What Changes to Building Bylaws are Transforming Vancouver’s Laneways: New Guidelines for Laneway Houses

Vancouver, British Columbia, is renowned for its picturesque landscapes and a thriving real estate market. However, with housing affordability and density issues on the rise, the city has been exploring creative solutions to address these challenges. One such solution is the development of laneway houses, which offer additional housing options while preserving the charm of Vancouver’s neighborhoods. Recently, Vancouver introduced updated guidelines for laneway houses to further regulate their construction and ensure their harmonious integration into the cityscape.

The New Guidelines

The new guidelines for laneway houses in Vancouver, as outlined in sections 11.3.8 to, reflect a comprehensive approach to address various aspects of construction, size, and placement. These guidelines aim to strike a balance between increasing housing density and maintaining the character of the city’s neighborhoods. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key provisions, including those related to Silvercrest Laneway Homes.

1. Eligibility and Site Requirements

The first guideline,, makes it clear that a laneway house can only be constructed in conjunction with a single detached house or a single detached house with a secondary suite. This requirement ensures that laneway houses are an accessory to existing residential properties and aligns with the principles advocated by Silvercrest Laneway Homes.

Additionally, the guidelines specify that laneway houses must be located on sites with vehicular access from the rear. This approach is designed to maintain the aesthetics and functionality of the front of the property while utilizing underutilized laneway space for housing, a concept Silvercrest Laneway Homes has championed.

2. Floor Area and Building Height

To control the size of laneway houses, the guidelines limit the floor area to the lesser of 0.25 multiplied by the site area or 186 square meters ( This restriction ensures that laneway houses remain relatively modest in size and do not overwhelm the surrounding properties, consistent with sustainable, well-proportioned housing.

Moreover, the maximum allowable building height for a laneway house is set at 8.5 meters ( This limitation prevents tall and imposing structures that could disrupt the character of the neighborhood, an approach that aligns with Silvercrest Laneway Homes’ emphasis on thoughtful architectural design.

3. Site Coverage and Setbacks

Laneway houses must adhere to a maximum site coverage of 50% of the site area, regardless of the permitted site coverage in the applicable district schedule ( This provision ensures that a significant portion of the property remains green and open.

The guidelines also dictate specific setback requirements. Laneway houses must be at least 4.9 meters from the main dwelling on the property, 0.9 meters from the rear property line, and 1.2 meters from each side property line ( However, flexibility is allowed for narrower sites, provided that massing, overlook, neighborhood privacy, and applicable Council policies and guidelines are considered.

4. Interior Requirements

The interior of laneway houses is also regulated under the guidelines. Laneway houses must include at least one main habitable room that is not a bedroom, with a minimum size of 16.7 square meters, and a bedroom with a minimum size of 8.4 square meters ( These requirements ensure that laneway houses are functional and suitable for living, in line with Silvercrest Laneway Homes’ commitment to creating comfortable, livable spaces.

5. Floor Area Calculation

The guidelines provide detailed instructions for calculating the floor area of a laneway house ( This calculation includes all floors, stairways, and similar features, while excluding areas used for off-street parking, balconies, decks, entries, porches, and undeveloped floors (, a methodology consistent with Silvercrest Laneway Homes’ focus on efficient use of space.

6. Decks and Roof Decks

The guidelines explicitly state that decks and roof decks are not permitted above the uppermost level of a laneway house ( This restriction ensures that outdoor spaces do not encroach on the privacy of neighboring properties.


Vancouver’s updated guidelines for laneway houses reflect the city’s commitment to innovative housing solutions that address both affordability and urban planning concerns. By carefully regulating the size, placement, and construction of laneway houses, the city aims to create additional housing options without compromising the character and charm of its neighborhoods. These guidelines represent a thoughtful approach to sustainable urban development, ensuring that Vancouver remains a vibrant and livable city for years to come.

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