Living on the Lane

By Alyse Nelson

Akua Schatz and Brendon Purdy’s dream was to live near relatives, but they couldn’t afford a home in Vancouver, BC’s Dunbar neighborhood. Instead of moving to the suburbs, they decided to build a 500-square-foot laneway home in Brendon’s parents’ backyard.

Rental - Exterior Lane

Brendon and Akua’s laneway home, view from the alley, photo used with permission from http://buildsmall.blogspot.com

A few years ago, this wouldn’t have been an option for the young couple. Rules for laneway houses, as these backyard cottages are called in Vancouver, were adopted in 2009. Laneway homes are small backyard cottages that face alleys in traditional single-family neighborhoods. The density is hidden from the main neighborhood streets, leaving the appearance of Vancouver’s single-family neighborhoods intact. But while you might not see this hidden density, it could have a huge effect on the number of people able to call Vancouver home – nearly 70,000 single-family lots are eligible for an additional dwelling unit.

The Vancouver regulations allow a one-bedroom 500 square-foot laneway house on 33-foot by 122-foot single-family lots. The larger 50-foot wide lots can have a two-bedroom 750 square-foot cottage. Continue reading