Tiny homes are all the craze on TV but what are the chances of seeing the tiny home movement in the Sault? After all, there has been a cry for more apartment units to be built and with the high cost of constructing a new home, a tiny home might be the perfect solution for those on a tight home ownership budget.
Can anyone just build a tiny home in the city, in your neighbourhood ?. The short answer is yes and no.
“Not the way you see them on HGTV” said Gary Schryer, Senior Plans Examiner and By-Law Enforcement Officer The Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie. Schryer is referring to several tv series on tiny home living. In the tv series, customers build their new homes, ranging from sizes of just about 160 sq feet to about 300 sq feet and built on wheels, making the tiny homes truly mobile. The homes are built with comfort in mind including full bathrooms and even loft areas, but with that said, you’re not likely going to be allowed to have one on a residential lot.
“we don’t have a by-law specifically saying you can’t have a tiny home” Schryer said. The use of the home and how it’s built will determine if it can be built in the city limits. For example, most tiny homes are built to move, in that case the construction of the home falls under the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) guidelines, similar to that of an RV or trailer, such as Park Model homes such as those at Mark’s Bay where a little community of tiny homes sprung up in the last six years or so. If you want your tiny home to be permanent and built on a solid foundation, then it falls under the Ontario Building Code and must meet the requirements of any on-site built home as well as local building by-laws. Schryer explains that one of the draws to tiny home living is cutting down on the footprint that traditional homes have. A three bedroom home on average runs about 1,000 square feet and up with space is needed in that size of building for heating units, duct work, plumbing etc. and that’s space most tiny homes don’t accommodate for but is required under the Ontario Building Code
One work-a-round for a tiny home is the use of shipping containers, Schryer tells SaultOnline.com that there’s been a lot of interest in that mode of construction. “we’ve had a lot of inquiries, the trouble with a shipping container, there’s nothing saying you can’t turn a shipping container into a building, what we need is a lot of engineering, once you cut a hole in that structure, it has to be verified if it’s okay to have a hole in that structure, sort of thing” Schryer said.
Shipping containers have become a hot commodity for developers who are now building multi-storey apartment complexes as well as stand alone homes with great success. Some communities have also developed subdivisions featuring nothing but homes built from old rusty containers, that once used, you would never know the building was made up of several containers.
The containers themselves can cost in the range of $800 to $5,000 depending on their size. Most would cover approximately 100 to 200 square feet each.
“We’ve had a lot of interest with people coming to the front counter saying they want to build a tiny home” Schryer says the best advice is to get a qualified designer first, “that person can sit down with you and determine the minimum size house you’ll need. Once of the barriers is that regardless you’ll need certain thickness on the walls, space for heating and ventilation and ceiling height to conform with building codes”
The tiny home movement gathered momentum following the U.S. real estate crash in 2008 and has gained in popularity ever since, especially in the warmer climates in the southern United States. The American Tiny House Association was founded in 2015 as a nonprofit in Florida, with the mission to promote tiny houses as a viable, formally acceptable dwelling option for a variety of people. The organization establishes chapter leaders in many U.S. states. The Tiny Home Alliance of Canada, that bills itself to support both a thriving industry and a sustainable lifestyle for anyone who wants to go tiny, features more information on this new growing trend in home ownership. Many support the initiative for a sustainable solution to homelessness with groups advocating for governments to loosen building requirements in Canada to help accommodate construction of “pocket communities” built of tiny homes and that may be an opportunity for communities all over North America to embrace to provide a more sustainable lifestyle for millions of people.