August 22, 2013

What you need to know about building a Laneway

Laneway Changes

Another custom laneway nearing completion by Wallmark Custom Homes

Considering building a laneway home in Vancouver or a carriage home in North Vancouver? Wallmark's team approach to custom home building as well as our fixed price guarantee, interior design services and our no obligation consultation are available for your custom laneway home too. Call us today if you have any questions about laneway home building or about our process.

With one of our most recent laneway homes coming to a finish in the upcoming month, we thought we would update you on the building regulation changes that laneway homes regulations went through in May. The changes were in response to 3 common public concerns;
the height of the laneways, parking & how parking was being used,
and where you are allowed to build a laneway.

How high can a laneway home be built now?

If you want to build a custom single storey laneway home then the height restriction is 12 -15 ft, (depending on if your roof will be flat or peaked) and if you want to build a one & a half storey laneway, then your height restriction is 18-20ft.

These new restrictions are intended to address the many many many concerns of neighbours about the height of laneways, and reduces the shadowing as well as overlooking on neighbours backyards.

What about parking for my laneway?

If you are building a laneway, you will have to provide one onsite unenclosed and uncovered parking space beside your laneway home. The regulation was created in response to many concerns about enclosed garages being used for living purposes instead of for the use of vehicles. Keeping in mind that the one of the main reasons that laneways were created was to be sustainable, these uncovered parking places must also be made up of permeable surfaces and not paved.

Can I build a laneway  home on my lot? A common question for those homeowners who are interested in building a laneway on their property. Since the beginning laneways were allowed on RS 1 And Rs 5 lots, but since May the city has allowed for laneway homes to be built on nearly 98% of the residential lots in Vancouver. If you are curious now to know whether you are eligible for a laneway phone the Enquiry Center at 604-873-7611.

Because you most likely live in a residential zone that allows for laneways, there are also other building regulations about the size, depth and position of your main house that can also affect your ability to build a laneway home.

One of the most critical guidelines is the requirement that your laneway start at least 16 feet from the main house, allowing for backyard space and privacy. If you are building a one & a half storey laneway home, then this distance is extended and you must build your laneway 22ft from the main house.

For more information on the regulations regarding building a laneway home, check out the Vancouver City's website.

Additional information on Laneways

A laneway is a small home on the rear of the lot, and more specifically it is a dwelling unit with a parking accessory off of the lane. The City of Vancouver has allowed for them to be built in addition to a secondary suite that may or many not exist in the main home.

In addition to being used as an additional family space or for extra income, laneways are providing more stock for rental units in the city, and allowing for more people to live closer to downtown reducing the amount of transportation costs.

What is the major difference between laneways in North Vancouver and those in Vancouver?

Size restrictions. North Van has two types of laneways that can be built, a level "A" with up to 1000sq ft on two levels and a level "B" with up to 800 sq ft on one level. Vancouver however, is capped at 900 sq ft total with those homes that are 1.5 storeys tall having less square feet in total.

Placement on lots. For instance in Vancouver the laneway home must be placed on a lot that has access to the lane, and in such a way that the home has access to the lane. However, in North Vancouver the laneway doesn’t necessarily need to be built on a lot that has a laneway.

Secondary Suites. Interestingly, in Vancouver you can build laneways in addition to secondary basement suites whereas in North Vancouver you can choose to build a laneway OR a secondary basement suite, but not both.