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Published May 11, 22
7 min read

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These sort of developments do not happen by governments or at the whim of developers. They are born out of a group of regular citizens seeking out the exact details of small/tiny house villages. On a Fixed Foundation - Another option is not to park a house, but place it or build it on a foundation– abandoning the wheels and easy mobility option.

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With this, you must be connected to sanitation/sewer and may be required to be grid-tied for electricity. Against Code or Bylaw - First, we are in no way condoning performing any activity that contravenes bylaws, zoning codes and building codes. Though we do understand the argument for freedom of lifestyle, equality and dignity of having an affordable, sustainable home.

We do not believe anyone should be faced with doing an illegal option to get the freedom and dignity of affordable housing. Some people want to live without regulations and rules. With intention. Some Canadians do not want tiny houses regulated because they already live in one or have plans to live in one and do not want to be dictated by laws that may thwart their efforts.

That is why we need the change in Canada.

This puts our cottage within "tiny home" range, making us part-time members of a high-minded, green-friendly, cost-saving movement to live small in a world of super-sized mansions. As with many other tiny-home dwellers, we use a compost toilet. We bring in our own water by boat, take sun-heated showers outdoors and cook on the BBQ.

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I could leave it at that, with my eco-mom credentials secured, my brood stuffed in a birdhouse with the walls closing in. But that would be cheating. Our front view is the open ocean, as big and expansive as it gets. Our sun-drenched deck is as large as the cottage floor, a perfect work space.

Our boys spend their weekdays at sailing camp. For a tiny house, it's big living. But could we stay there, crammed together year round, through fall storms and winter weather? (Assuming, of course, we had insulation.) Could I handle 12 months of banging my head on the roof when I wake up in the morning, clambering down the loft ladder in the dark, having no place to read in private while cabin fever set in? Talk about the fastest family trip to Paradise Lost.

(You too can live small in an oversized world!) The ardour for tiny homes suggests it's the next best trend in four walls. Certainly, the motivation is hard to fault. As a society, we've been urban sprawling to our detriment, wasting energy, space and interest on sky-high mortgages. And we could definitely kick the knick-knack habit.

At least, not for everyone. Remember that couple featured in the documentary Tiny, which depicted their tiny home's construction and extolled the minimalist lifestyle? They parked the end result in a field in Colorado and never lived in it together full-time. (In a blog, they explained that they left this out of the movie "so as not to spoil the experience of seeing that story unfold on screen.") You may also recall Carrie and Shane Caverly, who were featured on TV shows and in newspaper articles for "bonding" in their tiny home? They lasted 18 months before they decided it was "too small" and moved into an apartment.

To be fair, the people abandoning their tiny homes aren't trading them for Mc, Mansions – their fallbacks are still small by modern standards. And there are certainly people who make a full-time go of it. But it's not hard to find up-sizers, even among the movement's keenest enthusiasts. And before tiny houses – and shipping container homes – are considered as solutions for affordable housing in cities, that should give urban planners and policy makers pause.

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It's quite another to be forced into a micro-room without a view because that's all you can afford. What might work short-term for a hip millennial in New York, or a homeless person in California, is not necessarily the answer for a single mom."I can't imagine anyone with children not going bonkers in them," says Susan Saegert, an environmental psychology professor at the City University of New York graduate school, who studies the effect of overcrowding on families.

"We are not being pro-active, to see what we have learned already from history." The lesson: Fad housing often crumbles into slum-living for the poorest families. When was the last time a trailer park was a coveted address? Cramped dwellings also take their toll, research shows, on our physical and mental health."Everybody needs their space," Kopec says.

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"In my brain, I was thinking: 'We could totally make 150 square feet work.'" He and his wife recently travelled to Portland, Ore., where the tiny-home movement took early root. They soon realized that the model homes they toured were just too small, especially for their pets, and any kids that might come along.

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It felt like work, where you had to watch every step, every movement, watch out for bumping your head." Maybe it was feasible in California, he mused, where they could live most of their days outside. "This is not practical in Canada."Still, there is no shortage of builders trying to make a go of it here.

A couple in Nova Scotia, who moved into their tiny home in November, have an elevator to lift their dog into the loft bedroom. What constitutes "tiny" continues to be a subject of debate among devotees. There are examples under 100 square feet. Anything over 500 is typically considered "small." (By comparison, the average size of a new house is about 1,950 square feet, nearly double what it was in 1975.) The tiny size can make building permits tricky, although the smaller models are usually built on wheels, and rarely with permanent foundation.

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Finding a place to put their tiny homes is one of the biggest headaches owners encounter. But like the wheels on the bottom of those tiny trailer homes, the movement's form falls short on function. If it's commitment to the cause that's being measured, then Allan Cerf, an advertising director in California, was surprised by what he discovered when he set out to research how to live in a tiny home.

Even in Portland, which is often seen as a city friendly to micro-housing, "none of the owners I spoke to had ever lived in a tiny home." They used them as rental income, or, in the case of his current landlord, to store bird seed. There was also the constant risk of being forced to move by city officials; one landlady he met, whose tiny-home tenant spent long months travelling for work, moved it onto her property at night to keep its existence hush-hush.

"I should have been more skeptical," he says, looking back. "I have given up the dream – because I found out it was just a dream."A dream, in fact, that Melanie Sorrentino and her husband, Mark, tried out a few years ago when they parked their 150-square-foot tiny house on a wooded four acres in Eureka Springs, Ark.