Questions from Neighbours

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People often have lots of questions when a new project is being proposed in their neighbourhood. We want to hear them. These questions can help us create better, smarter housing in your community. We may not be able to satisfy everyone. But we're going to try our best to do what we can. 


Here are some of the common questions people ask us about our company and projects, and how we try to think about these types of concerns and questions in our planning.


If you have any others, or feedback about one of our projects, please reach out. We'd be happy to connect. 

Common questions

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What is Lapis Homes' vision?

Lapis Homes' goal is to build spaces that attract families and people who want to live close to where they work and play and enjoy the community where they live. We do this by creating homes that reflect the values and fabric of the surrounding neighbourhood.


That means working closely with municipal planning departments, neighbours and designers to create homes and communities that reflect the neighbourhood now and in the future. 

What are you doing to make sure the design fits with the neighbourhood?

We know that changes in your community can be difficult, so we work really hard to make sure that as much as possible our designs fit in with the surrounding homes. 


This means looking closely at what type of housing developments and designs have been used in the past and what developments and designs might be used in the future. It means spending hours on site, taking notes and photos of the surrounding houses and buildings. 


It means asking questions: How will our development fit with the properties on either side and across the street? What do the neighbouring roof lines look like? How close to the street are those houses? Can we create more green space, plant more trees? How can we use doors and gardens to create living spaces along street frontages? 


And we actively seek feedback from planning departments and our neighbours. If you think you have an idea about how something might work better, reach out and let us know. We will see what we can do. 

I still don't think it fits. Can you make changes?

The zoning process is meant to be a conversation with the neighbourhood. We make changes and adjustments to our designs and landscaping right up until we submit the project for final municipal council approval.  


Sometimes we're restricted by the space we have available on our properties, but we do what we can to incorporate your ideas along the way.

Your development is too big. Can you make it smaller?

We think about this quite a bit. Usually, the number and size of units we're proposing has everything to do with the shape and size of the lot, the driveway access, parking requirements, as well as the financial feasibility to do a development like this.


For a pie shaped lot like the one we have on Lampson and Colville, where the property tapers in towards the north, we needed to fit our units on the southeast side and along the Lampson street frontage because of where the driveway needed to go and because the lot slopes from west to east. By doing this, we are able to create a street front presence by orienting entrances and gardens along Lampson. 


Wherever possible, we also try and break up the size and massing of our buildings through design elements like siding, or through physical separation. Again on the  Lampson project, we're proposing two duplexes in the southeast side of the property, rather than a larger fourplex. This will create more green space and light between buildings. 


Again, please contact us if you have some ideas, comments or would like to discuss. 

Parking & the Environment

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Won't your development just mean more cars and less parking on our street?

This is a very common question for any development, as we’re putting more people with more visitors into the same amount of space. 


However, across the country, more people are choosing to walk, cycle and take public transit to work instead of their cars. Recent Statistic Canada data shows that in the last two decades, the number of people taking their bikes to work rose nearly 90 % and the number of people taking transit rose by nearly 60 %. In addition, the data shows that Victoria has the largest percentage of people in the country who either walk or cycle to work. 


Still, we work closely with planning to put as much parking on our sites as possible for tenants and guests, but we also look for ways to encourage people who will buy these places to choose or continue to use more active and public transportation, like transit, cycling and car sharing. 


For example, in our townhouses at Lampson and Colville, we’ll include secure space in each garage for bicycles. Because of how excellent cycling routes are between Victoria and Esquimalt, it takes only two minutes longer for someone to take a bicycle into town compared to a car. Those two minutes are more than saved when you factor in how convenient it is to park a bicycle downtown compared to a car. 

Why are you removing those trees? Doesn't your company care about the urban canopy?

Absolutely we care. Mature trees reduce pollution, provide habitats for animals and birds and help improve our mental health and quality of life. They also can reduce storm water runoff, and can even help lower heating and cooling costs by creating shade and sheltering houses from wind. 


This is one of the reasons why our company focuses on creating supply within well-established communities, rather than by building sprawling developments further out of the city centre. 


In addition, wherever we can, we design our developments to preserve healthy, older trees as much as possible. At Five Two One Foster, we went through three different landscaping and construction designs to preserve three of the four mature trees on that lot. 


Sometimes, however, keeping all of the trees isn’t always possible. Because of the shape of the lot or location of an intersection, there may only be one place to put a building or driveway access, which means we’ll need to remove some trees. In these cases, we’ll get approval from the municipality and replace the removed tree with two or more replacements as part of our landscaping designs.

A house you removed was in good condition. Why did you remove it?

For most of our projects, we look for houses that are nearing the end of their life, either because they haven't been properly maintained or the quality of the original building was poor. 


