How to convert your basement into a rental apartment
Converting your basement into a legal 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 and 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, be sure to check first with your municipality. Rules and regulations vary depending on where you live. While some areas allow basement conversions, others don’t.
If your region does allow them, be sure to take note of applicable regulations; they’ll help you create a realistic budget for your project. After all, simply making your basement look like an apartment (building a bathroom, kitchen, living space, etc.) isn’t enough. You’ll need to pass inspection, so 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 the planning stage.
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 tradesperson to draw up the plans. In Ontario, your chosen qualified professional should have a BCIN (Building code Inspection Number); in Quebec, they should have an RBQ (Régie du bâtiment du Quebec) license number.
The professional designing your basement’s plans will consider the legal and safety precautions that will need to be taken care of, as well as any specific needs and desires you might have for the space. Once the plans are drawn up, you’ll be able to use them to get the permits you need to complete your renovation project.
Basement conversion: Apartment requirements
In order for your space to be considered a legal basement apartment, you’ll need to comply with specific rules and regulations. For example, you’ll need to ensure there are enough means of egress, as well as fireproofing and fire separation elements.
Areaway and other means of egress
Emergency exits are crucial for your new basement apartment. Having a safe, unobstructed exit from the basement to the outdoors is mandatory. The number of exits and their minimum sizes will vary depending on where you live.
Ideally, you’d have an entryway (or “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 in an areaway will increase your new property’s appeal to potential tenants as well as also allow you to increase your rent.
Fireproofing safety measures
Besides providing fire escapes, you’ll need to verify what other fireproofing elements your municipality requires. Generally, they’ll ask for the entry door (whether it goes to the outdoors directly or is connected to an indoor stairway) be fire rated. The same goes for 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, tenants can evacuate quickly without worrying about closing the door. The door will then keep the fire contained and delay its 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, from quick fixes to long-term solutions. Though, seeing as you’re only starting your basement conversion adventure, we strongly suggest discussing your wants and needs regarding soundproofing 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 definitely won’t regret 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 legal 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 alleviate your mortgage payments or provide you with 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?
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 at least be a kitchen, a bathroom and a 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 Verified Contractors for your basement project. They’ll then help you compare quotes and 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.
Happy renovations start here!
15 questions you need answered before settling on a renovation contractor