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Three Basement Suite Tips and Free Plans!

There’s few entry-level real estate investments that will cashflow better than a single family home with a basement suite. There’s also few better ways to learn how to be a landlord than owning a suited house.

I love owning single family homes. They’re decent cashflow, easy to sell (usually) and simple to finance. 10 years down the line if you need some cash you can just throw a couple of them on the market. If you’ve got a couple of apartment buildings that’s much tougher to do.

Just last month a client closed on a single family house in north Edmonton. The upstairs was brilliantly renovated (I’d say over renovated): granite, real 3/4″ hardwood, awesome tile work, fresh paint, doors, trim, full heigh solid wood kitchen cabinets and stainless steel appliances. It was a standard 1100 sq ft bungalow (3 bed, 1 bath upstairs) with a double detached garage. The basement however, was completely empty except for a new furnace, hot water tank and an older washer and dryer. Paul’s been kind enough to share this copy of his plans.

(Click to open up full size)

Helping Paul decide what to buy and what to build brought me to some important realizations about what I don’t like about basement suites – and how to fix it.

  1. Bright, open, clean and secure entries. Both sides (up and down) want to feel like their home is really their own. The want to see the other people as little as possible.
  2. Let there be light! There’s too many that feel like a cave. Make sure to put lots of lights in (recessed if possible), use big windows in bedrooms and common spaces (like the living room). Bilevels work well that way, as do bungalows with bigger windows. Also, don’t get freaked out about the potential cost of cutting the foundation to hold bigger windows.
  3. Extra utility facilities aren’t a problem. Putting in a second furnace when required seems expensive but saves you in the long run. They make the house easier to sell, reduces the load on the furnaces so they last longer, and makes sure you’re providing clean, safe and comfortable housing.
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