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Basement Finishing and Renovations Has it been 2 years already? Time to work on finishing the basement into some extra living space.


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Old 2014-01-23, 10:21 AM
Mshell Mshell is offline
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Good morning everyone,

I'm in the process of selling my condo (Ottawa) and looking for a suitable property to buy that can accommodate my mom, myself & my fiance.

Ideally, we'd love to have my mom have her own space so our minds turned into looking at bungalows due to their basement sizes.

Our wish is to convert the bungalow/property we find into two separate 'apartments' each having their own laundry, kitchen, bathrooms, bedroom(s), living areas and separate entrances (shared utilities though).

Has anyone ever done this? I have no idea where to begin, what to look for, permits needed, what to avoid, who to avoid, who to hire, how much to budget properly.. and ultimately not get into a money pit with honest contractors.

Any guidance on this matter would be greatly appreciated!

Last edited by Mshell; 2014-01-23 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 2014-01-23, 01:52 PM
burlington1971 burlington1971 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mshell View Post
Good morning everyone,

I'm in the process of selling my condo (Ottawa) and looking for a suitable property to buy that can accommodate my mom, myself & my fiance.

Ideally, we'd love to have my mom have her own space so our minds turned into looking at bungalows due to their basement sizes.

Our wish is to convert the bungalow/property we find into two separate 'apartments' each having their own laundry, kitchen, bathrooms, bedroom(s), living areas and separate entrances (shared utilities though).

Has anyone ever done this? I have no idea where to begin, what to look for, permits needed, what to avoid, who to avoid, who to hire, how much to budget properly.. and ultimately not get into a money pit with honest contractors.

Any guidance on this matter would be greatly appreciated!
Permits, good luck most municipalities will not grant a permit for a basement apartment. Look for a dwelling that already has the proper zoning (back when they allowed it). Also if you do it sans permit and have a fire your insurance won't pay you a cent.
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Old 2014-01-24, 07:27 AM
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gerapau gerapau is offline
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http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/laws-l...rtments-houses
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Old 2014-01-24, 08:12 AM
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GregS GregS is offline
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May want to talk to your insurance company first.. you may find that you have to change your policy.
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Old 2014-01-24, 05:43 PM
London2Ottawa London2Ottawa is offline
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My inlaws did this in Ottawa many years ago. They had a place in Nepean and built out over the garage and threw the grandmother in there. She had an external stair entrance as well as an entrance within the house with a kitchen, lounge, bedroom and bathroom. The builder did the permits but it was very costly for the build. Their house sold the first day it was listed when they downsized with the buyers with an elderly family member requiring the same functionality.
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Old 2014-01-26, 04:31 PM
WellThatsLovely WellThatsLovely is offline
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Converting a single family home into an "income property" isn't everything it's cracked up to be... it's expensive and depending on the neighbourhood, the people willing to rent a basement apartment may not be exactly who you would want to be in close proximity with. At the end of the day, you might almost invest the same amount of money in two brand new side-by-side properties. If you're spending $30k-$50k on renovating a basement, why not put that money down on another one maybe next to your home and that way, you could bring in a lot more income and at the end you have two paid off homes, not just one with a basement that may or may not break even by the time it's time for another renovation.
Also, if you have children, you may not want people living under you and people may not want to live under your children (they scream in the middle of the night for no reason and run around like lunatics during the day lol)
You could even buy two semis next to each other, if it has stairs, just install a stair lift if your mom needs one, which aren't too expensive, all things considered... Semis are really easy to join with a door and come pretty much pre-done for you as two self-contained units without having to put too much money into... there might also be some investment advantages to you and your mom owning separately.
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Old 2014-02-03, 01:21 PM
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mc_ottawa mc_ottawa is offline
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We have some experience with this.

I would suggest looking at older communities in Ottawa (some of the inner suburbs where houses were built in the 1960s-late 70s). Ideally homes that have a separate side entrance, as you can create that as your separate entrance without having to do any major structural work. That said, older homes have its own host of headaches, so you should have a healthy reserve budget if you are hoping to go this route.

If you do your homework, there are some neighbourhoods in Ottawa that have more or less grandfathered secondary suites in the basement. We had some lessons learnt re: electrical and plumbing with having two units.

Send me a PM if you want to chat more about it. Would be willing to share more about our experience. It is definitely not for the faint of heart, and somedays we wonder if we should have not bothered with our original plan of a secondary suite in the basement.

I think it is so wrong to suggest that people willing to rent basement apartments 'may not be exactly who you want to be in close proximity with'. If you run in like a slum lord and have an old, decript place, you will get bad tenants. If you have an updated place, you can choose better quality tenants.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mshell View Post
Good morning everyone,

I'm in the process of selling my condo (Ottawa) and looking for a suitable property to buy that can accommodate my mom, myself & my fiance.

Ideally, we'd love to have my mom have her own space so our minds turned into looking at bungalows due to their basement sizes.

Our wish is to convert the bungalow/property we find into two separate 'apartments' each having their own laundry, kitchen, bathrooms, bedroom(s), living areas and separate entrances (shared utilities though).

Has anyone ever done this? I have no idea where to begin, what to look for, permits needed, what to avoid, who to avoid, who to hire, how much to budget properly.. and ultimately not get into a money pit with honest contractors.

Any guidance on this matter would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 2014-02-03, 02:52 PM
WellThatsLovely WellThatsLovely is offline
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Originally Posted by mc_ottawa View Post
I think it is so wrong to suggest that people willing to rent basement apartments 'may not be exactly who you want to be in close proximity with'. If you run in like a slum lord and have an old, decript place, you will get bad tenants. If you have an updated place, you can choose better quality tenants.
To be fair, I did preface what I said with "depending on the neighborhood"... people can watch HGTV all they want, but the reality is, if you pick the wrong neighborhood, desirable tenants won't touch your basement apartment no matter how shiny your granite countertops are. You get tenants with poor credit history or unstable jobs with no other options, and it will end up costing you to find new tenants on a regular basis. You want a property where your tenants are willing to stay long term, with steady income, that arenít just there out of necessity.
I lucked out with one property (still not sure how) but Iíve never once had anyone with an income less than $100k apply. It is nothing special (initial investment was around $50,000) but I get nothing but long-term executives whose companies pay the yearís rent up front. Iíve also seen a very wonderful, hard-working family that took excellent care of their rental property be asked to leave because they couldnít pay their rent. Not a nice feeling (for me at least, I donít know about other people) and I certainly wouldnít want to be living above someone for 6 months that I know Iím going to have to kick out in the snow because I canít afford to their bills for them. Iíd much rather live above someone who is happy to share my home, happy to pay their rent (because they realize Iím a person too and not some independently wealthy bag of money ďwriting everything offĒ, gouging them for my own entertainment.) and doesnít make it awkward for me to stand outside my own house. You certainly canít base someoneís worth on the amount of money they make or the type of dwelling they choose to live in, but you have to know that if someone falls behind and canít afford one monthís rent, theyíre not going to be able to afford 2, 3 and so on, and if they canít pay their rent, you are paying it for them.
ďSlum-lordĒ apartments have their place in the world too. They allow people to live in nicer neighborhoods, be closer to work and send their children to better schools without the huge pricetag of expensive finishes that they donít own anyway.
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