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DATE: April 8, 2019 Regular
TOPIC: Laneway House Pre-Reviewed Design Competition
PROPOSAL: To approve the proposed design competition
Development Services is proposing a design competition in order to select three pre-
reviewed sets of plans for laneway houses.

On October 23th, 2017, staff presented the “Small Housing Revolution Project:
Laneway Housing” project to the Committee of the Whole. The project consisted of a
one-year partnership with Small Housing BC (SHBC). Founded in 2012, SHBC is a
registered society that conducts research, education and advocacy to promote the
development of small housing forms in British Columbia. SHBC approached the City of
Nelson to participate, along with two other BC municipalities, in a project that aims to
create a roadmap for municipalities to incorporate infill development into one or more of
their existing residential neighbourhoods by engaging industry and the public to better
understand local barriers and opportunities for small housing development.

The key components of the project included:

 Review of current regulations;

 Research and review of existing pre-approved secondary dwelling design
initiatives in Canada and the US;
 Purposeful and educational engagement with industry and the public;
 Exploring the possibility of pre-approved designs that could lead to lower
construction and homeowner costs, reductions in City staff time, and more
affordable units;
 A design competition or an RFP process for designs; and
 Returning to Council with project findings and draft zoning amendments.

The last remaining task is a design competition to select pre-reviewed designs that the
public may purchase. In December 2017, Small Housing BC prepared a 40-page report
for the City on best practices with respect to pre-approved designs and City-run design
competitions, based on case studies from five cities and interviews with the
professionals involved. Staff have conducted additional research and multiple reviews
over the past several months to prepare this competition, including:

 Reviewing the American Institute of Architects’ design competition manual as

well as relevant Canadian material
 Contacting the Architectural Institute of British Columbia
 Reviewing recent municipally-run design competitions across North America
 Soliciting feedback from the tentative design review panel members and potential
entrants (local designers and architects)
 Multiple internal staff reviews

Staff have tentatively assembled a Design Review Panel that includes some of the best
known laneway house design-build firms from Vancouver and Calgary, as well as Ross
Chapin, the architect who founded the “pocket neighbourhood” concept.


Since the idea of pre-reviewed designs became public over a year ago, Development
Services continues to regularly receive inquiries about the availability of plans. Unlike
with other development projects, laneway house developers tend to be homeowners
with little to no development experience. Staff have noticed people backing away from
developing a laneway house because they quickly get overwhelmed by the process,
beginning with having to choose a designer or architect, designing plans from scratch,
and continuing without any certainty as to how much even the design costs may be, let
alone construction.

Staff anticipate that the most probable users of pre-reviewed designs are individuals
who would otherwise design their own laneway house or seek to purchase stock plans
online. Staff recommend that the designs be available to purchase at $1,000. The
objective is to provide easy access to high-quality designs and code-compliant plans
that strike the right balance between affordable construction and ecologically-sound
design and that have been designed specifically for Nelson. The contest evaluation
criteria also emphasise adaptability.

A design competition brings benefits itself. Competitions help the community to

celebrate good design, are relatively inexpensive to run (minus dedicated staff time),
generate new ideas, can recruit both professionals and emerging talent (such as
university teams), and can serve as a platform to promote laneway housing and local
design talent.

The key risk of this project is the possibility of a low number of quality submissions and,
once the competition is closed, poor uptake on the part of Nelson homeowners. The
contest rules therefore state that the City may extend the deadline for submissions and
that the Design Review Panel is not obliged to award all prizes. Conversely, if uptake of
the three designs is unexpectedly high, some in the community have suggested that
there would be too many of the same. One survey respondent wrote: diversity is what
makes our current housing interesting!” A couple responses warned of “cookie cutter”
laneway houses behind heritage houses. Pre-reviewed designs do not necessarily
mean that all builds would be identical. Individual homeowners are likely to opt for
different siding, colour, and site orientation. Staff also anticipate that many purchasers
would hire a professional to modify the plans anyway, to adapt either to their own wants
or needs, or to site-specific conditions.

The concern of site adaptation has been raised by some members of the public and
stakeholders. Accordingly, staff have designed evaluation criteria that reward designs
that could be used on both flat and sloped properties.

