Guest viewpoint: Ontario standards and the OBC require updates to meet the needs of tiny homes

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Source: Facebook.com/Lake-of-the-Woods-Tiny-Home-Village

By Ari Derin

Special to Ontario Construction News

The demand for tiny homes in Ontario is high because it is an excellent option for lower cost housing. Tiny homes are cheaper to build, less expensive to heat and require less materials. Currently, tiny homes do not meet the building requirements of the Ontario Building Code.

Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia are the only provinces with their own building code. The Ontario building code is different than any other province because there are minimum room size and minimum ceiling height requirements under part nine of the code.

Part nine disqualifies all tiny homes which are typically manufactured in factories and placed on a trailer. Most homes built in a factory are certified under the CSA A277-16 standard. Even if a tiny home were to be certified under the CSA A277-16 standard, the home must also adhere to the Ontario Building code.

Still, tiny homes are being built and lived in within the province of Ontario. The reason for this has to do with the definition of a “tiny home.” The definition of a tiny home in Ontario is unclear to provincial building code officers. The CSA A277-16 standard only applies to buildings manufactured in a factory. If a tiny home is manufactured under the guise of a recreational vehicle or park model trailer, different standards apply.

The CSA Z241 Park Model Trailer standard and the CSA Z240 RV standard apply to park model trailers and recreational vehicles. Tiny homes can be approved if they meet either of these two standards. To approve a tiny home based on the standard of a recreational vehicle or park model trailer raises health concerns.

Recreational vehicles or park model trailers are intended for seasonal living, not yearlong use. For example, ventilation systems in RV’s are not intended for yearlong living. To approve the ventilation system of tiny home based on the standard of an RV might result in mold or unclean air.

A clear definition of what constitutes a “tiny home” is necessary in order to develop a proper standard. If it is not possible to create such a standard, existing standards and codes could be modified. The ultimate goal is to make accommodations for the specific technical requirements of tiny homes in Ontario.

More Ontarians might have access to affordable housing if tiny homes are evaluated on an updated standard and meet the building requirements of the Ontario Building Code. Tiny homes that are approved under an appropriate standard and adhere to the Ontario Building Code will also be safer for all occupants.

Freelance writer Ari Derin (www.ariderin.com) submitted this article. 

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