LEGALIZE  BASEMENT APARTMENT IN BRAMPTON

BASIC REQUIREMENTS TO LEGALIZE A BASEMENT APARTMENT IN BRAMPTON

A basement apartment might be just what you need to provide the added income to make your dream purchase affordable, but beware of the
pitfalls and remember that you as a purchaser assume all the liability of a home that doesn't comply, regardless of when you bought it.   Smart
real estate agents never list a house as having a legal basement apartment since they do not want to guarantee that the basement apartment
complies fully with all the applicable fire codes, building codes, Electrical Safety Authority regulations and zoning and housing standards by-laws.
Illegal basement apartments are a risk to the occupants and others in the structure as well as a concern to the community in general. They are
dangerous as they may pose a fire risk and other safety concerns such as:
* fire risks such as not enough building exits, fire separations between units, working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors
* illegal and unsafe utility connections
* illegal and unsafe building renovations
* excess driveway and street parking
* excess garbage
* overload on existing utilities (electrical, plumbing, water and sewers)
* possible depreciation of neighbouring property values

When a suspected illegal basement apartment is reported, the Brampton Fire Department receives the complaint. A Brampton Fire Prevention
Officer will then conduct an initial inspection to determine whether the basement apartment is permitted (as per Fire Code regulations only) and
to ensure that while the basement apartments are occupied that they are made safe. The fact that the basement apartment is inspected by the
Brampton Fire Department and may be approved as safe or that they meet the Fire Code does not necessarily mean that the basement
apartment is permitted under the legislation.

The Ontario Building Code which prescribes minimum requirements for the construction of buildings is a code that applies only when the house
was built.  The building code changes over the time but for the most part, it does not apply retroactively.

The fire code, which prescribes construction and safety issues as they relate to how the building, is required to perform should it catch fire, can
apply retroactively.

