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.
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 »
Micro-lofts and Housing Affordability
Burns Block is an innovative market rental housing project built by Vancouver companies Reliance Properties and ITC Construction Group. Located at the site of the historic Burns Block in the Gastown neighborhood of the Downtown Eastside, the building dates back 100 years and is on the Vancouver Heritage Register. The building features 30 self-contained affordable furnished market rental suites or “micro-lofts.” Suites range from 226 – 291 sq. ft., making them the smallest in Canada. The spatially-efficient design contains built-in, pull-down wall beds with integrated folding tables, flat screen televisions, compact appliances, ample storage and built-in safes for storing valuables. Typical rental value for each suite is $850 per month, including cable and Internet, and starts as low as $760 per month. The building is 18,000 sq. ft and has five floors. The majority of occupants are between the ages of 25 and 35 and include students and those working in the heart of the downtown area.
While the former use of Burns Block was for a Single Room Occupancy hotel (SRO) with shared facilities, suites in the redeveloped building each contain a “wet” bathroom and full kitchen. The building also features a rooftop garden, basement gym, bicycle storage and several environmentally-friendly elements. The Bitter Tasting Room, owned by Heather Hospitality Group, is conveniently located on the ground floor of the building, which also includes 1,421 sq. ft. of future retail space. Continue Reading »
Smallworks Studios/Laneway Housing Inc. is a design and building company based in Vancouver, Canada. They specialize in small homes and laneway houses which are small cottages or homes that are built on the rear of a property lot, usually behind another house. Their designs range from around 100 square feet to 750 square feet.
Smallworks takes an active role in the entire process of building a small home including site inspection, custom design, permit applications, in house millwork, pre-fab and flat pack material delivery and on site construction management. The company uses LEED accredited designers and will walk a customer through various sustainability and green building options. Premium upgrades for each project include lifetime warranty metal roofing, upgraded siding, millwork and furniture packages and bamboo flooring. Continue Reading »
Bowen Island seems to be an attraction for tiny houses. It’s home to the Eco-Shed by James Glave and is now home to the Quarters house by industrial designer Amanda Huynh in collaboration with Anna Gukov, Lydia Cambron and Emilie Madill. Following nearly a semester of intense research in materials, compact housing and the homelessness epidemic in Vancouver, a full-scale, timber-framed unit was built to house 1-2 residents in need of a simple shelter.
The 8 foot by 8 foot structure has a built-in sleeping loft, a readily available 5-gallon bucket wash basin, a City of Vancouver rain water barrel and modular furniture, which could be easily configured to create a second sleeping space. Because the individual unit does not provide running water or electricity to reduce cost, it would function best in a community of such dwellings with central kitchen/washroom facilities. Continue Reading »