Build Or Buy A Tiny Home - Premier Of Ontario

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An innovation guide under More Homes, More Choice:Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Planontario.ca/housinginnovationBuild or buy atiny homeOntario Building CodeInformation

IntroductionAre you thinking about having a tiny home on your property? Not only are they a great way tosave on housing costs, they are also cheaper to build and maintain than a regular house. If you areinterested in building or buying a tiny home, this guide will provide you with useful information asyou move ahead with your project.This guide applies only to newly built stand-alone tiny homes that are separate buildingsfrom existing structures on a property. For the purposes of this guide, the types of tiny homesdiscussed are new small houses that are either: built on site built in a factory and then brought to a propertyRenovating an existing building on a property to add a dwelling unit is not discussed in this guide.If you are planning to renovate an existing, separate structure on your property such as a garage,coach house or laneway house, you should contact your local planning and building departmentsfor more information about how to proceed. You can also read the guide “Add a second unit inyour house,” with information on what you need to know about adding a second unit insideyour house.Disclaimer: This document is provided for convenience only and should not be relied uponas a substitute for construction, engineering, architectural or legal advice. The Ministry ofMunicipal Affairs and Housing does not assume responsibility for errors or oversights resultingfrom use of this document.

Tiny homeFor the purposes of this guide, a “tiny home” is a small, private andself-contained dwelling unit: with living and dining areaswith kitchen and bathroom facilitieswith a sleeping areaintended for year-round useFigure 1: A tiny homeon wheelsA tiny home can be a primary home or a separate structure on aproperty that already has an existing house. Campers, recreationalvehicles, cottages and other structures used on a seasonal basisare not considered tiny homes. On the right are three commonexamples of a tiny home.Despite their size, tiny homes must comply with the health andsafety requirements of Ontario’s Building Code, municipal zoningand other local by-laws. Tiny homes must also have necessaryservicing such as water and sewage.Tiny home sizesThe size of a tiny home varies from municipality to municipality,depending on standards set out in zoning by-laws.Figure 2: A site-built tiny homeSome municipalities have minimum size requirements, while othershave maximum size requirements. For example, some municipalby-laws require a tiny home to be 37 m2 (400 ft2) or less.In all cases, a tiny home cannot be smaller than the minimumrequired size set out in Ontario’s Building Code, which is 17.5 m2(188 ft2).Add a tiny home to your propertyBefore you decide to add a tiny home to your property, it isimportant that you first speak with your local municipal planningand building departments. They can tell you whether you can add orbuild a tiny home to your property and answer questions related tothe Building Code, zoning and other by-laws.Build or buy a tiny home 3Figure 3: A shipping containertiny home (not yet located ona site)

Some of the important things you should talkto your municipality about as you considerbuilding a tiny home include: municipal zoning requirements thatapply to your property designing your tiny home to complywith the Building Code getting necessary building permits required building inspections duringconstruction parking requirements size requirements for tiny homes, if any rules about connecting to municipalservices, if availableTo help you through the sometimescomplex approval and building process, werecommend you hire at least one ofthe following: Building Code designer registered withthe Ontario government professional planner architect engineerThese professionals and your builder canhelp you get all the necessary approvals,building permits and arrange forconstruction inspections.You can check the qualifications of aprovincially registered BuildingCode designer at rch.htmlBefore you startThe idea of tiny home living is not new. Over thelast few years, tiny homes have been getting alot of attention as a housing choice for peopleto live in or rent out.Adding or building a tiny home to your propertycan sometimes be a challenge. Unlike theregular-sized houses we have been building fordecades, tiny homes are an emerging trend. Assuch, getting successfully through approvalsand meeting requirements to build a tiny homecan be difficult.Below are three things you should checkbefore you go any further with your project:1. Is your property suitable?Some lots will not work for a tiny home. Thereare several reasons why this may be the case:a. Local zoning by-laws may not permitadding a tiny home without furthermunicipal approval (see section onMunicipal zoning and other by-laws).b. The lot may be too small to meetsetbacks or other local requirementswithout further municipal approval (seesection on Municipal zoning and otherby-laws).c. The lot may not have adequateaccess for emergency services suchas firefighting and Emergency MedicalServices (see section on Emergencyaccess).Build or buy a tiny home 4

