Vancouver has approved Laneway Housing. What this means is garages of single-family residences may be replaced with a free-standing suite or a so-called “garden cottage.” The city’s intension of this newly approved bylaw is to help keep extended families together and help aging owners. Laneway houses will allow owners to provide housing for parents, adult children, caregivers and/or long term tenants (not for “Bed and Breakfasts”). At the moment owners will not be allowed to subdivide and sell their laneway house or put strata titles on property.
What size can it be?
The sizes that the city approved are 500 square feet for a 33 foot lot and up to 750 square feet for a 50+ foot wide lot. The building can be a single floor or one floor plus a floor with 60% of the area above. There is a set back requirement of 2 feet from the lane and maintaining the existing homes side setbacks. As well the laneway home will have to be built within a 26 foot zone, the laneway house will have to be at least 16 feet away from the current home and there may be some relaxation on the size of the main floor depending on the length of the lot. Not all the details have been completely worked out yet. For example heights will be in the range of 18 to 20 feet but have not been determined. Check out the city of Vancouver Guidelines.
Money…. in and out
Currently single bedroom suites are renting for around $1000 a month in Vancouver but a self contained home may be able to fetch more… possibly $1200 a month or more… depending on the quality of finishing and location.
The cost of building an elegant laneway house would be in the ball park of about $200 per square foot. “Do it your selfers” will likely have a great project on their hands and could build more “cost effectively.” Other costs that would need to be addressed would be permit costs for City Hall, water/sewer connections, BC Hydro connections and professional fees.
Can we use what we already have?
The option of upgrading your current garage will vary in cost depending on the existing structure. The age of the garage will determine whether or not the existing foundation will be suitable for current requirements. The slab would have to be waterproofed with poly below and level concrete top. The frame of the garage structure could be used but the siding would have to meet the new rain screen requirements for the exterior of the building envelope.
Where will all the cars go?
For a new laneway house currently on a 33 foot lot, one parking space will be required. Lots that are larger will likely require two parking spaces on the lot. At present the city of Vancouver’s Engineering Department is generally encouraging a two parking space requirement (although the definitive regulation has not been set.)
Currently this is only permitted in the City of Vancouver. However, the City of North Vancouver is considering allowing similar by-laws. Whether one wants to improve the value of property or just need more space Laneway housing is now a reality!