I am considering adding a secondary suite.
What do I need to do?
Determine if your property would be suitable for a secondary suite. Secondary suites are permitted in most Colwood single family homes. More information on what is permitted in your zone is available in the Colwood Land Use Bylaw.
Review the Adding a Suite Checklist for key requirements to consider when planning your secondary suite, including those listed below.
- The maximum size for a secondary suite is 90m2 (968ft2) or 40% of the gross floor area of the existing home, whichever is less.
- An additional unobstructed parking space must be provided for each suite.
- A secondary suite must have a separate dedicated entrance/exit.
More information about the requirements around secondary suites can be found in the Colwood Land Use Bylaw and the Off-Street Parking Regulations Bylaw. Suites will also be subject to BC Building Code requirements for fire and life safety (e.g. smoke detectors).
Take advantage of BC funding for your secondary suite
The Province of BC has announced a new program to provide forgivable loans of up to $40k to homeowners to build a secondary suite on their property.
Click to learn more!
Secondary Suite FAQs
The City understands there is a housing crisis and wherever possible accommodates creating new dwelling units or bringing existing ones into compliance (where the property is zoned for that use, and it is safe to do so). You are not committed to anything by reaching out to ask questions. For zoning related questions, please reach out to email@example.com and for building questions, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org Alternatively you can phone our general line and be directed to the appropriate staff member 250-478-7516.
Q-What do I need to build a new secondary suite in an existing house?
A- The first step is to confirm that your property is zoned for the intended use. Please reference the Adding a Suite Checklist to familiarize yourself with zoning requirements such as permitted size and parking to be provided. Once you have confirmed what you intend to do is possible, please submit a completed building permit application and plans. The plans required for this application are outlined in the chart on the main page for building permits. While you are able to submit drawings on your own, a designer or contractor who is familiar with zoning/building code requirements can save you time.
Q- What do I need to bring my existing secondary suite into compliance if there is no record of it or I want to confirm it is safe to occupy?
A- Please follow the steps outlined in the first FAQ answer. You are not committed to anything by reaching out to inquire. If you are zoned for that use and parking can be provided on the property, the city approaches existing suites on a case by case basis and works with the property owner to ensure the key life and safety requirements are in place. Examples of what those requirements may be are smoke alarms, egress requirements, and operational exhaust fans.
Q-I have a class ll secondary suite permit, does this mean my suite is legal?
A- At one time the City issued “class two” secondary suite permits. This was a declaration provided by the homeowner that the secondary suite met the basic zoning and building code requirements. The City no longer issues class two secondary suite permits or requires them to be renewed. They are no longer valid as that bylaw has been repealed. Because of this, the City is unable to confirm the suites legitimacy unless there is record of a building permit but does not consider existing ones to be an issue unless we are made aware of safety concerns. It is important for the property owner to know that a class two permit should not be taken as assurance that there were inspections to confirm the key life and safety aspects are in place. If you would like to confirm those are in place or require proof of the suites legitimacy, we encourage you to follow the steps explained in the second FAQ answer on this page.
Have more questions about secondary suites?
Talk to Development Services staff at 250-294-8153 or email@example.com to confirm that your property is suitable for a secondary suite, review the Adding a Suite Checklist, or discuss any other secondary suite requirements.