Drawings for secondary suites

Information needed for a development permit application

The permit process to create a secondary suite in your home has two stages: Development Permit and Building Permit. In this article we outline what drawings are needed for the secondary suite Development Permit application. Other articles will discuss other aspects of the secondary suites permit application process.

Use the checklists

The City of Calgary has very specific requirements for what information they need in order to process your application, and if you give them all the information they need the first time they won’t reject your application at the counter. Luckily there is a comprehensive checklist of what’s required, called a “Complete Application Requirement List”, or CARL.

Here’s the checklist for a Secondary Suite (No Additions to Exterior of Building). If you are planning exterior additions you’ll need to find the appropriate checklist at the City of Calgary website.

Drawing requirements:

Site Plan Drawing

If you have a current Real Property Report there is no need to obtain a separate land survey. A site plan simply shows the outline of your property and main features contained within it.

  • Property lines and dimensions
  • Outline of buildings such as the house, garage, garden sheds or other accessory buildings
  • Outdoor amenity spaces, sidewalks and landscaping
  • Fences
  • Adjacent streets, sidewalks, lanes and neighbouring properties
  • Front, side and rear setbacks
  • On site parking areas and surface materials

We also like to include project information such as Land Use Zoning, site area, total building area and site coverage to show the City we are compliant with the applicable bylaws.

Floor Plan Drawings

The floor plans will show the layout of all levels of your dwelling including the main dwelling and the secondary suite. Floor plans must show:

  • Interior and exterior walls, doors and windows
  • Stairways
  • All rooms labelled, i.e. kitchen, living room, bedroom, mechanical room, bedroom, common area
  • The total suite area, not including stairways

We also include major appliances, furnaces, hot water tanks, fireplaces, and utility meter locations.

Elevation Drawings

These drawings are two dimensional representations of the exterior of your house showing all sides. They must include:

  • All doors and windows, including sizes
  • Roof slope
  • Exterior materials and colours
  • Total building height from ground

The Planning Department also asks for Spatial Separation calculations, which is actually a building code requirement that shows how much window glass area you are allowed on the side walls. It is based on the total area of the side elevations and the distance to the property line. Typically you are allowed around 7% but it can range from 0 – 100% depending on your circumstances. This calculation will show if you are allowed to install any proposed windows for your secondary suite and could definitely have an impact on your permit.

Cross Section Drawings

Cross Sections are vertical cut-away drawings that show the heights of the various rooms in your house as well as the relationship of the floor levels to each other and to the ground.

Gathering info for final drawings

That’s it for the drawing requirements. If you don’t have any drawings of the existing building, for instance the original builder’s plans, you’ll need to either get someone to do some measuring, or do it yourself. It usually takes us between one and two hours to measure everything needed for the drawings. We’ll make sketches on site, then go back to the office to draw them in our CAD software. It’s preferable that the person who takes the onsite measurements is the same person who will prepare the final drawings. We also take photos so we don’t have to return to the site later if we forget something. Photos will also be needed for the application.

Questions or comments?

Got questions about the process or what information is required? Leave a comment below.

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