Case Study: Single-Family Bungalow to 2 Unit Secondary Suite Conversion

Introduction

With the purchase of 1199 Montreal St, our clients recognized the opportunity to convert this aging, single-family house into a lucrative dual-income property with the addition of a secondary suite. Aided by their professional background as seasoned plumbers, they approached us to craft a living space that would not only meet but exceed rental standards. This article explores the journey from bare-bones bungalow to modern, income-generating investment, highlighting the innovative design choices and meticulous planning that brought their vision to life.

 

Client Background

This property started out as an aged, single-family bungalow, but our client saw the potential for a profitable rental to add to their portfolio. As such, it was purchased with the sole intention of renovating and renting out two units.  

They are repeat investor clients who use the BRRRR strategy (Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance, Repeat), and know that secondary suites provide a more stable income and increase the value of a property.

After checking with us that the zoning for this property worked, the clients finalized the purchase to add this investment property to their portfolio and then  came to us to plan the perfect secondary suite.

 

Design and Planning

We aimed to ensure that the secondary suite would offer ample space, striving for a minimum 2-bedroom unit. This project afforded us slightly more creative freedom compared to others, thanks to the client’s professional background. Being seasoned plumbers themselves, the client provided invaluable insight that allowed us to strategically relocate plumbing features. to better take advantage of the existing windows when planning the layout.

Basement Unit Kitchen
Images Courtesy of She Shoots 3D Tours

 

Despite this plumbing flexibility, we still had to navigate around existing structural elements such as stairs, and the mechanical room. One particular challenge was ensuring adequate natural light and safety standards for the new suite, which led us to incorporate an additional window into the design as the egress window. This careful balance of functionality and compliance with building codes ultimately contributed to a well-designed, spacious secondary suite that meets both aesthetic and practical needs.

 

Construction Process

The basement in question was relatively unfinished initially, requiring minimal demolition work, saving time and budget for the overall project. However, the vision was clear: to create a space that was not only livable but also met modern standards of comfort and safety. First, they installed proper fire separation and sound insulation on the basement ceiling. With this foundational work completed, the framing, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical rough-ins followed suit, setting the stage for the next phases of the renovation.

One of the standout features of the renovation was the addition of an extra window to meet natural light and ventilation requirements for the living room and dining area. This window wasn’t just any window; it became an egress window, serving the dual purpose of enhancing interior comfort and meeting safety regulations. Egress windows are not just a matter of convenience but are essential for providing a secondary emergency escape route, ensuring that every unit meets safety standards effectively.

Main Floor Bathroom
Images Courtesy of She Shoots 3D Tours

 

When it comes to renovations, every choice counts. When faced with the need to add a window, the  solution was as practical as it was efficient. By designating the new window as the egress window, the homeowners avoided additional costs and changes elsewhere, saving on both construction costs and potential delays. This approach underscores the importance of strategic planning and adherence to regulations without compromising on design or budget.

Meanwhile, on the main floor, another significant change was underway. The decision to remove stairs from a side door to the main floor was made to free up space in the kitchen. This strategic move not only expanded the kitchen area but also contributed to a more seamless flow throughout the main living spaces. Such decisions highlight the thoughtful planning that goes into every aspect of a renovation project, where every square foot is carefully considered for its functionality and impact on daily living.

Ultimately, this renovation serves as a testament to the transformative power of thoughtful planning and skilled craftsmanship. It’s more than just a physical upgrade; it’s about creating spaces that enhance the way people live, ensuring comfort, safety, and joy for years to come.

 

Results and Impact

The transformation of older buildings into efficient, modern units stands as a testament to the power of adaptive reuse in urban development. This particular house exemplifies how repurposing existing structures can yield new, sustainable living spaces. By converting a traditional layout into secondary suites, the project not only enhances the housing stock but also addresses the growing demand for legal rental units. The creation of these suites expands the availability of housing in the area but also creates opportunities for dual income for the property owners. One of the best parts about repurposing homes in this approach, is that it preserves architectural heritage and promotes community growth by maximizing underutilized space in a meaningful and innovative way.

Main Floor Kitchen
Images Courtesy of She Shoots 3D Tours

 

Conclusion

With 1199 Montreal Street, an unfinished basement provided freedom in the design and a shortened demo stage. This was a project to revitalize a once-aged structure and redefine its potential in the rental market. From strategic design decisions that maximized space and functionality to meticulous adherence to safety and building codes, every detail was carefully considered to ensure both tenant satisfaction and long-term investment success. This project not only enhances the local housing stock but also exemplifies the transformative impact of adaptive reuse in urban development. This secondary suite promises to be a home crafted with care and innovation, setting a new standard in rental living.

 

Interested in these units?

Both units are now available for lease from our partner, Three Step Property Management Inc.!