Coach House / Laneway House Regulations

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This project studied coach house regulations across Metro Vancouver and tested multiple lot, form, and building envelope conditions to help inform new coach house guidelines in a municipal setting.

What is a coach house/laneway house?

Coach house, laneway house, carriage house, garden cottage are all names for a secondary dwelling unit usually on a single family lot. These buildings are usually not strata titled and require the landowner to reside on site, either in the coach house or in the main house. Many municipalities are looking to establish coach houses as a less intrusive way of increasing the residential capacity of neighbourhoods and offering more housing choice, while maintaining their suburban character.

What does a coach house/laneway house look like?

In most cases, coach houses are required to be subordinate to the main house in terms of location and size. Some municipalities may require that the style of the secondary unit match or reflect the main dwelling. Some municipalities encourage new building methods and aesthetics.

What are some pros and cons of a coach house/laneway house?

Proponents of coach houses enjoy the ability to house multiple generations of the family in one place, the mixture of housing types, affordable ground oriented living for singles and couples. Opponents of coach houses dislike the traffic and parking issues associated with the increased density of the neighbourhood and are wary of the tenants that may occupy these spaces.

How do I get a coach house/laneway house?

The process to obtaining a coach house differs in every municipality. Some may require a re-zoning application, some may require a staff-approved application, some may already be granted and only requiring a development application. It is best to talk to your local planner to see what the necessary steps are. They can advise you on the required documents, soft costs associated with permitting, architectural design, and the likelihood of a successful application.

More information on coach house/laneway house?

The following are some links on coach house/laneway house, mostly in a Metro Vancouver context.