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!
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!