Secondary Suites

A Secondary Suite is defined in the Zoning Bylaw as, “a second, self-contained dwelling unit with private access, its own kitchen and bathroom, and located within a single-unit dwelling, within a detached accessory building or within a townhouse dwelling unit as permitted in CD-40 and CD-69 zones, complying with the requirements of section 4.5 of this Bylaw.”

The installation of a secondary suite in a new or existing single unit dwelling or within an accessory building (also known as a “carriage home”) is permitted by the District of Squamish, subject to both the District of Squamish Zoning Bylaw and the British Columbia Building Code (BCBC).

The Zoning Bylaw currently permits secondary suites in all new and existing single-unit homes and includes the following requirements:

  • Only one suite may be developed per single-unit home.
  • The secondary suite must form a single real estate entity with the principal dwelling unit.  Not strata titling is permitted.
  • Secondary suites are not permitted in two unit dwellings (duplexes).

The Zoning Bylaw also permits secondary suites within an Accessory building and includes the following requirements:

  • Accessory buildings are not permitted in the front yard.
  • Accessory buildings (with secondary suites) must meet the minimum front and side setback requirements of a principal building and be located no closer than 3 meters from the rear property line, except no closer than 0.6m  where there is access to a lane.
  • The total floor area for an accessory building, where a secondary suite is located above the garage, cannot exceed 140 m2 and the maximum height is 6.7 meters.
  • Lot coverage and maximum gross floor area provisions within the Zoning bylaw continue to apply.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where are suites permitted?

    A secondary suite is permitted within a single-unit dwelling or house, or above a detached accessory building. For clarity, secondary suites are not permitted in two-unit (duplex) dwellings and only one secondary suite is permitted PER lot.

    Detached accessory buildings including a secondary suite may be used for temporary living accommodation during the construction of a principal building on the same lot.

  • What are the maximum allowable size, height and parking requirements for a secondary suite?
    • Within a principal dwelling, a maximum of 90 m2 (~968 sq ft) or 40% of the gross floor area, whichever is less.
    • Above a detached accessory building in which case the maximum gross floor area of the suite is 70 m2 (~750 sq ft).
    • As a density bonus, for properties that are 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres) or larger, a maximum gross floor area of 90 m2 (968 sq ft) is permitted provided that all exterior walls of the unit are continuously insulated and the structure achieves the insulation RSI value for Climate Zone 6 (Whistler) or higher under the BC Building Code.
    • Outside of flood hazard area identified in the Official Community Plan, a secondary suite on the ground floor of an accessory building is permitted, with the same size provisions as above.
    • The maximum building height of an accessory building containing a secondary suite is 6.7 meters.
    • One (1) additional off-street parking space must be provided.
  • Where may I locate a detached accessory building and suite (carriage home) on my lot? What other requirements apply to detached buildings with suites?
    • Accessory buildings containing secondary suites may not be located in the front yard.
    • Accessory buildings containing secondary suites will meet the front and side setback requirements of a principal building.
    • On corner lots, accessory buildings containing secondary suites shall retain the same exterior side setback as the principal building.
    • Accessory buildings containing secondary suites must be located not less than 3 meters from the rear property line, except no closer than 0.6 meters where there is access to a rear lane or road.
  • Does my secondary suite need separate access and street address?

    Yes, secondary suites require private access, whether in a principal building or a detached building.

    • For accessory buildings containing secondary suites, access via a continuous, unobstructed and lighted pathway from the front street or laneway to the main entrance to the suite is required.  This pathway should not be more than 45 meters in length, consisting of a minimum width of at least 900 mm and vertical headroom clearance of at least 2.1m.
    • The driveway access to the secondary suite must be shared with access to the principal residence, unless the parcel is a corner lot or access to the secondary suite can be provided from a rear lane or road.
    • For accessory buildings containing secondary suites an exterior strobe light is provided and maintained above the principal entrance of the building, designed such that the strobe light will activate at the same time as a smoke alarm is activated within the carriage home.
    • The address for accessory buildings containing secondary suites needs to be visible from the street, mounted on the building or a signpost adjacent to the path leading to the building.  The District of Squamish Engineering department assigns civic addresses for suites.
  • What do I require to legalize my suite?
    • Verify that your secondary suite meets the zoning requirements of your lot.
    • Submit a building permit application for a suite installation or new build.
    • After receiving your permit, ensure that the suite is built or installed to the BC Building Code requirements.
    • Call the District of Squamish Building department for a final inspection.  Once the suite has passed inspection, an Occupancy Permit will be issued and your suite is now legal.  Addressing will be confirmed by the Engineering department.
    • You can then contact Carneys Waste Systems to receive a set of garbage/recycling/organic totes for curbside pick-up for your suite.
  • What are the fees associated with installing/building a suite?
    • Building permit fees and Development Cost Charges were exempted in 2016 on secondary suites to help stimulate the creation of rental housing units in Squamish. In return, this has resulted in a typical savings to secondary suite costs of $3,500 or more for a 70 square-metre suite. 
    • Fees will apply for upgrading or adding to your existing services of water and/or sewer for any secondary suite construction. The Building department will assess your plans for upgrade requirements, and an estimate of these costs will be issued from the District’s Public Works Department.
  • The house I want to buy has a suite, how do I know whether it is legal?

    It is up to the Owner or Owner’s Agent to verify that a suite has been granted Occupancy from the District.  Even if an Owner is being billed for Utilities for two units, it does not necessarily mean that all other zoning and building requirements have been met.  If in doubt, contact the District’s Building Department to request this information.

  • Why do I get a utility bill for my suite?

    The District charges utilities based on a per unit dwelling basis.  If you add an additional unit to your property/dwelling, the fees will reflect the additional unit.

  • I don’t have a tenant in the suite. Do I still have to pay the utility bill?

    If a secondary suite is in place, the District of Squamish does bill for the added utility cost associated with the additional dwelling unit. If you are not planning on using the suite for its intended purpose, decommissioning the suite is an option.

  • What do I need to do to decommission a suite?

    Take the following steps to decommission a suite. The BC Safety Authority requires that you employ a certified electrician for all electrical works.

    • Remove the lockable mechanism between the suite and the main dwelling. This can be either, the door knob, the dead bolt, or both.
    • Remove the cooking appliance from the property. Ensure the cooking appliance receptacle and electrical box are removed, wires cut and put back into the wall.
    • Remove the range hood cap off the ducting on the inside and the exterior; if the electrical is loose, have it terminated within a junction box.
    • Remove the cooking appliance breaker from the bus bar on the electrical panel; terminate wires and install dummy plugs in the panel face where the breaker used to be.
    • The District of Squamish requires a Final Electrical Certificate to be submitted by the certified electrician to confirm all works are completed. 

    Once this work has been completed, you will need to fill out a Suite Declaration form with the Building Department and book an inspection.  There is a fee associated with this inspection.  Once the inspection is complete, the Building Inspector will sign the form and you will bring it to the District’s Financial Services department to have the utility charges from your secondary suite.

  • Can I stratify the secondary suite?

    A secondary suite must form a single real estate entity with the single-unit or townhouse dwelling. No strata titling is permitted at this time.