We have been serving Vancouver for more than 30 years. Our professionalism comes from decades of experience in home design and construction. Building can be a complicated process, requiring the help and guidance from numerous professionals. But we take care of it all for our clients to streamline and simplify the process.
Here are a few things to consider before starting a new project:
Determine your goals. If you want to build and then resell a lane home, you may soon be able to do so. The City of Vancouver has a motion before council that would allow stratification, which allows for multiple owners on one property. In the meantime, lane homes are a wonderful income property or can be used as a space for adult children or aging parents. While the near future is likely to have see changes in legislation that will allow for further densification in the city, there are plenty of reasons to add a lane home to your property.
Confirm your eligibility to build. Zoning is based on building codes implemented by the City of Vancouver. These building codes determine numerous factors that must be confirmed before building can begin. For example, a certain square footage must exist between the main home and the lane home as well as enough room for a backyard in addition to the lane home. The City of Vancouver has a website you can use to see if your property has the correct zoning making it eligible to build on.
Know that the application process typically takes time. Accounting for this before you start planning your build will save you from frustration. While the City can sometimes approve an application very quickly, it's difficult for anyone to determine exactly how long it will take. It's better to approach it with minimal expectations. We manage all aspects of a new build for our clients and that includes managing expectations. We approach the building process realistically and communicate clearly so there aren't any surprises.
So whether you want to use your lane home as a rental or you want to sell a piece of your property, you have options.
We are happy to help you understand those options. We have written a guide to help you understand the different elements that need consideration before you get started on any lane home project. It's a great starting place for anyone who wants more information about this unique type of housing. Click here to download our guide or contact us for a discussion on how we can help make your lane home goals a reality.
Laneway houses have really started to catch on in the last couple years. With our ever-growing city and need to control urban sprawl, it is the perfect solution to many of the problems we are facing with City of Vancouver housing.
Utilizing pre-existing lots where the main house sits allows for, a secondary, smaller home to be designed and built. Laneway homes are constructed at the back of the main house off the lane, which is where the name 'Lane Home' comes from. These smaller dwellings can only be 1 or 2 stories high at most.
In the design and build of these types of homes, it is important to create a design that will match the main home. This provides a cohesive, overall feel to the property which contributes to your home's curb appeal.
For thousands of families, the phrase, ‘Back to School’ is a bit frightening. Back to School signals fall, that seasonal change that affects us all.
It’s time to say goodbye to longer days and, more importantly on the west coast, brighter days. Flip flops, sunhats and sunscreen won’t need a special spot at the front door any more+. Windows won’t be open as much and trips to the local beaches will be fewer and farther between. It’s also a time we typically turn our attention to fall clean up.
From organizing the front entrance way to cleaning up the garden, do yourself a favor and consider ways to make life easier as we transition to fall.
Clean out dead and dying annuals and prune back perennials in the garden. Either compost leaves or place them in garden beds as natural mulch if they haven’t started to rot. Most experts recommend you continue to water your garden into the fall. But make sure to check and mind watering restrictions in your area.
While you’re cleaning out the old, remember it’s time for planning your bulbs. Take notes of what worked for you this year and hit up your local Garden Centre. Most can be planted as soon as the soil has cooled. Remember when choosing bulbs that the bigger the bulb the better the bloom.
Consider some container plants in fall colors. Before storing all your garden tools, gloves and soil, check out some of the hardy varieties that easily endure the cooler weather.
If you’re up for a fall growing project you can grow anything from squash or pumpkins to perennials that can endure the cold. Better yet, use pumpkins as planters to go all out!
There are some great ideas and growing tips here.
Put away garden supplies and outdoor kids toys. Whether you have a large yard or a small space, there are some simple solutions for putting seasonal things away. This outdoor cabinet from DigsDigs, allows for plant storage in smaller spaces like lane homes and includes a bottom drawer for plant food or garden tools. Not to mention it looks fantastic. Benches do double duty by providing summer storage and seating areas come spring. Now is a great time for to look for last minute summer sales!
Finding storage for toys kids only use seasonally can be challenging. This brilliant idea from Mom Endeavours creates a solution even the kids will love. It gets the clutter out of the way by providing storage but still allows for easy access for occasional outdoor play.
It’s also really simple to make which is a nice plus!
Add storage systems that match your family’s needs. If WBD Lane Homes built your home, you know that we like to create functional entrance ways. Simple systems can help keep this often-cluttered area from becoming an unbearable mess.
From canvas buckets for mittens to a stylish boot tray to keep floors clean, the simplest additions can create functionality that will make your life much easier – and much prettier!
Get in the habit now before the entrance becomes cluttered with leaves and mud! And get the kids in the habit as part of a new school routine. Whether you add a cubby for each family member or just a simple storage hamper for everyone’s hats and mittens, like this one from Canadian Living Magazine, a change of season makeover will make life easier for you all.
Use hooks for the sweaters and light coats that are quickly becoming part of our everyday life. A great seasonal hack is to use 3M removable coat hooks. They are easy to apply and just as easy to remove so when the warmer weather returns, you can leave them as they are for beach bags and such or swap them for lighter hooks.
This time of year can get hectic so take a bit of time to reorganize now and it will save you panic when the weather really changes. For more ideas, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Considering the benefits of building a laneway home?
Check out our FREE guide: “5 Things You Need to Know Before Building a Lane Home”.
