Answers to your questions about building a lane or laneway house in Vancouver.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a laneway house?
A lane or laneway house is a small home or cottage-like structure located at the rear of a property lot. Basically, a lane house replaces a current structure like a garage or carport. A laneway house is a great solution for families who need more space, or who need secondary income through a rental, and they offer an affordable solution for Vancouver’s growing population of new residents.
Why did the city pass this new initiative?
The city recognizes the challenges people face in providing liveable spaces to support family members. It also wants to provide more affordable living solutions for new residents as the density increases in Vancouver. Through its eco-density program lane houses became a clear winner out of all the choices the city examined.
Smallworks has been participating with both city councillors and with the city engineers to improve understanding of the concept of laneway houses and its positive impact on the city and in developing building specs based on feedback from potential customers.
How does the zoning work for lane houses?
Zoning differs by municipality but in Vancouver:
- property must be zoned for single family residential: RS-1. RS-2, RS-3, RS-4, RS-5, RS-6, or RS-7
- property must be at least 32’-2” (9.8m) wide
- property must be adjacent to a open lane or flanking sidestreet
Find out about the size and zoning of your property.
How will a lane house on my property impact my taxes?
Based on communication from the city we do not anticipate any significant impact on property taxes. Because this initiative is open to anyone who falls under the appropriate zoning (close to 95% of homes in Vancouver) the property tax on land value will not change because of a laneway house.
If you are looking at the option of building a laneway house, we do recommend that you visit the city of Vancouver planning website to review criteria and potential impact.
How did Smallworks get involved in building laneway houses?
Over the years, Jake Fry, one of the founders of Smallworks, recognized that current home building concepts would not meet Vancouver’s needs. The city needed alternative solutions. He wanted to build homes that would provide new and affordable living opportunities and, more importantly, would provide families with a home solution that would meet their changing needs. He recognized that more and more these days families need more space for parents and/or children who need support and may be looking to live closer to one another.
How long has Smallworks been building lane houses?
Smallworks is Vancouver’s first and most established builder of laneway houses and we have been building laneway houses in the area for many years. See our Our Houses for more information on the projects we have completed.
How long has Smallworks been involved in building houses?
The team at Smallworks has over 40 years combined experience in home building and renovations. We have focused specifically on building smaller homes for the last 7 years.
What makes Smallworks different from other builders?
We specialize in building laneway houses and small homes. We are also a complete design build company. We manage and execute all aspects of the development and building of laneway houses and small backyard homes. For more informtion, see the “Why Choose Smallworks?” section under our About Us page.
How environmental are Smallworks homes?
We build in a sustainable manner. Our base design takes advantage of many of the sustainable building practices and fixtures available today. We also provide many options for our clients who want to build in a sustainable manner. More on our commitment to sustainable building.
Do you build to my specs?
We have a number of designs to choose from that are in accordance with city zoning and provide both exterior and interior options that will likely allow for all your needs. However, if you have more specific demands, we will develop custom solutions for your laneway home.
Do you use local suppliers and materials?
Yes. Smallworks uses local suppliers and materials at all times. Not only is this good for the local economy but it is also makes good business sense as it ensures sustainability. More on our commitment to sustainable building.