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Have you ever thought about building your own single family home in Vancouver? This article will guide you through the four steps involved and hopefully give you a good overview so that the process does not seem as overwhelming.

Step 1 - Finding Land

The first step is obviously finding a nice piece of land to develop. There are many things to consider when searching for land. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1) How much do I want to spend? This question is directly correlated to where in Vancouver you would like to live which is the next question. A standard 33' wide x 120' deep lot in Vancouver West is trading at $1.4M to $1.6M depending on the exact location. In Vancouver East lots, can be found for $750,000 to $1M.

2) What part of Vancouver do I want to live in? This obviously ties back to the question, "How much to spend?" Consider your lifestyle, whether you want or need to commute, proximity to ammenities and where your recreational activities take place. Other things to consider when selecting your location is the school district the land is located in.

3) How large of a house do I want to build? The size of the property will dictate the size of the home based on a formula planners refer to as Floor Space Ratio (FSR). Single family homes are limited to a 0.7 FSR. As an example, a 4,000 sq ft lot would allow for a 2,800 sq ft home (4,000 x 0.7).

4) What aspect and do I need a view? Most people prefer a south or west facing backyard so that when they arrive home they can enjoy the evening sun. For some, a view is a must-have, but look into zoning to make sure it won't be blocked if a neighbour redevelops or if trees grow up.

Step 2 - Read the Zoning Bylaw and Visit City Hall

Before removing subject conditions on your offer to purchase the land, I would recommend that you read the zoning bylaw specific to the property and visit to city hall to confirm that you will be able to build a home that suits your needs.

The most important items to consider are the front and side yard set backs and the allowable FSR. The zoning bylaws are available on the City of Vancouver's Website.

Another great website to visit is Van Map. This Geographic Information System Database (GIS) website is a great place to start your research. Here you can turn "layers" on and off to display categories such as property dimensions, electrical and water services.

Zoning bylaws Iin particular) and GIS websites can be difficult to interpret, which leads to the next step of the process - hiring an architect.

Step 3 - Hire an Architect

An architect will be needed to help you get through the city building process and acquire a building permit so that you can start construction. You will want to make sure that you hire an architect that has experience in designing single family homes. An experienced architect will know the zoning bylaw inside and out and allow you to maximize the allowable density for the property (if this is your goal). The architect will also make sure that the elevation of the structure is appealing and not "another stucco box" that we often see in Vancouver. He or she should work from the inside out - in other words, make sure that the floor plan "works" before moving on to the elevation. When it comes to the building elevation, an architect will understand how to mix building materials and colour to make your home shine.

Step 4 - Hire a Contractor

A contractor will be able to interpret the drawings produced by the architect and make sure that the home wiill meet the building code. It will be his (or her) job to make sure that the home is built on budget and on schedule. He will be responsible for hiring the sub-trades (framers, electricians, plumbers etc). A typical single family home in Vancouver can be built in under 12 months at a cost of around $200 per square foot (depending on the quality of the finishes and site conditions). To put this in perspective, a home built on a 33'x120' lot will cost you approximately $600,000 to build. There are many steps involved in building a home which are beyond the scope of this article. For example, you may want to consider building a "green" home and incorporating newer energy saving building materials and technologies, for which there are incentives, especially if you plan to live in the home for more than five years and therefore see the return on investment.

Finally, don't forget to plan and budget for a place to live while you are building - and add a contingency to the mix!

Thousands of people have found this blog post by searching Google. If you found this information useful, please comment below or better yet give me a call at 604-808-9796. I would be honored to help you with your next real estate purchase

Comments

David Setton on Jul 26, 2013 2:02 PM
Thousands of people have found this blog post since I wrote this article.

If you found it helpful, please give me a call at 604-808-9796.

I would be happy to help you find your next property that would be perfect for building a new.

I am not only a real estate agent, but also have over 20 years experience as a property developer and have built thousands of homes.
kim on Jun 2, 2014 7:46 PM
good information
thanks
michael on Jul 26, 2014 10:32 PM
what quality finish wud you get at 200 a foot
David Setton on Jul 27, 2014 12:50 PM
$200 per square foot would buy you middle of the road quality. You would be looking at ceramic tile and Ikea quality cabinets.
Fardin on Oct 15, 2014 11:39 PM
Good information for start.
Question: Wouldn't it be necessary to do a land survey before dealing with an architect?
Thanks,
David Setton on Oct 16, 2014 6:39 PM
Hi Fardin:

It would be a good idea to do a land survey before hiring an architect. If you do not want to spend this money right away, you could also find some good property information on VanMap. This GIS system has "layers" that you can turn on and off to research city services (water / sewer mains), zoning, topography, lot dimensions...... It is very powerful.

Let me know if you require any further help or if I can help you or any friends and family with the purchase or sale of any property in Metro Vancouver.

All the best,

David
lanewayhouse121 on Jul 23, 2015 8:20 AM
Nice blog !!!
Thank you for sharing this articles and awesome in builder house.A laneway home is a smaller home found where the garage would ordinarily go on a single family lot.
Ray on May 4, 2016 2:34 PM
Thanks for sharing these useful information.
How is Burnaby for building a new home? Which sections of it have better situation?
Dinesh kumar on Jun 9, 2016 11:17 AM
Vancouver is dream home in Canada which have lots of facilities..

Thanks for sharing this impressive site which enhance my skills...

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