The secondary suites found in contemporary British Columbia homes bear little resemblance to the “Granny Flats” or “Fonzie Flats” of previous generations. Legal secondary suites provide affordable housing for renters and supplemental income for homeowners looking to pay down mortgages or just make ends meet. These modern suites also serve to fill the growing demand for housing to accommodate extended families living under the same roof. Multi-generation households are a rapidly growing demographic group in Canada.
“Teen Suites”, “In-Law Suites” and “Mother-Daughters” are just a few of the labels used to describe secondary suites in the past. Today’s suites continue to accommodate these extended family housing needs, but no longer restrict use to family members only. If your household does not currently need a suite to house a family member, there are still many uses for secondary suites until such time as your needs change. The possibilities for secondary suites are endless.
If you are interested in renting out a secondary suite to supplement your household income, think about pulling tenants from a local university, hospital or other major employer in your community. You can focus your marketing efforts and outfit the suite to meet the needs of workers or students from a particular industry.
Perhaps you are reluctant to become a landlord, but like the idea of owning a secondary suite to meet the needs of a growing family down the road. If so, consider using the space as a home office or arts & crafts studio to nurture your inner Picasso. If wandering through stacks of books in a library is your idea of a perfect afternoon, turn your suite into a library. With just a few pieces of furniture and some extra wiring, your secondary suite could function as a home theatre, complete with its own restroom and kitchen for making popcorn. A minor temperature adjustment and you will be ready to enjoy your own wine cellar with a tasting area for guests. An unoccupied suite can also serve as a man cave, she shed, meditation room, hobby room or home gym until your children return from college or elderly parents need help in managing their lives.
Recent changes in mortgage lending practice and to the bylaws of municipalities in the province have made secondary suites more attractive to homeowners and investors. Owners of older homes are rushing to obtain the necessary permits to create secondary suites from their existing square footage or through home additions. An easier and less expensive route is to purchase a new home complete with its own legal secondary suite and then let your imagination do the rest of the work.