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What Are the Requirements for Multiplexes in Vancouver?

Updated: Feb 10

If you own a single-family lot in Vancouver, the recently approved update to the zoning and building bylaws offers you the opportunity to profit from selling stratified units, to generate revenue from additional rental units, or to create a generous, multi-generational home for your extended family.

First, the many different RS zones have been converted to ONE zone: RS1-1. Design guidelines have been removed, so previous rules about such things as roof slopes and dormer sizes are gone. You have more stylistic freedom and can design a building that better suits the functional needs instead of historic aesthetics.

I summarize below the requirements for building a fourplex, 5-plex, 6-plex, or even 8-plex building. Last week, the City of Vancouver approved the proposed bylaw amendments to allow up to 8 dwelling units on a single lot and simplify the process for applications. The "referral report" is over 120 pages long, so I've summarized for you below the multiplex requirements spelled out in the report. Requirements and allowances for duplexes are not included. Read on and check if you're able to take advantage of this opportunity.

The property must be at least 33' wide, not be in a floodplain, and must have a rear lane or be double-fronting. Your house also must not be a designated heritage building.

How many dwelling units can you build? That depends on the size of your lot and on whether the units will be sold or rented. If they are all rentals:

  • 33'x100' lot (306 sq.m) = maximum 4 dwelling units

  • 50'x100' lot (464 sq.m) = maximum 5 dwelling units

  • 50'x120' lot (557 sq.m) = maximum 8 dwelling units - all units must be secured rentals

Each dwelling unit must have a minimum of 2 bedrooms (you'll need to refer to the table in the report, as the suite size and number of bedrooms is convoluted). One dwelling unit may be occupied by the owner.

How big can this building be? That depends. The total above-ground floor area may be equal to the total lot area if

  • all units are secured rentals in perpetuity,

  • one unit is a below-market home ownership sale (maximum 50% of market value, minimum 2 bedrooms and 90 sq.m), or

  • one amenity share or affordable housing share per square metre of floor area above 0.70 FSR is donated to the City, if all units are stratified

Laneway homes may now be 0.25 times the area of the lot - this is an increase from the previous 0.16. The total site coverage allowed is now 50% of the property. All floor area may be above grade.

Quick facts:

  • A lot must be at least 100' deep to have a courtyard configuration, and a courtyard must be at least 6.1m / 20' deep.

  • Front yard setback is reduced to 4.9m / 16'

  • Side yard setbacks are reduced to 1.2m / 4'.

  • Rear yard setback is reduced to 10.7m for a single building or 0.9m / 3' if there is a separate building in the rear.

  • A single multiplex building may be 11.5m / 35' high, three storeys tall, but the third storey may be only 50% of the area of the second floor.

  • Basements need only have their floor about 1.2m / 4' below the ground to qualify as basements. This is a change from 1.5m / 5'.

  • Where a rear building is separate, it may be a maximum of 8.5m high, two storeys tall.

  • For each dwelling unit, 7.5 sq.m / 80.7 sq.ft may be excluded from the floor space ratio for internal stairs, and 7.4 sq.m / 79.7 sq.ft. must be provided as outdoor balcony/deck/patio or other similar space.

Unlike a single-family house, a multiplex will require a separate development permit and building permit.

The City allows the impermeable area to be 75% but requires onsite rainwater management; a stormwater detention tank is required with the following capacities and flow rates depending on your lot width:

  • 33-43' wide front: 2.7 cubic metres, with a 4.9L/s release rate

  • 44-49' wide front: 3.4 cubic metres, with a 6.5L/s release rate

  • 50' or more wide front: 3.75 cubic metres, with a 7.4L/s release rate

No onsite parking is required, but you may provide some if you choose. This applies to both rental and strata units.

A new definition has been added for "zero emissions building". A zero emissions building is given additional floor area allowances, and balconies may project into the setbacks. It is defined as a building that is certified as Passive House, EnerPHit, or Zero Energy Standard by the International Living Future Institute. These buildings are allowed:

  • additional 2' of building height

  • additional 2' building depth

  • additional 19% of floor area for multiplexes

These changes offer a better mortgage helper and are better for ageing in place and/or multi-generational families.

What's the first step? You have two options:

1. Request a RED Report™

The Real Estate REdevelopment is a summary of your options to renovate, build an addition, build a laneway house, or build entirely new. CLICK HERE to read more about this service, or Click to Download a Sample RED Report

2. Diagnostic Session

Book a Diagnostic Session - a free 30-minute phone call - with me during which we discuss how best to check the available opportunities and how best to determine their feasibility.

In the SAPPHR Strategy™, the third step is the Tuning Workshop - determine the materials, systems, and configurations that would best achieve the desired outcome.

Discover the secrets to Future-proofing your dream home! Ensure lasting durability and energy efficiency to stand the test of time.



The information included in this article is to an extent generic and intended for educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute legal or professional advice. Thorough efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of the article, but having read this article, you understand and agree that Daniel Clarke Architect disclaims any legal liability for actions that may arise from reliance on the information provided in this article. Readers are recommended to consult with an architect before making any decisions or exercising judgement base on information in the article.


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