Secondary Suite Development

A secondary suite is a self-contained dwelling within the main residence that has separate living, sleeping, cooking and bathroom facilities.  These are commonly referred to as basement suites or in-law suites. 

Development of Secondary Suites
What You Need to Know

It’s important that development respects the nature and density of the neighbourhood and doesn’t result in the creation of duplexes where only secondary studio (e.g. ‘bachelor’) suites are intended.  Regulations exist to minimize impacts on surrounding properties and to ensure development of safe living spaces.  It’s easier, less expensive and less stressful to develop the suite with the required Development and Safety Code Permits in compliance with land use and safety codes requirements.

A permit process exists if you are planning on developing a secondary suite.  Please contact Planning at 403-995-2760 or submit the online development application form (see Step One below) to determine if your house is zoned correctly. A development permit and a building permit must be obtained prior to construction of a secondary suite.  Please refer to Secondary Suite Development Guidelines.

Existing Suites
The building permit application process required to legalize an existing suite ensures that the Alberta Building Code is met and all safety issues comply.


More Information
Did You know?
  • Studio suites are allowed in most residential districts in Okotoks
  • Some of the important standards to be aware of include:
    • One extra parking space is required on the lot in addition to the minimum spaces required for the house
    • Parking for the suite must be independent of other parking spaces (e.g. cannot be tandem (end to end) with a space required for the house)
    • Suite size is not to exceed the lesser of 40% of the floor area of the dwelling or 75 square meters
  • A Development Permit is required and the process can be expected to take up to 6-8 weeks
  • Safety Codes permits are required (building, plumbing, electrical, gas) and the suite must meet Alberta Building Code requirements for minimum safety standards.  The safety codes permits will be issued only after a valid Development Permit has been approved, and may take an additional 2-4 weeks.
Step One: Development Permit Application

Please review the Studio Suite Information Sheet and the Development Permit Requirement Checklist under Publications & Forms.

A Development Permit is required before safety codes permits may be issued.  To apply, submit a complete development permit application form with the fee and the supporting documentation outlined on page 1 and in the studio suite section of the checklist.

Development Application Form

Planning will post a notice on the property and notify adjacent property owners of the application at least 21 days before a decision is made.  The application will be referred to the Municipal Planning Commission for a decision at one of their monthly meetings and a Notice of Decision will be issued to the applicant the following day.  If approved, the approval is advertised on the Development Notices page of this website and in the following week’s edition of the Western Wheel.  Anyone who believes they are affected has 14 days to appeal.  The Development Permit is issued 15 days after advertising provided no appeals are received, and any conditions of approval that are required to be met before issuance, as outlined in the Notice of Decision, have been met by the applicant.

Step Two: Building Permit Application

To receive a timely decision on your application, please ensure that your application is clear, legible and accurate. In your application, you need to include the following:

  1. Completed Application Form and Credit Card Authorization Form 
  2. A Site Plan or Real Property Report (all parking on site must be indicated)
    • Identification of all caveats, covenants, easements
    • Location of existing and proposed accesses to the site
    • Location of proposed and existing buildings/structures
    • Dimensions of the site (property lines)
    • Corresponding street and avenue
    • A north arrow
  3. Floor Plans – including the main floor plan and the floor plan where the secondary suite is being constructed
    • The size of the building (dimensions and square footage)
    • Room layouts indicating size, uses and location of walls, doorways and windows (include all sizes)
    • Floor to ceiling height
    • Location of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors which must be hard wired
  4. Elevation Plans
    • Showing all sides of the building (proposed and existing)
    • The building height (distances from peak to mid-roofline and to main floor)
    • Exterior finishing alterations, materials and colours
    • Showing all windows and doors
    • Pictures of the outside of the house (all sides)
    • For any exterior alterations, also submit elevation plans and construction details
  5. List of Contractors (if not the homeowner)
  6. Construction Details
    • Cross section showing all materials used for structure
    • Wall/floor/roof assembly details
    • Foundation plans and construction specifications

Approved building permits will be emailed to the applicant.  An inspection will be required once the framing and electrical rough-in, plumbing and gas rough-ins are complete, prior to insulation or drywall being hung.

Step Three: Book An Inspection

Please complete the online form below and note the telephone numbers on your permit to schedule inspections.

REQUEST Inspection