NOT ILLEGAL

I cannot count the hundreds of times that people use the word “illegal” to describe the act of living in a tiny house.  This word is being used incorrectly, over and over again, and I think this needs to stop… today!

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There is NOTHING illegal about living in a tiny house in Canada.  Tiny dwelling is not like like driving impaired, beating up on your wife or robbing a bank.  The police will not come and charge you, arrest you, handcuff you and put you in jail.  Using the word illegal is not just inaccurate, it also serves to undermine the credibility community and those who are interested in living sustainably.  It makes us appear as though we are all deviants.  I want everyone to STOP using this word today.

So… if living in a tiny house is NOT illegal… then what is the problem?

Building codes are the problem… And moreover, the problem is a duel one.  

First, these codes were set a long time ago and they are hanging on to antiquated notions that heating a small space is dangerous… and when room sizes were established a fifty years (or more) ago this would have been the case.  Old heating systems needed the breathing room.  But today this is no longer the case.  Little heaters like the Envi (and any hundreds of other choices) can be plugged in and heat a tiny house with absolute safety.

Secondly, the newer updated codes regarding size  were set in the last 50 years… when the economy was good and people did not really understand the true environmental and community costs of living in McMansions.   The thinking was (and still largely is) that bigger is better.  But today, the environmental reasoning behind why many want to go tiny  is crystal clear… just look at the heating and cooling bills and think about the STUFF that has to fill those big rooms.  Tiny houses are NOT cheap alternatives and this is not why living tiny is so attractive.  It is the fact that once you have it, that is it… there are no updates needed and even in ten years when you wear out your furnishings, replacement is… well…  it is a TINY expense… so too are heating, cooling and living.  Tiny living is simply a good fit for a lot of people, hundreds and thousands of us want this, if my stats here and on Facebook are any indication of the numbers.

This brings me to my other point.  Tiny dwellers are infect better citizens AND not just because our homes use less resources either.  When people live tiny, they have WAY more disposable income.  This means that they have the gift of time and money.  Many tiny housers use this extra time to take up hobbies, volunteering and really living in their community.   This disposable income gets used in their community.  They don’t spend money in the shopping mall, true!  But like me, they spend time in cafe’s and restaurants, and like me, they volunteer in the community.  Tiny houses allow people to be more engaged citizens and because we are more engaged, we are better citizens.  There is nothing illegal about that.

When we write about or speak about the problem with living in tiny houses, we must put the blame where the blame lay.  We must say, outdated building codes are making our way of life very difficult, if not impossible and we citizens MUST be given the right to live sustainably!   We demand it!

I also see many commenting that the reason that these houses are blocked is because of the taxes… but of course this could EASILY be resolved by setting a minimum amount for taxes that has nothing to do with square footage and everything to do with the fact that tiny housers are members of the community and should be paying taxes just like other people who own homes.

Some people say that they don’t want to have tiny houses next to their McMansion because it will bring down their property value.  Which is total nonsense!  There are so many downright ugly looking and rundown homes in just about every community… we don’t have that much control over how our neighbours live.  And besides, every tiny home I have ever seen has been as neat as a pin.  We are all minimalists after all!

This is a call for all building inspectors across Canada to get it together and change the codes in the area that they are responsible for!  Moreover, set things right for those who are already there hiding.  We really should not have to!

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Categories: Tiny House Ontario | 17 Comments

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17 thoughts on “NOT ILLEGAL

  1. Reblogged this on teawithkayla and commented:
    Hey tea friends. I’m reblogging this because there needs to be some awareness and change regarding building codes to allow for people to live in tiny homes. I am an Ontarian and hope to live tiny someday.

  2. This was extremely helpful. I have reblogged.

    We are very far behind here – This is a burgeoning area of growth is the US and some other communities. I am very interested in this lifestyle – particularly off the grid varieties

  3. Reblogged this on TorontoStuff.

  4. David

    I can’t wait to build mine. In the meantime it seems the government is a little stymied with regards to off grid living and how to capitalize on it. Freedom to the people is not on their agenda.
    Imagine actually being self sufficient to a very large degree. Imagine the ability tonic and move if you choose. Imagine the financial savings one will experience compared to living in a traditional home.
    This is the wave and its here.

  5. Dan Malloy

    Wow Laura…I feel like I wrote that!! 🙂 So collectively where do we go? I had started to look into a human rights complaint on the basis that minimum square footage discriminates against vulnerable people. I may consider that angle with my municipality. Some commented that they didn’t want the tiny home community to be seen as ‘underprivileged ‘ whatever that was supposed to mean. The truth is that once smaller homes become accepted then people with less income will be able to get into their own home easier. Thanks!!

