Naively, I thought this meeting would be an opportunity to share ideas on how tiny houses could be built and how new technologies could make this a practical and viable housing option. Instead, this meeting was about what we CAN'T do.
First, in Calgary tiny houses in a backyard will be under the same provisions as ‘secondary suites’ which are under the regular rules of the Alberta Building Code part 9. Which also apply to regular housing. Which then means our tiny houses must follow the same rules as that of a 5000 sq ft 'McMansion'.
This is unrealistic and unworkable in so many cases. From ceiling height to door size to window egress - the rules completely alter the whole reason for building tiny - to make life more affordable. What we need is a separate category in the ABC for tiny houses just as there are separate guidelines for RV’s and for mobiles and for condominiums.
So after listening to a litany of restrictions and conditions with regards to windows, egress, engineering, etc, I finally chimed in, "You know this will cut the tiny house movement at the knees right? The cost of a tiny house will go from $10-15 thousand to over $40,000 dollars. For those who are driving this engine, people who want to live sustainably, simply and affordably such as millennials and seniors, they are prevented from buying a tiny house."
Fact is folks, real change does not come from those who follow the rules. Innovation comes about by people who are not afraid to ruffle a few feathers and go against the grain. The tiny house movement will not go away just because some want them to be more like houses. But the movement will grow because people want affordability, do not want to be locked into a lifetime of debt, want to live simply and want a more sustainable solution to housing ourselves. There is a purpose and a reason for why this is happening today.
Gilles Leclair is the founder of GeoStudios. Somewhat eccentric, fairly environmentalist, politically aware, he believes the world should have more off-grid communities... many more.