Housing prices in the area have been getting a little crazy in the area over the last few years. Many people are having trouble affording to buy a new house. My wife and I are in that boat as well. We had a 5 year plan to upgrade our house, but have had to make some adjustments. Instead of moving, we decided to work with what we have which included finishing the basement. This is a great way to add square footage to the house we already own.
Lately people have been contacting me about finishing their basements for the same reason. Adding some room for the kids, having a place for relatives to stay or a man cave. I also get a lot of calls about adding an apartment to the home.
Finishing your basement to make an apartment or duplex has a lot more rules than just adding a rec room. Even if you just want to add a "Granny Flat" with a kitchenette, you still have to follow the rules. Each municipality will have their own set of guide lines and rules.
Check the website for you municipality for duplex requirements, including zoning and parking. You may also need to work with a BCIN designer to create the drawings for you to obtain the proper permits. The home owner is allowed to act as their own designer. If you don't know a lot about the Ontario building code, it may save you time and money to contact a professional.
Some of the building code requirements are:
Proper fire and safety requirements (fire doors, X-Type drywall, exits, smoke detectors, etc)
Minimum natural light requirements (bedroom windows)
HVAC requirement (Heating, Venting and Air Conditioning)
No matter how you finish your basement, you will need a building permit. This will ensure that things are done to minimum code and that it is safe for you and who ever else is enjoying in the future. This will affect the value of your home in a good way, but may also add to your property tax. Unfortunately, MPAC visited us shortly after the building permit was closed.
City of Waterloo:
City of Kitchener:
City of Guelph:
City of Cambridge: