OneSEED-C2-Blog-13-03-07 KYZ02 laneway

March 7, 2013 ... Know your zoning: Can I build a laneway house?

With the high price of owning a house or townhouse in Vancouver, many owners are looking to laneway houses to provide a detached home for their parents or aging children right on their property.  With the average cost of construction for a two bedroom laneway house between $250 000 and $350 000, it is not a cheap proposition, but it is also not a bad deal compared with townhouses available on the real estate market.  Keep in mind that laneway houses cannot be stratified or strata-titled, which means they cannot be sold separately from the house or property.  Examples of strata-titled developments include townhouses, condos, and duplexes, where each owner has the right to sell their own unit.  Laneway houses can also provide a passive source of income as a rental suite.  The potential payback period for your initial capital investment depends on your location and how you design and build the laneway house (hire a great architect!).

If you are considering building a laneway house, here are some of the criteria your lot needs to meet:

  • zoned RS-1 or RS-5
  • minimum lot width of 33 feet wide
  • minimum of 16 feet clear between the house and the laneway house, that would likely require approximately a minimum of 42 feet from the rear property line to the back of your house or porch.
  • back yard accessible from an open lane or rear street, or on a corner lot served by an open or dedicated lane
  • able to provide a fire access (a path), minimum 3 feet wide, from the street to the laneway house, along the side of the main house

Laneway houses are considered ‘Conditional Approved Uses’ and as such, the City of Vancouver will have more influence on the design of the laneway house, than they would on an ‘Outright Approved Use’, such as a garage. Learn more with this handy how-to guide and as always, hire an architect experienced in laneway house design and permitting, like One SEED, to guide you through the design and permitting process.  KYZ Disclaimer