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by Paul Begin VP | RenoAssistance

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Converting Your Basement into a Rental Apartment | What to Consider


How to convert your basement into a rental apartment

Converting your basement into a rental apartment might seem like quite the feat. Well, it is. But, don’t worry, we’ve covered everything you need to know for a successful conversion. Whether you choose to use your newly founded property for extra income or even as a home for your adult children or elderly parents, you’ll need to ensure your project is feasible, that you follow rules & regulations, and that you’ve considered a functional layout for the new space.

Is converting your basement into a rental property feasible?

Before going ahead and working on converting your basement into an apartment, you must check with your municipality. Rules and regulations change depending on where you live. Some municipalities allow basement conversions, while others plain out do not. Checking with your city first will avoid spending money for nothing if unfeasible, but also allow you to budget accordingly in the case that regulations allow it so long as you have certain elements. Simply making your basement look like an apartment (i.e. has a bathroom, kitchen, living space, etc.) isn’t enough. You’ll need to pass inspection, so budget accordingly and make sure your new space has what it needs for your future tenants.

Once you know your basement conversion can be done, it’ll be time to move on to its plans/drawings.

Planning out your basement apartment

To plan out your basement apartment, you’ll need the help of an architect, technologist, engineer, or any other qualified tradesman to draw up the plans. In Ontario, your chosen qualified professional should have a BCIN (Building code Inspection Number), whereas, in Quebec, they should have their RBQ (Régie du bâtiment du Quebec) license number.  

The professional designing your basement’s plans will take into consideration the legal and safety precautions that will need to be taken care of, but also any specific needs and desires you might have for the space. Once the plans are drawn out, you’ll be able to request permits to follow through with the renovation project. Without these plans, you won’t be able to get the required permits for the job you want to get done. That’s another reason why getting qualified professionals to draw out the plans is crucial; they’ll know what to include to make sure you get the permits you need.

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Basement conversion: apartment requirements

As mentioned, your basement apartment will surely need to follow certain rules and regulations to allow you to provide the space to tenants. You’ll need to ensure there are enough means of egress, as well as fireproofing and fire separation elements.

Areaway & Other Means of Egress

Emergency exits are crucial to for your new basement apartment. Having a safe, unobstructed exit from the basement to the outdoors is mandatory. Depending on where you live, there will be requirements according to their sizes and how many you’ll need for your basement.

Ideally, you’d have an entryway, or more commonly called an ‘areaway’ for your basement. If you don’t already have an entrance door to your basement, this will run up the project’s costs considerably. However, if your budget permits, putting an areaway in for your basement conversion will increase your new property’s appeal to potential tenants – also allowing you to increase your rent.

Fireproofing Safety Measures

Besides safe fire escapes, you’ll need to verify what other fireproofing elements your municipality requires. Generally, they’ll ask for the entry door (whether it is directly outdoors or connected to an indoor stairway) be fire rated. The same goes the windows in the basement. Though, there may actually be a limit to the number of windows you’re allowed to have overall. 

Your fire-rated doors might even need to close automatically. This way, in the event, that there’s a fire, the tenants can evacuate quickly without worrying about closing the door. The door will then retain the fire within and delay the fire’s onset to the outdoors or other parts of the house. You can even get flame retardant gypsum as a safety precaution. 

Soundproofing your basement apartment

Now that you’ve settled on what you’ll be doing for your basement apartment, it might be time to consider your privacy. So many soundproofing options are available to you – whether they be quick-fix soundproofing options or long-term ones. Though, seeing as you’re only starting your basement conversion adventure, we highly suggest discussing your wants and needs in the soundproofing department with your contractors. They’ll be able to find the right solutions for you and implement them before closing up the walls and the ceiling. You surely won’t regret considering soundproofing your basement ceiling.

Should you rent out your basement, turn it into a bi-generational home or keep it for personal use?

Although your basement now complies with rules and regulations for basement apartments, you can benefit from this new space in multiple ways. 

Renting out your basement apartment

Of course, renting out your basement can help you out financially. It can either alleviate your mortgage payments, or you can simply make some extra income. Though, there are specific laws that might come into play in this particular situation. Take a look at this article to get an idea of the kind of situations you might be facing when renting out your basement apartment.  

Converting your basement into a bi-generational home

Have you been considering creating a separate space for your adult children or elderly parents? Using the new basement apartment to give them a space to live is also a great idea. You’ll have your own privacy, but your family will remain close-by. 

Keeping your basement for personal use

It’s your home. If you’ve decided the conversion looks great and want to use your space before deciding to rent it out, why not?

I'm here to help you

- Jonathan / Renovation Advisor at RenoAssistance

Basement bachelor design ideas

Now that you’ve figured out what’s mandatory for your basement bachelor, it’s time to take a look at some basement bachelor design ideas. 

Keep in mind that, no matter how you plan on making it look, there should minimally be a kitchen, bathroom and living space for tenants to live comfortably. 

Here are some great ideas for your basement apartment: 

Find the right contractor to convert your basement

At RenoAssistance, we pride ourselves in knowing the best contractors in the industry. Finding the right contractor for your basement conversion doesn’t need to be a hassle. Our Renovation Advisors will be there to find you up to three 360° Verified Basement Contractors for your basement project. They’ll then help you compare quotes and help you pick the best contractor for your project.

Ready to get a quote for your basement conversion?

We’ll gladly find you up to three contractors to bid on your basement renovation.

Call us or fill out this form to start getting quotes.

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