The Wall Street Journal has been paying attention to the small home trend. And, clever capitalists as they are, they have put the article behind a paywall. Scamps.
Video interview with article author, Conor Dougherty.
But writer Conor Dougherty seems to be quite impressed with our laneway homes.
Ajay Kumar built a $300,000, Moroccan-themed cottage that sits in his backyard and will soon be occupied by his parents.
Mr. Kumar’s “laneway house” is part of a broader plan that encourages Vancouver homeowners to add rental units in their basements, attics and backyards. The hope is to reduce sky-high housing costs and increase population density throughout the city—including the single-family-home neighborhoods like Mr. Kumar’s that surround the city’s towering downtown.
During the past two decades, Vancouver’s main approach to add housing has been to go up, constructing scores of downtown condo towers. Recently the city has started rezoning arterial streets to allow more compact row houses.
The city took a step toward increasing density in single-family neighborhoods in the 1980s, when it first allowed basement suites. Since 2009, it has reduced the amount of time it takes to get a permit for basement apartments and permitted laneway homes like Mr. Kumar’s throughout the city.
The article also acknowledges that not everyone is crazy about the idea.
A dozen blocks away, Ronald Hatch also lives next to a laneway home, and he hates it. Mr. Hatch, 73, a retired literature professor, says the two-story home shades his backyard, reducing his raspberry crop.
I can see his point. I know I would hate it if I had someone build a home that overlooked a formerly open back yard. But you don’t have to build a laneway to get that effect. Who has not seen huge, behemoth homes taking up more space vertically and horizontally in these older neighbourhoods? The zoning is in place.
Getting more people into the city can be done in a number of ways. You can build more smaller homes or fewer large ones, or some kind of combination of the two.
I’m prejudiced of course, but I prefer the charm of the laneway homes to the giant houses that can take over a neighbourhood.