2. If you’re buying a factory-built tiny home,does it meet the necessary CanadianStandards Association (CSA) standards?The Building Code requires all buildings tobe inspected during construction. In the caseof factory-built buildings, quality controlinspections and monitoring occur duringthe assembly of buildings and buildingcomponents. A tiny home built off-sitewithout CSA certification will likely not havehad the appropriate inspections. This maybecome an issue as you apply for a buildingpermit to locate your tiny home on yourproperty. (See section on Factory-builttiny homes)3. Will your tiny home have warrantyprotection under the Ontario New HomeWarranties Plan administered by Tarion?In Ontario, all new home builders must beregistered with Tarion. Tarion maintains anOntario Builder Directory of all new homebuilders. New home buyers are encouragedto check the Ontario Builder Directory toensure their builder is registered with Tarion.Tarion’s website outlines the types of homescovered and not covered by their warrantiesand protections.To check these three things, you are stronglyadvised to talk with officials at your localmunicipality and seek assistance fromexperts in this area before you go further withyour project.Municipal zoning andother by-lawsBefore building your tiny home, it is importantto get information about your municipality’szoning by-laws. Zoning by-laws set out thekind of buildings that can be built, the sizesthey can be and where they can be locatedon your property. As a result, they maycontrol whether a tiny home is permittedin your case. Ask your local planningdepartment about: zoning rules that apply to yourproperty whether these rules let you build atiny home without further municipalpermissions services to your property such aswater, sewage and electricity any other useful information you needto know to build your tiny homeEven though tiny homes are small, they muststill meet the local rules for building in yourarea, including zoning by-laws. Complyingwith your municipality’s by-laws is importantso that you can build a tiny home if youchoose to proceed.Depending on where your tiny home islocated (rural, suburban or urban areas),municipal zoning by-laws and standardswill vary.Zoning requirements that could impactbuilding your tiny home without furthermunicipal permissions may include: permitted land uses minimum lot sizesBuild or buy a tiny home 5

minimum size for residential buildings minimum or maximum lot coverage bybuilt structures lot frontage and setback requirementsfrom lot lines and the public street massing and height requirements parking requirements (includingtandem parking)Other requirements that could impactbuilding your tiny home may include: streetscape and architectural design location of exits and entrances appropriate municipal or privateservicing (water, sewage,electricity etc.) whether new residential developmentcan occur in existing settlement areas restrictions on lot severance access for emergency servicesYou need to learn about how these thingsapply specifically to your property. Knowingthese rules can make building or buying atiny home go quicker and smoother.If you can’t meet some of thezoning by-lawsPlanning laws in Ontario give propertyowners options if their project does notmeet all the applicable zoning requirementswithout further municipal permissions.Two of the most common ways you can seekto change the zoning requirements on yourproperty are through an application for a“zoning by-law amendment” (also known as arezoning) or for a “minor variance”.You will generally need to apply to yourmunicipality to change the specific rules thatapply to your property.Below are typical examples of circumstanceswhere a rezoning or a minor variance maybe needed so that you can proceed withyour tiny home project. In cases like these,you should speak to planning staff in yourmunicipality. You may also wish to seek thehelp of a professional planner.1. Zoning by-law amendment/rezoningA rezoning is needed when you want to useor develop your property in a way that isnot allowed by the existing zoning by-law. Itwill be needed when you are proposing tochange some of the basic rules about how aproperty is used, such as changingfrom a single dwelling unit to multipledwelling units.A rezoning is also often needed when thechange you want is a fairly major change tothe zoning by-law, such as adding anotheruse on your property or significantly alteringthe proposed size, height and location of abuilding from what the rules currently allow.A rezoning example: Your property iscurrently zoned to permit only one detacheddwelling unit. By constructing a tiny home,you would be adding another dwelling unitas a separate building on your property. If thisis the case, you will generally need to geta rezoning.Build or buy a tiny home 6