Here are few basic requirements for a legal basement apartment.:
(1)  The detached or semi detached house must be at least 5 years old.
(2) The front of the house cannot be significantly altered to change its appearance from that of a one unit building.
(3) The basement apartment must be smaller than the main dwelling unit.
(4) Minimum ceiling height is 6'5". Ceiling must be continuous. Suspended (T-bar type) ceilings and exposed joists are not acceptable.  Furnace
room ceiling must be dry walled or plastered too.
(5) Doors must be solid wood or metal with a minimum thickness is 1.75". Exterior door must be at least 32"x78". Interior doors must have a 1/2
inch gap at the bottom to provide air movement within the basement apartment, unless return air ducts are installed in the room. The smallest
dimension of the window is 18" and the opening must be at least 600 sq in.  Windows must be within 3' of ground, and if there is window well it
must extend 3' from the house wall to allow room to crawl out.
(6) Bathrooms must have either a window or fan.
(7)  A kitchen equipped with a refrigerator, stove in good repair and working condition. Cupboards having a capacity of not less than four cubic
feet multiplied by the total number of persons occupying the unit..
(8)  New basement apartments require building permits before construction begins. In most areas an additional parking space is required for new
basement apartments. If there is a parking spot for the upper unit, there must also be a parking spot for the basement apartment.
(9)   The property owner is responsible to make sure that smoke alarms are installed and maintained.
Carbon Monoxide alarms are required under many Municipal By-laws. They are to be provided in each dwelling unit in a building containing a
fuel fired appliance or an attached garage. Even if they are not required by legislation they make good sense with to-day's design methods
providing for air-tight construction of dwelling units.
Smoke alarms must be installed in each dwelling unit on every floor including those containing a bedroom or sleeping area. The alarm must be
audible in bedrooms when the bedroom doors are closed. The smoke alarm may be battery operated or connected to an electrical circuit with no
disconnect switch between the over current device and the smoke alarm. Interconnected smoke alarms may be required if:
•  15min. Fire Resistance Rating is used between dwelling units
•   one dwelling unit must exit through another dwelling unit
If required, interconnected smoke alarms must be installed in every storey above and below grade in each dwelling unit, and in every shared
means of escape where applicable. These alarms must be audible in bedrooms when the intervening doors are closed..
Some municipalities require to provide the furnace with a relay to shut down the furnace blower fan and gas valve if the smoke alarm is activated,
and equip the heat ducts and cold air return in the basement apartment with fire dampers where they penetrate the wall or ceiling membrane. A
cold air return is required in the basement apartment and if located within 24” of the basement floor fire damper is not required.
(10)  An electrical inspection by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA - 1 877 ESA SAFE) )and all the deficiencies identified during the
inspection must be addressed. Owners should retain the letter of compliance received from the Electrical Safety Authority for future reference
purposes. This letter must be made available to the Chief Fire Official upon request.
(11)  A continuous fire separation with a 30 min. Fire Resistance Rating is required between dwelling units and between dwelling units and other
areas. This may be provided by existing membrane of lath and plaster or gypsum board.
Openings in Fire Separation shall be protected with fire rated doors installed in hollow metal or solid wood frames and equipped with self closing
devices
Lesser degrees of Fire Resistance Rating may be acceptable with the provision of interconnected Smoke Alarms or Sprinkler Protection. The
containment features are intended to provide protection for the occupants living in a dwelling unit from a fire occurring in another portion of the
building, outside of their control.
To achieve a 45 min fire resistance rating for walls, one layer of 5/8" Type X drywall on each side of the wall is required.
To achieve a 45 min fire resistance rating for ceilings, one layer of 5/8" Type X drywall is required.
To achieve a 30 min fire resistance rating for walls, one layer of 1/2" regular drywall on each side of the wall is required.
To achieve a 30 min fire resistance rating for ceilings, one layer of 1/2" Type X drywall or two layers of 1/2" regular drywall is required or one
layer of 5/8" regular drywall.
(12)  A single means of egress - provision for the escape of persons from each dwelling unit in the event of fire - may be acceptable if the
following conditions are met:
•  It is properly separated with a 30 min. Fire Resistance Rating
• The flame spread rating of means of escape does not exceed 150 (wood paneling is unacceptable)
• The means of escape does not involve entering another dwelling unit or other occupancy and leads directly to the outside at ground level.
Two means of escape are required if one means of escape is through another dwelling unit. An existing means of egress may be acceptable if
the basement apartment is sprinklered.
(13) The Ontario Building Code (O.B.C Part 9 Section 9 Clause 11.2) also requires a minimum sound transmission class rating - STC 50 sound
proofing between the dwelling units. The worst noise issues are usually noted under the main floor kitchen, bathroom, powder room, foyer and
laundry room where the upper floor is not carpeted. The Ontario Building Code's Supplementary Guidelines recommends either 38mm concrete
layer over the sub-floor  and two layers of the superior Type X gypsum board ceiling below it or 25 mm concrete light weight concrete on the sub-
floor, absorptive insulation between the ceiling and the sub floor and double layer ceiling.
(14) BEDROOM MEASUREMENT - Ontario Building Code (9.5.7.1.), (9.5.7.2.)
MINIMUM ROOM HEIGHT: - Ontario Building Code (9.5.3.)
1) The living room, dining room and kitchen is required to have at least 75% of the floor area at 7ft 7in with a clear height of 6ft 11in at any point
over the required area.
2) Bedrooms are required to have at least 50% of the required area at 7ft 7in or 6ft 11in over all the required floor areas. Any part of the floor
having a clear height of less than 4ft 7in shall not be considered computing the required floor area.
3) The basement space is required to have a minimum height of 6ft 11in over at least 75% of the basement area. Except that under beams and
ducts the clearance is permitted to be reduced to 6ft. 5in.
4) Bathrooms or laundry area above grade is required to have a height of 6ft. 11in. This would be in any area where a person would normally be
in a standing position.
5) Passages, hallways, main entrance, vestibules and/or finished rooms not mentioned above is required to have a height of 6ft. 11in.
• At least one bedroom shall be of an area not less than 105 sq ft or 9.8 sq m where there are no built in cabinets. Where there are built in
cabinets or closets, not less than 95 sq ft or 8.8 sq m, exclusive of the area taken by the closets or cabinets.
• All other bedrooms shall be of an area not less than 75 sq ft or 7 sq m, exclusive of the area taken by the closets or cabinets.
Living Room  shall be of an area not less than 145 ft²  
Kitchen shall be of an area not less than 45 ft² (40 ft² for one bedroom basement apartment)
Dining Room shall be of an area not less than 75 ft²  
Laundry, washroom, kitchen, storage rooms do not require windows.
For houses older than 5 years  Living and Dining rooms require a minimum window glass area of 5% of the floor area served.
For houses older than 5 years  Bedrooms require a minimum window glass area of 2.5% of the floor area served.

