What you should know about the new secondary suite requirements

In December 2019, the BC Building Code released revisions to secondary suite requirements. 

Changes to the definition of Secondary Suites:

The BC Building Code previously defined a secondary suite as a dwelling unit:

  • Having a total floor space of not more than 90m2 in area;
  • Having a floor space less than 40% of the habitable space of the building;
  • Located within a building of residential occupancy containing only one other dwelling unit;
  • Located in and part of a building which is a single real estate entity.

The new definition states that a secondary suite is a self-contained dwelling unit located within a building or portion of the building:

  • Completely separated from other parts of the building by a vertical fire separation that has a fire-resistance rating of not less than 1h and extends from the ground or lowermost assembly continuously through or adjacent to all storeys and spaces including service spaces of the separated portions;
  • Of only residential occupancy that contains only one other dwelling unit and common spaces;
  • Where both dwelling units constitute a single real estate entity.

BC Building code now allows the construction of secondary suites in side-by-side duplexes and row houses where a minimal 1 h vertical fire separation separates the portion with the dwelling unit with the secondary suite with the rest of the building.

Secondary suites are not permitted in up-and-down duplexes and apartment buildings where dwelling units are above or below other dwelling units.

If you have any questions about your building or project, please contact the District of Squamish Building Department at 604.892.5217.

March 20, 2020

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