Ground Related Laneway House with Vegetable Garden – Smith Architecture Design

If you’re lucky enough to own a house in Vancouver, have you ever wondered how your kids are going to afford the same life you enjoy?  Unless they’re trust fundees this will require a huge leap into financial independence that student loan debts and tight job markets simply won’t allow.  We talked about the Laneway house as a Failure to Launch Pad but what about phase 2 when the Laneway dwellers are ready to start the next generation of your family.  Clearly a Lane house, cute as it is, will be a bit small for this endeavor.  Equally clear is the fact that Mum and Dad are rattling around in their erstwhile family home.  Obviously a swap, where the overspaced exchange with the underspaced, is the logical next step towards happy ever after.

The advantage here is that both parents and kids get to ‘age in place’ in situ.  Moving can be a wrenching experience for older folks but not if it’s just across the back garden.  Secondly, an intrafamilial reverse mortgage can be set up without the bank taking it’s usual oversized cut.

There are some physical advantages inherent in the ground-oriented Laneway house itself.  While many Vancouver houses have considerable level changes, even to get to the front door, the Laneway unit is designed to have ground level access with immediate proximity to parking – all very senior friendly.  With a little preplanning a stair lift can be roughed in and ‘aging in place’ is a reality.  A ground level garden/patio is yet another feature that adds appeal to the Laneway dwelling.  It is also safe to say that back lanes are less travelled and at slower speeds than our streets, rendering them safer and quieter.  Again, it’s the perfect environment for seniors and, if they find others of their ilk nearby, they may find themselves in a kinder, gentler community.   But if solitude and quiet get too dull the grandkids are just a step away.

In Europe it is common to have a family home for several generations.  With the kind of flex potential afforded by the Laneway house we can achieve the same thing, but with good old North American autonomy as desired.  Could this be the best of both worlds?