The urban laneway has been experiencing a renaissance.
As more and more urbanites living on single-family lots ditch their cars, the garages and driveways behind their houses seem less like conveniences and more like wasted opportunities. Enter the laneway house, which turns car shelter into people shelter (and rental income).
For half a decade, Vancouver has been at the forefront of the laneway revolution. Back on On June 28, 2009, as part of its EcoDensity initiative, Vancouver's city council passed a bylaw permitting the conversion of laneway garages into residential units. Under the bylaw, 70,000 properties became potential candidates for the new type of housing. Still, every month, Vancouver's permit department processes up to 80 applications for laneway housing.
Image courtesy of Superkul - Gradient House
Laneway housing says a couple of things about how our values are changing. First, the the original bylaw suggested that creating more housing without expanding outward is a priority for the city, in addition to building green and aspiring to better sustainability. Secondly, in terms of the residents themselves, they are embracing the 'closeness' of housing. No longer is having a big patch of grass and a fence between you and your neighbours seen as crucial. People are embracing proximity as they seek to transcend the alienation that urban life sometimes brings.
The Laneway Housing Tour gives Vancouverites the chance to experience "living on the lane", and to see how, in the midst of a housing crisis, this type of housing could help save heritage properties as well; builders may not be able to touch the original structure on heritage properties, but building a laneway house could be a great compromise! And let's not forget that every laneway house that is rented out is one less apartment unit that might need to be built where Vancouver's heritage buildings currently stand. Laneway homes won't solve the problem of underhousing by itself, but it is one of the most cost-effective ways, in terms of tax dollars spent, to increase the supply of housing.
So, this weekend, join your neighbours this weekend on a self-guided tour inside examples new and old of gentle densification on heritage properties. In 2016, the tour includes six lane homes all built behind existing homes. It will also open up five examples of great design in small spaces which show how tiny residences can be part of the conservation of a character neighbourhood, by allowing families to stay together and offering space for new families to move in. This tour offers an exceptional chance to explore the options available, both current and historic, in different residential zones. Experts in the financing and building of lane homes will be on site to answer any questions you may have. Here are the details:
• Saturday October 22nd, 2016
• Tickets $30 or $23 with valid student ID
* Buy tickets HERE
Do you or someone you know live in a house that may be a good fit for one of their tours? They are continually searching for great examples of heritage or character, mid-century modern design, sympathetic lane homes behind heritage homes, or renovated Vancouver Specials to open on thier tours. If you’d like to know more, or have your home considered for inclusion on a future tour, contact them at 604 264 9642 or by email.
Love Laneways? Take a look at other houseporn.ca posts on the topic:
Ulama Hassan's coverage of Studio Junction's transformation of a concrete block structure on a Toronto Laneway into an inviting courtyard house, Taghreed Al-Zubaidi's Jones Avenue Laneway House by Sustainable.TO, and Josh Patlik's round-up of laneway homes across the country
Also, if you're interested in this type of housing, then CMHC's Livable Lanes research is worth the read.
~ Steven Fudge, the purveyor of houseporn.ca and proprietor of urbaneer.com, a division of Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage.
* If you're a lover of real estate consider checking out my Toronto blog at Urbaneer.com for more real estate insight and information, as well as valuable content on housing, culture and design!