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Laneway homes can now be more easily built in Vancouver

Kenneth Chan Jul 24, 2018 1:56 pm 4,130

Overhauls to the City of Vancouver’s bylaws covering laneway homes are part of the municipality’s overall strategy to tackle housing affordability, and the changes were approved by Vancouver City Council meeting earlier today with only Green Party councillor Adrianne Carr opposed.

Policy changes will significantly cut down the process time for applications, with an outright process for lager two-storey laneway homes. The process is streamlined and no longer requires an extra conditional design review by staff, and this is expected to reduce permit issuing times by 65% – down to 12 weeks.

Laneway homes can also be built with a half-storey instead of a full second-storey to provide more flexibility to property owners. As well, the maximum height of a laneway home with a pitched roof is up by two feet, allowing 22 feet for a 1.5-storey structure and up to 17 feet for a single-storey structure.

This eliminates the need to sink the laneway below grade, provides more useable space on the upper floor, improves accessibility, reduces retaining walls, and reduces the use of concrete to cut down on construction costs.

The new policies create minimum room sizes, with the main shared living space required to be at least 180 sq. ft. and at least one bedroom at least 91.5 sq. ft.

According to the municipal government, ever since the laneway home program was approved in 2009, over 3,300 permits for such structures have been issued. The City’s statistics indicate 90% of laneway homes are are built in conjunction with a new house, 45% of all new single-family homes are built with a laneway home, only 10% of laneway homes are a single storey, and 60% of recent laneway homes have one parking space.

Over 500 permits for laneway homes were approved annually in 2016 and 2017, and property owners report that it takes them under 1.5 years to develop such structures, which typically cost less than $300,000.

The City has a goal of allowing 4,000 new laneway houses to be built over the next 10 years.

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