Our Must Have Guide For Secondary Suites in New Homes
When building a new home with the idea of having a secondary suite in place, there are many hurdles that can be avoided later down the line, but other things that need immediate attention in the building process. While this shopping and thinking guide does not cover everything, it should provide a good place to start thinking!
First off, we should go over fire safety, which I believe to be one of the most important aspects of a house. While it is difficult to provide suggestions on fire rated doors, depending on what your style preferences are and the size that you need, it is true that all fire rated doors need closers, or self-closing hinges. This ensures that the door will shut on its own and prevent fires from spreading between units. These are a building code requirement, and closers like these heavy duty ones from Amazon are relatively affordable. Something else to ensure in each unit is a fire extinguisher. While other fire safety aspects, such as fire rated doors and egress windows that people can escape from, are important requirements of the building code, if the fire can be controlled on the spot, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary hassle. So make sure to include a non-expired fire extinguisher and that everyone in the secondary unit knows where it is and how to use it.
As for duct type smoke detectors, they are extremely useful and add another layer of safety for multi-unit homes when sharing heating systems. However, it is best that you consult with a professional about installing them so that all the safety and legal precautions are taken to best suit your house; this is not a place for a DIY project.
To prolong the longevity of your secondary suite, I recommend choosing inexpensive, durable, stain resistant materials. This means that instead of choosing beautiful hardwood flooring that will cost thousands of dollars to replace if there is a water leak, I recommend choosing a vinyl option instead, that is water resistant and much cheaper to replace if needed. The same thing goes for choosing blinds over curtains. While curtains may give a room a softer and more sophisticated look, they also tend to cost more to install, absorb cooking odours, and can act as a tripping hazard if they are too long (or get pulled/scratched if there are children or pets in the unit). So, cordless blind options are just easier to maintain and can last longer if the inhabitants have a lot going on.
However, I personally believe that appliances are not the place to save money. By investing in high quality energy efficient appliances, you will be saving yourself tons of utilities costs and repairs expenses moving forward. These appliances are also more enjoyable to use, so despite their initial higher costs, I believe they are worth every cent. I actually have multiple past blog posts that talk specifically about aging in place, living a more sustainable life, and choosing beautiful yet practical features to incorporate into a custom home. In addition to these tips, I would also recommend getting a high quality and reliable shower faucet. Below, there are two great options worth considering, but overall, it is important that you can find something that will last a long time and continue to perform well.
While a room may not be super spacious on paper, by painting the room a bright white, the space can feel significantly more open and enjoyable. Or if you are going for a more unique look, you can choose a beautiful neutral pastel or a dramatic colour to really add your own flair on the space. Unless you are doing an giant mural that requires artistic skill, chances are that you can blast some music and paint the space yourself and save tons of money while having a fun dance party! There are countless paint colours to choose from, but I recommend going with a high quality brand such as Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams, who produce paint that will last forever and not wear or tear for a long time. The longevity of their paint will ensure the unit continues to look super fresh and comfortable. To paint the space, don’t forget to buy some paint rollers and tape to create clean lines.
There are countless other small things that I have not mentioned but a great place to start thinking about these things is unit numbers and extra mail boxes. This will help everybody identify their units and keep mail nice and organized.
Finally, while I do have two investment properties myself, I would not consider myself a real estate investment expert. So if you are looking to learn more about this industry and how to best navigate this complicated field, I recommend doing some readings about rental property investments. There are plenty of great resources out there, but for convenience’s sake, here are some books with extremely high reviews that praise the authors’ knowledge and communication skills. I’m sure you will learn tons from these books, and the cost of the books will certainly be balanced out by the extra knowledge and skills they will provide.
Now that you have the basics of planning and running a secondary suite figured out, all that’s left is going out there and doing your best! You will probably still make mistakes but it’s important to remember that we all have a learning process and that you will learn and do better. Good luck!