If the contest is open to all of Canada, as is recommended by staff, some consider it a

risk that non-local designers or architects may win the prizes. Staff recommend a
Canada-wide contest in order to achieve a rich, competitive contest and the highest
possible number of entries and thus offer Nelson residents the best value-for-money.
Council could consider limiting entries to BC or even more locally. Staff would be
concerned about the risk of few entries, giving the jury little to work with.


The Zoning Bylaw permits Laneway Houses and Above-Garage Suites on the vast
majority of residential properties, including the R1, R3, R6, CD6, CD8, and CD9 zones.

The Official Community Plan (OCP) encourages residential infill housing and
densification that fits neighbourhood context. Specifically, the OCP supports laneway
housing. The City’s Affordable Housing Strategy (2014) prioritises the adoption of infill
housing policies, encouraging alternative housing forms and construction techniques.

There are many precedents for municipally-run design competitions and prizes,
including for pre-reviewed plans.


Staff time will be required. Costs associated with communications and the design
competition, including prizes, are anticipated to be $17,000 and will be covered by the
budget already allocated for Development Services. However, there is potential to
increase revenue generation through property taxation as a result of increased uptake
of laneway housing development, as well as a more efficient building permit approval


The OCP calls for diverse and affordable housing opportunities in denser, complete
communities that do not increase the city’s or the region’s footprint. It directs the City to
focus residential densification near existing infrastructure and services and to preserve
existing homes and their heritage value. Laneway housing is an approach that can
positively contribute to all of these objectives.

The proposed design contest’s evaluation criteria emphasise eco-design and

affordability. The program also incentivises laneway houses achieving Step 3 of the new
BC Step Code for energy efficiency. Step 3 represents 20% greater efficiency than
conventional building techniques. Achieving this step for a small laneway house is more
challenging than for a standard-sized home.

The possibility of the City pursuing pre-reviewed or pre-approved designs has been
circulated for over a year and a half, including throughout public consultation on
laneway housing regulations in January and February 2018. In the public survey, the
City asked:

The City is considering commissioning three to five pre-approved

laneway house designs to make it easier for a homeowner to build a
laneway house and to reduce their design costs. This would also
reduce the time necessary to approve a permit and ensure a
minimum energy efficiency standard. Would preapproved designs and
building plans help homeowners build a laneway house?

Most of the 270 survey respondents were in favour and a quarter of them were
interested in potentially purchasing a design. Most of the “other” responses were in
favour, on the condition that laneway house applicants aren’t required to choose a pre-
approved design.


1. Approve the project in principle
2. Approve the project, but restricting entries to British Columbia-based entrants
3. Approve the project, but restricting entries to entrants from the Kootenays only
4. Deny the project
5. Refer to staff for further information

1. Draft Competition Plan and Rules
2. Draft Entry and Waiver Form
That Council passes the following resolutions:

1. THAT Council approve a laneway house design competition as per the attached
documents, budget, and tentative timeline.

2. THAT Council approve refunding the $450 laneway house development permit
fee, when applicable, to applicants who use a pre-reviewed design and achieve
Step 3 or higher of the BC Step Code.


____________________________ ____________________________

Draft Plan: City of Nelson’s Pre‐Reviewed Plans for Laneway Housing

Objective: To generate high‐quality, pre‐reviewed laneway house building plans for the City of Nelson 
that will offer exceptional value‐for‐money for homeowners and make it easier for them to build a 
laneway house on their property, thereby increasing uptake of laneway housing. 

To create this inventory of options, a two‐round design competition is proposed. The first round will 
consist of a call for prototypes. The second round will be an invite‐only competition of up to five 
participants to produce design plans, selected from the top entries from the first round. Three designs 
will be selected and cash prizes for the top three will be awarded. The designers of all three plans will 
receive a royalty of $1,000 each time the plan is purchased by a homeowner. The winners will be 
required to provide buildable plans. The winning designers will also benefit from publicity. The 
unsuccessful candidates may also, if they choose, have their prototype design and names published by 
the City; builders who prefer those designs over the winning ones can still contact the designer 

The Design Review Panel will consist of five members, plus the competition organizer (Alex Thumm, City 
Planner) as a non‐voting chairperson. Tentatively, the five members are: 

