Homeowners and potential homeowners are increasingly aware of, and curious about tiny homes as a housing option - prompting questions about the safety, rules and practicality of building and living in a tiny house. These structures are built in many shapes and sizes, with the one common element being a small living space. Tiny homes are typically less than 400 square feet.
These structures are subject to the same Land Use Bylaw rules as any other dwelling, and there are a variety of scenarios that Calgarians may encounter if they are pursuing the tiny home lifestyle.
The Calgary Land Use Bylaw regulates tiny homes the same way it regulates any residence. Every parcel of land in the city has a land use designation (zone), which lists allowable uses on each parcel of land. A tiny home will be subject to the same rules as any other dwelling unit and must meet basic safety standards.
Tiny house owners must comply with both parking and land use rules and regulations. If a complaint is filed about a tiny home on a private parcel, a City of Calgary development compliance inspector investigates and determines the appropriate course of action. If the complaint relates to parking on a street or public property, the Calgary Parking Authority will investigate.
Please contact The City’s Planning Services Centre for specific questions related to rules, regulations and safety standards.
My tiny house is on wheels. How does it work with parking and land use?
Mobile tiny houses are built differently, and each situation would be investigated on a case-by-case basis, depending on construction type and location. Here are a couple of examples:
Some tiny homes are built on a chassis to comply with Canadian Standards Association (CSA) requirements for recreational vehicles (RV) and are not certified for year-round accommodation. The City regulates this type of vehicle as it would any other RV including where the vehicle can be parked or stored.
Some tiny homes are built on a chassis and are intended to provide year-round accommodation. The City regulates this type of tiny house as a manufactured home. A tiny house constructed on a permanent undercarriage or chassis (with or without wheels) is considered a manufactured home (commonly referred to as a mobile home). Manufactured homes must meet Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certification requirements for mobile homes and may only be located with a development permit in land use districts which list this use. Manufactured homes are allowed only in the Residential-Manufactured Home (R-MH) District or Special Purpose – Future Urban Development (S-FUD) District.
My tiny house sits directly on the ground. What should I know about land use?
Tiny house as a single-family home
A tiny house built on the ground or a foundation must comply with the rules in the Land Use Bylaw regarding single detached dwellings and the Alberta Building Code. Learn more about new house construction.
Tiny House as backyard suite
If the tiny house is intended to be an additional dwelling where there is already an existing single detached dwelling on site, then the tiny house is considered to be a backyard suite, and would need to meet these Land Use Bylaw rules and Alberta Safety Codes. Learn more about secondary suites and backyard suites.
In both cases, all Land Use Bylaw, and safety requirements including building and fire codes must be met. These permits and codes include a provision that to be permanently occupied, the structure must be built on a permanent foundation and be fully serviced with utilities such as water and sewer lines. Stamped drawings from a professional engineer or architect may be required prior to the building permit approval.