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Planning, Property & Development
secondary suites diagram

Secondary Suites

Planning, zoning and building information for attached and detached secondary suites

To apply for your permit please visit the Zoning and Permits Office at Unit 31 – 30 Fort Street.

Secondary suites offer a unique opportunity to create a suite attached to your single-family home, or contained on your property. A secondary suite is a self-contained living space that can be used to house a family member or be used as a rental unit.

Sometimes called a granny suite or an in-law suite, a secondary suite has a separate entrance as well as living, cooking, sleeping and bathroom facilities.

In Winnipeg, there are opportunities for homeowners to build two types of secondary suites: attached secondary suites and detached secondary suites.

An attached secondary suite can be located anywhere within a single-family dwelling (basement, any above grade floor, or an addition).

Attached secondary suites must comply with use specific standards of the Zoning By-law or follow the same development approval process as detached secondary suites.

Effective Jan. 26, 2017 Attached Secondary Suites are now permitted uses under Zoning By-law 200/2006 where they were previously conditional (subject to all zoning requirements).

A detached secondary suite can be a standalone building or within/above a garage.

To construct a detached secondary suite, special approval called a "Conditional Use" is required. The process requires a public hearing at the Board of Adjustment and a Conditional Use permit.

About the Development Approval Process:

Project Construction

To learn more about building secondary suites, please refer to the following brochures:

  • Attached Secondary Suites - Zoning and Construction Requirements
    Guidelines for homeowners who would like to establish an attached secondary suite.
  • Detached Secondary Suites - Zoning and Construction Requirements
    Guidelines for homeowners who would like to establish a detached secondary suite.


  • Conditional Use for detached secondary suite: $630.00
  • Building, plumbing and electrical permit costs will also be incurred.

Application and Process:

Zoning Information

Go to

or call the Zoning and Permits Branch at 204-986-5140.

Requirement information (see Section 120 of By-law 200/2006)

Secondary Suite FAQ:

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Can a property have more than one secondary suite?

No. Eligible properties may contain only one secondary suite.

Are there any unique development considerations with constructing a Secondary Suite?

Yes. Please review building code and site servicing requirements.

Are there any financial incentives for the development of a Secondary Suite?

The Province of Manitoba currently has a grant program which covers up to 50% of the cost of a new suite to a maximum of $35,000. The program accommodates both Attached and Detached Secondary Suites.

Who can live in a secondary suite?

There are several options:

  • Secondary suites can be used for a family member such as a parent, grandparent, or an adult relative.
  • Secondary suites can also be a great rental option. The extra income generated is often used to help a family pay off a mortgage.
What are the benefits of secondary suites?
  • They are housing units that are typically affordable, mainly because they are small in size. Secondary suites add to the supply of affordable units in the city.
  • They are flexible in that they can be used to house a family member or used as a rental suite.
  • They can be an integral housing option in an era of an aging population.
  • They do not change the character of a neighbourhood because they do not alter the built form of the existing dwelling.
  • They can help reverse population decline in older neighbourhoods.

Manitoba Building Code Life-Safety Design Requirements:

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A dwelling unit with a secondary suite must have at least one exit which leads directly outside. Subsection 9.9.9. of the Manitoba Building Code (MBC) deals with the egress from dwelling units. Required entrance doors shall have a minimum width of 810 mm (2'-8"). An exit stairway shall have a minimum width of 860 mm (2'-10").

Window Egress

Where the suite does not contain a sprinkler, each bedroom shall have at least one window designed as a means of egress, should the required exit become obstructed. An egress window must have an unobstructed opening of 0.35 m² (3.8 ft²) and the minimum height or width of the opening shall be not less than 380 mm (1'-3"). Egress windows are to have either a casement or sliding operation. Where a window well serves an egress, it must project out from the wall at least 760 mm (2'-6").


The MBC requires a minimum 1.95 m (6'-5") floor-to-ceiling height for a secondary suite. Clear heights under beams can be reduced to 1.85 m (6'-1"), but door openings cannot be reduced to less than 1.89 m (6'-2 1/2") – where a lower ceiling height does not allow for a full height door.

Fire Protection

A means of protection against the spread of smoke and fire from one dwelling unit to another is essential. Also, any common space, other ancillary spaces or rooms containing heating equipment must be protected from the remainder of the building. This is achieved by providing a layer of 1/2" drywall on the underside of floor framing (ceiling) and on both sides of wall studs that separate the dwelling unit from the suite or common spaces.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

New smoke alarms are to be installed in each dwelling unit and in ancillary/common spaces not within the dwelling units. They should be interconnected so that the activation of any one smoke alarm causes all smoke alarms in both dwelling units to sound. Carbon monoxide alarms are to be installed within 5 m (16'-5") of each bedroom door or inside each bedroom when a residential occupancy has an attached garage or contains a fuel-burning appliance. A carbon monoxide alarm shall also be installed within a service room that is not within the dwelling unit. The carbon monoxide alarm shall be interconnected so that the activation of any one alarm causes alarms in both dwelling units to sound.

Sound Control

The Sound Transmission Classification (STC) between units is required to be rated at a minimum of 43. Common walls and ceilings are required to have min. 1/2" drywall, resilient sound channels and batt insulation. Alternatively, any wall/ceiling assembly that meets STC 43 (as prescribed by the code) is also acceptable.

Heating and Ventilation

A secondary suite l requires a dedicated heating system with controls, separate from the system serving the primary dwelling unit in the house. Air duct distribution systems cannot be interconnected between the dwelling units. Where a separate forced air heating system is provided, an HRV must be installed to provide for the exhaust of stale air from, and supply of fresh air into the suite. When no forced air heating system exists, incoming fresh air shall be supplied through a system of supply ducts to each bedroom, each story in the dwelling unit without a bedroom, and, to the principal living area.

Separate permits are required for electrical and plumbing

Each permit application requires all of the information shown on the application form and the application must be submitted to the Zoning and Permits office. Your application visit will take less time if you complete the application form in advance.

Last update: November 10, 2017
Permits & Zoning Customer Information

Location: Unit 31 – 30 Fort Street, Winnipeg, MB, R3C 4X7

Tuesday - Friday: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Phone: 204-986-5140


Wednesdays: the branch is open late. From 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm, the office is open for homeowner permit application appointments.

To schedule a permit application appointment, call 204-986-8113 or email ppd-permitappointments