A tiny house has caused major problems for a homeowner after a little-known by-law barred him from moving.
Cam Hein bought a derelict trailer home in Southy, Saskatchewan, Canada in 2018 and cleared the land before buying a small 16-by-24-foot home outside of the community.
“It has everything that every house has, only it is less square meters,” said Hein Regina chief post.
The house is fully insulated and built according to the regulations and has one bedroom, one bathroom, a kitchen with full appliances and a living room.
When she asked the city to move her home to land she already owned, the city council passed a bylaw that allowed buildings 8,000 square feet and larger to be moved.
Hein’s house is only 384 square meters.
“I made a mistake when I spoke to the office because I used the term ‘tiny house,'” she said. “I think I was scared [the town] instead of saying it was just a house.
The city council’s decision was based on building density, height and placement, so smaller homes would affect the desirability of the neighborhood.
The thought that tiny houses could be placed next to larger houses in new construction projects sparked concern.
A development that does not meet the minimum area must be approved by the Council.
Hein claimed the law was passed to prevent her from moving her home onto her property, calling it a short-sighted move.
She argued that her home would not negatively impact the other homes around her or make the neighborhood undesirable.
“Small houses are the way of the future. They are more sustainable. They generally have a smaller footprint on Earth,” she said.
Hein said that living in a smaller home is more like a lifestyle, noting that several people in British Columbia and around the world live in 180-square-foot RVs and vans year-round.
“The only reason people don’t live in RVs here year-round is because of the weather… As an individual, I don’t need 800 square feet.”
Regina, where over-the-garage apartments and backyard suites are allowed, also has an 800-square-foot minimum, but there are plans to eliminate it.
“On review, there was no real understanding of why this regulation should be in place,” said Ben Mario, head of the city’s planning department.
“It didn’t prevent nuisance and was probably just a hindrance for someone who wanted to build a tiny house, and regulation really shouldn’t be a problem for the city.”
Mario spoke of the potential of a cottage community, where multiple small homes are built on a larger lot.
“Maybe one day that will make sense for someone who wants to do something different. It could potentially open the door,” he said, but added that decisions for this type of approval would be at the discretion of the council.
“The city does not regulate the architecture. We only regulate where you can build on a property. It can’t be too close to the road, it has to be that far from the property line and elevation,” he said.
“The city rarely goes into architectural details. With new developments, this is sort of managed by the development developer and they have arrangements in place with the land buyer to ensure that what they build is within their own guidelines, but that goes beyond the city’s control.”