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Infill homes ease housing demand, report finds

Mike Xue, Burnaby Now, April 12, 2017

As Burnaby grows and densifies, low-density detached housing contributes to the undersupply of real estate in the city. A new housing analysis shows regional municipalities can do more to help densify properties in single-family zones.

The 2017 Housing Approvals Study issued jointly by the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association and Landcor Data Corporation cites deterrents to effective land use such as lengthy wait times for permits and substantial fees for builders and owners.

“Looking at existing housing stock, a major cause of Metro Vancouver’s housing affordability issue appears to be the inefficient use of the limited residential land base,” the report reads.

The report particularly focuses on infill housing as one solution to high demand. A moderate densification alternative to the construction of highrise towers, infill increases density to detached properties by building additional suites, laneway homes, granny flats over garages, duplexes and triplexes.  However, faced with drawn-out rezoning process, lack of uniform policies, building permit fees and delayed schedules, many considering infill end up building one-for-one replacement homes out of convenience, according to the report.

While Burnaby currently has no specific infill policy for its 27,000 single-family homes, the reports shows the city has certain advantages compared to its neighbours.

On average, the wait time for Burnaby detached redevelopment totals eight months – six months rezoning for subdivision, and two months for building permits. This makes the average Burnaby wait less tedious than 12 months in Vancouver, 16 months in Surrey and 22 months in Vancouver and Coquitlam.

Municipal costs and fees in Burnaby also underprice neighboring municipalities, averaging a grand total of $23,000: $4,837 building permit, $2,770 subdivision fees, $1,000 school site acquisition charge, $4,340 rezoning, $1,731 sewage and drainage, $6,521 development cost charges, $1,000 electrical, plumbing and gas. This compared with Vancouver at $39,000, North Vancouver at $40,000, Richmond $46,000, Coquitlam at $51,000, and Surrey at $53,000.