Building a Secondary Dwelling Unit (SDU) in Ottawa - Things to Know
What is a secondary dwelling unit (SDU)?
-> a SDU is a single, self-contained, rental apartment with its own kitchen and bathroom. While many are basement apartments, a unit can be installed on any floor of the house. SDUs are also commonly referred to as "in-law suites".
SDUs provide both homeowners and investors an excellent opportunity to add value to their property. The City of Ottawa allows the addition of a SDU to most detached dwellings, one in each half of a semi-detached building, and one for the entirety of a duplex.
If you are thinking of purchasing a property in order to add a SDU, consider the following:
-> Does the zoning permit the addition of a SDU?
-> Does the property fall into a neighborhood where a SDU is not permitted? I.E. Queensway Terrace & Rockcliffe.
-> Does the basement ceiling height meet code? if not, prepare for extra costs to arise.
-> Does the property lend itself to easily add a second entrance for the SDU?
-> Does the existing foot print of the space lend itself to a satisfactory sized unit of 1-3 bedrooms?
As you can see, there are many things to consider before making the decision to build a SDU. It is important to go through any city by-laws and familiarize yourself with the rules and legal requirements of a SDU before starting the project.
Advantages of a SDU
There can be many advantages to having a SDU in one of your properties.
-> One of the main advantages that come to mind is an extra source of income - building a SDU in your home and renting it out could help you pay for your mortgage payments, or help you save up for that family vacation you've always wanted!
-> Having a SDU in your own home can also mean that you have the ability to welcome family members, such as elderly parents, into your home while still having your own space.
However, constructing a legal SDU isn't all just fun and games...
-> As outlined above, there are lots of things to keep in mind throughout the process of building a SDU. The financial aspect is something that doesn't always come to mind, but there can definitely be a lot of unpredictable additional costs when building the secondary unit.
-> Another big challenge for many people is finding the right contractor to complete the project.