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B.C. government to offer off-the-shelf designs for multi-unit homes

Standardized Housing Design Project will save time and money in the municipal permitting process, government says

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The B.C. government will offer homeowners and developers off-the-shelf designs for small, multi-unit homes to help save time and money as part of its push to densify housing across the province.

On Thursday, Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said standardized building designs would help streamline the permitting process.

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“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,” Kahlon said. “We will work to add additional designs in the coming years to ensure our communities remain vibrant and have a variety of housing options.”

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The B.C. NDP government recently introduced legislation that takes zoning authority away from large municipalities as a way to force the creation of more housing.

Once passed, the legislation will allow three to four units on land currently zoned for single-family homes and duplexes with as many as six units near bus stops with frequent service.

Kahlon said the government would select a consultant by the end of this year to develop parameters to create standardized housing designs. The consultant will also review those designs.

At least 10 standardized designs are expected to be available by summer 2024.

“The designs will comply with the B.C. 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,” Kahlon said.

“The designs will be created for various lot sizes and configurations to be widely applicable throughout B.C. and are expected to help builders and homeowners add increased density to their existing properties quickly and more affordably.”

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The NDP predicts that eliminating single-family zoning will deliver 130,000 new homes over the next 10 years.

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Between 1965 and 1985, the City of Vancouver offered a standard design for a detached home that came to be known as The Vancouver Special. The Vancouver Special was an architectural style of affordable home designed to maximize square footage on small lots.

About 10,000 of them were built in Vancouver.

— With file from Postmedia News

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