Minor variance example: Your zoning allowsyou to build a tiny home on your property,except that the setback from your rearproperty line cannot quite be met. In thiscase, a minor variance may be appropriate(see Figure 4 below).2. Minor varianceA minor variance is needed when you areproposing to build something that does notconform exactly to the zoning requirements.It is used for changes that are minor in nature.Minor VarianceBeforeAfterSide setbackSide setbackSeparation requirementSide setbackReduced sideand rear setbackRear setbackProposedtiny homelocationSidesetbackSidewalkStreetSidewalkLot (property) lineFrontsetbackStreetLot (property) lineFrontsetbackFigure 4: Minor varianceApply for rezoning orminor varianceBeing able to get a rezoning or a minor variancecould be the key thing that allows you to buildor locate your tiny home.Building and development projects that triggerthe need for a rezoning or minor variance cansometimes have an effect on your neighboursand other surrounding properties. As partof both the rezoning and minor varianceprocesses, your neighbours will receive a noticefrom your municipality about your proposedchange and they will be able to comment on it.They can also file an appeal from any decisionsmade about your application.Before you apply for a rezoning or a minorvariance, you should talk to your municipalplanning staff to determine whether thecity staff will support it and for advice andinformation. If you choose to apply, you mustcomplete an application and pay a fee (ifapplicable). You may want to get your ownprofessional planning advice in preparingan application.Build or buy a tiny home 7

Did You Know?The Planning Act was changed to make building additional residential units on your propertyeasier. Subsection 16(3) of the Planning Act requires municipalities to adopt official plan policiesthat authorize the use of additional residential units (ARUs) in both the primary residential unitand in another building on the same property (for example, above garages or in coach houses).Municipalities may also permit the use of tiny homes on the same property as other residentialunits. Your municipality’s official plan and zoning by-laws may not have been updated yet toreflect these recent Planning Act changes. Talk to your local planning department to find outthe status of additional residential unit updates and the potential for adding a tiny home.To remove certain zoning barriers to the creation of ARUs, Ontario Regulation 299/19 madeunder the Planning Act establishes the following requirements and standards across Ontario: an ARU, where permitted in a zoning by-law, may be occupied by any person regardlessof whether the primary residential unit is occupied by the owner of the property an ARU, where permitted in a zoning by-law, would be permitted without regard to thedate of construction of the primary or ancillary building one parking space for each ARU, which may be provided through tandem parkingas defined where a municipal zoning by-law requires no parking spaces for the primary residentialunit, no parking spaces would be required for the ARUs where a municipal zoning by-law is passed that sets a parking standard lower thana standard of one parking space for each ARU, the municipal zoning by-law parkingstandard would prevailBuild or buy a tiny home 8

Building Code, permits and inspectionsTypes of tiny homesTiny homes come in many different shapes andsizes, and all use creative design techniquesto achieve compact and efficient living spaces.Despite their size or uniqueness, tiny homes arerequired to meet the Building Code.The Building Code contains requirements fortiny homes built on-site, and those that arefactory-built (on a chassis or not) and shippedto the site.You will need a building permit or permits forboth situations.Tiny homes built on-siteMany tiny homes, like regular-sized houses,are built on the site where they will be located.The construction requirements for this type oftiny home are the same as the requirements forbuilding a full-sized single-detached house butthere are some obvious design differences.The differences involve the size of rooms andspaces, and if it will have more than one storey,which would require stairs.Other design considerations include installing aheating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC)system that is appropriate for heating andcooling a smaller space.Factory-built tiny homesIf you are thinking about buying a factory-builttiny home to be shipped to your property,there are a few very important considerationsthat you should know about before buying thefactory-built home: check with your municipality to see if atiny home is allowed on your propertyand if there are other requirements thatmay apply make sure the factory-built home meetsthe Building Code. You will not be able toinstall your tiny home on your property ifit does not meet the Building Code if you are thinking of buying a factorybuilt tiny home, read the “Factory-builttiny homes” section of this guide formore detailed informationGet a building permitYou will need a building permit or permits tobuild a tiny home. This applies whether youbuild your tiny home on-site or if it is factorybuilt and shipped to your property. Two of themain things you need to do to get a buildingpermit are to: design your home so that it meetsthe technical requirements of theBuilding Code show that your project meets other“applicable laws” listed in the BuildingCode to allow your tiny home to be built.An example of applicable law is themunicipal zoning by-lawIf you have not met the local zoningrequirements, you will not be able to get abuilding permit.Build or buy a tiny home 9

