With Vancouver housing costs giving most new home buyers anxiety, one option to keep costs low is to go small.
In an absolute sense, small homes are generally cheaper than big homes. Makes sense, you're buying less. Bryn Davidson, of Lanefab Designs, has lived in what he believes is the smallest 'official' home in Vancouver; it was a 360 sq. ft. spot in Mount Pleasant dubbed the Pod which was originally the caretaker's suite in the building (the key in basketball is about 300 sq. ft.).
That's smaller than the 398 sq. ft. the city allows, though variances do exist and legacy rules apply to some properties, allowing for smaller homes to exist.
"In some places they do allow micro suites and single-room-occupancy," Davidson adds.
He's an advocate for smaller homes, and would like to see the city relax regulations around housing sizes and suggests there should be a conversation about laneway houses. The fact so many homes have laneway homes or rental suites inside (like basement suites) raises questions about the amount of space people need. There's also the option for garage conversions.
"Allowing micro-units, allowing smaller lots and allowing laneway houses to be sold separately, all of those things should be part of our housing menu," Davidson says.
However there's a fear about around small homes, Davidson says, based on historic housing in other cities.
"Those 1890 New York tenements and 2000 Hong Kong (apartment towers) is very different than what we'd be building and living in Vancouver
Lanefab Designs owes its existence to the affordability of the Pod. It also gave Davidson a place to design a small living space.
"That project became the prototype for what we did with laneway houses later," he says.
Along with a minimum size Davidson says homes must contain a shower or bathtub along with a cooktop of some sort and a fridge to be considered a proper dwelling.
With that said here are the 11 smallest homes you can buy in Vancouver right now. Spoiler — they're all condos.
For more photos, check the gallery above.
396 sq. ft. / $539,000 / $1,361 per sq. ft.
Located in the 'Lions' this is more of a cub.
A recurring theme for these small condos shows up with the smallest space; there are amenities that you share. While the home is minimal, the building has a "well equipped gym," sauna and other perks. The suite itself has some floor-to-ceiling mirrors, probably to make it feel bigger. It also comes with a parking spot and storage locker which, when you're playing with small areas, does start to matter.
400 sq. ft. / $529,000 / $1,323 per sp. ft.
A sub-penthouse in Yaletown sounds pretty fancy, and if you decide to eat out every night with all the nearby restaurants you can use the kitchen as storage. Parking and a storage locker again, along with a sauna and "exercise centre."
400 sq. ft. / $399,000 / $998 per sq. ft.
This time it's Gastown. While it comes with a "good-sized" balcony, there's no bonus space anywhere else. But at least there's a "fitness centre" this time.
We're going to bundle the next group together because they're all stacked on top of each other.
400 sq. ft. // 1003 $667,000 / $1,668 per sq. ft. // 903 $653,000 / $1,633 per sq. ft. // 803 $616,000 / $1,540 per sq. ft.
Obviously, height plays into cost here, with a $50,000 difference for a couple of stories. Located at UBC, these three all have 3-d tours (they...don't take very long). Amenities in the building include a music lounge and "fitness room"
401 sq. ft. / $609,000 / $1,523 sq. ft.
Just like above, but with an extra square foot of space hidden somewhere.
403 sq. ft. / $479,000 / $1,189 per sq. ft.
In some ways this one is actually the largest on this list as it has a private patio; and not an insignificant one, it's 172 sq. ft. And there's a separate balcony!
403 sq. ft. / $620,000 / $1,538 per sq. ft.
It may be hard to believe, but there's a condo in Vancouver House for under a million! While there's no parking, there are lots of amenities to share, including an outdoor heated pool, golf simulator and "fitness facility." Oh, and a storage locker.
410 sq. ft. / $389,000 / $949 per sq. ft.
This is the outlier of the group. It's both the cheapest and furthest from downtown. Feel free to speculate if those two things are related. While a floor plan isn't shown, it apparently has a studio space and big den (two rooms!). While no gym is listed, there is a ping pong table and a party room.
418 sq. ft. / $498,000 / $1,191 per sq. ft.
The beast of the group, this is a full 22 sq. ft. bigger than first place. Amenities are again a selling feature, with an outdoor pool, hot tub, and sauna (lots of opportunities to be damp!) along with a party room, lounge and media room.
There are a couple of honourable mentions. One home, at 708-1221 Bidwell St., is the priciest per sq. ft. It's just a bit larger, at 443 sq. ft., but with a $698,000 price tag it hits $1,576 per sq. ft.
On the flip side, there are a few places that didn't make the list, but are significantly cheaper, including a 439 sq. ft. place for $359,000 and a 430 sq. ft. space for $299,000. The $279,000, 430 sq. ft. home at 403-1330 Harwood St. takes the win, though. It's $649 per sq. ft.