1. Studio North is a Calgary‐based interdisciplinary design‐build architectural firm established by 
Matthew Kennedy and Mark Erickson that specialises in laneway housing. The firm’s principals 
have worked in several continents. 
2. Ross Chapin is an architect and community planner based on Whidbey Island, Washington, and 
author of Pocket Neighborhoods: Creating Small Scale Community in a Large Scale World. Since 
1996, Ross has partnered in developing seven pocket neighbourhoods in the Puget Sound 
region—small groupings of homes around a shared commons. Additionally, Chapin has designed 
more than 40 neighbourhoods across the U.S., Canada and the U.K. for other developers. 
Among current work are communities for multi‐generations, elders and mentally ill clients, and 
whole neighbourhoods with connected pocket neighbourhood clusters. His built projects and 
innovative ideas have received international media coverage, professional peer review and 
national design awards, and are shifting the thinking of homebuyers, builders and policy makers.  
3. Jake Fry started Smallworks in late 2005 and became a strong advocate for the introduction of 
laneway housing. He established Smallworks Studios and Laneway Housing Inc., which has built 
over 100 laneway houses, and worked with the City of Vancouver and other municipalities to 
help develop zoning by‐laws based on his experience and interaction with hundreds of potential 
small home clients. “My desire in starting Smallworks was to build simple, elegant modern 
homes which, with basic maintenance, would look as good a generation after they were built as 
when they were new.” In 2012, Jake was one of two founding directors of SmallHousing BC, a 
non‐profit society. In 2014 Jake was named Ernst & Young’s (EY) Entrepreneur of the Year in 
Manufacturing. Today, Jake focuses on finding new ways to broaden the range of housing types 
in Vancouver to create affordable options for single‐family home ownership. 

4. Ed Olthof of Pacific West Builders is a local builder, chair of the City of Nelson’s Advisory 
Planning Commission, and past president of the Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce. His 
role on the Design Review Panel is to bring the pragmatic perspective of a local builder who is 
intimately familiar with the Building Code and local construction limitations and costs. 
5. Pam Mierau has been the Director of Development Services and Approving Officer for the City 
of Nelson for over four years. She previously worked in urban planning at the City of Calgary and 
a Calgary‐based architectural firm. She holds a Masters of Environmental Design, an Urban 
Design Certificate, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication. Her role on the Design Review 
Panel is to bring a city planning perspective to the table, to speak to Nelson’s experience with 
laneway house builds thus far, and to represent the City’s broader planning objectives. 

Prizes  1st prize: $5,000 
2nd prize: $3,000 
3rd prize: $2,000 
Non‐monetary prizes (awarded to 
those who received a 1st/2nd/3rd prize):
o People’s Choice 
o Affordable Choice 
o Eco‐Choice 
Design Review Panel  $500 x 4 (City staff will not receive 
honoraria  honoraria) 
Communications  $5,000 

Tentative Project Timeline and Actions 
Dec. 2018 – April  Create plan and contest criteria/rules   
2019  and have plan reviewed by others 
(incl. the Architectural Institute of BC) 
Present to Council 
Select Design Review Panel and have 
them review and agree to documents 
April ‐ May 2019  Prepare marketing materials/website   
No later than June  Launch competition  Promote to: 
19th   Local architects and designers and 
other stakeholders, media, AIBC and 
other province‐wide forums, 
architectural schools, other laneway 
house designers in the province 
July 31st   Deadline to submit questions   
September 2nd    Deadline for first‐round submissions  If a satisfactory number of submissions 
hasn’t been achieved, staff reserves the 
right to re‐open and extend 1st round 
September  Design Review Panel evaluates and   
narrows down to top 5 for second 
Approx. October 1    Invite successful candidates to second   
round and submit feedback to them 
Oct 1st – Nov 30th    Second round   
December  Design Review Panel evaluates    
Announce winners 
January 2020  Publicise results  Advertise “people’s choice” vote 
Then, public has two weeks to vote for 
“People’s Choice” 
Await full building plans from winners, 
followed by plan review by building 
February 2020‐on  Implement   


Appendix A: Call for Submissions

Competition Task: To generate high‐quality, versatile laneway house building plans that will be 
purchased by the City of Nelson and offered to the public as “pre‐reviewed plans” to make it easier and 
cheaper for the average homeowner to build a laneway house on their property, thus increasing uptake 
of laneway housing. 

