Our Ottawa electricians have been busy preparing electrical work for secondary dwelling units (SDUs) or in-law suites at residential properties recently. It is becoming increasingly popular for both adding rental income to properties as well as the ability to house aging parents. 

If you are considering the construction of an SDU or looking to finish your basement, there are a number of electrical considerations before you start. Planning ahead of time will save you time, money and a number of headaches during the build. 

Electrical use and meters

The first thing to consider are the meters. If you plan to have tenants and create long-term rental income from your SDU you likely want to invest in separating the meters for the units. If you build an SDU in an older residential building, your meters might be inside. You will likely want to move the meters outside for easier access. 


Are you installing electric heat? High-efficient baseboard heaters could be a great cost-effective solution and can be hardwired into your electrical system, and as an added bonus you won’t need to share the duct work. This is beneficial so that you do not smell others cooking for example. It will also provide more autonomy to create complete separation between the units with the exception of water use. You can have baseboard heaters in each room or location to make sure you’re able to ensure the entire SDU can be heated properly.


If you are installing an SDU in a basement, keep in mind that they are typically darker than other areas of the home. Smaller windows create less natural light in the space so you need to consider how you are going to light the SDU properly for use. LED pot light installation can provide a solution to brighten up the space and if they are installed prior to finishing the drywall it can be a cost-effective solution as well. Consider adding options like dimmers for your pot lights to allow some flexibility for the tenant to brighten or darken as needed. 

SDUs can add a lot of value to your home, but before renovating or creating one ensure that you consider all of your electrical needs beforehand. 

We tapped Derek Hooper, a Real Estate Broker at RE/MAX Hallmark Hooper Group Realty who specializes in buying, selling and investing in Ottawa urban neighbourhoods to shed light on SDUs as they pertain to investing in Ottawa real estate. 

One of the fastest growing trends in Ottawa is the addition of secondary dwelling units (SDU) in residential properties. As the value of Ottawa properties continues to rise, the demand for rentals increases as well. 

A few of the popular areas in Ottawa for SDUs are in regions with high rental demand. Altavista/Elmvale Acres are popular neighbourhoods for SDUs as there is a high demand from medical professionals due to the nearby hospital campuses. The City View/Bel Air neighbourhoods are also popular for SDUs, with the demand being propped up by students. 

SDUs have proven to be an easier way for buyers to get a property in Ottawa in a neighbourhood that otherwise might be priced out of their reach due to the rental revenue that can offset a large amount of the cost. In addition, we’re seeing buyers being able to upgrade their property type to a detached home instead of a semi-detached home due to SDU rental income. 

If you are going to invest in the build of an SDU or looking to identify the right property in Ottawa for one, there are a number of considerations, including the need for a permit to create one and complying with the City of Ottawa regulations and building codes. Here are some other things to consider:

  • Does the property have a side or rear entrance with direct basement access? 
  • What is the ceiling height in the basement?
  • Is the basement dry?
  • How big are the windows in the basement? 
  • Do the windows need to be increased in size to meet fire code and natural light requirements? 
  • What are the sound levels in the unit in order to limit the noise from people walking above or overhearing conversations? 

Get in touch with Floodlight Electric to help plan and install your electrical systems for your SDU builds in Ottawa, Ontario.