Where To Call Home? (Once There Is One)
I have been busy working on the tiny house project recently, so it’s time for some updates. Instead of one long post I am going to write several shorter posts. This is the first…
Before I start my tiny house project I wanted to get an idea of where I would be able to live in my tiny house once it is complete. At the moment I’m not sure if that will be on Vancouver Island or somewhere else, but I thought it would be a good idea to find out what is possible here. Having read that it is best to work with your local planning authority rather than against them I brushed up on some terminology, shifted through documents online and paid my local City Hall a visit. After a couple of visits and speaking to the helpful people there it turned out that legally living in a tiny house in my area just isn’t possible. A trip to the regional district (which covers land surrounding the city) offices produced a similar response.
Rather than there being a law explicitly against living in small structures, the reason it isn’t legally possible is to do with tiny houses not fitting into any of their ‘boxes’. Tiny houses just don’t fit into any of the classifications they have, which dictate which zoning would allow dwelling in such structures. To break down the problem, tiny houses fall somewhere between these three classifications:
- Recreational vehicles – you can’t live in a RV here. The only exception is that in the regional district you can live in a recreational vehicle if you are building a house (for which you have had plans approved, plus a foundation laid and sewage hooked up). This isn’t me, not yet at least.
- Mobile homes – if my tiny house were considered a ‘mobile home’ then in theory I could live in it in a trailer park. From what I understand I would have trouble getting this classification though as I am not a mobile home manufacturer, who have to abide by their own set of building codes. Even if I was able to get this classification I would be limited to living in trailer parks. Which isn’t what I want.
- A residential house or auxiliary dwelling unit – a tiny house can’t be classified as a house or any other legal dwelling unit because it can’t be built to building code (minimum size limitations and the lack of a foundation just for starters). One of the main reasons tiny houses are built on wheels is to get around these very regulations. This means I can’t just buy a plot of land and park my house on it.
So I came away from these discussions a little deflated. The rules say I can’t live in the kind of structure I want to build because it doesn’t fit into a box. I don’t want to sound like I am against there being any sort of rules, I see their benefit, especially when it comes to safety. It just seems a little crazy that as a human being, who not that long ago would have been living in a cave, I can’t build a small house and buy some land to put it on. As far as the authorities are concerned tiny houses are a grey area at the moment, and where I currently live there is no room in the regulations for even a touch of grey.
I had to make a decision – do I continue with my dream of building and living in a tiny house knowing what I know, or do I give up, fall in line and live like I’m supposed to live.
So it’s not going to be easy. There is going to be uncertainty about where I will eventually be able to live in my tiny house. That’s fine with me, I’m not exactly sure where in Canada I want to live anyway, which is one of the reasons I am building on wheels. Plenty of people live in tiny houses by just flying under the radar. It seems that if you have a good relationship with your neighbours and no one kicks up a fuss then it is possible. Someone wise once told be that nothing worthwhile is easy. There are going to be plenty of obstacles during this project and after considering many different outcomes I am still undeterred.
If Canada has one thing, it’s land. I am confident I will be able to find somewhere to put my tiny house and call home. It does help to know that I am not the only one going down this path around here. Just yesterday I not only saw a tiny house being built, but also discovered someone living in one not far from where I live. It looks like I have some befriending to do.