Why Participate: Laneway and backyard infill housing is increasingly popular across Canada and the 
American West Coast, both amongst homeowners, renters, and municipalities. This type of structure is 
essentially a mini single‐family house, but given the size constraints that they are subject to as accessory 
buildings, designing them requires innovative thinking, both in order to make them liveable, but also to 
help reduce neighbourhood opposition to this type of infill housing. In the City of Vancouver, 45% of 
new homes are being built with an accompanying laneway house. Other challenges are present, too, 
such as achieving project costs that are affordable to enough homeowners and adapting designs to 
individual backyards and lot coverage restrictions, as well as achieving energy efficiency for a smaller 
building. Architects and home designers would do well to hone their skills in laneway house design and 
broaden their portfolio in this market. 

Over the course of 2018, the City of Nelson undertook public engagement and best‐practice research 
and ultimately adopted significant amendments to its policies on laneway housing, allowing for more 
flexibility and larger laneway homes and above‐garage suites. In the past year, the City of Nelson has 
received as many laneway house applications as it had in the previous five years in total. Seven laneway 
houses have been built in Nelson since 2017, with others having been approved. In Fall 2018, the City 
published a reader‐friendly “How‐To” guide on laneway house development. Many Nelson residents 
have expressed interest and regularly contact the City inquiring about pre‐approved designs. Nelson is a 
dense, growing city with a high percentage of renters, with a vacancy rate well below 1%. City Council 
has supported laneway housing as a key initiative to gently densify the city and create new housing in 
existing neighbourhoods. 

Winning designs will be awarded prize money along with a $1,000 royalty each time the design and 
plans are purchased. Winning contest participants may benefit from additional paid work (at their own 
set rate) resulting from clients’ desire for modifications. Furthermore, they will benefit from free, 
ongoing publicity by the City of Nelson of their winning design through traditional media, social media, 
the City’s website, laneway house application documents, and other events. The City intends to use the 
contest as an educational initiative, showcasing the creative, high‐quality architecture generated 
through this contest as a means to promote laneway housing. Non‐winning designs from the first and 
second rounds may also be marketed by the City, with full credit given to the designers (once the results 
have been announced and anonymity lifted) and the original designers retaining full copyright of their 
designs, to be sold at their own discretion. 

Monetary Prizes 
1st prize: $5,000 
2nd prize: $3,000 
3rd prize: $2,000 
Non‐monetary prizes (awarded to 1st/2nd/3rd prize winners) 
People’s Choice: after the above prizes have been 
announced, Nelson residents will have two weeks to vote. 
Affordable Choice: the design review panel will award this 
designation to the design that it feels will be the most 
economical to build. 
Eco‐Choice: the design review panel will award this 
designation to the design that it feels achieves the highest 
ecological standards. 

Stages: The competition consists of two rounds. The first round is prototypical: we are looking for the 
concept, costs, performance, and design interest of your design. Exterior drawings only are required. At 
this stage, you must submit all the documents required in the “Submission Requirements and Rules” 
section below. 

Up to five of the top entrants from the first round will be invited to continue on to the second round. If 
you are invited to this stage, you will be asked to provide interior floor plans, specs, and a more refined 
affordability and eco‐sustainability report, and be able to show your design’s adaptability. Second‐round 
participants will be asked whether they are interested in having their contact information shared with 
other second‐round participants and/or unsuccessful first‐round participants for possible collaboration. 

Only the contest winners will be required to submit complete, buildable plans.  

Review Process: Submissions will be evaluated through a blind jury process. The Design Review Panel 
will be composed of five jurors (see top of document), plus the competition organiser as a non‐voting 
chairperson. In the event of a panel member being unable to continue to act through illness or any other 
cause, the Competition Organiser reserves the right to appoint an alternative panel member. The 
competition organiser may submit an analysis of the submissions’ compliance with City bylaws to the 
panel. The panel will select the competition winners, if possible, by consensus. If no consensus can be 
achieved, awards will be determined by majority vote. 

All submissions will be judged anonymously. Only the contest organiser will know participants’ identity. 
It is therefore imperative not to include any identifying material in your submission. 

