Safety standards for secondary suites – questions and answers

Will the standards apply to both new and existing suites?
New suites are required to be built to all the standards in the Alberta Building Code, including the new secondary suite standards. Existing suites will be required to meet the standards under the Alberta Fire Code.

When will secondary suite standards be adopted?
Standards for new suites under the Alberta Building Code took effect December 31, 2006, while standards for existing suites under the Alberta Fire Code will take effect December 31, 2008. This gives owners of existing suites two years to bring their properties into compliance with the new code requirements.

Will municipalities be required to permit secondary suites in their communities?
No. Municipalities will continue to choose whether to develop bylaws allowing secondary suites in their communities, as well as deciding which areas may be zoned to permit secondary suites.

Who was consulted on the new standards?
During initial consultations, the MLA committee heard from members of the public, municipal governments, fire and building code-enforcing authorities, social organizations and the building industry, among others. There was also an online public consultation following the release of the committee’s final report in March 2006.

If I have a secondary suite, how do I know if it meets building and fire code standards?
Copies of the secondary suites standards will be available on this website. To speak to a building or fire code technical advisor, call Alberta Municipal Affairs and Housing, Safety Services branch, toll-free at 1 (866) 421 6929. With questions about municipal bylaws or zoning, contact your municipality.

Who has the authority to enforce building and fire standards for secondary suites?
Currently, the province, accredited municipalities, and agencies have the authority to enforce building and fire code requirements in their respective jurisdictions.

How can I find out more?
For more information about secondary suites and proposed standards, you can contact Municipal Affairs and Housing, Safety Services branch, toll-free at 1 (866) 421 6929.