After a recent trip to Saskatoon, a community filled with tiny and little houses, I called the City of Saskatoon, Planning and Building Department. I asked if there was a minimum size requirement in Saskatoon. Apparently there is not because they said they did not think that there was a minimum size restriction in the National Building code. This is the code that Saskatoon uses.
After speaking with three people on the phone, I wrote to the Canadian Code Centre (a couple of times before I got the straight to this question):
Dear Ms. Moreland
The National Building Code (NBC) does not regulate a minimum size for buildings in the body of the code. Whether a permit is required or not for a building is an administrative requirement, for which each province and territory has detailed requirements (and – which may differ from province to province).
The National Building Code only contains a few (model) administrative requirements for provinces or territories, should they wish to use them in enforcing and administering their code. Within these model requirements (located in Division C of the NBC) is a reference to a document “Administrative Requirements for Use with the NBC 1985”, which in turn suggests that an exemption for permits would be appropriate if buildings are smaller than 10m² (108 ft²).
This exemption is based on the assumption that such small buildings would be accessory buildings and that there is only 1 such accessory building per primary building. In addition, the 1985 document states that the exemption for small buildings is not intended to waive the safety and health requirements for a series or group of such buildings. This likely means that an authority having jurisdiction (city or municipality) would not use this exemption where people intended to live in such small houses.
In addition, staff at the Canadian Codes Centre are not aware of a study or research report that contains a clear-cut, definitive answer as to whether there is a legal or safe minimum size for a permanent dwelling.
The views expressed in this letter are those of the staff of the Canadian Codes Centre of the National Research Council who assist the Committees which are responsible for the preparation of the National Building, Plumbing and Fire Codes. These views should not be considered as official interpretations of legislated requirements based on the National Building and Fire Codes of Canada because the final responsibility for an official interpretation rests with the authority having jurisdiction.
Senior Technical Advisor, Housing and Small Buildings (NBC Part 9)
Canadian Codes Centre
1200 Montreal Road Building M23a
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0R6
What I get from this letter is that it is as I previously understood. There is NO minimum house size in Canadian code!
So, it is therefore up to we Tiny Housers and Tiny House enthusiasts to educate our municipalities and local government to the benefits of tiny living so that we can have these changes in code made to all locals. We must lobby, speak to elected officials, educate those who are on the election trail and keep making our voices heard if we want to see tiny houses available in communities across this nation.
What I am asking is that anyone who is interested in this lifestyle please take a few moments and write letters to the elected officials in your community. Copy the building department as well. If we all lobby together there will be change, community by community.
ALSO, FYI… Here is a story on the awesome community that opened my eyes a little more; Saskatoon.