Homefinder: Do’s and don’ts for secondary suites

Builder offers advice for constructing a basement suite

They go hand in hand, the growth of secondary suites and the out-of-control cost of Greater Victoria real estate.

Victoria Real Estate Board’s sales data for March show Greater Victoria home sales are up by 52.7 per cent compared to March 2015. And yet that’s with a smaller inventory of homes, down by nearly a third (30.5 per cent) compared to the same time last year.

This significantly affects the affordability of homes in Victoria, making secondary suites more necessary than ever as mortgage helpers.

“I’ve never seen such a huge demand for secondary suites in both new and older homes,” said Ron Bickford.

The president of Rob-Ron Construction has been building and renovating homes in Greater Victoria for nearly 40 years.

The trend for homeowners entering the market needing a “mortgage helper,” or secondary suite has been widely reported, and Bickford’s seen it first hand. Secondary suites are an important part of housing affordability solutions, a huge concern in Victoria right now, Bickford added.

“The demand for secondary suites in brand new homes has vastly increased, as have queries to create secondary suites in newly purchased homes.”

Bickford is in the planning stages of building two dream homes in Saanich, and both require the inclusion of secondary suites.

Bickford wants to remind residents who are considering the creation of a new suite in their home to avoid common pitfalls.

“People tend to underestimate the cost of creating a basement suite or they don’t have the expertise we do to avoid certain problems that could lead to water damage and more expense, for example, later on,” Bickford said.

Bickford offers the following advice to homebuyers looking at buying a home and renovating it to include a secondary suite.

Come up with a budget for the home purchase and renovation to include a suite. Creating a basement suite usually costs more than most people think. Usually a variety of trades are needed, including plumbers, electricians, carpenters and drywallers.

Review municipal bylaws before purchasing a home. Saanich bylaws allow legalized suites by permit in most of the district. For a map and detailed information, visit saanich.ca/living/community/suite.html. Enforcement of suites is complaint driven.

Review plumbing considerations. If there is no plumbing on the level you are planning to build a suite, ensure the invert height of the sewer service on the street is the right elevation. If it isn’t, you may need to install a pump, and you’ll need to allocate space for housing the pump, not to mention budgeting for the work.

Check perimeter pipes to avoid water ingress. Ensure the perimeter pipe is in good shape and is below the height of the slab. A lot of homes in Greater Victoria are built on rock, so water will flow between rock and concrete. Make sure you inspect the basement for any signs of water ingress.

Consider who you want to rent to and how much you need to earn. In general, the neighbourhood and number of bedrooms will dictate the rental income, but also consider whether you’re looking to rent to students, a family or a professional couple. For example, for students, you should be close to a college or university campus and can afford to have smaller bedrooms, but a professional couple will require a bigger main bedroom and often seek proximity to downtown.

 

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

Emergency health services treated a person after they were blocking traffic at the intersection of Fort and Douglas Streets on June 17. (Evert Lindquist/ News Staff)
Victoria intersection traffic returns to normal after protester blocked roadway

A person in a motorized wheelchair was blocking the intersection at Fort and Douglas Streets

Eric White’s roadside farm stand in Metchosin sits stocked with produce. (Photo courtesy of Eric White)
Fledgling Metchosin farmer frustrated by thefts from stand

Eric White said every dollar made at the roadside helps sustain his farm

Saanich police took a suspect into custody after a store employee on Cedar Hill Cross Road was assaulted Wednesday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Employee assaulted at Saanich store after asking suspected shoplifters to leave

June 16 incident saw worker taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read