The Laneway House provides a creative solution to the housing affordability in the Greater Vancouver area and is encouraged by the local governments. With the growing maturity and increasingly friendly local laneway house policy, more and more independent homeowners have turned their attention to this value-added investment field. This article attempts to make a special introduction to the construction of the laneway house in this area.
Laneway House History
The Laneway House originated in Vancouver and was the product of the very famous wheelchair mayor of Sam Sullivan in the history of Vancouver. In 2008, the Vancouver City Council passed a motion to allow independent housing owners in the city to convert the garages behind the buildings into habitable rooms for rent. Sullivan ’s plan, called “Laneway Housing,” is known as the initiative to lead North America. In response to this policy, both the pros and cons were coexisting.
Vancouver City Councillors believe that this will not only provide more affordable housing for the local market, but also help the environment, let more passengers for the public transportation system, and stimulate the local retail industry.
Because they believe that many people will give up driving or even sell their cars, and take the bus out; also the citizens walking to shopping will be more favourable to the retail business near the area where they live. Some real estate agents also praised the policy as good news for the real estate market in Vancouver, because the conversion of the garage to the rental of the room has increased the value of the use of the land. For the buyer, the purchase of such a house can obviously reduce the loan of the house.
The pressure on the supply encourages the buyer’s enthusiasm; the seller can undoubtedly increase the price of the property.
Some opponents criticized the policymakers for using sneaky means to secretly make land-use changes for-profit; others believe that if the population of Vancouver expands and more houses are needed, the city should develop outwards instead of changing the original beautiful environment; Some people worry that after the housing is intensive, people will become more and more complicated, and the security will be worse. More will be concerned with the changes in local taxes and housing prices that may be brought about by policies.
The Latest News for the Laneway House
In August 2018, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and the City Council approved the Making Room Housing Program, which will make it easier to build a laneway house in the Vancouver area.
The laneway house program mainly involves the following aspects: First, greatly simplify the approval process of the back alley. In the future, for the two-storey laneway house, the city will no longer carry out additional design condition review, and the estimated review time will be shortened by 65%, with an average period of 12 weeks. Secondly, the laneway house is allowed to increase the building height.
This can increase the use space of the laneway house, increase the space and reduce the construction cost. In addition, the program also has a limit on the minimum area of the room. In order to improve the livability of the laneway house, the City Council requires a living room area of at least 180 square feet and a bedroom area of at least 91.5 square feet.
According to the City Council, since 2009, Vancouver has approved the construction of 3,300 laneway house. Currently, 45% of the independent houses in Vancouver have laneway houses, and 60% of the laneway house is equipped with parking spaces, while Vancouver 90% laneway house was built with the main house. Generally speaking, the cost of building a laneway house is not more than $300,000, and the construction period is also within one and a half years.
Touching Story of the Laneway House
On November 5, 2016, CBC reported that a 38-year-old Chinese native Vincent Chan and his wife, 32-year-old Jasmine Lee, and the 2-year-old daughter story of their laneway house.
Chan and Li have a 2-year-old daughter. Originally, this family of three wanted to buy a house, but because its prices were too high, especially for apartments and single houses, they could not find a house of the right size and price.
Later, Chan thought that he could build a laneway house in his parent’s single house in East Vancouver. After deliberation, his parents were very happy, so the life of these three generations “lived together” began.
Vancouver’s housing prices have been hot from the city center to the suburbs, with an average price of 1.5 million to 2 million for a single house, and the cost of building a laneway house is about $350,000. In Vancouver, most of the detached houses are located on the streets with back alleys, so there is plenty of room to build a small house in the backyard, but the city government stipulates that this laneway house cannot be sold.
Chan’s parents have a detached house near Commercial Street, close to the mall and the MRT station. It can be said that the location is very good. Usually, the size of the laneway house depends on the size of the house. According to his family, the city government agreed to build a 940-square-foot laneway house. This area of the laneway house is relatively large in Vancouver.
A year later, the couple’s laneway house was built, they moved into the house, and the house could lead to the backyard of their parents’ home. Li said that such a large outdoor venue is not available in apartments or townhouses.
Vancouver has been allowed to build such a laneway house since 2010, and 192 projects were approved in that year. More than 2,000 such laneway houses have been built in the city. When the policy was just implemented, the city government received many complaints.
Some neighbours complained that some of the higher-rise laneway houses exceeded the height of the backyard fence, which affected the privacy of neighbours. Later, the government made some changes to encourage people to build larger areas on the first floor, so that people can build as little as possible a half-type laneway house to avoid affecting neighbours. Now there are very few such complaints.
Some other cities around the city, such as Lower Mainland and Surrey, have followed the footsteps of Vancouver, allowing the establishment of such a laneway house. New Westminster is also considering passing the project.