But in some cases, we need to remove a non-heritage designated house that is in okay condition to create more homes on the site. Ideally, we'd just up and move the entire house to another part of the city. Moving a house, however, is very difficult and expensive, and it's very hard to find a company or person who wants one -- even though we'd happily give the house away for free. 


Since a house move is usually out of the question, wherever possible, we'll look to reuse or donate materials from a house that's in good condition. Our ability to do this is often similarly challenging because of asbestos and other hazards that would have been used in the older building, as well as the current building codes that requires builders to use only certain materials. 


The alternative to creating more homes in an existing neighbourhood, and from time-to-time taking down a house that is in fair condition, is to expand our city into forested and farmland areas, changing those areas and creating a greater reliance on car travel and more pollution. We prefer to densify. 

Affordable Housing

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By getting rid of older houses with affordable rents, aren't you contributing to rising prices?

This is another good question that stirs up quite a bit of debate in the housing community. To us, the answer is complex but by building more houses we are, in part and over time, helping to address some of the challenges. 


People want to live in Victoria. Whether you’re here already or moving in from outside of the city, the close proximity to the ocean and the outdoors, the mild winter, and the great amenities makes it a great place to live.


My family, your family, your friend’s daughter in Gordon Head who is moving out of her parent’s house, as well as people moving here for work, school or retirement, all want a place to live. The existing and growing population creates competition in the marketplace. More competition means that without new homes, there are fewer houses to go around. And the lack of housing, whether new or old, puts pressure on prices, which means they rise and become more unaffordable. 


The other side of the pressure is that many people see the rising prices in Victoria, the opportunities created by Airbnb, and our strong economy as a reason to buy up properties as investments. Much of this is rented out, but some is used for Airbnb and some is left empty, which means fewer houses available overall, and, again, putting more pressure on prices. 


Both of these challenges need to be tackled: The first through building more; the second through smart, government policies. 


We address the first part of the challenge by creating more housing for more people in the same amount of space. Yes, what we build can be more expensive overall, but by building more houses we’re reducing the number of people who don’t have a place to live, eliminating some of the pressure on the existing housing supply. Hopefully, over time, this will help reduce the pressure on prices. 

  

We love this stuff and people’s ideas around it, so feel free to shoot us an email if you want to discuss.

Despite the building boom, rent and house prices keep rising, so is building more really helping?

Again, this is a great point on quite a complex issue. The solution is not simply just building more houses. We need to do two things: create more housing in our existing neighbourhoods and address some of the speculative investment, where available housing is not being used. 


As a company, we work to create developments for families and professionals in communities where they want to live. Places that won't sit empty, but will house people who enjoy living there. We think, over time, this will help.

What about now? What are you doing to create affordable housing?

Building costs are high and are on the rise. Land is expensive and it, too, is on the rise. While what we build is affordable to some, we know that housing is difficult to afford for many in our community. 


Lapis Homes is committed to donate a significant portion of our profits from projects into affordable housing projects – ideally in the communities where we build.


From our project at Five Two One Foster, we'll be donating $60,000 to a non-profit organization that will be building affordable seniors housing in Esquimalt. 


The non-profit is just introducing this project now so has asked us to wait to share details to allow them to go through the process. We're excited to post more info here once it's ready. 


As our company grows, we will invest more into affordable housing projects. 

And a few more

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What type of projects do you do?

We're open to a lot of different projects, but right now, we like multi-family townhouse developments -- creating more houses in the same amount of space. Many younger families and professionals have told us that they like the idea of smaller yards and shared outdoor spaces and responsibilities, as they seek to create community with their neighbours. 


We like this market and think that we need more of it. 

Aren't you just doing this to make money?

We know. Developers don't always have the best reputation. We're hoping to change this. And while, yes, we do want to make money to grow the business and support our family, we want to reinvest our money back into the community. 


This is why we've made our commitment to donating a significant portion of our profits to affordable housing projects in the communities where we build. 


From our project at Five Two One Foster, we'll be donating $60,000 to affordable seniors housing that will be built in partnership with the Anglican Diocese of BC and BC Housing at the St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Parish on Esquimalt Road. 


As our company grows, we will invest more and more into affordable housing projects. 

Where does Lapis Homes come from?

Lapis is latin for "stone" or for "milestone." There are many milestones along the way in any development project, so we felt the name fit well with what we do. 


You may be more familiar with the lapis lazuli stone. We were too, and really loved the rich blue patterns in that rock. The added bonus: With a stone like that, it isn't too hard for our graphic designers to be inspired. 

More Questions - Please ask

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Lapis Homes

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

250.413.7121