There have been some interesting conversations going on at City Hall these days when it comes to housing and low-density areas. As most Vancouver residents know, the housing market has changed immensely in the last decade. How you feel about those changes may depend on what side of the situation you’re on. That aside, the Mayor’s office and some top city planners are taking a proposal to the city that may be beneficial to all sides of the housing situation.
In July, Chief Planner Gil Kelley was set to present a proposal to city council that would see an increase in the number of duplex’s, coach homes, laneway homes and other infill options in Vancouver. The goal of the proposal is to provide affordable options for families that are making $30,000 to $80,000 per annum. This is important when considering that the average family household income in Vancouver is $76,040.00 which falls far below the income required to purchase a home in many of Vancouver’s low-density, family centred neighbourhoods.
So what does that mean for those who already own homes? Well as you know, we already stand behind the laneway home as a viable asset to add to any single-family property. There are many benefits to having one including the addition of a monthly rental income if renting it out is your reason for building a lane home. Mayor Gregor Robertson’s proposal, if passed by city council, could offer homeowners a new set of benefits currently not available.
The incentives would apply to almost 12,000, pre-1940’s properties and would retain original character homes while densifying with stratified (available for ownership) properties. The proposal would also allow for the building of lane homes in areas not currently zoned for them, thereby increasing rental options.
A public hearing is planned for later this fall. Stay tuned as we bring you current updates to this exciting and historical change taking place in the city of Vancouver.
For more information on how to start the process of building a lane home click here. We are happy to help!
Tiny Home, Coach Home, Lane Home. What's The Difference Anyway?
Recently, CBC News reported about a couple in Vancouver who built a 220 square foot ‘Tiny Home’ that they lived in on a friend’s property. The headline is a bit deceptive: Couple's tiny-home dream killed by City of Vancouver rules. The owners of the property they rented from were issued a by-law infraction notice by the City of Vancouver. While this was undoubtedly disappointing, it’s important to understand city by-laws and resulting restrictions exist and how you should make your choices accordingly.
There are many people who feel the tiny home is a solution to a shortage of affordable living space in Vancouver. But the majority of the city isn’t zoned for these types of homes. Aside from a few specific areas, like certain parts of the downtown eastside, these micro-suites don’t meet the minimum size for a dwelling unit according to COV zoning by-laws.
So what's the big deal? Aren’t Lane Homes the same thing as a ‘tiny home ‘ or a ‘modular home’?
The answer is no. Tiny Homes, Lane Homes & Coach Homes are all slightly different and their differences are determined by city by-laws. There are a few different influences that determine the size of the dwelling, the type of home allowable and in some cases, the neighbourhood they can be built in.
For example, if your property is zoned as a single family residence, you may be eligible to build either a lane home OR a coach home. But which one you can legally build depends on things like the depth of the yard of the property, the proximity to the lane and the amount of space available to ensure an unobstructed fire lane. You may be eligible to build a lane home but not a coach (or infill) home. Once what kind of home you can build is determined, another set of by-laws come into effect and impose other limitations such as number of levels in the home, square footage of the home, proximity to the main home, and much more. Of course, anything under 398 square feet isn’t allowed no matter what other factors there are. If you want more specific details on building in Vancouver, click here to download our guide, "5 Things You Need To Know Before Building a Lane Home'.
Laneway homes are not eligible to be stratified which means they cannot be sold independently from the main home but in some cases, coach homes are. The zoning for coach homes requires a larger lots and therefore they are usually larger than a lane home. For example, by-laws restrict the height of lane homes to 1 ½ where coach homes can be 2 stories. Initially lane homes were required to be 1 ½ stories but recent changes to this zoning restriction now allows for single level lane homes.
While many people are advocating for by-laws to change in order to allow tiny homes, the reality is, that was the initial motivation for changing zoning to allow the building of lane homes. An initiative from Mayor Sam Sullivan in 2008, lane homes were offered as a legal option to provide additional rental homes in order to address the affordable housing shortage. By allowing broader zoning while restricting the use of lane homes to family or rental only, the plan was that they will provide additional spaces without making major changes to neighbourhoods or the city.
In some cases, it can be less expensive to build a lane home than to buy a condo in Vancouver. This allows people to create rental spaces while adding an income suite to their property. One result is an interesting and unique opportunity for people to downsize on their own property without having to leave their land. Renting the main, larger house will undoubtedly net a larger monthly amount for homeowners while providing larger spaces for families who want more square footage.
It will be interesting to see how the advocacy for tiny homes evolves when you consider the city has allowed lane homes for the same reason. There are many places in the US where 'tiny homes' are a very common type of dwelling. For now, they aren’t zoned in the City of Vancouver and we will have to wait and see whether or not that will change.
Laneway housing is a novel solution to Vancouver’s real estate crunch, letting homeowners build these structures and use them – or rent them out to tenants. Vancouver allows these structures in special single-family zones. It’s likely only a matter of time before population pressure results in lane homes sprouting up more often and in more neighborhoods.
We’re part of this trend, building and designing lane homes for our clients throughout the Vancouver area. What is a laneway house – and am I eligible as a homeowner to build one?
You’ll need a minimum space of 9.8 meters in width, significant separation from the main house, laneway access and other considerations – and even then, the impact on neighbourhood privacy will be considered by the City before you can go ahead.
For more information about what you need to know about lane homes in the City of Vancouver, download our guide: "5 Things You Need to Know BEFORE Building a Lane Home".
WBD Lane homes
We have been in the building industry in Vancouver for more than 30 years! We are your local one-stop design & build lane home company.