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Having a secondary dwelling in your home has many benefits for you as the homeowner. The rental income can be used to help pay the mortgage, or provide supplemental income. The space can also be used to house extended family. Finally, the secondary dwelling unit adds to the resale value of the home should you decide to sell. However, a secondary dwelling only provides this value if it’s desirable to tenants to live in and pay the best rents possible. Here’s a guide to creating a desirable secondary dwelling:

A Secondary Dwelling Must Be Up to Code

Not only will desirable tenants walk away if the unit seems unsafe, you do not provide a separate entrance, or there is not sufficient natural light – the city of Ottawa will not approve it as a habitable residence. Therefore before you worry about what wood is best for the cabinets or what paint colour will look best in the bedroom, make sure the secondary dwelling is fully compliant with all regulations and requirements for safety and habitability.

Provide Sufficient Natural Light

You are required to maintain a sufficient ratio of natural light in the secondary dwelling, or else you are not compliant. Aside from the legal requirements, tenants want to live in a unit that is bright and airy, not dark and gloomy. Especially with our long and dark winters here in Ottawa, the more you can do to add natural light to the unit, the better.

Provide Sufficient Sound Insulation

No tenant wants to live with their landlords stomping overhead, or being jarred awake every time the upstairs neighbour sneaks into the kitchen for a midnight snack. By the same token, you don’t want every sound from downstairs leaking upward. The two units are separate residents, so they must have sufficient solution insulation in the walls and in the floors between the units.

Plan a Functional Layout

Many secondary dwelling units have a relatively small square footage, so you must make good use of the space available. The best option is to start from scratch so you can plan the most functional and efficient layout. Starting from scratch also allows you to install energy-efficient and eco-friendly fixtures and appliances. Depending on the size of the space, you should aim to create at least one bedroom, if not two. One bedroom will command a premium of 25% of more in monthly rent compared to their bachelor/studio counterparts.

Holland Homes and Renovations will design and build a secondary dwelling that is desirable, safe, and fully compliant with municipal, building, fire, and electrical code. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more.