Secondary Dwellings & Suites:
Where to Begin

Information & Resources

This guide provides resources and information to help you successfully undergo the building and development processes for an accessory dwelling unit (secondary suite, garden suite, or garage suite).  Read through the material below or watch the videos at the top of this page to learn more.

 

Click on a topic to jump to that section:

WHY BUILD AN ACCESSORY DWELLING?

There are many advantages to building a secondary dwelling or suite on your property:

 

  • Provide much needed rental housing for people in the workforce, seniors, and young families.
  • Create housing for a family member or caregiver.
  • Generate reliable extra income that will offset your housing costs.
  • Increase the value of your property.
  • Reduce sprawl into the more rural areas.
  • Support climate resiliency by building housing that is more energy-efficient and sustainable.

In fact, many homeowners in BC are taking advantage of new zoning bylaws,  government grants, and other incentives to build secondary dwellings and suites on their property.

TYPES OF ACCESSORY DWELLINGS

The term Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) refers to all forms of additional units on residential properties. These units may be either attached (internal) to the primary residence or detached (external) from the primary residence.

ADUs include secondary suites, garden suites, lock-off suites (in a duplex or townhome), laneway/garage units and any other dwelling unit type that can be placed in or adjacent to a primary dwelling unit on the same lot. It has an independent living space, self-contained with its own kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area. 

The following are the most common types of ADUs:

Secondary Suites

A secondary suite is a separate living area contained within a single-family home or attached to the main unit. It is a self-contained living area with a kitchen, bathroom, and at least one bedroom. The suite must have at least one access door leading directly outside the suite. A secondary suite does not have its own Certificate of Title, and it cannot be stratified. It will be assigned a separate address during the building permit stage.

Garden Suites

A Garden Suite (often referred to as a Coach or Carraige House) is a freestanding detached single-family home located on the same parcel as the principal dwelling. These dwellings can be constructed through a building contractor or acquired through a modular or manufactured home provider. Garden suites differ from secondary suites because they are freestanding and not attached to the primary residence. This type of unit does not have its own Certificate of Title, cannot be strata-titled, and requires a separate address.

Garage and Lane Suites

These types of suites are situated in, by, or above a garage. They are self-contained with their own living area. They are located on the same property as the principal dwelling. They do not have their own Certificate of Title, cannot be strata-titled, and require a separate address.

SITE SERVICING

A homeowner should investigate the potential costs associated with site servicing, particularly for Garden Suites. This component of the project is usually coordinated by a building contractor.

SEWER & WATER
An accessory dwelling unit must be connected to water and sewer services (or septic systems) depending on the location. The existing water and sewer are required to meet the BC Plumbing Code for sizing and must be extended to reach the secondary dwelling/carriage house. Reach out to your local government planning department to find out the specific regulations for your property.

ELECTRICAL SERVICING
If you are building a carriage house or secondary dwelling, you will need contact BC Hydro, (1.877.520.1355) to determine requirements and get an estimate of connection cost.

GAS INSTALLATION & GAS LINE LOCATION
If you are building a carriage house or secondary dwelling, you will need to contact Fortis BC for information regarding gas installation and line locations (1.888.224.2710).

Call before you dig hotline (1.800.474.6886).

INTERNET
Call your current internet provider to ensure that your future tenants will be able to access internet.

ZONING BYLAWS AND PERMITTING PROCESSES

These are the key steps required to begin the permitting and approvals process for your project:

1. Identify the government jurisdiction of your property

The location of your property determines which zoning bylaws that you need to adhere to. The Town of Gibsons, the Sunshine Coast Regional District, District of Sechelt, and shíshálh Nation have their own set of zoning bylaws. These bylaws will identify the type of accessory dwelling unit that is allowed on your property, the building and development regulations, and the permitting and approval processes. Details about your property’s jurisdiction can be accessed on the following maps:

MAPS:

2. Learn about Zoning Regulations and Building Code requirements:

The following links connect you to local Zoning Bylaws and the Building Codes:

3. Understand the permitting process

The permitting and approvals process depends on the type of accessory dwelling unit that you will be building:

Development Permit
Required when you are planning to alter land, subdivide land, or construct buildings and structures in a Development Permit Area. For the SCRD, this also applies to structures built within 30 metres of any wetland, stream, or ditch.

