Ontario Tiny House By-Law Questions


Due to the fact that I have a tiny house and I am so far the only tiny houser in the area who writes about the experience, I have a lot of people writing to me to ask if they can legally live in the tiny house that they dream of building.  The honest answer is that I have very little idea.

The problem is, the question is not a simple one.  The Canadian Building Code is used as a guideline by all municipalities in Ontario (as far as I know); however, each community can amend these guidelines to fit their own vision of a community.

On Undeveloped land:

Most communities will not allow an RV to be parked there and a tiny house will fit into the same category.  So far I have not learned of any areas that allow you to live on wheels on land, whether you own it or not.  You can get a permit to live in an RV short term while you are building a house and as far as I know this is the only time you can live in an RV, unless you are in a licensed RV park.

You can typically build a structure on undeveloped land but this is variable depending on your area.  You must check yourself with your building inspector.  In the case of the area that I live, I am allowed to have a building with a footprint of 108 square feet (many are 100 square feet, I know of one area that has 120 square feet and I am sure that there are other sizes outlined too).  The said structure can be no higher than 15 feet which is a gift because this allows me to have a half floor loft.   I cannot live there but I can visit it as much as I like.  This said without a permit to reside there, my house may well be at risk when new administration or inspectors come on the scene.

On Developed land (land with a house):

You are allowed to park a house on wheels on your own property in most areas but not all.  This is why you often see RV’s at storage facilities.  You cannot live in an RV beside someone’s house as far as I am aware.  The only exceptions are are some communities which allow you to have a garden house which is livable as long as it is movable.   There are some communities North of Toronto that welcome movable garden houses.  The hitch here is that you must put expensive infrastructure in place.  With the exception of the ones that exist already and these movable garden houses, most communities in Ontario strictly prohibit 2 families on one lot.

So far I have never heard of any communities which allow garden houses to be built in back yards but I suspect as our population climbs and cities become denser, this will change.

In short, I can’t really answer this question for you.  The answers are very specific to your area and your building inspector.  I suggest that anyone who is wants to know call their building inspector.  This is their job to know the answers, so don’t feel that you are wasting their time.

If anyone knows specific rules for their city and county please leave this information in the comments section.

I will amend this article as information becomes available or known to me.

Amendment #1: Unorganized Townships: 

Barbara Sheridan writes: “If you live in an unorganized township they follow canadian building code not a municipal code (since there is no organized municipality). The Canadian code does not set out building size requirements.”  What this means is that you can build a tiny house here, as long as it meets building code.  Be aware ladders to the loft do not meet code so you have to make room for stairs that are up to code if you want a second floor.


Categories: Building code, Community, Neighbours, Ontario, Tiny house | 153 Comments


On Thursday evening my friend Guillaume made the trip to Hamilton to spend the night with Hj and I.  His intent was not simply to have a visit with us but to discuss his own tiny house build.  His work as a chemical engineer has forced him through a few relocations, currently this involves a lot of hotel rooms and I can tell you from my own experience with work travel living in a suitcase is not nearly as glamourous as it might seem to those who have not done it.  Every hotel in every city, no matter where you are becomes the same disconnected holding unit.  Now, with his current location change he is keen to have a somewhat more stationary home which can be relocated when his career calls.  A tiny house, is clearly his best and only option.  However, the life appeals to him too.  He loves the idea of a sustainable lifestyle and has big (ahem, tiny) plans.  He is a person who is very connected to the Norse tradition and having a simpler life is strongly in keeping with his personal values.

We looked together through a lot of photos and talked about the long and short term planning aspects of owning a tiny house.  As well we talked about him building the house while he stays at Tiny House Ontario.  In fact, he will soon be buying a trailer and bringing it there to begin the job in earnest.

Laura and Guillaume


He will initially put the house in the clearing beside THO and once the shell is done it will be moved to its location at the rear of my land.  In order to park the house back there he will have to do some land prep, which is to say that he will need to trim back the shrubs along the tractor path.  They have grown back in since 2010 when we last cleared this route.  He will also have to put in a couple of loads of gravel and will get my cousin Kenny to smooth this in.  This will cost him between $600 and $1000 which is a reasonable amount of rent for him to pay for the year and the benefit to me is that it will be easier to get in there if there is a fallen tree or simply to walk back to the rear of the acreage.

The natural location for him to place his house is to go where Great Giant Clyde fell and was removed over winter.  The naturally made hole in the canopy is ideal because this will allow him to collect sun for his solar system.   I am happy to know that absolutely no tree will need to be removed in order to provide Guillaume with a little space to call his own.  His location will be about 1/6th of a kilometre  to my own house but we will be divided by the thick prickly pear line so we will both enjoy 100% privacy in our homes.  The other benefit is that he is open to allowing me to share all the steps he makes in the building of his home, so this will provide me with a lot of fodder for my writing.

In short, we are great friends and soon we will be great neighbours as well.



I would like to take this time to say goodbye to Clyde and thank him for creating space for Guillaume.

Categories: Community, Forest, Friendship, Neighbours, Off Grid, Simple living, Tiny House Ontario | Tags: | 9 Comments

Housing and Social Justice

Here is a long article here about a new community in Olympia Washington.  It consists of 29 tiny houses for the homeless.  It is well written and covers a good deal of the background detail.  I think, what they are doing here is great, and thought you might also want to read about it.

Olympia housing :-D

I hope that they have left each of the inhabitants a place to grow a little garden.  I also hope that many communities use this as an example and set up similar sites.

I have only two suggestions.  One is that they put in flooring, or even paint the plywood because it is not easy to keep raw plywood clean.  The other is that the build supplemental stairs since it does not look safe or easy to reach the bottom stair on these houses.

On the topic of handouts, yesterday I saw a video which pointed out some very interesting points.  I know it looks rather boring, but it isn’t.  Contrary to the way it looks it is one of the most interesting videos I have seen on the topic of poverty.  It also offers fresh perspective on hand-outs.

(((Clearly this video is done from an American perspective; however, it does not differ in any clear way from Canada that I could see.  I am wondering how it differs in other countries, if at all?)))

Categories: Community, Money, Neighbours, Open your eyes, Sustainable living, Tiny house, Tiny House Ontario, View | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Big Treats at Tiny House…

Tiny House Ontario sits quite some distance from the road, so I was not really sure if we would get any trick or treaters at the house.   Six little people braved the long road in, dressed up in their scary gear.  So I am happy that we packed up twelve big vegan treat bags, pop, chips, pencils, raspberry candy, and Rockets.  We also picked up craisins, and Monsters Inc. PEZ dispensers for our niece Violet, and our neighbours Morgan and Cooper so that they would have a little something extra from us.

We will bring other treat bags home and give them to the four little neighbour children who live in our block in Hamilton.  Two are still up for grabs!

THO really likes having Halloween!  Well, truthfully, Laura likes any opportunity to see kids.

Don't be scared!  This is really our niece Violet and she is not the least bit dangerous!

Don’t be scared! This is really our niece Violet and she is not the least bit dangerous!


Categories: Family, Forest, Friendship, Neighbours, Ontario, Simple living, Tiny House Ontario | Tags: , | 2 Comments