The B.C. government is hoping a new approach will help entice people to build new homes.
The province’s Standardized Housing Design Project lays out standard home designs that will enable builders to cut down on design costs and approval times.
“We’re trying to get the building process moved faster so that anyone, whether they’re a new building or a very experienced builder, can take a set design and get it straight through the local government to get it approved,” Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon explained Thursday.
Kahlon says the program is similar to the post-war CMHC Catalogue of Homes, adding B.C. will offer as many as 10 repeatable designs, which are customizable, to start for laneway homes, duplexes, and triplexes.
The first plans will be ready to go starting next year, he adds.
“These designs can be adopted by local governments and offered to builders and homeowners at a significantly below-market cost to expedite permitting and development,” the B.C. government explains. It notes the templates can “substantially streamline the permitting process.”
Homebuilders Association Vancouver (HAVAN) CEO Ron Rapp says the organization fully supports the approach, and expects the designs will not be a repeat of Vancouver Specials — best-known for their unique two-storey, split brick on the bottom and stucco on the top, architectural design.
“I think that there’s going to be a little bit more creativity that comes to bear here,” he told CityNews.
“I think this is an excellent initiative that will contribute greatly to being able to reduce the costs as well as cut down on the time of being able to introduce some of these accessory dwelling unit initiatives that have been announced by the province.”
Jake Fry, who specializes in building laneway homes, says the plan could save people tens of thousands of dollars on design costs and give confidence the project won’t be held up in approvals.
“So that people could … have some surety about, ‘I’m going to be able to do this in a set period of time,’ ‘The project should take me this long,’” he explained.
“This is the way that we get these projects into the neighbourhoods in a more expeditious manner.”
The province says it will add more designs in the coming years, with the goal of ensuring more homes are built and that “communities remain vibrant” with variety.
The Standardized Housing Design Project follows legislation that was recently introduced that, if pasbsed, would allow for multiple units on land currently zoned for single-family homes and duplexes, as well as changes to builds near transit hubs.
The B.C. government says the designs that will be put together “will comply with the BC Building Code and are expected to be as close as possible to building-permit ready, recognizing minor amendments may be required by local designers or architects to take into account specific site conditions.”