Blog by Maureen Stout, Ph.D.

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The Latest on Laneway Houses

Laneway homes (the homes over garages that you see in parts of the city) were first permitted in Vancouver four years ago, and since then, about 500 homes have been built. The idea was to provide another way to increase density in certain residential neighbourhoods, while providing new options for renters and, at the same time, another avenue for rental income for home owners, who had previously had to rely solely on basement suites or other secondary suites for income.

Not suprisingly, the reaction from residents has been mixed, with some homeowners welcoming the option of a second rental suite, and others not that keen on more density or the two storey structures at the back of their neighbour's property. It looks like increased densification is here to stay, however, and the City is now considering expanding the areas in which laneway homes can be built. However, to address the privacy issues for neighbours, the City is also encouraging the development of single level laneway homes, which will be less visually intrusive and may also offer larger living space (and therefore more income).

The debate over densification will no doubt continue, but laneway homes will be a help for people wanting to move from condos to houses - particularly on the westside. If, for example, you have a two bedroom basement suite that brings in $1500 or more a month, and now a laneway house that could bring in anywhere from approximately $750 to $1500 a month, that's a big chunk to help every month with the mortgage payments.

Do you have an experience with a laneway house? Let us know your thoughts!