Vancouver Specials: Complete Illustrated Guide & Database

About the Vancouver Special and Our Database

Welcome to the most comprehensive resource for Vancouver Specials, a term referring to houses built in a particular architectural style from roughly 1965 to 1985 in Vancouver, BC and suburbs. These houses were once a symbol of uniformity with their box-like mass-produced look only to become the new "chic" decades later.

Once referred to as "monster homes" and banned by the City of Vancouver in 1986, they have become sought-after thanks to their large living space, sturdy build and renovation potential. This complete illustrated guide and database aims to document and archive every single Vancouver Special out there and provide you with the tools to inspire yourself by the evolution these houses went through and even find Vancouver Specials for sale.

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The History of Vancouver Specials

Vancouver Specials started popping up throughout the Lower Mainland in the early ‘60s and didn’t stop until the mid-’80s. In all fairness, we have to note that there are houses in the Lower Mainland dating back to the late ’40s that look almost identical to the Vancouver Special style. We can conclude that the housing design ideas can be found much earlier, but it was only in the ’60s that the mass popularization and mass production of this kind of housing kicked in. They are everywhere you look: literally thousands of them and nearly every street in the city has at least one.

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Vancouver Special Characteristics and Examples

People either love them or hate them. It’s very hard to maintain a neutral relationship with these buildings since they are so common and distinct in style. 

While there are common characteristics amongst all Vancouver Specials, they also have a surprising amount of diversity. Over their long history there were significant modifications to the original design as builders became a little creative, or responded to consumer demand.

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Vancouver Special Renovation Guide and Examples

Who would have guessed the Vancouver Special, once a synonym for an ordinary design by the thousands, would become one of Vancouver’s most highly sought after housing types? Until recently, you wouldn’t find a lot of people who would consider buying a Vancouver Special — not even as storage space. This has definitely changed. The Vancouver Special has become the new chic, and thanks to the increasing number of visionaries who are brave enough to invest in their renovation, Vancouver Specials are setting a truly remarkable trend on the city’s housing scene.

Read the Full Vancouver Special Renovation Guide and Examples

450 E. 18th Ave.

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557 E. 29th Ave.

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423 E. 17th Ave.

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1159 E. 28th Ave.

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1840 E. 6th Ave.

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5868 Chester St.

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4896 Henry St.

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5930 Sherbrooke St.

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339 E. 34th Ave.

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615 E. 19th Ave.

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