Legalities Of Tiny Home Ownership In Canada

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Posted by Hermann Thoene | Posted in Building Code | Posted on 07-08-2018

The following post is a guest post from the Tiny House Society:

Many people are trying to reduce their environmental footprint these days, and one place to start is by going from huge expensive and resource hungry homes to smaller homes – in the most minimalistic way called a “tiny house”.

Building ToolsOne of the more popular tiny house questions people ask is: where can I build/park my tiny house? The answer isn’t as simple as one might think. There are all kinds of tiny home laws and conflicting answers that can leave a tiny house hopeful in the dust. Having to find a home for your home is very much a reality when it comes to this process, and it’s a good idea to do your research beforehand. Let’s take a look at the breakdown of legalities when building and locating a spot to put your tiny house. Keep in mind–these rules and regulations can change and vary from one area to the next, so it’s always best to check with your local municipality!

But first…

What is a Tiny House?

A tiny house, either on wheels or built on a foundation, is often a maximum of 500 square feet and focuses on a simple, minimalistic way of living without sacrificing quality. Highly popular amongst the eco-conscious, these tiny homes boast purposeful designs and stay far from wastefulness.

How to Build

Tiny houses need to be built according to local building codes. If you are planning on living somewhere remote or off grid, then it could be possible to build outside of these codes–emphasis on could be. The best way to go about this is to consult with a planner or to purchase an already built home to ensure the building is up to code. For example, parts of Canada do not allow lofts to be used for sleeping if the tiny house is built on site. This can be tricky, because many tiny house enthusiasts love the loft design, as it creates more ground floor space. Purchasing a tiny home that is pre-manufactured or comes from a certified company that specialize in tiny houses can eliminate a lot of hassle!Tiny homes on beach

In some parts of Canada, a tiny house on wheels is considered to be “a dwelling unit on wheeled chassis, greater than 12 square meters and less than 29 square metres, designed to be used as a full-time residence in this climate.” Additionally, some tiny houses that are built on foundations like standard houses can be qualified as an ADU or accessory dwelling unit. Both of these types of tiny houses can have strict building codes and regulations, so be sure to investigate thoroughly!

Where to Build

Finding a place to build your tiny house can be tricky. Owning a tiny house that isn’t on wheels means you won’t be able to just up and leave at the drop of a hat. This is why it’s even more important to consider your options and find out your local regulations. A few options on where to build your tiny house include:

  • In your backyard – You will need some land first. If you already own a house on the land, then it may be easier to live in because it still isn’t a “primary dwelling.”
  • In your friend’s backyard – Again, it will likely be easier because there is already a primary dwelling.
  • On a piece of land you bought – Lots of grey area here. If it’s out of the way of prying eyes then you might get by. Still, this is a risky choice because of the financial investment involved!
  • In a tiny house community – As the tiny house movement spreads, legal tiny house communities are popping up all over the country. Take a look at this community in the Ontario area.

Where to Park

If you are interested in a tiny house on wheels, then your options are fairly similar to the above. A different option available to the tiny house on wheels is the RV park. This could be a good choice because they often come standard with all of the hook ups such as water and electricity. Be sure to contact the owner of the park first! Technically, permanently residing in an RV (recreational vehicle) isn’t allowed, but many have found this is only an issue if there is a complaint.

Ask the right questions and search for great answers!

It’s important to keep in mind that each area of Canada may have different rules, so it’s a good idea to find out building codes and other regulations from your local municipality. A great way to ensure your peace of mind when building a tiny home is by contracting a tiny house specialist, or purchasing one of the many beautiful prefabricated options available. Luckily for us, Canada is a beautiful country for a tiny home if you are up to the challenge!