TINY HOUSE 101
Legalities for Tiny Homes in Canada
Are you wondering about the Canadian building code guidelines for a Tiny House?
Living in a City:
Section 9 of the code requires that a “home” be a minimum 400sq ft in size. On top of this, in order to keep their tax base up — **some** municipalities require additional square footage (of heatable space, not including walls). One way to get around this is to add a heatable patio that increases the square footage of livable space.
On the other hand, there are municipalities that will consider accepting tiny homes under 400 sq ft so long as they are considered an RV and have an RV VIN#. They also require that they tiny house be built to code by a certified builder or manufacturer. The best way to find out is to ask what your municipality allows! Cooperation is always best when you want a Tiny Home in an urban area.
As an alternative — you can always take your chances and live in a tiny house that doesn’t meet the regulations — thousands of people in Canada and the US already do, and because of the community support and the mobility of tiny homes, the lifestyle benefits outweigh the possible hassle.
It’s a matter of personal choice.
Living in a Rural Area:
Thousands of people around North America live in more rural areas in their tiny homes. These areas are easier to navigate as they have fewer restrictions to face. Again this varies from province to province and even within the rural local municipalities.
regardless of where you live:
– Make sure that your Tiny House has a RV VIN#
– Be sure that it was built to code by a certified builder or manufacturer
– Always ask the local municipality and cooperate
To check with your local municipality on whether zoning bylaws allow you to build and/or reside in a tiny house check out the following links. You can also do an internet search for “municipal building requirements in ______ (your location).”
If you’re not interested in living in your Tiny House but would like to use it as a studio it could be classified as an accessory building. An accessory building must not i. be used as a dwelling unit; ii. contain shower, bath or toilet facilities; and iii. must not have more than one plumbing fixture that requires drainage unless its use as a dwelling unit is expressly permitted by the regulations under this Bylaw that apply to the zone in which the accessory building is located.
There are many efforts in place to change building code and zoning regulations to make living in a tiny house more widely acceptable including:
Insuring a Tiny House
Because tiny houses are not recognized as permanent dwellings, insurance companies have been hesitant to protect the contents from theft, fire or floods. However there are now banks/ credit unions which will insure Tiny Homes, under certain conditions. Here is a list of the banks that are currently insuring Tiny Homes:
Island Savings Credit Union, Vancouver Island BC- policy here: island-savings-tiny-house-insurance
Transporting a Tiny House
Towing will depend on the trailer size your tiny house is built on and the weight of both. We recommend referring to this online towing guide.
Types of Hitches
You will need a Class IV or Class V hitch depending on the weight you will be pulling.
Highway Driving Rules and Regulations
As long as you meet road requirements for your area, you can drive with a Tiny House. Check whether your province requires you to obtain a permit. Your trailer and house must not exceed 102” wide and 13′ 6″ high. Maximum length is different in each province. Your trailer must also have a license plate and working brake lights and turn signals. We recommend referring to the Digest of Motor Laws website for more details.
RV Types related to Tiny Homes
Park Models with CSA Z-240 Standard
If your tiny home meets or exceeds CSA Z-240 Standard Park Models standards, it is easier to get RV designation, loans, insurance, admittance to RV parks, and more.
These are available in two different classes: the Park Trailer 8′ Wide which is built to RV specifications, the CSA Z-240 Standard, or the Park Model 10′ to 16′ Wide, which is designed for seasonal use, generally in just one location, and built to the CSA Z-241 Standard.
- Park Trailer 8′ Wide – A unit designed to be towed by a heavy-duty tow vehicle (auto, van, pick-up truck, etc.) but is of restricted size and weight so that it does not require a special highway movement permit. The maximum width when being towed is 2.6 meters (102 inches)(8.6ft). Designed for infrequent towing, it is not fitted with a 12-volt system for fixtures and appliances. Once on site in the set-up mode it must be connected to the local utilities. This recreational vehicle is built on a single chassis mounted on wheels. It usually has one or more slide-outs, but when in set-up mode the gross trailer area does not exceed 37.2 sq. meters (400 sq. feet). It conforms to the CSA Z-240 Standard for RVs.
- Park Model 10′ to 16′ Wide – It is built on a single chassis mounted on wheels, which may be removed and returned to the factory. The unit is designed to facilitate occasional relocation, with living quarters for a temporary residence or seasonal use, and must be connected to those utilities necessary for the operation of installed fixtures and appliances. It has a gross floor area, including lofts, not exceeding 50 square meters (approximately 540 sq. feet) in the set-up mode and has a width greater than 2.6 meters (8′ 6″) in the transit mode. Widths can be 10’, 12’, 14’ and 16’ generally. Park Model units always require a special tow vehicle and a special permit to move on the road as the width of the unit is greater than 2.6 meters. It conforms to the CSA Z-241 Standard for RVs.
Bank Loans and Financing
Because tiny homes are not recognized as permanent dwellings, banks will not usually approve a mortgage to build or purchase one. It may be possible to borrow money through a line of credit, we recommend checking with your financial institution. You can also get an RV loan or follow some of the steps listed here. And remember that the more the movement grows, the more that regulations will open up. This is the nature of change!
LIFESTYLE TIPS AND DETAILS
Building a Tiny House
If you want to build a Tiny House we highly recommend it! Thousands of people have had great success with building tiny homes. We suggest that you do a lot of thorough research before you start your exciting project. Check out this COMPREHENSIVE LIST.
Our website offers a number of DIY building plans for purchase.
Tiny House Builders- Making the right choice
There are a lot of great Tiny House Builders in Canada. It’s important that you do your research, ask around within the community and do extensive research. We also encourage you to look over our Builder and Contractor Directory for details about Canadian Companies who are trusted within the community.
Where to put a Tiny House
Tiny Houses are popping up across Canada and people are finding more and more spaces to live in them. Some popular places include laneways, back yards, parking spaces, with friends or family and in land share opportunities. Our website has a number of listings that will assist you to find the perfect space for your Tiny House. Just search for “parking wanted”.
Living in a Tiny House Long-Term
Tiny Houses are built to include all the amenities of a detached home but in a compact and sustainable way. There are plenty of Tiny House designs that can accommodate growing families, and of course one of the best parts of owning a Tiny House is that if you have to move, you can bring your home with you! Learn all about the Tiny House lifestyle on our blog.
Making the Transition
Tiny House Culture
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