If there are at least three competitive entries from designers based in the West or East Kootenay, the 
Design Review Panel will be expected to designate at least one of the top three prizes to a “local” 
submission. Submissions will nonetheless remain anonymous. 

City of Nelson residents will also be invited to vote for their favourite designs (a “people’s choice” 
award). This vote will not be anonymous, as it will occur after the first, second, and third prizes have 
been announced. 

* may, under extraordinary circumstances, change without notice 

June 19th, 2019  Launch competition 
July 31st   Deadline to submit questions. (Answers will be provided by August 8th.) 
September 2nd    Deadline for first‐round submissions 
If a satisfactory number of submissions hasn’t been achieved, the 

competition organiser reserves the right to re‐open and extend 1st round. 
September  Design Review Panel evaluates and narrows down to top 5 for second 
Approx.  Invite successful candidates to second round and submit feedback to 
October 1st   them; the Design Review Panel may direct questions to entrants 
continuing on to the second round 
Oct 1st – Dec.  Second round 
January 2020  Design Review Panel evaluates second round submissions and announces 
February 2020  City of Nelson publicises the winning designs. 
Then, public has two weeks to vote for “People’s Choice”. 
City awaits full building plans from winners, followed by plan review by 
building officials. Prize money is rewarded once received and approved 
by the Building Official. 
March 2020‐on  Plans made available to the public. 

Design Parameters: What You’re Designing and Where 

1. A “Laneway House” in the R1 zone of the City of Nelson, British Columbia, a small but dense city 
characterised by its heritage architecture. Laneway houses are essentially backyard houses and 
they may not be subdivided off. They are an accessory use to a single‐family home. Think of 
them as a detached secondary/basement suite. They are often used as rentals or housing for 
young or aging family members. In Nelson, they are not permitted to be used as short‐term 
rentals (i.e. Airbnb).  
2. Most, but not all properties in Nelson back on to a laneway/alley, but lane access is not required 
to build a laneway house. Residents may choose to design their laneway house so that their 
primary, everyday access is via the lane, but for emergency access purposes there must be a 1m‐
wide foot access from the primary street. 
3. We recommend reading the City’s “Laneway House How‐To Guide”: 
4. The competition organiser generally expects the construction costs of a 950‐sq. ft. laneway 
house in Nelson to average $220 per square foot. 
5. Compliance is required with City bylaws as they pertain to “Laneway Houses” in the R1 zone, the 
City’s Development Permit Guidelines for Laneway Houses, and the BC Building Code 2018 (note: 
Nelson is located in Climate Zone 5). 
a. The zoning bylaw can be access at 
b. The Development Permit Guidelines: 
6. In some areas of the City there is a Wildfire Development Permit restricting wood siding, open 
soffits, shingles, or shakes are not permitted as roofing or siding. Refer to Development Permit 
Area #3 in the Official Community Plan. 
7. Site characteristics and variations: 
a. Most lots in Nelson are steeply sloped, although many are flat, too. Lots that we expect 
to be interested in a laneway house are 500 to 650 square metres in size and 15‐18 
metres wide. 
b. In most cases (R1 zoning), the required side and rear setbacks are 1.5 metres. 
c. You may wish to consider designs that can easily be modified to be a single‐storey (4.5 
metres in height or less) and designs that include, for example, a single‐car garage that 
could easily be modified to be additional living space if the client so chooses (note that 
the maximum height drops from 6.1 metres to 5.8 metres if no garage or carport is 
8. Building restrictions (for terms in quotation marks, refer to their definition in the City’s Zoning 
Bylaw for calculation rules): 
a. “Height”: 5.8 metres, but 6.1 metres if the “building footprint” includes a carport or 
b. “Building Footprint”: 65 square metres (note: the zoning bylaw allows for an 80 sq. m. 
footprint for laneway houses 4.5 metres in height or under). In most cases, maximum lot 
coverage is 35% (in others, this can go as high as 45%). Due to the lot coverage of 
existing houses, designers may wish to balance the observation that not every property 
may accommodate a 65 sq. m. footprint, and that in many cases 55 sq. m. may be 
required, with the general desire to maximise living area. 
c. “Gross Floor Area”: between 26 and 89 square metres 