ELECTRIC OR GAS RANGE SAFETY MEASUREMENTS:
A minimum vertical clearance of 2ft 6in above the level of the range to framing, finishes and cabinets is required. Alternatively, clearance may be
reduced to 2ft provided a metal hood is installed which projects 4 7/8 in. beyond the framing, finishes or cabinets.

NATURAL VENTILATION : (OBC 9.32.2.1.)]
(only applies where dwelling is naturally ventilated)
• Bathrooms must have a minimum required unobstructed openable window area of 0.97 sq.ft. or mechanical ventilation is required.
• The Unfinished Basement Space is required to have a minimum unobstructed ventilation equal to 0.2% of the floor area
• Dining rooms, living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, common space, and all other rooms are required to have a minimum unobstructed ventilation
equal to 3 sq ft .(0.28 sq m) per room or combination of rooms.

Storage Rooms in the Basement
A storage closet should NOT be located within a shared exit stair facility.
Ontario Building Code 9.9.5.9. Ancillary Rooms
(1) Ancillary rooms such as storage rooms, washrooms, toilet rooms, laundry rooms and service rooms shall not open directly into an exit.

A storage room accessible by both tenants should be fire compartmentalized
Ontario Building Code 9.10.10.6. Storage Rooms
(1) Rooms for the temporary storage of combustible refuse in all occupancies or for public storage in residential occupancies shall be separated
from the remainder of the building by a fire separation having not less than a 1 hour fire resistance rating, except that a 45 min fire separation is
permitted where the fire-resistance rating of the floor assembly is not required to exceed 45 min, or where such rooms are sprinklered.

Furnace Room
Ontario Building Code 9.10.10.3. Separation of Service Rooms
(1) Service rooms shall be separated from the remainder of the building by a fire separation having a fire-resistance rating of not less than 1
hour when the floor area containing the service room is not sprinklered.

Laundry Room
REF: Ontario Building Code 9.31.4.2. Laundry Fixtures
(1) Laundry facilities or a space for laundry facilities shall be provided in every dwelling unit or grouped elsewhere in the building in a location
conveniently accessible to occupants of every dwelling unit.

Shared Exit
Ontario Building code 9.9.9.3. Shared Egress Facilities
(1) A dwelling unit shall be provided with a second and separate means of egress where an egress door from the dwelling unit opens onto,
(a) an exit stairway serving more than one suite,
(b) a public corridor,
(i) serving more than one suite, and
(ii) served by a single exit,
(c) an exterior passageway,
(i) serving more than one suite,
(ii) served by a single exit stairway or ramp, and
(iii) more than 1.5 m above adjacent ground level, or
(d) a balcony,
(i) serving more than one suite,
(ii) served by a single exit stairway or ramp, and
(iii) more than 1.5 m above adjacent ground level.

Basement Stairwell
Ontario Building Code 9.9.4.2. Fire Separation for Exits
(1) Except as provided in Sentence (5) and Article 9.9.8.5., every exit other than an exit doorway shall be separated from each adjacent floor
area or from another exit by a fire separation having a fire-resistance rating not less than that required for the floor assembly above the floor
area.
(2) Where there is no floor assembly above, the fire-resistance rating required in Sentence (1) shall not be less than that required by Subsection
9.10.8. for the floor assembly below, but in no case shall the fire-resistance rating be less than 45 min.
(3) A fire separation common to two exits shall be smoke-tight and not be pierced by doorways, duct work, piping or any other opening that may
affect the continuity of the separation.
(4) A fire separation that separates an exit from the remainder of the building shall have no openings except those for electrical wiring,
noncombustible conduit and noncombustible piping that serve only the exit, and for standpipes, sprinkler piping, exit doorways and wired glass
and glass block permitted in Article 9.9.4.3.
(5) The requirements in Sentence (1) do not apply to an exterior exit passageway provided the passageway has at least 50% of its exterior sides
open to the outdoors and is served by an exit stair at each end of the passageway.

