B.C. developing ‘standardized designs’ for new homes in effort to cut costs

B.C. developing ‘standardized designs’ for new homes in effort to cut costs
Province of B.C./Flickr
Examples of what multiple standardized design homes on a single lot could look like are shown.

The province is working on creating “standardized designs” for small-scale homes to help reduce costs for developers and municipalities.

The designs – for projects like townhomes, triplexes, multi-unit homes and laneway homes – are intended to give developers cheaper options for building multiple homes on a single lot.

“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,” said the province in a release Thursday.

While the designs will be standardized and “as close as possible to building-permit ready,” they will have room for some customization and can be altered depending on specific site conditions.

The province plans to create up to 10 designs in the coming year, with more in the future to add variety for residents and builders.

“In order to address our housing crisis, we must use innovative solutions to enable housing to be built faster,” said B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon in a release Thursday.

“Having standardized building designs available can help streamline the permitting process,” he said.

Planning for 2024

The province issued a request for proposal for a consultant on Nov. 15.

The consultant will help with liaising between industry workers and local governments on the standardized housing designs.

The request for proposals will close on Dec. 13, and after that the consultation period will run for nine months.

The province hopes to have design services ready by spring 2024, with the final designs and plans ready for local governments by summer 2024.

The designs will be for both urban and suburban lots, with a maximum of four units per single lot.


Meanwhile, the province says it has also started a separate project to develop guidebooks for local governments on how to develop their own pre-approval process for homes, and provide tips for homeowners and small-scale developers on how to add density to single lots with the new standardized designs.

“Small Housing’s research shows that standardized designs for laneway homes and multiplexes can reduce uncertainty and costs for builders by significantly simplifying permitting, saving builders and local governments time and money,” said Tamara White, executive director of the non-profit group Small Housing.

“They also can raise aesthetic and energy efficiency design standards and help community members imagine what new housing options can look like in their neighbourhoods,” she said.

Adam ChanAdam Chan

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