Submission Requirements and Rules 

1. Deadline to submit for the first round: September 2nd, 2019 at 11:59pm, PST. 
2. Building specifications are to be in metric. Drawings should normally be shown at a scale of 1:50 
to 1:200. 
3. Submissions shall be in PDF format and sent by email. Files should not exceed 20mb. If your files 
are too large to email, please contact the competition organiser. All file submissions will be 
acknowledged by the Organiser within 48 business hours (Monday to Friday). If you do not 
receive an acknowledgment of receipt, your submission may have been caught in a spam filter 
and you should contact the organiser. 
4. Submission contents shall not name the entrant(s) or their firm, in order to keep the contest 
anonymous. Entrants and their affiliation will be identified in the contest entrance form and 
5. Initial (first‐round) submissions are to include: 
a. A design board [sent as a PDF only], legible if printed in A3 (or 11” x 17”), including high‐
level specifications indicating materials used, compliance with zoning, the City’s laneway 
house design guidelines, the BC Building Code, and other relevant information (e.g. floor 
b. At least one exterior perspective of the building and/or proposal in context of a sample 
site; renderings or quality drawings  
c. In addition to inclusion in a design board, any images shall be submitted separately 
in .jpeg or similar format; one version high‐resolution and another low‐resolution 
version that is easier to email. 
d. A written description (between 200 and 1,000 words) indicating how the evaluation 
criteria (see below) are met. Entrants may include information on additional 
opportunities for affordability, if applicable. 

e. Complete and sign the attached entrance and declaration of authorship and rights form. 
Submission of the form acknowledges authorship of the design ideas, and by signing it, 
Competitors accept all conditions pertaining to the competition and agree to abide by 
the decisions of the Design Review Panel and the City of Nelson. 
6. Second‐round submissions (invite‐only) are to include: 
a. Updated first‐round contents, if necessary 
b. Interior floor plans and, preferably, interior renderings 
c. Exterior: elevation drawings (including height calculation) and renderings 
d. (For the above, you may include plans and drawings/renderings for various 
configurations, e.g. flat‐lot and hillside; 1‐storey and 2‐storey, as desired by the designer) 
e. Specifications/stats indicating compliance with zoning, the City’s laneway house design 
guidelines, the BC Building Code, and other relevant information (e.g. floor area) 
f. May include sample site plan, if desired 
g. A written “pitch” (up to 400 words) to interested homeowners. The text’s target 
audience are potential purchasers of the plans. Why should they pick your design? 
Name the design. 
7. Submissions should avoid structure‐specific or site‐specific engineering. 
8. By entering this competition, entrants declare that the designs in their submission have been 
developed solely for the purposes of this competition and represent no infringement on any 
existing copyright or patent. 
9. Entrants must be based in Canada and be of the age of majority. 
10. Design teams may be modified at the second‐round stage with written notice to the 
competition organiser, so long as the primary entrant remains the same. 
11. Group submissions are encouraged, as well as student submissions. Student submissions must 
be supported by at least one professional, such as a professor or practitioner. 
12. Members of the Design Review Panel and their immediate family, employees, employers, or 
associates are ineligible to participate. Current employees of the City are also ineligible. 
13. No member of the Design Review Panel may assist an entrant or act in any other capacity to 
advise or aid an entrant in the development or presentation of their submission. Entrants shall 
not communicate in any manner with any member of the Design Review Panel regarding this 
competition prior to the public announcement of the results. 
14. Any submission that is received after the submission deadline, is incomplete, or violates any 
provisions of the Competition rules or Terms and Conditions, will be disqualified. Upon evidence 
of any infraction of the competition conditions, the entrant(s) shall be informed, in writing, of 

If design entries do not meet appropriate standards, the Design Review Panel reserves the right to not 
award one or more prizes. If a satisfactory number of submissions have not been received, the 
competition organiser reserves the right to extend the contest. Winners will be announced as soon as 

Feedback will only be sent to the winners. Competitors will be expected to maintain confidentiality and 
must not release their designs for publication, or identify the name of the successful or unsuccessful 
designers to any third parties until after an official announcement has been made and/or anonymity 
lifted. The Competition Organisers reserve the right to publicise the Competition, any design submission, 
and the result in any way or medium they consider fit. Illustrations of any design ‐ either separately, or 
together with other designs, with or without explanatory text written by the Organisers or by the 
entrant ‐ may be used without cost. Once anonymity has been lifted, authors will be credited and 
recognised in all associated media and publicity. 

