By Councillor Kathryn Morse – District 10 Halifax-Bedford Basin West
Are you considering adding a Secondary or Backyard suite to your property? These can be used by aging parents or adult children or can be used as rental units for the general public. Regional Council approved Backyard Suites in 2020. The new rules apply mostly everywhere in the Halifax Regional Municipality for single-detached houses, duplexes, or semi-detached houses, and townhouses/rowhouses.
First, determine your desired type of installation:
Backyard Suites are separate free-standing buildings, either built overtop an accessory structure like a garage, or simply on their own (i.e., granny suites, carriage flats or tiny homes). A Backyard Suite must satisfy all Building and Plumbing Code requirements as they apply to a residential dwelling. There will also be a lot coverage restriction that will determine how large the structure can be, applied by the local Land Use bylaw (determined through the permit application process or by submitting a request for information through 311).
Secondary Suites are separate dwelling units that are completely contained within a home (i.e., in-law suites or basement apartments). The total floor area of all stories of a Secondary Suite cannot be more than 80% of the total floor area of all stories of the Main Suite, excluding the garage and any common spaces that serve both suites, or 80 m2 (861 ft2), whichever is the lesser.
Next, apply for a permit to get started:
You can get permission to install or construct a secondary or backyard suite by applying for and obtaining a permit through HRM. Visit www.halifax.ca/home-property/buildingdevelopment-permits/house-home/developyour-property#BackyardSuite to learn more about applying for either a Secondary Suite or a Backyard Suite (and the various requirements for each), and to start your permit application online.
The HRM website provides step-by-step information on the permit application process. You can also call 311 and submit a service request if you would like to have a Planner contact you directly to help you get started. It is important to review and follow other requirements that may be involved in addition to obtaining a permit. Visit www. halifax.ca and search “Building Code and Regulatory Information” to review these details. And depending on your installation and as applicable to your property, you may need to contact Halifax Water (902-420- 9287) and Nova Scotia Power (1-800-428- 9287) to complete your addition.
At any time, you can contact 311 or visit www.halifax.ca if you have any questions about the permitting and installation process for your new installation.
Photo by Max Vakhtbovych: https://www.pexels.com/photo/big-suburb-house-with-terrace-and-backyard-7061662/