  6. I applaud your view on this issue. Clear-headed and not overwrought with rhetoric. Thank you. 😃
    Parker

  7. I applaud you for your tenacity and support for others that have chosen to live sustainability
    Have you approached Government Representatives for support?
    Thank You for being you and I hope I can find a way to live like this
    Congratulations

  8. Tracy Gibson

    Does anyone know where we can get connected to join in the fight for change, has somebody, somewhere begun a real battle, a plan to effectively begin to change the codes? If so, where do I sign up to help? Thanks.

    • Thanks Tracy! Of course there is a real battle! Many of us are writing letters and sending them where they need to go. I will write a post about this in the coming days. We are getting through to some. The fact is that there was a law passed to allow for secondary dwellings across Ontario, so it is actually the municipalities that are acting illegally by not allowing our homes. If you have any suggestions to add, I will most happily include them. ❤ Laura

      • Tory Melnyk

        Hi Laura,

        I live in Ottawa am a senior and do have some mobility issues but feel that actually a tiny house would be easier to live in for many reasons and so do many of my senior friends. In fact I can see a whole community of senior tiny homes that would only need a few changes to acommodTe those with physical disabilities like a chair lift to the bedroom level instead of stairs or a ladder.

        I am thinking of researching whether perhaps a community already exists around here or close, maybe not specifically a seniors one but a tiny house community for as ages. Would you know if there such communities aroun Ottawa or near? Also would you know of tiny homes that are for rent? Not separate ones but groupings of them? I am hoping to get I no a rent to own situation if I can because building one from scratch isn’t something I would want to take on.

        I also would want a tiny house on a permanent setting, not one on wheels.

        Any info on this vision I have, whether this exists already or not and how feasible this actally seems to you would be welcomed I formation.

        Thank you in advance for anything you and maybe others here might be able to help me with.

        Hope to hear soon.

        Tory

      • Dear Tory,
        You are not alone in this wish! There are a growing number of North Americans who want to move towards small and sustainable sized housing. We want to own our homes and not for them to own us. A tiny home with a small yard to putter around in is an ideal for so many of us. Fact is that I wanted to have a 400 square foot home all on one level myself… a beautiful straw-bale with exposed timber frames inside… Passive solar, south facing, rocket stove and all totally off the grid… but this was tabooed by my municipality… 108 square foot (footprint) was all that I was allowed, so I was forced to go with a very tight design to have my house. As it stands, too… I do not have a dwelling permit… so I cannot live here full time. This suits me fine, because for now, I have a small house where my husband works in Hamilton Ontario and this is, for the time being our vacation home. It costs us under $1000 a year for taxes and this is the only cost. So it is manageable for us maintain it as it is.
        All I can say is that YOU are part of the lucky group who live in Ottawa… why you are lucky is that they have recently passed a garden house bill and you CAN build a house in a friend’s back yard now. The cost is of course a huge outlay… you would have to pay for the permit, design, and also the pigtails to have your sewer, water and electricity connected (underground) to the main house. The actual building of the house is smaller… because the house size is smaller.
        But like you, I would prefer a community of tiny houses, with a central building for laundry, community meetings and also just to gather with others because I long for community.
        If you are on Facebook, I invite you to follow me there. If you read down my wall you will find a lot about what has happened in Ottawa. But this was a while ago, so you will have to scroll back quite a bit.
        Kind regards to you,
        Laura

      • Tory Melnyk

        Hi Laura, thanks for the quick response. I heard that Ottawa had moved ahead in the builds of tiny homes but sounds quite expensive for me right now but I hope opportunities appear in the near future that might get me into the tiny home community. Maybe I’m dreaming but I am hoping to find a tiny home to rent first, possibly with an option to buy. Anyways thanks for your help, I appreciate your input and will foĺlow this site. Take good care. Tory

      • If you are interested in this lifestyle, perhaps you know someone who might have the means – and interest in building a unit – for rental on their property?

    • Macy over at Minimotives is one of the people spearheading this. Here’s a link for you:http://minimotives.com/2016/11/06/update-code-violation/

    • Dennis Cai

      Yes. Several groups across Canada are merging and will be working to write documention to get rid of antiquated barriers and make inclusions to various types of housing, starting with tiny homes. Essentialy doing the work that politicians will not do or will not fund… they ignore letters of protest!
      At this time there are several dozen folks working on this in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria, for example. Last I heard, two major universities, a polytechnic Institute and 2-3 other nonprofit groups are working in this scope.

      -D.C.

  9. Joan Fast

    Hi Laura,

    Thanks of your clarity on this topic. That’s a great reframe.

    Joan

    • Thanks Joan! I think I should have written on this topic MUCH sooner. It has been long clear to me, but somehow, I could not find the words until today.

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