Inside an apartment suite with a kitchen, dining room, and living room

Create or legalize a secondary suite

What is a secondary suite?

A secondary suite is an approved dwelling unit (with its own kitchen and living area as well as separate external access) within a larger one-family or two-family dwelling.

Secondary suites may share internal access with the main dwelling unit.

Review the steps to creating or legalizing a secondary suite before submitting an application.

Submit application package 

Add a new secondary suite to your home or legalize a secondary suite that was created without permits.

What you need to know

  • A secondary suite cannot be strata titled
  • A third suite is not allowed under the Zoning and Development By-law
  • A duplex may have two suites; however, only one suite is allowed per primary dwelling unit
  • Secondary suites in duplexes or two-family homes are not approved in all zones
  • Secondary suites not approved through our permitting process are not legal dwelling units and not eligible for short- or long-term licences
  • A secondary suite must comply with all City by-laws prior to legalization (These items are usually addressed during the permit application phase.)
  • Questions about legalizing your secondary suite can be emailed to

Are you creating a secondary suite as part of building a new house?  Review the steps to building a new house

Steps to creating or legalizing a secondary suite

Steps to submitting an amendment to an issued building permit

Removing your secondary suite?

If you no longer want a secondary suite in your home, you will need to apply for the appropriate permit(s) before you:

  • Remove the kitchen/cooking facilities (for example, the range, etc)
  • Resolve any other work that was previously completed without a permit  

Contact the Services Centre for further information about the permit application process.

Buying a home with a secondary suite?

Did you know that you when you purchase a property, you are responsible for any work completed without a permit even if the work was competed by a former owner or before you lived there? This includes secondary suites.

Request an approved use letter to find out if the secondary suite in your home is permitted. 

Our Zoning and Development By-law only allows one secondary suite per single family home.  

for suites in newly constructed homes
for suites added to existing homes
for suites in newly constructed homes
for suites added to existing homes

Contact the Development and Building Services Centre

Contact us online

The Development and Building Centre is open for in-person scheduled appointments or payments. 

Location and mailing address
Development and Building Centre
515 West 10th Avenue, Ground Floor
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4A8

Permits, inspections, and forms

Apply for and manage permit

Review regulations and apply for the required permits for your construction or renovation project.


Book or cancel an electrical, plumbing, building, fire sprinkler, gas, or sidewalk inspection for your construction or renovation project.

Forms, checklists, and bulletins

View and download the building or development permit application forms and submission requirements.