Look Into a Second Suite Solution for Your Home

Julia Broder -- April greetings from The Riverside Realty Group in beautiful Westport, CT! We've been working long hours in the Fairfield County real estate market as buyers want to cash in on some of the great luxe properties that are only now coming up for sale . . . amazing estates and new construction on beautiful parcels of land . . . and you can get some great inspiration from my Luxe Properties website! Visit it often for the latest and greatest in high-end real estate.

It's time to swing into Spring! I would love to show you outstanding high-end residences, Luxies! If you are confident that you can benefit from the prices in the market, then now is a good time to buy. Please contact me today at 1-203-247-7500 for more information on how we can work together. Wouldn't it be great to celebrate this wonderful season with a new home?

This month, I'd like to talk about how to add a "second suite" to your home to enhance its livability and resale value. Steve Maxwell, the home improvement expert on casaGURU, Canada's favorite home improvement website, brings us some great tips . . . .

Learn How to Properly Set Up a Second Suite

When my wife and I were first married, we lived as fugitive outlaws. Or so we thought. To save money for our own home we moved into the basement apartment at my grandfather’s house for a few years. That was the same place my parents lived when they stepped off the altar in 1962, and my very first home after checking out from the maternity ward 9 months and 2 minutes later.

But you can be sure that when my wife and I had a housewarming party, we didn’t invite city bylaw enforcement officers downstairs for a snack. Whether it was true or not, prevailing wisdom at the time maintained that two living arrangements in single-family dwellings weren’t allowed by the authorities for reasons that only made sense to the big shots.

But big shots must be a lot smarter these days, and they’re proving it through participation in various new housing initiatives that promote the creation of what are called “second suites.” This is a movement that encourages homeowners to create safe, separate, affordable rental accommodations in their homes for all the obvious reasons -- and then some.

Finance Your Home Improvements

Second suites offer an approach that promotes healthier cities. Rental units of this sort are typically priced 10 to 15% cheaper than regular low-rise and high-rise apartments. Second suites are also a great source of extra income for new couples wanting to save for home improvements, or for housing aged parents who need extra help while still maintaining some measure of independence. With the right set-up, families can delay or even eliminate the expensive and emotionally challenging move to a nursing home.

Building Code Compliance

Creating separate living quarters in existing single-family dwellings makes a lot of sense for people at every stage of life, but only if flexibility, safety, and code compliance are kept in mind during the conversion. So what are the nuts and bolts of building a good second suite? It varies with local bylaws, but the essentials include fire separations between living units, a second suite floor plan that’s smaller than that of the main dwelling, the installation of fire detection equipment and safe, habitable living facilities with a separate entrance design.

Young couples buying their first house can choose from a wider range of potential properties if they convert a portion of a home into a rental suite, diverting the monthly payments they receive to cover part of the mortgage.

Is it just my imagination, or is government getting more practical and effective these days? Perhaps I’m dreaming, though you’ve got to wonder. With something as sensible as the second suite movement now extending across Canada and North America, the possibility of flexible, affordable, and sane home ownership has moved one step closer for more than a few people. And this sounds a lot like a dream come true to me.

Second Suite Technicals

Besides the legal and safety issues surrounding second suite renovations, you also need to pay attention to technical issues that have to do with sound suppression in ceilings. It’s one thing to have someone else living in your house while paying you money, but quite another if you have to hear them all the time.

The main thing to understand is that ordinary ceilings aren’t sufficient to keep tenant sounds from spreading around the house. To achieve effective sound privacy, install something called resilient channel and Green Glue on ceiling areas to be covered in drywall. This combination of an inexpensive sheet metal strip and Green Glue (which is a viscoelastic dampening material) keeps drywall from touching the ceiling joists, greatly reducing sound transmission between floors. The combination of materials usually works wonderfully. [And check out this Digital Home link for other sound-proofing products and homeowner recommendations. QuietRock is a drywall solution worth looking into as well.]


This article was reprinted with the permission of casaGURU. casaGURU is an everyday, everywhere, anytime homeowner website built on the premise that every home deserves a house expert.

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Photo credit: Charles & Hudson

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