While “staying in your lane” commonly means “minding your own business,” Paul Binotto, president of the company My Lane Home, has quite the opposite definition. “Creating density with lane homes is a great way to make communities more accessible to aging people and families, more affordable, more safe, and more enjoyable to live in. And they are great for the environment. We all benefit from that.” Paul knows what he is talking about. His company has been building lane homes and coach houses all over Metro Vancouver for the last six years, and the response from homeowners, their families, and neighbours has been tremendous.
But why do people choose to build lane homes? “There’s so many great reasons,” says Paul. “One of the most common reasons is aging-in-place.” Many seniors would like to stay in their neighbourhood, but also want to downsize. Building a lane home gives them the option to live in an accessible, manageable space on their property, opening up the original house to their children for multi-generational living, or perhaps as a rental property. Young people moving into a single-family home can build a lane home for rental revenue or use the lane home as their house on a family property. “Lane homes give people options,” explains Paul, “and bring affordability back into neighbourhoods. And, not insignificantly, building one is about half the cost of buying a condo of a similar size.”
My Lane Home specializes in creating beautiful, efficient, and environmentally responsible housing choices using both site-built and modular processes. Site-built homes are built with partner builder PD Moore Homes Inc., run by Perdip Moore, a builder with over 20 years of experience as a boutique builder in Metro Vancouver, specializing in custom homes, duplexes and laneway homes. Site-built means that the home is built at the site, using the traditional method of building. Paul explains this fruitful collaboration. “We continually develop and learn of new, better building and design processes. We are proud to continue to work with cities and organizations to provide affordable functional homes that are both sustainable in how they operate, as well as how they are built.”
Together, Paul and Perdip’s companies supported and built the first social housing laneway home in BC for the Aunt Leah’s Foundation, an organization that helps prevent children in foster care from becoming homeless and mothers in need from losing custody of their children, by providing supported housing, job training, and coaching on essential life skills. Sharing a strong commitment to social causes is a key to the My Lane Home and PD Moore Homes Inc. partnership and they look forward to working on more of these projects together. Paul says, “I congratulate the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and BC Housing for their accomplishments and ongoing efforts and commitment to affordable housing.”
“We believe in building exceptionally livable, affordable housing with less emissions, less waste, less stress to the community, neighbours, and the family,” says Paul. My Lane Home’s modular home program was developed as a result of this philosophy. Beautiful homes built in a factory, and assembled on-site in one day, can this be real? “Since lane homes are completed off-site in a factory-controlled environment, site emissions are reduced by up to 43 per cent and unnecessary construction waste is mitigated by up to 70 per cent. With sustainable, energy-efficient systems in place for heat, our lane homes are low-cost to operate and have a carbon neutral footprint with RNG. And all of this is made locally in BC,” he explains.
The process for building a modular home begins in the factory-controlled environment, where sections of the home are manufactured to the highest building standards, using the same quality materials as on a site-built custom home. This takes approximately eight weeks, and in the meantime the site is being prepped. Modules are then craned in place and assemble in a single day.
A “buttoning” crew will then come on site and ensure that all the home’s seams are taken care of. For modular homes, My Lane Homes works closely with Horizon North, a pan-Canadian company that provides a range of industrial services and modular construction solutions. Their modular construction factories, including two in BC, produce high-quality building solutions for commercial and residential clients.
Another important My Lane Home partnership is with the Manufactured Housing Association of British Columbia, who are advocates of innovation in this burgeoning industry.
“As homeowners and municipalities look for more sustainable designs for improved environmental impact, modular construction is inherently a natural fit,” explains Gord Rattray, Executive Director of MHABC . “MHABC is focused on addressing the challenges for their members and advocating for awareness and assisting with new legislation.” Bringing awareness to the reductions in on-site construction time is also a major focus of the organization. “Many communities are becoming proponents of factory-built housing as the actual on-site construction time is so much less, resulting in less inconvenience for adjacent homeowners in the denser communities. Further, the avoidance of having construction personnel having to travel to the site daily for multiple months substantially decreases energy demands and carbon creation associated with personal vehicle usage.”
“By building modular, we have cut the carbon footprint for building to approximately half, and with RNG, our homes are effectively carbon neutral to operate. We install durable efficient heating and plumbing equipment that is mostly run off of natural gas that is both environmentally friendly as well as affordable to operate,” says Paul.
FortisBC’s efficiencies of natural gas equipment makes home heating and operationally affordable for families and seniors, and they have shown a true commitment to supporting BC’s transition to a low-carbon economy. Doing this successfully entails creating a balance between financial, environmental and social factors.
The ease, affordability and sustainability of lane homes aside, what’s it like to live in one?
Dianne Jackson had her home built on the lot of what was once her grandparent’s home in North Vancouver. She says, “One of my sons moved into the big house with his family and I’m in the new lane home, and I really love it.” As a former builder herself, Dianne is really impressed with the quality and the finishings of her new home.
“This is a really solid and functional home, and the building process was really easy,” she explains. “We worked together, and they took all of my suggestions, so it’s wonderful. I want to live here forever.”
Kaki and Trevor Chan built their custom lane home in the back of Trevor’s parent’s house in South Vancouver. Kaki explains the process they went through to choose the right builder for their project. “To make the initial decision, we really looked at the past projects of each company, as well as what their values are. We chose My Lane Home because we liked the look of their past homes and were very impressed by their commitment to sustainability. In our culture we like to keep family close, and in this expensive city this arrangement is really a win-win.”
For those not convinced that a laneway home will work for them, My Lane Home and PD Moore Homes Inc. have built a laneway home in their newly finished office in Burnaby. “People always ask ‘how big is a laneway home?’ This is the perfect place to answer those questions,” says Perdip Moore. With this as an option, anyone who is even considering building a laneway home can take a tour and see for themselves if this choice makes the most sense for their family.