Creative design

Opinion: Good planning, creative design solutions must lead the way

Increasing the supply of housing is usually the answer to meeting demand, and it is essential to endow this supply with a choice of forms of housing suited to rapidly changing conditions and changing needs of people. owners.

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Metro Vancouver’s housing market is at a feverish level again, and frustrations are running high at the area’s permit offices. Many homeowners and their builders / contractors are caught in massive delays associated with meeting a myriad of municipal requirements to allow continued construction or renovation of their homes.

Municipal and provincial governments continue to press for more reports and research funding as they recognize the system just isn’t working.

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But after many years of analysis and repeated studies by different agencies, administrations and industries, I think our housing needs are perfectly clear.

We need more social housing to meet the housing needs of disadvantaged people, and it is happening.

We absolutely need to dramatically increase supply and choice to achieve our regional growth goals.

We need to support specially designed rentals.

We need to ensure “soft densification” in underused urban areas and ensure higher densities along corridors and transit poles.

It is important to note that the social housing portion of the housing continuum is around 5-10%, and luxury buyers are in the range of 5-10%, leaving 80-90% of the “link”. missing ”underserved and potentially excluded from the market.

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Increasing supply is usually the answer to meeting demand, and it is essential to endow this supply with a choice of forms of housing suited to rapidly changing conditions and to the changing needs of landlords.

A necessary first step in meeting current housing needs is reducing or removing “barriers” from the planning department. We have witnessed the effectiveness of removing these barriers in the implementation of the Government of British Columbia’s temporary modular housing program started in 2017. As part of this initiative, modular housing was built. to vacant or underutilized sites in Vancouver in less than three months. I think if there is a will, there is a way. And where there is a winning solution, there are countless new applications.

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For example, Steve Kemp of Kemp Construction recently told me that panel wall systems similar to modular housing can be used in any new home, remodel or remodel project. Steve told me that his team recently completed a project where the owners wanted to stay in their traditional Pan Abode home, a 1960s red cedar modular home, but get rid of the drafts and increase the comfort, the space and light.

“When I saw the blueprints, I must have shaken my head,” admits Steve, praising Sarah Gallop Design, who had the vision to combine the old modular system with the new. “Once the foundation was laid, the extension using custom paneled walls was completed in a day rather than weeks if we had to frame and build on site.

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Steve explained to me that the walls, built in a controlled indoor environment to exacting standards, help eliminate construction risks, as potential design issues are detected up front – a winning process for advanced designs and unique like his Pan Abode project. .

Just as building science evolves, so too is the market. And our local governments must be nimble and responsive to meet the needs of our communities now and in the future. We learned from the pandemic last year that people are looking for healthier homes with more space. And for creative solutions to housing needs.

Kiff Mowat from Davenport Homes recently shared with me a project he described as very close to his home. Kiff teamed up with his brother to buy an old WWII cottage in North Vancouver, demolished the house, and built a duplex on the property to house their two young families who previously lived in apartments. Each home has a mortgage assistance suite that can easily be reconfigured into the main space as family dynamics change.

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By designing and building four homes on a single family lot, the Mowat brothers added value to the property while lowering the cost for each family to buy in the market. Having access to their own gardens and space for everyone to live and grow together is a plus.

“Living close to my brother’s family has been a real bonus during the pandemic as we’ve all been in the same bubble, and our families have really relied on each other and bonded,” he told me. Kiff.

This is just a creative example of a forward-looking city working with professional builders to find timely housing solutions. Good building planning and design – and a willingness within planning departments to overcome unnecessary obstacles – should lead the conversation. And winning examples like Kiff’s duplex and Steve’s modular home renovation prove to us that where there is a will, there is always a way.

Submitted by Ron Rapp, CEO, Vancouver Home Builders Association. Ron can be reached at [email protected] and Twitter @ HAVAN_PDG.

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