Do You Need a Permit to Finish a Basement in Alberta?

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There might be slight discrepancies in specifics based on city requirements. However, a permit is generally required for major and sometimes minor building projects, including finishing basements.

A permit lets you legally embark on a construction project. It also ensures that the building complies with necessary safety, building, zoning, and construction regulations. 

This article provides details on the permit(s) required to finish a basement and how to apply for them. It also provides information on the necessary steps to take in order to convert your basement into a basement suite. 

Some Basement Renovations Are Exempt

Basement finishings that involve minor cosmetic upgrades and maintenance may not require a permit. For instance, while you’d need a permit to change the size of a window or door, it is not required when replacing windows or doors of the same size. 

Planning and Development Will Handle the Application

The planning and development branch of the city handles cases like this. To avoid any misstep, it’s advisable that you consult with them before you proceed with your plans.  

What Permit(s) Should You Apply For?

The nature of work to be done determines the permit(s) required. For major projects, you would need to apply for a building and development permit. For specific projects, you might need just a plumbing, gas, HVAC, or electrical permit. 

Where Do You Send the Completed Application?

Development permits should be sent to

Building and mechanical permits should be sent to

Required‌ ‌Application‌ ‌Documents‌

Two copies of a building elevation or photograph of the house that clearly shows the location of the basement’s entrance should be provided. Two copies of your site plan and floor plan are required and should show the following according to the Alberta governement

Site PlanFloor Plan 
Location of the house on the lot Exit door(s) and required bedroom exit window 
Location of the basement apartment’s parking stallsWall and ceiling construction materials and details 
Property lines and dimensionsFloor area of the basement and principal residence
The entry lotTypes and sizes of the bedroom windows 
Identification and dimensions of setbacks from property lines Location of all the rooms
Location of electronically connected smoke alarms 

Additional information might be requested if necessary. 

You Will Pay an Application Fee

For a basement situated in a new building, you are required to pay $208.00 for a development permit, $98.00 for a building permit, and an additional $300.00. That makes a total of $606.00.

Renovation or occupancy of an existing basement demands a fee of $497.12. $208.00 is to be paid for a development permit, $278.00 is required for a building permit and $11.12 is to be paid as a safety codes fee. 

How Long Will You Wait for an Answer?

Response time might be different depending on the city and the review requirements. The average response time is said to be between 2-3 months. 

Turning Your Basement Into a Basement Suite

An amendment to the Land Use Bylaw by the City Council now enables single-detached buildings to possess a basement suite. Here are the requirements for building/renovating one:

  • Basement suites cannot be constructed above garages, in duplexes, or in townhouses. One suite is permitted within the basement of a single-detached house. 
  • The floor area of a basement suite should be a minimum of 323 sq. ft.
  • There should be an entry separate from that used by the principal building. Entries should either be from the exterior or from a common landing. 
  • No more than three bedrooms should be built within the suite.
  • One on-site parking bay is required for a basement suite. However, if it is a three-bedroom suite, two parking stalls are required. 
five requirements of building a basement suite in Alberta, USA

A lot of apartments have moved beyond using their basements as storage space. In order to successfully convert your basement into a nice living area, you must first establish a defined layout. The purpose the apartment is meant to serve usually guides most decisions. 

One major concern of homeowners is the fact that basements are prone to moisture. So, when choosing among flooring options, it is important to consider waterproof flooring. If you’re working with an unfinished basement, endeavor to insulate the ceiling, walls, and floors. 

Cost of Finishing a Basement 

Depending on the square footage, Home advisor estimates the cost of finishing a basement as $6,000 for 400 sq. ft. and $21,350 for 1,500 sq. ft.

To convert an unfinished basement to an apartment with structures like a kitchen, bathroom, and other amenities, the cost can range from $50,000 to $70,000! The price might even exceed this, depending on the size of the basement and the scale of the project.

Related article: Do You Need a Permit to Finish a Basement in Ontario

Related article: Do You Need a Permit to Finish a Basement in New Jersey

Related article: How to Get Permit for Already Finished Basement


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