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Earlier this week Fast Company ran a piece talking about “the next big thing in urban planning" — backyard cottages. As the name suggests, backyard cottages are basically accessory dwellings built in the backyards of existing single family homes. And the idea is that they’ll provide new affordable housing options in competitive and supply constrained markets such as the Bay Area in California.

While somewhat different than laneway housing—which you probably know I support here in Toronto—they do share many similarities. We’re talking about the intensification of our residential neighborhoods at the scale of the single family home. And the potential benefits go beyond just affordability. It would also make our communities more sustainable, more walkable, and more conducive to transit.

But there are challenges. I don’t know about the Bay Area, but many municipalities don’t allow a “house behind a house” and many communities don’t want to see their neighborhood itensify. However, we are seeing companies, like New Avenue, emerge to help homeowners navigate the process of building a backyard cottage. This company in particular claims to have worked with over 90 homeowners. 

So I think we’re going to see more, not less, of these types of housing solutions. Vancouver is already doing it. And so is Portland

Now here’s a question for you. If you owned a house in a single family neighborhood, would you be fussed if your neighbor erected a backyard cottage or laneway house? I’d love to get your opinion. Let me know in the comment section below.

Image: New Avenue