The tiny house movement has boomed in Canada, with more people making the shift to these compact homes with less space.

When it comes to tiny homes, Alberta is a trendsetter, with more people choosing modular home living in this province.


The popularity of tiny houses is easy to see – it is a simple life with fewer possessions, cheaper bills, and more flexibility. Of course, when it comes to living in a tiny house, there are some considerations (and not just surviving the Canadian winters in a small home!).

Canadian laws still need to catch up to this housing trend, with many owners and renters of these dwellings not sure where they stand when it comes to buying or renting property for building or parking their small homes.

Read on to learn more about tiny house living in Alberta and what laws and regulations may apply.

Are Tiny Homes Legal In Alberta?

Alberta is a big province, and each municipality has bylaws and building codes regulating tiny homes.

That said, tiny homes are becoming legal as cities like Calgary and Edmonton begin amending zoning laws and building codes to allow tiny homes to be constructed.

Most cities in Alberta have strict bylaws that govern what is considered a family home, while smaller dwellings are considered accessories to these homes.

When it comes to tiny homes on wheels, you are not allowed to reside in them permanently in Alberta.

What Are The Requirements?

When living in a tiny home, you must understand all the building codes, zoning laws, and regulations that apply. Unfortunately, these differ between municipalities and cities in Alberta, so there is no one answer to the requirements to live in a tiny home in Alberta legally.

According to the 2018 International Residential Code, a tiny home is any permanent residential dwelling with a main floor space under 400 square feet.

Bylaws differ across cities and will also be influenced by whether your tiny home has foundations or is constructed on a trailer.

Tiny homes with foundations

Tiny homes must comply with the same Land Use Bylaws and Zoning Laws as other permanent residential dwellings.

Tiny homes will have to meet the same basic safety standards as family homes and must also comply with all land use regulations in accordance with the city’s land use designation.

Tiny homes on a trailer

Tiny homes on wheels are considered recreational vehicles (RVs) and, as such, must comply with the requirements of RVs in the Canadian Standards Association. RVs are not permitted to be used for permanent, year-round habitation.

Tiny homes constructed on a chassis are considered manufactured homes or mobile homes. They may only park in certain land-use districts (including Residential-Manufactured Homes or Special Purpose – Future Urban Development Districts).

If owners wish to live in these homes permanently, they must remove the chassis and wheels.

Where Can I Legally Park Or Place My Tiny Home?

It is tough to find permanent places for tiny homes, especially since zoning laws across Alberta do not yet make allowance for these types of structures.

Like any other permanent dwellings, tiny houses with foundations must comply with local building and zoning bylaws, including where the homes can be parked or constructed.

Living in a tiny home on wheels is illegal throughout the year in this state. You will have to contact your local municipality to find out where you can legally park your home – although RV parks and areas designated for mobile homes are usually a good place to begin. Several tiny home communities across the country will welcome homes on wheels.

You can also park your home on private property if the property has been approved for an “accessory unit.”

Throughout the country, it is common to find tiny homes in urban and rural settings – but the zoning laws must allow for it.

In the end, it is up to you to consult local laws and find out if you can legally park your tiny home in your city of choice.

How Often Do I Need To Move My Tiny Home?

In Alberta, you are not allowed to live in a tiny home on wheels year-round. If you wish to reside in a tiny home with wheels permanently, you need to do the following:

  • You must remove the wheels and axles of the trailer or chassis entirely, and the house must be placed on a fixed foundation.
  • The towing apparatus or any towing features must be concealed or incorporated to appear part of the house design.

No laws govern how often a tiny house must be moved. You should only move a tiny house every three to six months to limit wear and tear.

Moving your house too often can cause it to become damaged due to the strain placed on it when driving on the highway. Metal siding and roof panels can become damaged, and bathroom fixtures can warp.

Moving your tiny house is a big undertaking, as you must secure furniture and other fittings on the main floor, create extra storage space and rent a truck or moving company if you cannot tow the house yourself.

Do I Need A Permit To Build Or Live In A Tiny House?

So, you want to create a new luxury tiny cabin, complete with a sofa bed, attractive bathroom, loft, and nooks for your pets, but you have no idea whether you need a permit for your home.

Any building used as a permanent residence in Alberta must comply with the Alberta Building Code and acquire the necessary permits. This includes structures built at an off-site location.

The difficulty in Alberta is that many tiny homes cannot comply with these Codes due to the small spaces. Many tiny homes have their bedrooms up in the loft, and the loft space cannot comply with ceiling height requirements for bedrooms. Similar difficulties can arise regarding standards for stairways, lofts, and ladders.

Permitting for tiny homes is becoming an issue for many. Hopefully, there will be amendments to the Alberta Building Code in the future that will simplify this process a lot.


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