The Accessory Dwelling Unit for Sustainable Urban Living – A Tiny House Alternative

Accessory dwelling units (ADU) are small homes that can be built in the backyards of larger homes, in cities where they've been approved. They're also sometimes known as carriage, , or laneway houses.

These small homes are typically around 700-1000 in size, although the size sometimes has to be calculated as a percentage of the size of the yard.

Adding new homes in potentially underused backyard spaces is a sustainable way to provide more options in walkable neighbourhoods where people don't need to use cars to get around for every errand. ADUs can also help reduce urban sprawl by reducing the need for cities to grow outwards, which increases commuting distances and therefore increases transportation pollution.

In Vancouver, laneway houses have been legal for a few years and the city is issuing building permits for ~500 new units each year. At this scale, ADU's are starting to have a positive impact on the housing situation in the City of Vancouver.

That said, one of the major problems with laneway houses at the moment is that, in some cities, you can't sell the laneway house separately from the main house, which means they might only be accessible to people who are already land owners, or to tenants who can rent them. Eventually, it would be great if the properties could be stratified so that the big and small homes could be sold separately.

And thank you to Bryn Davidson from Lanefab for helping us understand the positive impacts and the challenges of laneway houses in Vancouver. To check out more Lanefab laneway houses, check out their website here:

Thanks for watching!


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Editing Credits:
Mat and Danielle of Exploring Alternatives

Filming Credits:
Mat of Exploring Alternatives


  1. This was a nice presentation of this concept (though not new in Texas). Well done! Could you make a video on the features of these homes…do they have things that fold out and become used in other ways…maybe compare inside features to those of tiny homes? I’d be very interested! Thanks!

  2. It is amazing at how fast you guys are growing!! been watching since the early days and just wanted to say keep up the great work!! You both are hard workers and totally deserve to be recognized. Much Love

  3. 1:40 – i would like to see pictures of this house. i hope somebody can direct me to an internet site with interior and exterior pictures of this house. thanks!

  4. We need affordable housing across Canada. This is crazy! The average family income is not enough to put families into affordable homes of any kind. Canada is the second largest country in the world with a laughably small population and Canadians can’t afford to buy decent sized homes for their families? That’s the problem! The problem isn’t the size of our homes. It’s money hungry bankers and unresponsive government waiting for Canadian to be homeless on a large scale before anything is done. Unfortunately the middle class Canadian is destined to rent for the rest of their lives if something isn’t done. There is amNational housing crisis looming in the future all across Canada.

  5. Great information. Had Americans ever lived in a real country they would have seen this problem evolving around the 1980’s.

  6. If you live in middle of no where your not running to store everyday like people in town. Don’t be bs’ing on foot print. Country life is more green than city.

  7. Thanks for the links. Ottawa allows these coach houses now too and we’re going to try to convert our garage!

  8. where I live the houses are nice and we don’t have towers or any super high building and everything is close so I walk to school and to market and to clothing stores and restaurants.. and everyone is pretty much like this so buying a car before the age 20 is not on our list
    so I guess you’re on the right track

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