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Basement Apartments

What is a basement apartment?

A basement apartment is a second dwelling unit located in the basement of a house.
People commonly rent them out to help with the costs of owning a house.
What makes basement apartments different from a finished basement is these units are required to be soundproofed, and have a fire seperation between the units.
Some cities consider a finished basement to be an apartment as soon as cooking facilities are added.

Legal vs Illegal?

An illegal basement apartment is a second dwelling unit built in a house without the benefit of a building permit, and usually violates a ton of building codes.
Illegal basement apartments are a really bad idea for many reasons. Banks often refuse to recognize the income from illegal basement apartments towards mortgage payments.
This means when you sell your house, people cannot claim the income to help get a higher mortgage, making your house worth less than it could potentially be.
Also, if your basement apartment ever has a fire, it can spread rapidly to the rest of the house without a proper fire seperation.
If you and your family are sleeping, you might not have sufficient time to flee the house. Also, without correctly interlocked smoke detectors you may not wake up.
Angry tenants sometimes phone building departments on landlords, which can result in large fines and demolition of the illegal apartment.


Great idea to go legal, the building permit isn't that expensive. You'll enjoy a much higher resale value on your home, and you can sleep well knowing you have adequate fire protection and life safety devices.
The required sound proofing well help to avoid noise problems, and the correct HVAC and ventilation will keep your air quality.
Canada HVAC Design, we can show you how to inexepensively alter your homes furnace to serve both units, legally.
The right fire seperation will help keep fire from moving from one unit into the other, keeping everyone safe.


First you will need a washroom of sufficient size. You do not need a window in the washroom. You will need a ventilation fan capable of moving 50 CFM or more outside.
Usually the duct size is 5" or larger.


Kitchen will need a 6" steel exhaust duct for the range hood vented directly outside. Charcoal filters are not permitted. They don't work anyways.
Make sure to keep the bottom of the cabinets at least 24" from the top of the stove. Be sure to use a canopy range hood.


Bedrooms are a bit more restrictive. You will need a window of sufficient size for a person to escape. You will need a smoke detector with a strobe in each bedroom, interconnected to the rest of the house.
The building code does has minimum size restrictions, so be sure to make sure the room is at least 120 sq-ft with sufficient headroom.


The unit may share a common entrace, or, has it's own. If you choose to share an entrance, you may need to fire rate the common corridor depending on the layout.
Because of this hassle, walkout basements are preferred for basement apartments.

How can Canada HVAC Design help?

Canada HVAC Design specializes in basement apartments, duplex's, triplex's, and fourplex's.
Our innovative technology can help deliver big cost savings, increased profits, and avoid many building code problems.
Did you penetrating a fire seperation can cost more in fire dampers and head aches than a seperate air handler?
We can help save you a lot of money and trouble. Ask us how.