Copyright rests with the author of the submitted design, until and unless a prize has been awarded. It is 
a condition of entry that winners will transfer ownership of the design and plans to the City of Nelson. 
Prior to the prize money being issued, the plans must be approved by the City’s Building Official for 
Building Code compliance. If the winning design ultimately does not meet regulatory requirements to 
the satisfaction of the City’s Building Official, the prize will not be awarded to that entrant and the 
Design Review Panel may award the prize to another design. 

The Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) has, in writing, reviewed this competition and 
approves it for participation by its members, as well as designers. 

The deadline for questions is July 31st, 2019. Questions shall be submitted by email and answers will be 
posted online on the project page at The competition organiser is: 

Alex Thumm 
Planner, City of Nelson 
Suite 101 ‐ 310 Ward Street 
Nelson, British Columbia  V1L 5S4 
P: 250.352.8253 | E: 


The City of Nelson owns the rights to the designs and plans and sells them for $1,000 per project within 
the City of Nelson. 100% of this fee goes to designer as a royalty. The designer may sell the design/plans 
(this includes designs/plans that are substantially similar to the winning design) outside of City limits at 
the price of their choosing; however, they may not allow the plans/design to be used for more than 15 
individual builds outside of City limits. In the case of a team submission, payment will be made to the 
primary entrant or their firm, as desired. 

If the City chooses to retire the designs from this program, the rights return to the original designer. 

If pre‐reviewed designs are used, the applicant will benefit from an expedited review process. 
Furthermore, the $450 development permit fee (if applicable) will be refunded to the applicant if Step 3 
of the BC Step Code is met. If a plan purchaser wishes to modify the plans, the original winning designer 
will be recommended to the applicant by the City. However, the applicant is free to choose another 
designer to modify the plans for their building permit. The City may also indicate to the applicant which 
builder(s), if any, have built their chosen design previously. 

Evaluation Criteria 

1. Design: successful designs will be high‐quality, attractive, and practical. Contestants would 
therefore benefit from knowledge of the real estate preferences of locals. Designs will fit as 
wide of a range of contexts and neighbourhoods as possible (i.e. fitting with contemporary and 
heritage primary homes alike), giving consideration to Nelson’s context and architecture. 
2. Good home, good neighbour: successful designs will be appreciated by both neighbours and 
occupants of the laneway house. They will have street appeal (attractive design that will be 
attractive to most) and afford privacy to both occupants and adjacent neighbours. Limit bulk. 
Occupants will benefit from a high‐quality interior that will be as house‐like as possible (e.g. high 
ceilings, ‘quiet walls’ to reduce noise within the home). 
3. Affordability: in their use of materials, successful designs will strike a balance between 
affordability and sustainability that will be attractive to Nelson property owners. The ongoing 
costs of maintenance must also be taken into consideration. 
4. Flexibility and longevity: the winning designs will be those that are the most elastic, meaning 
adaptable to and replicable across a variety of lots, neighbourhoods, lot configurations, and 
topographies in Nelson (which are often steep). Maximise opportunities for easy customisation 
to accommodate individual appetites for affordability, finishing, and sustainable design features. 
Entrants will be rewarded for designs that show promise of a high shelf life.  
5. Eco‐Design: green materials are used where appropriate and maximum possible energy 
efficiency is achieved (strive to achieve the highest‐possible step code level). Other sustainability 
features (e.g. living roofs) will be rewarded, but weighted against affordability. Ideally, such 
features would be including as ‘options’ for the client. 