Section 9.8 of the Ontario Fire Code prescribes the requirements for Retro-fit for basement apartments in the following areas:
1. Exits - egress
2. Separations between dwelling units (ceilings and walls), doors, etc.
3. Smoke alarms
4. Carbon Monoxide alarms (per By-law)
5. Electrical inspection

The landlord (owner) is responsible for compliance with the Ontario Fire Code and is responsible to ensure the safety of their tenants in the
basement apartment. An individual may be fined $50,000 per offence or one year in jail or both, for violations of the Ontario Fire Code.

The landlord (property owner) is also responsible for compliance with the municipality’s zoning by-law to ensure that the basement apartment is
being used/occupied as permitted by the zoning by-law. An individual who is found guilty of a violation of the municipality’s zoning by-law may be
fined up to $25,000 per offence and a corporation found guilty of an offence may be fined up to $50,000 per offence.

On April 22, 2015, the Brampton City Council approved new policies permitting basement apartments in Brampton. The City of Brampton permits
basement apartments  in detached, semi-detached and townhouse dwellings, subject to zoning requirements of the City of Brampton.
Homeowners who don’t register their basement apartments with the City of Brampton may be subject to a fine of up to $25,000 for individuals
and $50,000 for a corporation.A registration system also helps the City of Brampton identify the location of basement apartments in Brampton.
This information is shared with the Brampton Fire Department; in case of emergency, the Brampton Fire Department will know there is a  
basement apartment in the house before they even arrive. This can save precious seconds in a life-or-death situation.
Under the new policies of City of Brampton:
  • Only one basement apartment is permitted per house in Brampton.
  • The City of Brampton permits basement apartment In a bungalow, up to 75% of the bungalow's ground floor area. For all other houses,
    City of Brampton permits basement apartment up to 45% of the "Gross Floor Area" which the total area of each floor of the house, not
    including unfinished basement/cellar, garage/carport, Porch/balcony and floor area used for mechanical or electrical equipment
  • The City of Brampton requires one parking space for the basement apartment in addition to the required parking for the primary unit.
  • The City of Brampton requires a 1.2 m (4ft) clear path of travel to a door in the side or rear yard that provides access to a basement
    apartment to provide safe entry/exit from the basement apartment, and to allow access for the City of Brampton's emergency services.
    Most houses in Brampton have 1.2 m (4ft) on at least one side. For houses that don’t have an access to the basement apartment, the City
    of Brampton allows access to the basement apartment from inside the garage or through a common foyer inside the house.
Basement apartments offer Brampton residents another option for safe, affordable housing, but in order to be legal, they must be registered with
the City of Brampton. Before registration is approved by the City of Brampton, units must be inspected by the City of Brampton officials to ensure
they comply with the Ontario Building Code and/or Fire Code; approval from the Electrical Safety Authority is also required. Basement
apartments in Brampton must also meet all Zoning and Property Standards regulations of the City of Brampton. The fees for registering a
basement apartment in Brampton are as follows:
  • Initial review for zoning compliance – $200 (non-refundable)
  • Registration fee: $500 (owner-occupied dwelling) or $1,000 (non-owner occupied)
  • Applicable building permit fees – approximately $1,000


How can I get my basement apartment approved and make it
legal?

Whether or not any construction takes place, the conversion of a home to a
two-unit residential occupancy will require a building permit from City of
Brampton.

Please check with the Zoning Plans Examiner of the City of Bramton Building
Division located at 8850 McLaughlin Road Unit # 1 to determine whether the
proposed basement apartment is permitted in accordance with the City of
Brampton, Zoning By-law, prior to submitting a building permit application.

We will visit your home, measure and prepare proper drawings and submit to
the City of Brampton to obtain the municipal building permit to construct or
legalize basement apartment. The drawings are prepared by licensed
professional engineers (P.Eng) and it will cost  $1,295 which includes up to
two site visits. If required additional site visits after the 2nd site visit will cost
additional $195 per site visit.

If you need engineering drawings to construct or legalize a separate entrance
to the basement apartment in Brampton, it will cost $1,295 which includes up
to two site visits. Additional visits cost $195 per visit.  $600 discount will apply
if we prepare the drawings to legalize the basement apartment at the same site.

If required by the City of Brampton, HVAC Heat Loss/ Gain Calculations by a
Licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer will cost additional $750. Electrical
Safety Authority fees, City of Brampton Fees are additional.

Call Us Anytime  416 332 1743

Text message: 416 727 8336

Email: buildingexpertscanada@yahoo.com

BUILDING EXPERTS CANADA
Professional Engineers Ontario
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