Building Your Dream Laneway Home in Burnaby: A Comprehensive Guide

Imagine expanding your living space, generating rental income, or creating a cozy guest suite – all within the comfort of your own backyard. In Burnaby, laneway homes are making these dreams a reality, transforming backyards into vibrant neighbourhoods and offering unique housing options. This comprehensive guide equips you with everything you need to know about building a laneway home in Burnaby, from eligibility and regulations to design considerations and the application process.

Is Your Property Eligible?

Before embarking on your laneway home adventure, it’s crucial to determine if your property qualifies. Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Zoning: Most residential zones in Burnaby, including R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R6, R9, R10, R11, R12, and RM6, allow laneway homes.
  • Main Residence: Your property must already have a single-family home as the principal residence. Secondary suites within the main house are also permitted.
  • Laneway Access: Vehicular access to the rear yard from a lane or local street is essential. This access point needs to meet specific width and grade requirements.
  • Streams: Properties close to streams may have additional restrictions or require specific setbacks due to environmental considerations.
  • Double-Fronted Lots: Properties with access from two streets (no lane) require approval from the Burnaby Engineering Department to ensure proper access and safety.

Location and Layout:

  • Location: Laneway homes must be situated entirely within the rear yard of the property, adhering to minimum setbacks from property lines. Specific setbacks apply to the side and rear property lines, the main home, detached garage, and other accessory buildings.
  • Corner Lots: Corner lots have specific setback requirements.
  • Un-Sprinklered Homes: Laneway homes without sprinkler systems must be located within 45 meters of a street.

Height and Size:

  • Maximum Height: The maximum height is two storeys, with a maximum of 7.6 meters for sloping roofs and 6.7 meters for flat roofs.
  • Minimum Floor Area: The minimum floor area is 32.52 square meters (350 square feet).
  • Maximum Floor Area: The maximum floor area is capped at 20% of the lot area, with an absolute maximum of 140 square meters (1507 square feet).
  • Lot Coverage: The maximum lot coverage for a property with a laneway home is 45%.
  • Impervious Surfaces: The maximum impervious surfaces for a property with a laneway home is 70%.

Parking and Access:

  • One Parking Space: Every property with a laneway home must have at least one designated parking space, whether uncovered or within a carport.
  • Accessibility and Sustainability: The parking space must be van accessible and include an electric vehicle charging outlet.
  • Additional Parking: While not mandatory, additional parking spaces can be incorporated on the property.
  • Pathway Access: A minimum 0.9-meter wide pathway is required from the street to the laneway home entrance.

Additional Considerations:

  • Trees: Existing trees on the property must be retained or replaced as per the Burnaby Tree Bylaw.
  • Private Outdoor Space: While not mandatory, the City encourages incorporating private outdoor space for the laneway home residents.
  • Addressing: Laneway homes receive unique addresses with an “L” prefix added to the main house address (e.g., L1-1234 Main Street).

Designing Your Dream Laneway Home:

While adhering to regulations is crucial, designing a laneway home that complements your vision and seamlessly integrates into the neighbourhood is equally important. Here are some key design considerations:

  • Functionality and Layout: Optimize the available space to create a functional and livable dwelling, ensuring efficient use of square footage and incorporating essential amenities.
  • Natural Light and Ventilation: Prioritize ample natural light and ventilation through strategically placed windows and openings, promoting a healthy and comfortable living environment.
  • Privacy and Noise Control: Incorporate design elements that address privacy concerns for both the laneway home residents and neighbouring properties, such as proper window placement and building orientation.

Navigating the Application Process:

Building a laneway home involves a multi-step application process:

  1. Planning and Design: Consider hiring a qualified architect or designer familiar with laneway home regulations and Burnaby’s specific requirements. They can assist you with developing a compliant and well-designed plan.
  2. Pre-Application Meeting: Engaging in a pre-application meeting with the City’s Development Planning department is highly recommended.
  1. Application Submission: Submit various documents to the City, including application form, site plan, architectural drawings, and additional documents.
  2. Review and Approval: Once submitted, the City’s Development Planning department will review your application. This process involves assessing the proposal against zoning regulations, design guidelines, and other relevant considerations. This process may take around 3-6 months.
  3. Building Permit: Upon successful application review and approval, you will receive a building permit authorizing the construction of your laneway home.

Cost Considerations:

Building a laneway home involves various cost factors, including:

  • Land development costs: Preparing the site for construction, including excavation, foundation work, and utility connections.
  • Construction costs: Materials, labour, and equipment required to build the laneway home structure.
  • Professional fees: Architect or designer fees, engineering fees, and other professional services involved in the planning and design process.
  • Permits and fees: Building permit fees, utility service fees, and other applicable charges.

Consultant analyses estimate the total cost of building a laneway home in Burnaby to range from $450,000 to $800,000. It’s important to remember that this is an estimate, and the actual cost can vary depending on several factors.

Rental Potential:

Laneway homes offer potential rental income for homeowners. Achievable monthly rents can vary depending on factors like:

  • Location: Proximity to amenities, transit, and desirable neighbourhoods can influence rental rates.
  • Size and bedrooms: Larger laneway homes with more bedrooms generally command higher rents.
  • Amenities: Features like private outdoor space, in-suite laundry, and modern finishes can enhance rental appeal and potentially justify higher rents.

Estimates suggest achievable monthly rents for laneway homes in Burnaby could range from $2,125 to $2,500.

Financing Options:

Several financing options can help make building a laneway home more accessible:

  • Home equity loans: Leverage the equity in your existing home to finance the construction costs.
  • Construction loans: Secure a loan specifically for financing the construction project, with repayments typically starting once construction is complete.

Consulting with a financial advisor can help you determine the most suitable financing option for your specific situation. A good starting point is to engage with a mortgage specialist from your bank.


Building a laneway home in Burnaby presents a unique opportunity to increase housing options, generate potential rental income, and contribute to vibrant neighbourhoods. It’s crucial to carefully consider eligibility, regulations, design considerations, and the application process to ensure a successful and compliant project. By leveraging available resources, professional guidance, and careful planning, you can navigate the process of building a laneway home that complements your property, respects the community, and aligns with your vision.


This information is intended for general guidance only and should not be considered as legal or professional advice. It’s crucial to consult with qualified professionals like architects, engineers, and legal counsel for specific project requirements and regulations.

Additional Resources:

The City of Burnaby provides valuable resources to guide you through the laneway home development process:

Final Note:

Building a laneway home in Burnaby can indeed be a rewarding journey, with the potential to enhance your living space, create additional income streams, and positively impact your community. When navigating through the complexities of such a project, having expert guidance and support can make a significant difference. That’s where CitiDesign comes in.

CitiDesign is a reputable and experienced design and construction firm specializing in laneway homes and residential projects. With over 10 years of experience as a licensed builder in BC, hundreds of successful projects and satisfied clients, CitiDesign brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and dedication to every step of the process.

CitiDesign understands that each client’s vision is unique, and they prioritize collaboration and communication throughout the entire project. Whether you’re seeking to maximize space efficiency, incorporate sustainable features, or achieve a specific aesthetic, their team works closely with you to turn your ideas into reality.

With a commitment to quality craftsmanship, attention to detail, and customer satisfaction, CitiDesign strives to exceed expectations and deliver exceptional results. By choosing CitiDesign as your partner in building your laneway home, you can have confidence in a smooth and successful construction process, ultimately bringing your dream home to life.

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