Thursday, July 30, 2009

Vancouver Laneway Housing Approved by City Council in July 2009 - Applications are $899 - Estimated Cost is $125k to Build Vancouver Laneway House

The City of Vancouver Approves Laneway Housing

As of July 2009, the City of Vancouver has approved the construction of Laneway Housing in the city. So home owners in Vancouver real estate market can start converting their laneway garages or extra space into cashflow rental housing under a new Vancovuer bylaw passed unanimously by city council on Tuesday, July 28, 2009. Albeit unanimous, the City of Vancouver now leads the way in North America for implementation of a bylaw that accepts and legalizes Laneway Housing to get out of a housing crunch that renters and home owners are currently experiencing in the city. According to Metro News Vancouver, Vancouver is the first city in all of the continent to approve this large scaled construction of laneway housing and was brought to the forefront by EcoDensity action item by the previous NPA council. After several public hearings, the City of Vancouver approved laneway housing as a way to increase non strata rental units in the city. Vancouver laneway housing will also for smaller, non strata rental Vancouver suites to be built in the lanes of ninety four per cent of the city’s single family lots. The new re-zoning of these single family home lots in Vancouver real estate market will allow more than 60,000 homeowners to build laneway housing on their property. According to CBC News, more than 70,000 home owners will be eligible to add new Vancouver laneway housing. There are 2 main stipulations and constraints of this housing bylaw though: the Vancouver laneway housing rental unit can only be used as a rental suite as well as can only take up the space that was originally planned for garage space along the back lane.

For information regarding the approval of Vancouver Basements Suites in the Sky - Legal Secondary Lock-Off Suites within Suites in downtown Vancouver, click here.

Vancouver Laneway Homes Come Across Some Road Blocks with BC Hydro

According to the Vancouver Sun, Vancouver laneway home owners are now facing a costly utility hook-up fee that is being proposed by BC Hydro. The approval of the Vancouver laneway homes or coach homes earlier this year came at a time when City Council wanted to increase density within the city in order to bump up the rental housing stock without having to rezone or build apartment buildings. However, BC Hydro wants to charge about $20,000 to hook up their services for a Vancouver laneway home. As far as homeowners are concerned, this new development of BC Hydro charching $20k for the hook-up of utilities for laneway homes is definitely something surprising and new. According to the original Vancouver laneway home proposal, the City Council approved that homeowners and contractors could use existing BC Hydro hook-ups from their main homes to the garden cottages or coach homes. On the other hand BC Hydro has stated that the power lines and poles do not have the capacity to service the influx of laneway housing in Vancouver. As part of the Vancouver EcoDensity charter, the laneway house proposal was being allowed for single family lots where homeowners could build completely separate laneway homes or coach houses for rental purposes only. The idea of the Vancouver EcoDensity charter was to provide sustainable and environmentally friendly rental housing stock within the city itself and also become mortgage helpers for current city home owners. The estimated cost of building a Vancouver laneway house according to current trades materials and trades rates is about $110,000 or slightly over one hundred thousand dollars. With the BC Hydro fee for service hook-ups between $8,000 to even $20,000, this could bump up the cost of the laneway house construction by more than 20%! Originally, a service extension was proposed from the main house to the laneway home for a fee of about $500 - $600, which is much less. For an underground link between the two homes, it would be roughly $600 - $1,700, still much less than a new service connection to the Vancouver laneway house. This issue is still unresolved, so stay tuned for more news updates.

More About the Approved Legal Vancouver Laneway Housing Bylaw

According to Gregor Robertson, the mayor of Vancouver, the standard lot for a single family home can see the construction of a single laneway rental suite in Vancouver up to five hundred square feet in size. This 500 sq ft is the interior square footage or floor space that is allowed under the current Vancouver laneway housing bylaw and can only be built up one and a half stories/levels high (kind of a loft style floor plan). In the previous NPA council, Sam Sullivan, the previous major of Vancouver set the eco-density intitiative going and now, the government has seen it through. This positive green initiative is supposedly more environmentally friendly as it allows for more non-strata rental suites to be built on current single family Vancouver lots and allows for more affordable rental units that are located within the city. Through some current surveys, it was noted that more than two thirds of Vancouver city residents approved and agreed with the Vancouver laneway housing changes. Opponents of laneway housing in Vancouver cite both congestion and parking as key issues and problems that may result in this new legislation. According to the city councillors, laneway housing in Vancouver is important so that there is a great mix of rental units in the city and allows singles, couples and families to properly migrate into various housing types through their life, allowing them to stay in a specific Vancouver neighbourhood throughout their entire lifetimes. In addition, the newly approved Vancouver laneway housing bylaw will help the city’s low vacancy rates for rental suites, which have been below five per cent for decades now in this housing crunch.

The Next Steps for Vancouver Laneway Housing Applications and Approvals

For current Vancouver home owners who wish to build laneway housing on their lots, the approval process should be quite easy and quick. Remember that laneway housing in Vancouver will allow homeowners to built secondary suites in the back of their property and rent them out as mortgage helpers or positive cashflow, while supplying the Vancouver rental market with new suites that are affordable and well located. The City of Vancouver will start accepting applications for laneway housing construction projects in Vancouver starting Wednesday, July 29, 2009. A Vancouver laneway housing permit will cost only $899. The estimated cost for building a legal laneway house in Vancouver will be between the price point of $125,000 to $200,000 according to previous studies done. The Vancouver laneway house will also need to be inspected by the city in order for the occupancy permit to be allowed. These new rental suites will increase the number of new rental homes in the City of Vancouver, along with basement suites as well as the lock-off suites in condos (or basement suites in the sky) that are currently being contemplated by Vancouver city council for the downtown core. Remember that you can only get approved permits for Vancouver laneway house if you own a single family lot in the city. In addition, you must be living in the primary house yourself and the laneway house can only be a maximum of 500 sq ft costing at least $125k to build and properly finish. The Vancouver laneway house can only occupy the space reserved for a garage, and must have a separate entry that does not point in the same direction as the house entrance. You must also provide one off-street parking space for the renter in your new Vancouver laneway house for it to be approved.

More information about Burnaby Secondary Lock-Off Suites is located here.

Vancouver Approves Secondary Houses on Single Family Homes
Under discussion for years already, the City of Vancouver finally approves secondary laneway houses on single family lots that will allow up to 70,000 Vancouver home owners to create detached mortgage helpers on a standard thirty three foot lot. The Vancouver laneway houses can be up to 500 square feet in size and 1.5 stories high that will hopefully create more sustainable and green rental housing within the city itself. Hundreds of Vancouver homeowners have already applied for the secondary houses and Vancouver laneway housing permits that will cost you $899. Builders of these Vancouver laneway houses expect construction costs to run anywhere between $125,000 to $200,000. According to realtors, a completed laneway house on a Vancouver lot will increase the potential sales value of the house as the mortgage helper can add anywhere from $1250 to $1750 per month in rental income. Some senior homeowners who still own their single family home may consider building a Vancouver laneway house or secondary house, move into it and then rent out the main single family home on the lot to generate income during retirement.

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