Getting Started - Accessory Dwellings

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) help create a variety of housing options within our community. ADU’s include secondary suites, carriage houses, and secondary dwellings. ADUs are permitted in residential zones on lots with single-family detached homes.  Before building, you should understand the different types of ADUs allowed in our City, where they are permitted, and what you need for your building permit application. View The Suite Life in Quesnel for a light overview.

Types of Accessory Dwelling Units
Secondary Suite

A secondary suite is a separate living area contained within a single-family home. It is a self-contained living unit with a kitchen, bathroom, and at least one bedroom. The suite must have at least one access door leading directly outside the suite.

Carriage House

A carriage house is an attached house located in conjunction with an accessory building (e.g. a garage). A carriage home is located on the same property as the principal dwelling.

Secondary Dwelling

A secondary dwelling is a freestanding detached single-family home located on the same parcel as the principal dwelling. (Sometimes called a coach house in other municipalities).

Developing Accessory Dwellings

Here is what you need to know:

  • Before starting the development of a suite or other type of ADU, the owner is encouraged to contact the City Planner and Building Inspector to discuss your project.
  • Are you prepared to be a Landlord? Investigate your rights and responsibilities to a tenant in the Residential Tenancy Act.
  • A Building Permit is required for the development of an ADU.
  • Find out what type of ADU you can have based on your property’s Zone.
  • Consider servicing requirements.
  • Consider the design on your ADU to make a livable home for your tenant.
  • Read the Snapshot on Accessory Dwelling Units and Accessory Dwelling Unit How-to Guide for more information.
  • If you own a rental property with two units and you do not live in one of the units OR if you own a rental property with more than two units, you must obtain an Accommodation Business License

If you have any questions and are interested in discussing the possibility of an ADU on your property, please contact the Development Department at 250-992-2111 or

Benefits of Accessory Dwelling Units
Affordable Rental

New ADU increase the number of affordable housing units, providing more options for residents looking to rent.

Affordable Home Ownership

An ADU provides rental income for the homeowner, acting as a mortgage helper to make owning a home more attainable.

Housing for Individuals Living Alone and Seniors

An ADU can provide safe, affordable housing for seniors or individuals living alone. Additionally, individuals living alone or seniors who have a tenant in an ADU gain a level of comfort and income, allowing them to stay in their homes longer.

Housing for Students

Students need affordable rental housing as homeownership is often out of their reach. ADU provide excellent options for students while they pursue their studies.


Leading on the path to sustainability, ADU create more housing without requiring more land, helping to control sprawl into the rural areas.

Frequently Asked Questions
How many adu are permitted per residence?

No more than ONE accessory dwelling unit is permitted per residence.

Can i add to my duplex and make it a triplex or fourplex? Can i add two suites to my house?

No. ADU can only be added to single-family dwellings. Only one ADU is allowed per single-family dwelling. To convert an existing building into a triplex or fourplex requires meeting a higher building standard than adding a suite, and would likely require a different zoning designation. 

My neighbour has an existing suite and i think it is illegal. What should i do?

As zoning bylaws have changed over the years, it is difficult to tell if an existing suite is ‘illegal’ or not. Complaints would have to be investigated on a case-by-case basis. If you believe your neighbour is operating an illegal suite, contact the Building Department at 250-992-2111 or

Does having an adu affect my property taxes?

BC Assessment is responsible for determining the value of your property for tax purposes. An increase in your assessment does not necessarily mean an increase in your property taxes. Property tax changes are generally impacted by your assessment's change relative to your community's average assessment change. Visit the BC Assessment website for further information on potential property tax implications.

Will property owners with suites pay their share of utilities and taxes?

Yes. The City charges water, sewer, and garbage rates for all known suites at the same rate as all other dwelling units. A house with a secondary suite will pay the same utility fees as a duplex. 

BC Assessment is responsible for determining the value of your property for tax purposes. An increase in your assessment does not necessarily mean an increase in your property taxes. Property tax changes are generally impacted by your assessment's change relative to your community's average assessment change. Visit the BC Assessment website for further information on potential property tax implications.

Will adu have to be registered or licensed with the city?

The building permitting process would be the primary ‘ADU registration’ process. All constructed ADUs will have to obtain a building permit. Tenants and home buyers are welcome to inquire with the City if a building permit was obtained. Additionally a business license is required if both the home and the secondary suite are rented out. See  This provides the City with additional tools for regulating properties with secondary suites that are not owner-occupied.

Is the owner of a residence with an accessory dwelling unit required to live on-site?

No - The owner is not required to live in either the secondary suite or the principal residence. Municipalities are discouraged from creating land-use policies that apply to some people (like home owners residing in the house) and not to others – “people-zoning” is challengeable in court and difficult for a municipality to regulate from a bylaw perspective.

What are the parking requirements for adu?

All ADU will be required to provide one additional off-street parking space. The parking space must not be in tandem with the principal dwelling, have access to a main road, and not rely on a laneway.

What do i do if my lot is not eligible?

Unfortunately you will not be able to construct an accessory dwelling unit.

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