News / Vancouver

Vancouver issues more than 1,000 laneway house permits

When they decided to build a laneway house on their East Vancouver property to earn extra rental income, David and Christine Neely worried what their neighbours would think.

At first, there was a lot of concern about additional density and loss of parking, David said Sunday. Plus the couple wondered if they’d miss the extra yard space for their young children.

But three years later, the Neelys have had “no problems or concerns whatsoever” regarding the yellow, 500 square-foot one bedroom plus den they rent to a couple with a baby for about $1,500 a month.

Theirs is a common story as laneway houses become more popular across Vancouver, with 1,049 laneway house permits issued as of July 2013, the city announced Sunday.

The city touts laneway housing as an affordable way to boost the rental stock.

“With laneway housing you’re no longer destined to have to rent somebody’s musty old basement,” Coun. Kerry Jang told Metro.

Jang was, however, surprised at how popular laneway houses have been, how quietly they’ve slipped into neighbourhoods and how few complaints he’s received.

“Clearly there’s an appetite for them,” he said.

The homes, which cost between $150,000 to $350,000 to build, are affordable for younger families when compared to a condo though they’re clearly not social housing, said Jake Fry of Smallworks, a laneway house builder.

Public opinion regarding laneway housing has changed “dramatically” since the first permit was issued in 2009, Fry said.

Laneway houses have a low impact as they accommodate more people and help rejuvenate areas while keeping that “neighbourhood feel,” he said.

As the city grapples with opposition to neighbourhood plans that call for an increase in density, couples like the Neelys see laneway housing as a compromise between no change and the introduction of condos.

“We think this is a nice happy medium to provide density but still be able to keep single family homes,” David said.

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