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  • Writer's pictureBill Gagne

Podcast: Outlaw Basement apartments


Bill Gagne: (00:00)

Hey, this is the SRC toolbox podcast. I'm your host Bill Gagne.

And in this episode, we're going to be talking about making your illegal basement apartment legal specifically, we're going to talk about the early steps of how to get to the point of hiring a contractor.

What do you go through to figure out what needs to be done and hire somebody to fix it? So you can have a legal basement apartment.

Now, how do you end up with an illegal or non-registered basement apartment?

I don't like the term illegal because it implies that you've made some criminal act of buying a house that doesn't have a legal Bez, registered apartment or owning a house that doesn't have one.

The, what often happens in the scenarios we've run into when somebody has an illegal basement apartment is they've bought a house and it had an apartment in it.

Bill Gagne: (00:53)

And unknowingly this house where these either sold saying it has an in-laws suite or has income potential.

It does not specifically state, hey, no permit was gotten for this basement apartment.

It is not registered with the city of Guelph for the municipality.

So you can't technically call it a basement apartment right now.

So I had a phone call today, and that's what sparked this.

A gentleman called me asking how he could make his illegal basement apartment legal.

Now the first step before you go calling a contractor is if you intend fully to have this basement apartment be an income, and you want it registered, you're going to need to apply for the permit before you can apply for the permit.

As part of the permit application, you require drawings of the whole house, the entire house. So not just the basement apartment, but the main floor as well.

Bill Gagne: (01:56)

So you need drawings of the whole thing to submit for permit. Now there's two things.

Two ways to go about getting those drawings.

You can pay somebody to do it.

Now you require a drafts person and an architectural technologist, or somebody who has a BCI, N number, a building code information, building code, BCI, and number.

That's what you need to know. It has to do with the building code and means they're certified in doing it.

I'll look it up later.

I had it at the tip of my tongue, and I can't remember now I looked it up before. So you need somebody with a BCI number.

It will cost you money. It'll cost you a few hundred dollars, potentially up to 1200 sometimes because they need to do a full drawing of the house, all the floors, the doors, the windows, et cetera.

However, there's another way to do it.

Bill Gagne: (02:49)

You could do the drawing yourself and the city will accept that you cannot get a contractor to do it.

Unless said contractor has a BCIN number.

So if you want to do the drawings, it's good because you can save some money.

Now it will take longer. You'll go back and forth with the city. It's important to understand the city will work with you.

Don't be afraid of the city. They're not trying to screw you over. If you're looking to get it done, right, they are looking to help you get it done, right?

And they're to inform you and navigate you along that path. And it saves you a bit of money. It's a little more time consuming, like I said.

So let's say you get the drawings together. Now you're going to apply for your permit. You submit you're going to have a permit fee.

Bill Gagne: (03:33)

And I talked to Lori Belanger from the City of Guelph today and she informed me because it's an existing unit that was not permitted you're going to pay the two fees is second of the application fee and an existing unit fee.

So, it's going to be about 300 bucks for you to apply for that next.

You're going to submit for permit application. You're going to get a response typically within 10 business days. So two weeks, pretty quick turnaround the next.

Now that you've got your permit, you are going to call for inspection. You're going to call the city. and according to Lori, you're going to request plumbing, rough in framing and HVAC inspections.

A city inspector is going to come out and they're going to have a look at everything. And they're going to provide you with an inspection report of where your basement apartment failed or a better way to look at is what you need to fix to make it illegal registered basement apartment.

Bill Gagne: (04:29)

They typically, from what Lori says and our own experiences, basement bathrooms, the venting, making sure the plumbing was done properly is a big thing.

Your fire code, making sure there's fire rated doors that there's proper egress and that kind of thing.

They don't care about paint. They don't care about your floor. The aesthetics are not their big thing.

It's safety. And the function of the house, you know, is the range hood vented, you know, is the bathroom fan vented all those things are what you need to have done if they are not done properly.

So they may require you to open some walls to verify this it's really worth it in the long run, because you probably bought that house thinking I'm going to rent this.

I'm going to make an income that's going to help me pay for this. We all know the price of real estate nowadays is skyrocketing. Having an income from that basement apartment is invaluable.

It oftentimes one of our clients, it was the reason they got the house in the first place because they could rent the basement. And then they found out later on that they had to go backwards. And there's nobody else.

You can't really go at them in my understanding about not having it being registered unless they flat out, lied to you. If they said it was registered and it's not, then that's a different story. And you might want to talk to a lawyer.

However, now that you've got this inspection report that tells you all these things that need to be done.

Now you can go to a contractor or contractors and you can get quotes for what work needs to be done and how much it's going to cost. You know, maybe there's some things you could do yourself who knows, maybe you're handy.

That is the process for you to go from non-registered to registered illegal basement. A registered basement apartment is worth more than a non-registered on the real estate market.

Ask your real estate agent, or if the real, that real estate agent sold you the house without a registered apartment, maybe find a real estate agent who knows a little bit more, but for sure, a legal registered basement apartment is worth more.

It's already mostly built. You may as well take advantage.

So I hope this helps you learn a little bit more about what it takes to have a legal registered apartment, the steps you need to take.

And I look forward to seeing you on the next one.

Thanks for listening.

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