Frances Bula header image 2

Laneway homes turning into laneway mini-McMansions for some

June 23rd, 2010 · 12 Comments

The laneway houses have started to go up — 89 permits issued so far, despite some road bumps along the way — and a few of them are raising eyebrows with their size and ornate look.  (My story on this here.)

I know some people have been opposed to them from day one and so are not going to like them in reality any more than they did in theory. But others who had thought they were a good idea are taken aback by what’s going up.

One piece of info that I couldn’t squeeze into this story was my conversation with Jake Fry, the Smallworks owner who has been a proponent of laneway houses since the beginning. Jake told me that, although he prefers the smaller houses, he can see in some ways why people are choosing the larger ones.

It turns out that it’s costing people around $40,000 to do prep work for the laneway houses. A rule that was meant to apply mainly to people building new principal houses is catching the laneway houses, so that they’re having to put in separated sewer and storm water lines from their property out to the city main. (It’s ironic, too, since the laneway houses, built on slabs, don’t have stormwater drains built in around them the way regular houses do; the water just drains into rock filters.)

Between the cost of excavation for the new lines and the permitting for the sewers and other things, it’s quite a hefty bill. Once people have spent that kind of money before even starting to build, they’re going big, says Jake.

The Zagross Construction owner I spoke to in the story said it costs about $120,000 to $200,000 to build the laneway houses, depending on how elaborate you decide to make the finishings. But she said it looked like a good investment to her. She figured you make your money back on your investment by Year 10 and after that, any rental income you make is pure profit.

Categories: Uncategorized