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Can You Build A Fourplex Or Other Multiplex In Vancouver

New Rules for Vancouver Zoning

You may be able to construct a multiplex on your property, but whether or not you can and how many units you're allowed to build depends on several factors, which I'll discuss briefly in this article. After reading, you should have a pretty good idea of whether or not you're permitted to build a multiplex and - if you can - how many units you can create.

The City of Vancouver has recently enacted the zoning regulations that permit the construction of multiplexes - threeplex, fourplex, sixplex, and 8-plex (and fiveplex and sevenplex in theory) - in single-family residential zones. Along with the R1-1 zoning district schedule which contains the rules, Vancouver has produced a multiplex guide. The rules for developing and redeveloping single-family lots has been greatly simplified, but the amount of information can be overwhelming, so if you're just looking for a quick answer to whether or not you can build and how many units, read on.


Eligibility for the Multiplex

Single-family Zone

Your lot must be zoned as single-family - now designated as R1-1. If your zone was previously RS-something, it's now R1-1 Single Family Inclusive.


No Renovations

You can build a NEW multiplex; you cannot convert an existing building into a multiplex.


Must Have Rear Vehicle Access

Your property must have a rear lane or city street along the back.


Not in a Floodplain

Unless you have a single-family lot along Southwest Marine Drive, chances are that your property is not in a floodplain. You can view Vancouver's Designated Floodplain map at THIS LINK.


Minimum Site Area and Size

The minimum lot area for a multiplex is 306 m². The minimum site frontage is 33' - no wiggle room on that. Do you have a pie-shaped or wedge-shaped lot? It doesn't matter - the answer from Planning right now is that the width of your lot along the FRONT determines your eligibility.

Your lot frontage:

Less than 33' (< 10 m): no multiplex options


33.0' to 43.6' (10 m - 13.3 m) frontage:

lot area < 306 m² (3294 ft²): no multiplex options

lot area 306 m² - 463 m² (3294 ft² - 4993 ft²): three or FOUR units

lot area 464 m² - 556 m² (4994 ft² - 5994 ft²): FOUR units (no less, no more)

lot area 557 m² and up: FOUR units (no less, no more)


44.0' to 49.2' (13.4 m - 15.0 m) frontage:

lot area < 306 m² (3294 ft²): no multiplex options

lot area 306 m² - 463 m² (3294 ft² - 4993 ft²): FOUR units (no less, no more)

lot area 464 m² - 556 m² (4994 ft² - 5994 ft²): four or FIVE units

lot area 557 m² (5,995 ft²) and up: four or FIVE units


49.5' and up (15.1 m and greater) frontage:

lot area < 306 m² (3294 ft²): no multiplex options

lot area 306 m² - 463 m² (3294 ft² - 4993 ft²): FOUR units

lot area 464 m² - 556 m² (4994 ft² - 5994 ft²): FIVE units

lot area 557 m² (5,995 ft²) and up: SIX units or EIGHT SECURED RENTAL units


Possibly More Than One Building

Depending on the situation, the city *may* permit you to build a multiplex in addition to another principal building. For example, if you have an existing smaller house on a quite large lot, you may be allowed to build a multiplex - likely in the rear. Another example is if you have a laneway house; the city may consider you tearing down the main house and replacing it with a multiplex if you can still satisfy other requirements such as floor area and separation between buildings.


No Rezoning

If your property isn't already zoned for single-family residential, it won't be eligible.

No Land Assemblies

You may not combine two or more smaller lots to form one larger lot either to build a larger building or to create a lot large enough if your lot is too small to be eligible.


No Heritage Designation

The property must not contain a heritage designated building, interior, or landscape.


More Information

For all the details about developing a multiplex, you can wade through the zoning district schedule on your own if you choose. The regulations are far simpler than they used to be, but they're still written like most legal language - not designed primarily for the average reader but instead as a reference document that spells out criteria.


RED Report™

If you're interested in knowing more about a permitted multiplex such as how big, how high, or if you can sell the units, you can read my more detailed article, What Are The Requirements for Multiplexes In Vancouver? Alternatively, the easiest way to find out exactly what you're allowed to build, is a small service I offer, called the RED Report™.


This report summarizes all the available basic options for redevelopment as a tool to help you in your decision to buy and/or redevelop a property, whatever your motivation for making changes.


You can also find many other helpful tools on my RESOURCES page, or you can book a Diagnostic Session - a free, 30-minute phone call with me to get you pointed in the right direction so you know the best 'next step' to take in building or renovating your property.


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