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Adding a Second Suite

Thinking of constructing and registering a second suite in your home? Before you start, here is a guide to help you through the project.

Second suites are self-contained units with a kitchen and bathroom within homes or converted detached garages. They are often used as a rental property and must be registered with the City. Living in a second suite is an attractive and affordable housing option for many residents.

Building Permit & Inspections

If your second suite was built prior to 1996, please contact Service Barrie (705-726-4242 / to review process and cost. If your second suite was built after 1996, or is yet to be built, the following steps must be completed:

  1. Call Service Barrie at 705-726-4242 to confirm a second suite is a permitted use on your property. If permitted proceed to next steps. Note: second suites are not permitted in the Georgian College area (see FAQs).
  2. Complete the Building Permit Application re any modifications (if applicable). 
  3. Complete the Schedule 1: Designer Information re any modifications (if applicable).
  4. Complete the Property Owner Consent Letter if you are applying on behalf of the property owner.
  5. Ensure you have all documentation listed in the Second Suite Building Application Checklist
Take all listed applications and documentation to Service Barrie (1st floor, 70 Collier Street) for submission during business hours: 8:30–4:30, Monday–Friday.

Put your application on the Fast Track! 
If your application meets the Fast Track Submission Checklist requirements, you may qualify for an expedited review. This process is streamlined so home owners receive one coordinated review and, if required, a coordinated site visit.  Fast Track applications are accpeted at Service Barrie (1st floor, 70 Collier StreetMonday through Thursday during business hours: 8:30am-4:30pm. Applications are reviewed on Fridays and comments will be provided by end of day the following Monday. We accept a maximum of 5 Fast Track applications per week.​

Permit Issuance
Once your application has been reviewed and your permit has been issued, you can begin construction. You must ensure that you request the required inspections as noted in your permit issuance package​. 

Second Suite Registration
Registering your second suite advises all City departments and other agencies that there are two separate units on the property. Once your second suite has passed all the required inspections, you must send the final inspection report to Service Barrie. It can be sent by email or dropped off in person (with your email, name, and phone number attached). This will activate the registration process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are second suites?

Second suites are second dwelling units located on one property typically found in basements of single dwelling units. A second suite can also be located in detached garages that have been converted into a dwelling unit.

Why is the City permitting them?

The Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act requires that municipalities across Ontario amend their planning documents to facilitate the creation of second suites. Second suites provide a form of affordable housing and help owners defray the cost of home ownership.

Second suites provide a form of affordable housing which is relatively simple to implement. Second suites will assist the City in increasing the vacancy rate to healthy standard while providing individuals defray the cost of home ownership.

Why not in the Georgian College area?

The City has an Incentive program to help facilitate purpose built student housing in the Georgian College area specifically to mitigate the impact of students in established neighbourhoods and to ensure that dedicated student housing is provided which is safe, clean and properly administered by a property management specialist. Allowing second suites would undermine these efforts and exacerbate the existing issues in the area.

What does "grandfathering" mean and how can I find out if my property is grandfathered?

Grandfathering is a term used to allow for uses to exist without meeting all or some of the bylaw standards and provisions.

To find out if your property is grandfathered, legal proof will have to be provided to Planning Services indicating the date the subject property contained a second dwelling unit (second suite).

What are the design standards?

Zoning by-law standards for a second suite when contained in the principal dwelling shall have a  maximum of 2 bedrooms, provide a parking space, meet entrance requirements to the second suite and that only one second suite be permitted per lot.

Should the second suite be located in a detached accessory structure (garage) the second suite shall be connected to full municipal services, not exceed 10% lot coverage (inclusive of all detached accessory building), meet accessory structure location standards and provide a parking space.

What are the fees for adding a second suite?

Fees for building permits and inspections (Planning & Building Services fees):
• Zoning Fee
• Alteration Fee
• Change of Use Fee

Fee for registering a second suite (Enforcement Services fees):
• By-law two unit house registration fee

All current fee amounts are listed within the Fees By-law, available for to view via the Listing of By-laws.

How are second suites enforced?

Generally second suites are enforced upon receipt of a complaint however pending the availability of staff resources, staff will also review rental advertisements (both online and in printed media format).

Will I have to pay development charges to the City of Barrie for my second suite?

There are certain situations where development charges may be due for your second suite. We advise that you contact the Finance Department with your specifications to find out if you will have an obligation to pay development charges upon building permit issuance. 

Disclaimer: The information on this page is meant for guiding purposes only. Individual home renovation projects vary in scope and may require additional steps to ensure proper completion. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure work conforms to any restrictive covenants, caveats or other restrictions that are registered on the land title. The information above has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Barrie accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically.​​​​

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