The City of Nelson will hold a competition for pre-reviewed designs for laneway houses, in a bid to encourage more of them to be built.

The contest, approved tonight by city council, will be open to any architect, designer, or student across Canada.

In the first round, contestants will be asked to submit an exterior design. Five finalists will be chosen to continue to the next round and asked to provide interior floor plans, specs, and demonstrate the design’s adaptability to Nelson.

The top three designs will receive prizes of $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000. The designs will then be made available to anyone who wants to build a laneway house in Nelson at a cost of about $1,000, which will go to the designer as a royalty fee.

“The¬†plans are for people who are otherwise looking at stock plans that might not be adapted to Nelson or the provincial building code,” city planner Alex Thumm says. “These will be good quality and you can have them for the same price or cheaper than stock plans.”

The winners will be chosen by a five-member panel that includes architects, planners, builders. There will also be non-monetary awards chosen by the general public.

Thumm says the contest will be launched this summer. He expects entrants will be enticed by more than just the prize money.

“It’s the prestige, publicity, and the competition itself. A blind competition is really good for the design community in terms of helping lesser known names get exposure. And¬†laneway housing is picking up all over the country. In Vancouver, 45 per cent of new home builds are being built with laneway houses.”

Overall, $17,000 has been budgeted for the competition, including the prize money.