Tiny FAQs For Your Tiny House!

Is it legal to build a tiny house in BC?

Tiny houses on wheels do not currently fit in our national or BC Building Code. There is a provision in Appendix Q of the International Code Council (ICC) with an official definition of a tiny house, which defines it as “A dwelling that is 400 square feet (37m2) or less in floor area excluding lofts”. Appendix Q only applies to tiny houses on a foundation, and not moveable tiny homes– however, so what about tiny houses on wheels?

There are CSA standards that apply to tiny homes: CSA Z240 MH Series, CSA Z240 RV Series and CSA Z241 Park Model Trailer. What does this mean? You can build your tiny house or have it built to one of these guidelines to demonstrate that the unit complies to a recognized standard. It doesn’t give you any guarantee that you can park it in a municipality or avoid rezoning. Each city has its own bylaws and regulations, and you may also need to pass the deformation-resistance text provided in CSA Z240.2.1.

There are groups working on making tiny houses legal (as building structures, ie including them in Building Codes) and advocating for places to park them. Tiny Home Alliance of Canada is doing great work bringing together the efforts across Canada. The BC Tiny House Collective is also doing great work, and nearly every province has a group pushing for tiny home inclusion under the affordable housing umbrella.

How much does it cost?

Th budget for a tiny house build can range from $25,000 for a DIY project to well over $100,000 for a custom built home. One of the largest expenses when it comes to building a tiny home is the cost of hiring labour, the more you can do yourself and hire trades (electrical, plumbing) for what you can’t do, can have a big impact on the final cost. No matter what type of tiny home you end up building, there are certain important components that should never be skimped on: Heat-Recovery Air Ventilators (HVAC) systems, correct electrical and plumbing systems, glazing (windows and doors) – especially if you live in an area with weather temperature extremes.

How long does it take?

If you’re building a DIY home and taking your time, an average length of time is about 6 months to design, plan and source your materials, and 6 months to build. If you go through a reputable builder they can turn it around in as little as 2-3 months.

If you are interested in running a tiny house build workshop with us, we can build your tiny house from trailer to lock up (electrical & plumbing installed, insulated and weather-secure) in as little as 3 weeks! Contact us today if you’re interested in this option.

Can I park my trailer anywhere?

Most cities in Canada have not approved tiny houses, as they do not comply with city bylaws and building codes. There can be more flexibility in rural municipalities and sometimes on ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve) land however allowances for tiny houses vary greatly from one municipality to another: some are exploring pilot projects with tiny houses, some won’t enforce the bylaws and are actually friendly toward alternative builds because of they are facing an affordable housing crisis. Best is to check with your local municipal ward before you park your tiny house.

Do I need permits to build a tiny house?

Typically, municipal and city permits will not be issued for structures not on a fixed foundation. You need to talk to building inspectors, city or municipal planners, or even the local bylaw officers to see whether they would consider tiny houses on wheels to be permanent structures, and thus, permitted. If your tiny house is a registered as a CSA approved RV or model home, there may or may not be restrictions in your area to living in it full time. The best thing you can do is engage your elected officials and staff with a collaborative approach, and seek mutually beneficial solutions.

Are tiny houses off-the-grid?

Some tiny houses are built to be off-grid, some are grid-tied and some have the flexibility to do both. It all depends on your needs, and where you think you will end up living.

Where do I get a trailer from?

Custom-made tiny house trailers usually start around $6,500 for an 18 ft long model and over $10,000 for a 30 ft model. Some people choose to tear down an old RV and rebuilt a tiny house on the frame. We have a good relationship with a number of suppliers in BC and will make specific recommendations to our students during the work shop based on their needs.

What do I need to bring to the workshop?

The best thing to bring is an open mind and to have had lots of rest because it’s a full-on experience! Many people bring a notebook or laptop to take notes.

For the Foundation Course, we provide snacks and coffee/teas, but you need to get your own lunch. For the Build Course we provide breakfast lunch and dinner in a camping style location.

How do I host a workshop in my city?

We are glad you asked! Contact us at info@tinyhousecoursesbc.com to get started. We are happy to arrange a weekend Foundation Course or the weeklong Build Course to bring tiny house awareness to your community.