There is a growing interest in smaller-scale dwellings across Canada, and when it comes to tiny homes, Nova Scotia is no exception.

These tiny homes have all the amenities of regular homes but a smaller living area. Often tiny houses are on wheels to allow for mobility, but some are permanent, custom-built structures.

Nova Scotia

With more and more Canadians embracing small-scale dwellings, Nova Scotia poses some challenges regarding the legality of these small buildings.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about building or owning your own modular home in Nova Scotia to get you started with the popular tiny home movement.

Are Tiny Homes Legal In Nova Scotia?

Tiny homes on wheels

Technically it is illegal to live in a tiny house on wheels in Nova Scotia. This restriction is because these mobile homes are classified as “recreational vehicles” (RVs) and do not fall within the Nova Scotian Building Codes.

Most municipalities do not allow people to live permanently in RVs or structures similar to RVs.

Yarmouth is the exception and includes tiny houses on wheels as a housing option within the municipality.

Tiny homes with foundations

A tiny house can be constructed on foundations; however, you will require a permit for this type of building. To build these types of homes, you can seek out property zoned for multi-family housing, as these types of properties must allow for small homes or apartments.

Another option is to look at properties with an “accessory dwelling unit (ADU)” allowance, as a tiny home can be constructed in the backyards of such properties.

Different rules across municipalities

There is a lack of unity regarding municipal bylaws and tiny homes.

Each province and each municipality have different bylaws and guidelines for these small houses, and it is up to homeowners to contact their municipality before finalizing a sale to see if the property has been zoned correctly.

The tiny home movement is still relatively new in the province, and although it is growing fast, bylaws have not yet caught up with it.

For example, in Halifax, no land bylaws include the construction of a tiny home, but the current guidelines do not yet allow these properties.

Most Land-Use Bylaws have a minimum restriction on dwelling sizes, and there are also prohibitions on mobile dwellings (small-scale dwellings on wheels) in many areas.

What Are The Requirements?

Recent amendments to the Nova Scotia Building Regulations have included the definition and parameters of a tiny house.

According to Section 9.39 of the regulations, “tiny house” means “a dwelling unit that is 37 m2 or less in building area”.

The regulations then continue to determine certain parameters for these dwellings. Tiny homes must comply with Part 3 of the regulations, which includes Fire Protection, Occupant Safety, and Accessibility of all buildings.

Furthermore, Section 9.39 stipulates the ceiling heights of different rooms (or a single loft) and requirements for lofts, staircases, ladders, loft guards, and egress openings.

Where Can I Legally Park Or Place My Tiny Home?

Finding a spot to park your tiny home on wheels can be difficult, as there are different bylaws in each municipality across the province.

There are tiny house communities across Canada, and it is safe to assume that you can legally park your home in one of these communities. Alternatively, you can park on a property zoned for an Accessory Dwelling Unit.

You can also purchase your own property if you wish to park your tiny home somewhere permanently.

If you wish to be nomadic, there are also several options.

You can park your tiny house in RV parks, as these houses are often classed with RVs, or at a campsite if you get prior permission.

Lastly, you can partner with permanent landowners and enquire about parking on their properties for a short period.

How Often Do I Need To Move My Tiny Home?

Moving your tiny home can be challenging, as some trailer sizes require permits.

If you are legally parked on a property that is zoned correctly, there is no requirement to move your tiny home.

If you wish to be nomadic, moving every three to six months is a good idea, as it will decrease the number of times you have to pack up and move and also limit the wear and tear on your home.

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

Whether you need a permit or not will depend on the type and size of your home.

Tiny houses constructed on trailers are considered “travel trailers” or RVs, and Nova Scotian building codes will not apply.

However, even if you build on a trailer, it is best to comply with building regulations to ensure your house is fire-proof, safe, and can withstand being towed on the highway.

If your tiny house can be defined as a shed, it will also not require any permits. However legally, it might not be used as a permanent dwelling then either.

Tiny houses are included in the Nova Scotia building code, but it will be up to you to check with your local municipality and their applicable bylaws to determine whether you require a permit or not.


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