Building Permit
Required for all new construction, alterations, additions, decks, pools, chimneys, house moves, temporary buildings/structures, demolitions, structural repair, renovations and accessory buildings.

Tips on Expediting the Permitting Process

Consult with the Planning Department

Before you begin your project, meet with staff from your local government planning department. They can inform you of what to expect during the development and building processes.


Note: 
A pre-application meeting with a Planner is required prior to submitting an application. The meeting is an opportunity for a planner to help ensure that you prepare a complete application; something that significantly reduces the amount of time that it takes to process an application. The Planner will ensure that the correct Development Permit Area is assessed, prior to preparing your Development Permit submission.

 

Consult with the Building Department

Right after you have started the development application with the Planning Department, talk to someone from the Building Department. This consultation between planning and building should be done in tandem.

 

Bring in Professional Service Providers

Several professionals should be consulted during the planning and design process prior to preparing a permit application. This is often referred to as the “integrated design process” and typically involves the owner, contractor / licensed builder, building designer, structural engineer, geotechnical engineer, energy advisor and possibly even a mechanical designer and wastewater practitioner.

LOCAL GOV’T PLANNING & BUILDING DEPARTMENTS

District of Sechelt:

Click for Online Email Form

Planning: 604-740-8459
Building: 604-740-8468


Town of Gibsons:

604-886-2274

planning@gibsons.ca
building@gibsons.ca

 

Sunshine Coast Regional District:

Planning: 604-885-6800 / planning@scrd.ca 

Building: 604-885-6803 /  building@scrd.ca

 

shíshálh Nation Government District:

Phone: 1-866-855-2275

Website: Click here

4. Prepare plans, and submit your application, supporting documents, and permitting fees.

Many homeowners will work with a professional designer/builder during this phase of the project.  As outlined in the previous section, there are several trades and consultants involved in the planning and predevelopment process.

Some other considerations:

You can learn about the application process here:

District of Sechelt

Town of Gibsons:

SCRD:

shíshálh Nation Government District

CONTRACTORS, CONSULTANTS AND OTHER EXPERTISE

The following list of organizations provide expertise and services to property owners who are interested in building a new garden suite on their property or adding a suite within their home or garage.

Many of these organizations recently participated at the annual Home Suite Home Housing Info Fair, organized by Cover The Coast. Before retaining a contractor, please review these tips and best practices from Consumer Affairs.

HOME RENOVATION CONTRACTORS

PREFABRICATED HOMES

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

FINANCIAL SERVICES & CONSULTANTS

HOME RENOVATION CONTRACTORS

HABETIN HOMES
Contact: Taryn Beauvais
Phone: 604-741-7230
Email: info@habetinhomes.com
Website: www.habetinhomes.com
Location: Sechelt
Description: Licensed Residential Builder, general Contractor, custom homes, renovations, millwork
SOLUTION BASED CONTRACTING
Contact: Darren Kopeck
Phone: 604-741-3999
Email online form: https://solutionbasedcontracting.ca/contact-us/
Website: https://solutionbasedcontracting.ca/renovations/
Locaton:   Sechelt
Description:  Custom homes and renovations
HANSON LAND & SEA
Contact: Marlin Hanson
Phone: 604-989-1728
Email: marlin@hansonlandandsea.com
Website:  https://www.hansonlandandsea.com/
Location: Langdale
Description: Licensed contractor with an established network of subcontractors across the Sunshine Coast and surrounding islands.
STREAMLINE ELECTRICAL (RENEWABLE ENERGY)
Contact: Dave Sera (Owner)
Phone: 604-741-5839
Email: davesera@gmail.com
Website: www.streamlineelectrical.ca
Location: Gibsons
Description: Full range of electrical and solar energy services
LUMINRA (RENEWABLE ENERGY)
Contact:  Ehab Hamza
Phone: 780-729 0661
Email: ehab@luminra.ca
Website: www.luminra.ca
Location: Sechelt
Description: Solar and renewable energy

