Carriage Homes & Laneway Housing

What is the difference between Laneway & Carriage Homes?

Laneway and Carriage homes share many similarities, and some differences.

These homes are incredibly affordable and suit a variety of needs, from additional income to a downsized space for relatives. Secondary suites offer great opportunities to add value to a property, and are the perfect rental space or in-law suite.

The main difference between the two formats of housing is how they are orientated on your property.

Carriage House – Traditionally, a ‘carriage house’ was a building used as a stable, or storage for carriages in 19th Century England. These buildings have now been converted to provide residential housing with storage or a garage underneath. These homes typically feature different architecture and design finishes throughout construction as they were used for different purposes than they are today.

Presently, new construction of a carriage house utilizes the space of both a garage and a suite, while maintaining modern building practices and design.

Laneway House – The term ‘laneway house’ means a form of detached secondary suite that is typically built onto a pre-existing lot, opening onto a back lane. These homes are usually built on ground level, and would generally be built where a garage would be.

In a nutshell – both of these terms are used for a secondary suite on your property, and are primarily only defined by the location in which they are built. We offer one style of detached suite that can easily used in either format. Whether this means a ground level unit installed onto a foundation, a unit craned onto an existing garage or building, or a garage/building that we site build to fit the size and layout of a unit that is craned on, we have the capabilities to provide you with an affordable, efficient and easy solution.  

Check out our new Laneway Show Home! Listed at $169,600!

We can work within any size requirement you may have for your property. If you have a custom layout in mind for your carriage or laneway house, please let us know and we are happy to work with this!

We can help to design a style that fits your size and your needs.

local building


City of Nanaimo General Guidelines

As per City of Nanaimo Secondary Suite guidelines, the following bylaw and ammendments pertain to Carriage Homes, or ‘secondary suites within accessory buildings’.


A seconday suite is allowed within an accessory building provided that:

  1. No Secondary Suite existed with the principal dwelling; AND
  2. A minimum of 30 m² of private outdoor space is provided; AND
  3. The lot is: A corner lot; OR Accessed by a laneway; OR is greater than an 800 m² in lot area


The total size of all accessory buildings on the lot shall not exceed 13% of the lot area to a maximum of 90 m². Secondary suites are not permitted on lots less than 370 m² in area. An additional 42 m² of floor area may be used for parking where no garage or carport exists within the principal dwelling. If the accessory building has a roof pitch of 6:12 or greater and a suite exists in the roof structure, the accessory building can be up to 7 m in height. There may be variations to these requirements subject to what zone the residence is in.

Of importance to note is that secondary suites included in carriage houses cannot be stratified from the principal dwelling unit to which the suite is accessory. Secondary suites are intended as rental units or as an independent housing option for family members.


While no formal design approval process is required for a carriage house, in order to ensure detached suites are constructed in a manner that provides for a safe and comfortable living environment for tenants while respecting the privacy of neighbouring residents, staff recommends the following be considered during the construction of a detached suite:

  1. The exterior materials and colours of the suite should compliment the overall character of the existing dwelling and neighbourhood.
  2. Emergency personnel must be able to easily find and access the suite.
  3. Three parking spaces are provided (one for the suite and two for the principal dwelling).
  4. The detached suite should be oriented and sited in a manner that protects the privacy of neighbours.
  5. The suite should be screened from the neighbouring yards in a manner most suited to the character of the neighbourhood.
  6. Private outdoor space shall be provided for the occupants (30 m²).


With the construction of a carriage house, homeowners are required by the Zoning Bylaw to provide a minimum area of 30 m² of private open space for the tenants, as well as an off-street parking area. The private open space can be included in the required yard setback area, but is not to include space provided for parking. The open space must be identified and submitted on the site plan.

We encourage you to reach out to your local municipality to determine the regulations and requirements in your area, as every municipality will be different.

PacRim Log Structures

The newest addition to our group! PacRim Log Structures specializes in pre-fabricated timber structures imported from Europe. These units offer a wide range of uses from cabins/chalets, sheds, gazebos, man-caves/she-sheds, hot tubs, tiny homes and more. 

PacRim Log Structures is exhibiting at the BC Home & Garden Show this February 19-23 at BC Place in Vancouver. We will be showcasing two of our most popular units, and a brand new unit that has never been seen before! Furthermore, we on the list of presenters for the main stage on Sunday Feb 23rd at 11am – drop by to learn more about the future of Modular and Pre-Fab construction. 

Click the link to the right to receive a discount on your admission!


Gordon's Homes Sales
1985 South Wellington Road
Nanaimo B.C. V9X 1R4

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Saturdays: Noon to 4:00 pm

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