Secondary suites

Is a permit required?

Yes, a development permit is required.

Adding a secondary suite requires a development permit as per the Winnipeg Zoning By-law. Zoning and development permit approval is required before building permit application.

Yes, a building permit is required.

Adding a secondary suite requires a building permit as per the Winnipeg Building By-law.

General information

Secondary suites provide an opportunity to create a living space attached to your single-family home or located on your property. They can add to the supply of affordable units because of their smaller size and provide a convenient housing option for family members or renters.

Only one detached secondary suite is permitted on any single-family property.

Attached secondary suite

Attached secondary suites are self-contained living spaces added to, or created within, a single-family residence. They are considered an independent dwelling unit and have a separate entrance.

In addition to development and building permits, attached secondary suites may require conditional use approval and/or a variance, if criteria in the Winnipeg Zoning By-law is not met.

Detached secondary suite

Detached secondary suites are self-contained living spaces located adjacent to a single-family residence. They may be an independent structure or located over, or attached to, a detached garage.

In addition to development and building permits, detached secondary suites require Conditional Use C approval. A variance may also be required if criteria in the Winnipeg Zoning By-law is not met.

Construction information

Application requirements

Review the development and building permit process to help navigate application requirements. 

To apply for a development permit, submit the relevant application form(s) and supporting documentation, where required.

Once your development permit is approved, submit a building permit application. Refer to the application for documentation that must be included.

Manitoba Building Code requirements


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 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").

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 Manitoba Building Code 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.

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.

Alarms must be installed in the primary and secondary units and in ancillary/common spaces not within the dwelling units. Alarms must be interconnected so that the activation of one alarm causes all alarms within both dwelling units to sound. Where a dwelling contains a fuel burning appliance (e.g. gas furnace, fireplace, wood stove, gas hot water tank, gas appliance, etc.) or has an attached garage, a carbon monoxide alarm must be installed so that each bedroom is protected by a carbon monoxide alarm, and in each room that contains a solid fuel burning appliance. Installers should refer to the manufacturer’s installation guidelines.

The Sound Transmission Classification 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.

A secondary suite 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 dwelling units. Where a separate forced air heating system is provided, a heat recovery system 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.

Related permits

How to apply

Ensure you have all required documentation before applying.


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