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James Garbutt

Laneway homes becoming popular

Laneway homes and carriage houses are becoming an extremely popular and affordable way to provide new housing options in desirable neighbourhoods.

What are laneway homes?

Laneway homes are small detached houses on the back lane of an existing single-family property.

More than 1,000 laneway homes have been built in Vancouver since they were first approved in 2009.

 

Laneway homes are small detached rental houses  that are typically at the back of a property opening to a lane. They’re usually one and a half storeys with one or two bedrooms. Most of them also integrate a garage as regulations require they be built in the space normally occupied by a garage.

What are carriage houses?

Carriage houses, or coach houses, are also secondary dwellings on a property; but they can be strata titled and sold separately from the main house. Carriage houses in Vancouver also don’t have to be situated on a lane. They can be larger than laneway homes, as long as the combined floor space ratio of the carriage home and main home doesn’t exceed .75 of the entire property.

Why are laneway homes popular?

The first laneway home in Vancouver was completed in 2010, less than a year after the city adopted a bylaw allowing their construction in single-family zones, on lots at least 32.15 ft. wide. Since then there have been more than 1,000  construction permits issued.

In a community where property values are rising, space is limited and supply of rental housing is tight, laneway homes “contribute to the overall sustainability of the city,” says the City of Vancouver’s website. “They give people more opportunities to live close to where they work, shop, and play, and they make the city’s urban lanes more green, livable and safe.”

They can also help homeowners with the mortgage.

Typically laneway homes cost about $300,000 to build, including permits, sewer and water hookups, and can be rented out for $1,500-2,500 a month.

“Generating a second stream of income by investing in a laneway home is more affordable than applying for a secondary mortgage to purchase a condo,” says Kenny Wong of PHW Homes, a Burnaby builder that specializes in constructing laneway and custom homes.

Laneway homes are permitted to varying degrees in the City of North Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Richmond, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Maple Ridge and Surrey. They’re not allowed in Burnaby.

New Westminster is currently considering the regulation and construction of laneway homes and other infill housing options. We’ll look at that process in the second part of this blog, later this week.