It is no secret that Toronto’s real estate industry has presented a consistent increase in their market pricing during the better part of this decade. Rather than the normal for real estate markets to aspire and see annual increases, Toronto has noticed a shift in their property prices faster than the majority of other markets.
The average property price of a Toronto detached home has increased by over 32 percent in October as compared to October from the previous year based on Toronto Real Estate Board statistics. Due to this, it has shifted the marketed properties from freehold properties such as semi-detached and detached homes.
Moreover, buyers are moving toward higher density housing, such as multi-level townhouses, and condominiums buildings.
While most city-dwellers have embraced the condominium lifestyle as a form of urban living within high density areas, individuals searching for more traditional homes find themselves needing to move further away from the city to find it. Furthermore, the homes are not always at a price they are able to afford.
What if there was a method of introducing freehold housing within the heart of the city that can accommodate approximately 100,000 people? Wouldn’t this be the solution that is literally in an urban backyard? Of course, this is if your backyard is along a laneway.
The laneway house is a concept introduced to the Toronto area in 2006. While it went nowhere during that year within Toronto, the concept inspired several like-minded cities (including Ottawa and Vancouver) to introduce policies embracing the laneway house. It is true that the concept of the laneway house from a decade ago was not without flaws, and contemplating a separate dwelling that is legally severed required new municipal services by digging up laneways. Nowadays, the laneway housing concept has differed dramatically with the greatest focus being placed on its new approach where structures are treated as secondary dwellings within an existing property.
What does this mean?
Well, it means that the garage at the rear of the property could be rebuilt by the owner to incorporate a second dwelling. It will be serviced via existing municipal service connections; thereby, restricting any neighborhood disruptions and creating an appropriately-sized housing unit ranging from between 700 and 1,500 square feet.
Could this form of housing represent an innovative housing solution to meet the need for housing in the city of Toronto? By including multi-general households where the owner can accommodate parents and children, as well as introduction of rental housing tock to help generate revenue from the property, the answer is a resounding yes!
The design concept of laneway houses is creation of a freehold house within major areas. The houses will be close to public transit, will utilize existing community amenities, and will do so with a reduced level of neighborhood disruption. However, as innovative as this would be it does require the willingness of the community to create the units including citizens, government, and the industry. Unfortunately, at this time, this could be difficult to obtain.
While there are no quick solutions to the problems facing the GTA regarding current housing issues; the approximate 300 kilometers of laneways within the city of Toronto promote the use of the laneway housing concept. The use of this concept could be a highly beneficial one and can be used as a stepping stone for other building ideas within Toronto.