Preparing a plan for a new house (one- and two-family dwellings "outright")

New construction in the City of Vancouver is regulated by three main bylaws:

  1. Zoning and Development Bylaw
  2. Parking Bylaw
  3. Vancouver Building Bylaw

New one- and two-family dwellings are relatively uncomplicated projects and it is possible to design a house that complies with the requirements set out in these three bylaws.

If your plans comply, they will be reviewed as outright development/building applications. The outright review process typically takes 3 to 4 months from the date of application and results in the issuance of a combined permit for both development and building.

1. Zoning regulations

If you are considering building a new house in Vancouver, it is important to check the zoning regulations and design guidelines that apply to your property to ensure that the house you design will be approved for construction. The information can be found online with VanMap or the zoning district map PDF file (2 MB), or you can call the Development and Building Services Centre for assistance.

2. Property survey

You will need three copies of a survey of your property prepared by a BC Registered Land Surveyor within the past six months.

3. Building grades

All development applications require either:

  • Official established building grades provided by the City’s Engineering Services, which must be submitted in addition to your property survey
  • Existing building grades provided by a registered land surveyor and included in your property survey.

Building grades are necessary to ensure:

  • Buildings do not exceed the height limits of zoning regulations
  • Stairs, walkways, and driveways safely meet City property
  • Water drains from the site without causing damage

For outright and conditional one-family dwellings in RS-1, RS-1S, RS-3, RS-3A, RS-5, RS-5S, and RS-6 Districts, existing grades provided by a registered land surveyor will be accepted.

Building grade requirements for all other one- and two-family dwelling districts can be obtained from the Building and Development Services Centre at 604-873-7611.

If your project requires an official established building grade, it must be ordered from Engineering Services. It typically takes six to eight weeks for a building grade application to be processed, so it should be ordered well in advance of your development application. For additional information, see Building grades for sidewalk and street elevation or call 604-873-7316.

4. Signed statement from a professional structural engineer

It is important that you are aware that a signed statement from a third party professional structural engineer must be included on the plans submitted, indicating that the building design complies with Section 9.4 of the Vancouver Building Bylaw.

5. Meet with Engineering Services

Before you finalize your house plans and submit them for review, you must meet with Engineering Services staff on the Ground Floor of City Hall to obtain your public sewer and water service connection information. It typically takes 10 days to process sewer and water service requests. Your development application will not be accepted by the Processing Centre until this process has been completed and approved by Engineering Services.

6. Application form and checklist

Both an application form and a checklist for plan requirements must be completed as part of your application package. The application, checklist, and other related documents can be picked up at the the Development and Building Services Centre.

1. Complete required forms

View, download, and complete the required application forms and checklists. In particular, review the one- and two-family residential building type applications in the checklists tab.

2. Intake appointment

Bring your completed forms to the Development and Building Services Centre, 515 West 10th Avenue, Ground Floor. Your intake appointment will take approximately 30 minutes to one hour. You will meet with a project coordinator (PC) for a preliminary review to ensure your application is complete, has no obvious design deficiencies, and is eligible for outright review. Bring all the required documents and fees.

Application type Fee
New one-family dwelling $1,600
New one-family dwelling secondary suite $2,130
​One-storey laneway house $1,050
One-and-a-half storey laneway house $1,600
Demolition $526
Green demolition $350

Demolition stamps and stickers from Engineering Services are required at the time of intake, otherwise the application will not be accepted.

3. Plan review

At this stage, your plans will be reviewed in detail. The PC will put together a deficiency list containing all of the outstanding items and prepare an abatement permit for removal of hazardous materials. Outstanding items can include anything from putting up tree barriers to redesigning your plans to meet full compliance with all relevant bylaws.

4. Permit issuance

Once the PC is satisfied your plans comply with the bylaws, an appointment will be made to pay fees, and a combined permit for development and building will be issued.

5. Construction – trades permits and inspections

After your permit has been issued, you may begin construction in accordance with the approved plans and the Vancouver Building Bylaw. As construction progresses, you will need additional trade permits, issued through the Development and Building Services Centre, and regular inspections of the work.

 Any changes will require a revision prior to proceeding to the next step, as proposed changes may not necessarily comply with the Zoning and Development Bylaw or the Vancouver Building Bylaw.

Contact the Development and Building Services Centre about building and zoning


Location and mailing address
Development and Building Services Centre
Ground floor
515 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4A8

Monday, Wednesday, Friday
8:30am to 4:30pm

Tuesday, Thursday
8:30am to 4:00pm

Free 2-hour parking
West 10th Ave parking lot,
between Cambie and Yukon

Contact Client Services

5th floor, Crossroads
507 West Broadway
(at Cambie St)
Vancouver BC, V5Z 0B4

Monday to Friday
(except holidays)
8:30am to 5:00pm

Phone: 604-871-6730