Building inspectionsHow to apply for abuilding permitFigure 5: A tiny homeon wheelsCan my tiny homebe on wheels?Yes, a tiny home can beon wheels. In fact, anystructure on wheels canbe considered a buildingif it is located on thesame spot for a periodof time, especially if it isconnected to servicessuch as water, sewageand electricity, hasexterior stairs to get inand out, and is fixed oranchored to the site.In this case, you mayneed a building permitand your tiny home mustmeet certain BuildingCode requirements. Thisgenerally does not applyto recreational vehiclesand campers that aretowed. In short, if youYou or your agent can apply for abuilding permit at your municipalbuilding department. You willneed to submit: a complete applicationform and any otherforms and supportingdocuments required bythe municipality construction drawings(most municipalitiesrequire at least two setsof drawings) payment of the buildingpermit fee, if applicableYou should also check with yourmunicipality to find out if: you need to hire a licensedcontractor to do the work they accept electronicbuilding permitapplications, as this canspeed up processing timeOnce your complete applicationhas been submitted, you will hearback within 10 business days if ithas been approved or not.Incomplete applications orimproper design may mean yourbuilding permit will be delayed ordenied.can drive it or if it needsa licence plate, then it islikely not a building.Build or buy a tiny home 10After your building permithas been issued and constructionhas begun, municipal buildinginspectors must reviewthe work at various stagesduring construction.Inspectors will need to checkframing, insulation, plumbing,interior finishes and other itemscontained in the Building Code.Confirm with your inspectorabout what needs to beinspected.Factory-built tiny homes undergoquality control and qualityassurance checks as they areassembled. These inspectionand verification processes helpensure these buildings meet theBuilding Code.Once on-site, a municipalbuilding inspector will need toinspect your factory-built tinyhome when it is located onyour property. They will inspectfor things like foundations oranchoring to the ground, outsidestairs and services such as waterand sewage.You or your agent are responsiblefor informing your municipalbuilding department whendifferent stages of constructionare ready for inspection.

Building Code requirementsTiny homes built on-siteIt is important to meet Building Coderequirements as they will help ensure that yourtiny home is a safe and healthy place to live.The following sets out some of the applicableBuilding Code requirements that your tinyhome must meet.Room sizes and floor areaThe Building Code sets out minimum roomsizes in dwelling units. Room sizes varydepending on whether the rooms andspaces are separated by walls or if the unitis open-concept. Total floor areas of rooms/spaces can be smaller when using an openconcept design.For example, a tiny home with an open-conceptdesign can be as small as 17.5 m2.See Table 1 for an example of open-conceptminimum space requirements.Table 1: Minimum space requirements for open-concept designRoom or space:Minimum required floor area:Combined sleeping, living and dining areasand kitchen space13.5 m2 (145 ft2)BathroomEnough space for sink, toilet and shower stallor bath. Could be as little as 3.0 m2 (32 ft2)Laundry1.0 m2 (11 ft2)Relevant Building Code provisions – Division B, Subsections 9.5.4. to 9.5.9. and 9.31.4.2.Build or buy a tiny home 11

Table 2 outlines the general minimum sizes for rooms and spaces separated by walls.Table 2: Minimum sizes for separated spacesRoom or spaceMinimum required floor areaLiving area13.5 m2 (145 ft2)Dining area7.0 m2 (75 ft2)Kitchen4.2 m2 (45.2 ft2)Combined living, dining and kitchen areas in aone-bedroom unit11 m2 (118.4 ft2)Master bedroom (without built-in closet)9.8 m2 (95 ft2)Other bedrooms (without built-in closets)7 m2 (75 ft2)BathroomEnough space for sink, toilet and shower stallo

safety requirements of Ontario’s Building Code, municipal zoning and other local by-laws. Tiny homes must also have necessary servicing such as water and sewage. Tiny home sizes The size of a tiny home varies from municipality to municipality, depending on standards set out in zoning by-laws.

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