- Putting in Smoke detectors
- Having GFCI outlets in the bathroom and kitchen
- Having properly sized and positioned "egress" windows in all bedrooms.
- Having 4 paved parking stalls
- Having an "interior connection" between the apartment and the rest of the home
Part of the application is providing the city with a site plan of your property showing where new parking will go. You also have to have a floor plan for each floor of the house. The building permit application costs $50, and the permit lasts 6 months. It can be extended for another six months. Once you've finished all the corrections, another inspection has to take place to demonstrate that you've completed the required work.
Some issues are pretty much impossible to solve. One of those is Lot coverage. Under current zoning, only 25% of your back yard can be paved. So, if you are already at the limit, you won't be able to add more parking spaces. Another serious problem is ceiling height. 6 foot ceilings aren't going to fly.
There are some big differences between legal duplexes and accessory apartments. Legal duplexes have to have separate heating systems/controls. They usually have separate utility meters for Gas and electricity. They have to have "fire-walls" between the units. There aren't connections between the units. Houses with accessory apartments don't usually have separate heating systems/controls, and they usually don't have separate utility meters. They don't have to have "fire-walls."
If you own a legal duplex and rent out one of the units, you now must have a Rental Dwelling License. Homes with accessory apartments do not have to have a license, but they must be owner occupied.
In a few cases, I've seen neighborhood residents put an addition on their home in order to add an accessory apartment. While legal, this is a completely different matter, and the rules more complicated. Current building codes have to be met, and the applicant has to pay impact fees as a part of the building permit application.
There are pro's and con's to a neighborhood having accessory apartments, which we'll have to tackle another day. In the meanwhile, I encourage all of you that have a basement apartment to get things taken care of. Get a determination to find out if it is a Legal Duplex or an Accessory, and find out what needs to get fixed. Get the appropriate permit and/or Rental Dwelling License, and then quit worrying.