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Monthly Archives: June 2012

New city regulations for housing

One of the ugly surprises I received when looking into building the laneway house was how much it will cost to get the city services hooked up.  Between surveyors, gas, power, sewer, etc. it could run as high as $20K.

So I am hoping the new regulations the City of Vancouver is implementing will streamline the process — and make it cheaper.  According to two professors at the Sauder School of Business at UBC.

The recommendations that charge the city with finding ways to speed up the development process, reduce fees and red tape, standardize procedures and encourage the market to provide more diverse housing forms are most welcome.

These recommendations all address the greatest barrier to the supply of new and more diverse housing: the city itself.

In this editorial they offer a glimmer of hope that, by the time we plan to build, things will be easier for us and our designer/builder. AffordabilityInitiative_VancouverSun_Somerville&Davidoff_20120628


Why a laneway home?

First of all, let me tell you that I do not have permission to use the image on this post.  It is by a lady named Anni Morris who lives in New Zealand, and I like it and she made the mistake of making it Google-able, so I have grabbed it. Thanks, Anni!

A number of serendipitous and calamitous events have led me here.

Event 1:  Vancouver Real Estate Fatigue

We love our condo.  We love the neighbourhood.  We love the layout.  We love the fact that it has more than doubled in value since we bought it.  That is the great thing about Vancouver real estate — if you buy at the right time you can make serious money on your abode.

But we are tired of the mortgage payments on our little condo.  We want to use that money elsewhere — travel, dining out, really good scotch — and that means getting out of the mortgage game.  But — and this is the lousy thing about Vancouver real estate — everything else we might want to buy costs more than our equity would cover.  So if we sold this place and took our equity, we could never find anything we could afford within 100 miles of here that we would actually live in.  And we want to live in the city we love — everyone does — that is why the real estate market is so crazy — so many people want to live here.

Event 2: Laneway Houses

The city of Vancouver has recognized the ugly truth of the real estate market here and is allowing home owners to build small homes in their back yards.  (Note to readers in Great Britain and Ireland — in North America the yard is the area in front or behind your home, which you would term a “garden”). These homes are very small — 550 – 750 square feet — but they can be built for under $300K.

So there you have it.  A way out of our dilemma.  Getting our own little cottage right in the city that would be all ours (or with a very small mortgage).  All we needed was a back yard to put it in.

Enter the Daughter and Son-In-Law.  They have a home in East Vancouver, and would like to have a laneway home built on it, and would love if we built one there.

After many conversations and discussions and chats and a couple of tète-à-tète-à-tète-à-tètes we have agreed that we all get along very well and it will be nice to have a family compound that we can share.  They need some work done on their basement and yard, we need construction of a home, we should do this all together.

So we are starting to begin to build a laneway house.  All we need is a builder.  And the money.  And a tenants in common agreement.

Should be a snap.

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Artist and Desert Dweller with Big City Style.

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