legally later. They know all the ins and outs of construction contract language and can spot errors, omissions, or clauses that could trip you up legally.   

Affordable Real Estate Lawyers, Anywhere You Are 

Access lawyers for less in Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, or by remote video conference. Our flat fee rates are affordable, and all inclusive (excluding taxes, disbursements, and third-party charges). Your final invoice includes no surprises, or hidden charges. Your itemized statement of adjustments is explained when we deliver it, and we answer any questions you have about it. You can get independent legal advice, or add a family member to a property for a modest title transfer lawyer fee. Axess Law offers you only the legal services you absolutely need. 

Find virtual real estate lawyers near you. 

Legal Advice for Home Renovations

Axess Law’s Ontario real estate lawyers review construction contracts to give you assurance your project is on track. Online video conference calls are available anywhere in Ontario, 7 days a week, day or evening. Dial 1-877-522-9377 or 647-479-0118 in Greater Toronto, or use our online booking form. Make an in-person appointment at any of our conveniently located Ottawa or Greater Toronto Area law offices.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s real estate law services.