Feasibility Check

Horizontal Split






These are units created by dividing a house to build a new unit on one of the floors. This split could be in the basement or attic or on another floor of a house. To legally register a unit, there are some specific requirements that you will need to meet. The city refers residents to this Ontario website for a detailed guide for checking these requirements. Before you review the information provided by the website guide, check out our checklist below to see if your home is a candidate for this kind of new suite.

Remember to verify all code requirements with your local code, or hire a professional to do this for you!


Spatial Requirements


Measure the ceiling


Generally, if your new unit is in an attic or has sloped ceilings it needs at least 50% of the unit to have a ceiling height of 2.03 m (6’ 8”), (Do not include areas with low ceilings less than 1.4 m (4’ 7”) high in your calculation.)

If your second unit is not in the attic, generally, the unit must have a ceiling height of 2.3mm over 75% of the floor area in a living room or space, dining room or space, or kitchen space with a minimum clear height of 2.1m

Verify the ceiling height requirements with your local building code.

Measure the ceiling to see if it meets this minimum. If not, it will be expensive to make the change required to legally register your unit.


Are there windows?


Natural light is a necessity for housing. If your space already has windows this is a plus!

The size of windows you will need for a unit depends on how big the unit is and what type of room you are in. Some windows may need to be used as an exit (more on this below.) The building code has minimum window sizes for different areas in your unit. These are generally:
 
  • Living room or dining room - 10% of floor area
  • Bedrooms - 5% of floor area
  • Laundry room, kitchen, bathroom - no windows required.

If the window is used for exiting you may need a larger window. Window wells are a great way to get extra light into the basement - check out our construction catalogue for more details.

Verify the window size requirements with your local building code.





Getting in and out safely

Access/egress


There are two ways you can provide access to units within your house:

Option 1) You can provide direct exterior access.

This means that each unit has its own fire-separated exit path from the main space of the unit to the exterior. In this case, each unit will have its own exterior ‘front door.’

Option 2) You can provide access to the exterior through a shared entryway.

This means units will share a ‘front door’ and have a small section of communal space from which they access each of their units. You may also need to provide a second exit through a window in your unit that is large enough for a person to get through and easily open without any tools.


What kind of access do you have?


Option 1 -  Separate Second Entry
This is a good option because you will not have to do a lot of work to allow access to the unit. A door at the main level, often at the side of the house, accesses a stair directly to the unit. These are often separated from the main floor living space.



Option 2 - Stair Close to an Entry
If you don’t have a separate entry, it is best if the stair is close to an entry door. You will need to build a wall to separate the new unit entry from the main floor unit.
Option 3 - Stair Far From an Entry
This option will require the most work. First check to make sure you can access the stair to the new unit without disrupting the living space on the main floor.
You may also need to provide a second exit through a window in your unit that is large enough for a person to get through and easily open without any tools.


Electric, Heating/Air, and Plumbing

Check your utilities


Check your electrical service

Step 1 - Check the existing electrical service on your electrical panel

Find the circuit box. Find the main cut-off switch—this is typically the biggest switch in the box. The cut-off switch often has the number of amps written on it. You will likely need a minimum of 100 amps.

Step 2 - Use the chart below to calculate the existing electrical capacity (Coming soon.)

Step 3 - Check how many units you can add based on the existing electrical capacity. (Coming soon.)

Verify the level of electrical service you will need with a licensed electrical engineer or electrician.



Cost considerations


Whenever you are deciding what type of unit to add, it is important to understand what the major cost considerations will be. For a horizontal split renovation these include:

- unit access
- unit egress
- fire and sounds separation
- new bathroom(s)
- new kitchen(s)


Case study:



This horizontal split case study involves creating distinct living units by subdividing the existing structure of the house in the horizontal axis, typically at each floor level. Interior walls are added to create the necessary rooms within each unit and demising walls are added between units to create necessary fire separations. The project introduces new kitchens and bathrooms for each unit. Major considerations include plumbing, fire separation, and unit access.


Existing Floor Plans
Case Study Plans

       



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