MODULAR AND TINY HOME BUILDERS

ROHE HOMES
Contact Information
Salik Khan (Senior Manager)
Phone: 604-880-3240
E-Mail: salik@rohehomes.com
Website: www.rohehomes.com
Description: Modular home builder
CLICK MODULAR HOMES
Tel:  604-884-5122
Email:  sales@clickmodular.com
Website: https://www.clickmodular.com/
Location: Port Mellon, BC
Description: Modular home builder
ECO FAB MODULAR HOMES
Contact:  Brad Ferguson (Owner)
Phone: 604-989-8184
E-Mail: publisher@homeonthecoast.ca
Website: www.ecofab.ca
Description: Modular home builder
SUNSHINE TINY HOMES
Contact Information
Pamela Robertson (Owner)
Phone: 604-741-3108
E-Mail: sunshinetinyhomes@gmail.com
Website: www.sunshinetinyhomes.com
Description: Local Tiny Home Builder
EMERALD FOREST HOMES
Tel:  604-989-8184
Website: https://www.emeraldforesthomes.ca/
Description of Services:  Prefab homes
Location: Gibsons, BC

GOVERNMENT

DISTRICT OF SECHELT
TOWN OF GIBSONS
Phone: 604-884-2274
E-Mail: planning@gibsons.ca
Websitehttps://gibsons.ca/
SUNSHINE COAST REGIONAL DISTRICT
Phone: 604-885-6800
E-Mail: planning@scrd.ca
Website:  https://www.scrd.ca/
SHÍSHÁLH NATION GOVERNMENT DISTRICT
Phone: 1-866-885-2275
Website: https://shishalh.com/our-nation-government/infrastructure-government-services-division/

FINANCIAL SERVICES, CONSULTANTS AND RESOURCES

SUNSHINE COAST CREDIT UNION
Contact:  Miranda Beall (Financial Services)
Phone: 604-740-7717
E-Mail: mbeall@sunshineccu.net
Website: www.sunshineccu.com
Description: Lending/Financing
ANDREW BATE DESIGN

Contact:  Andrew Bate (Designer)

Phone: 604-741-3380

Email:  andrew@andrewbatedesign.ca

Website:  www.andrewbatedesign.ca

Description: Home renovation design specializing in secondary suites.

HOLYWELL PROPERTIES
Contact: Ali Yearley (Property Manager)
Phone: 604-885-3460
E-Mail: ali@holywell.ca
Website: www.holywell.ca
Description: Property Management
MCELHENNEY CONSULTANTS
Contact: Kasha Janota-Bzowska (Planner)
Phone: 250-201-3856
E-Mail: kjanota-bzowska@mcelhanney.com
Website: www.mcelhanney.com
Description: Planning Consultant
CITYSTATE PLANNING
Contact:  Gaetan Royer (Planner) and Ricardo Mondragon-Guerra
Phone: 604-816-5399
E-Mail: gaetanroyer@hotmail.com
Website: www.citystateconsultinggroup.ca
SUNSHINE COAST COMMUNITY SOLAR ASSOCIATION
Contact:  Gord Bishop (Chair)
Phone: 778-233-8250
E-Mail: gjbishop172@gmail.com
Website: https://suncoastcommsolar.weebly.com/
Description: Solar Energy Info and Resources
SMALL HOUSING BC
Website: https://smallhousing.ca/
Description: Advocacy and resources to support gentle density housing.