Contest Entrance, 
Release & Assignment
I/we hereby irrevocably consent to and authorize The  City  of  Nelson  [the City], its agents or assigns, the irrevocable 
and  unrestricted  right  to  use  and  publish  images  and  video  of  the  persons  named  below  and  of  the  design  and 
conceptual plans that I/we submit as part of the City’s 2019‐2020 laneway house design competition [“the Images”] for 
editorial, trade, advertising, promotion or any other lawful purpose in any manner or medium, and to alter the same 
without restriction without the payment of any compensation. Further, in favour of the City, I/we do hereby: 
(1) waive any right to notice or approval of any use of the Images; 
(2) release  the  City  and  its  agents  or  assigns  from  all  claims  and  liabilities  relating  to  the  Images  of 
myself/ourselves or by virtue of alteration, processing or use in composite form; 
(3) publicise  the  names  of  all  entrants,  along  with  the  right  to  use  other  background  information  about  the 
entrant(s) or winner(s); 
(4) release all intellectual property rights, including copyright, which I/we have in or to the Images; and 
(5) assign to the City all moral rights which I/we have in or to the Images. 
I/we declare that: 
(1) I/we  are  hereby  applying  to  participate  in  the  design  competition  and  have  complied  with  and  accept  the 
rules, regulations and conditions which apply to this competition and acknowledge that the City reserves the 
right to refuse any entry. 
(2) I/we declare that the information submitted as part of this competition is, to the best of my/our knowledge, 
true and correct. 
(3) I/we  agree  to  accept  the  decision  of  the  design  review  panel  as  final,  and  by  submitting  an  entry  to  this 
competition,  I/we  agree  the  City  has  the  unlimited  right  to  display,  publish,  post  and  otherwise  exhibit  all 
materials  submitted  in  any  medium.  Credit  will  be  given  to  the  authors  of  the  material  after  entrants’ 
anonymity has been lifted by the City. 
(4) I/we accept full authorship of the submission and declare that the design and plans are my/our original work 
and that the entirety of the submission has been prepared either by me or under my/our direct supervision. 
(5) I/we acknowledge that I/we retain ownership and copyright of all entry materials submitted, but accord, as 
per this waiver, accord limited reproduction rights to the City, and, as per section 12 of this waiver, may be 
required to forfeit copyright if selected as a winning submission. I/we assume all responsibility for any breach 
of intellectual property rights or copyright entitlements of others. 
(6) I/we  agree  to  bear  the  cost  of  any  claims  or  outlay  relating  to  intellectual  property  rights  or  copyright 
entitlements of others that might arise from the City’s use or reproduction of any materials submitted. 
(7) I/we agree to waive any and all claims against the City, the Organizers, and the Design Review Panel members 
arising  as  a  result  of  the  competition.  I/we  release  and  indemnify  the  City  of  Nelson,  its  Council  members, 
officers, employees, and agents from and against all liability, claims and other expenses of any kind which I, or 
any other person, may have in connection with anything said or done with respect to this project. 
(8) The City shall bear no responsibility for any unauthorized use of submissions by any third party. 
(9) The City has the right to use any ideas contained in any winning or non‐winning submission. 
(10) I/we  agree  that  I/we  will  not  release  any  material  submitted  to  this  competition  until  the  results  of  the 
competition are announced by the City. 
(11) I/we acknowledge that the City will not return any materials submitted. 
(12) If I/we should be awarded a prize as part of this competition, I/we acknowledge that the award is contingent 
on a full set of buildable plans being submitted and approved by the City’s Building Official, and I/we agree to 
transfer all rights and ownership over the winning design and plans (this includes rights over any designs that 
are substantially similar to the winning design) to the City, that the designer(s) will receive 100% of the sale 
value of the plans, and that the City will determine when the plans may be sold to the public. 
I hereby represent that I am over 18 years of age and the right to contract in my own name. I also state that I have read 
this document prior to signing same and that I fully understand its contents. 
Official Mailing Address of Entrant/Team:  
Primary email address of team:   ______________________________________________________ 
Primary phone number of team:   ______________________________________________________ 
Affiliation (e.g. firm or university):___________________________________________________________ 
Primary Entrant Name:   ____________________________________________         Title or Professional Designation:________________________ 
Team Member Name:   ____________________________________________         Title or Professional Designation:________________________ 
Team Member Name:   ____________________________________________         Title or Professional Designation:________________________ 
Team Member Name:   ____________________________________________         Title or Professional Designation:________________________ 
Team Member Name:   ____________________________________________         Title or Professional Designation:________________________ 
Signature of Primary Applicant (on behalf of all team members):   ______________________________________________________________ 
Signed in the presence of:    WITNESS SIGNATURE: