Frequently asked questions and answers

 

QUESTION:  What is a Tiny House or the Tiny House Movement?

 

ANSWER:  Just what is seems, they are houses that are smaller and usually under 500 square feet but are smartly designed small spaces.  They come with all you would expect to have in a larger home, kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom and so on.  The small house movement or tiny house movement is a popular description for the architectural and social movement that advocates living simply in smaller homes.  In Smart Communities Ontario, they are built on appropriate steel frames with wheels, similar to luxury RVs and the tiny house pictured on our home page for very good reasons.  They are constructed  like a city home is today, only they are built to a much higher standard, high tech, better insulated, using L E D lighting, solar panels and propane for heat, fridge and stove.  Ontario considers these as a home-made RV,

( they're not ! )  and plate them legally at a one time small fee.  There are no building permits required in Ontario to build these, you are free to build it within the RV size limitations which can be huge, up to 40 feet long.  This allows you to roll your house anytime on Ontario highways without a permit, and the Ontario MPAC Corporation does not consider these real property, therefore these homes are not assessed or ever taxed!  Even in a cold January winter, you would never exceed $50 a month for all the heat and electricity you would ever consume!

 

 

QUESTION:  Why would anyone in their right mind want to live in such a small space?

 

ANSWER:  Millions already do live in efficient well designed smaller spaces, all around the world.  It is in north America that we have tended to build larger and larger homes and not always for the right reasons.  If you have money to throw away, or are financially well off, or have a large family, you may not want, or it may not be practical for you to live in a smaller space, although some individuals who are very well off have opted for this more simple and freer lifestyle. 

 

There are many advantages to living in a well designed smaller space in a smart community.  Less than 10% of a minimum wage salary would go towards your housing costs.  No yearly house taxes, less financial stress, less house to clean and more freedom to do the things you really want to be doing.  You won't be living all alone hidden in a bush illegally, you will be part of a Smart Community Ontario and have the security of having neighbours and to socialize with if you wish.  You could also be less social, have the added security, and that's fine too.  If you are working harder only to fall further behind or losing control of your finances, have a job that isn't quite making ends meet, still living under your parents roof, going more into debt, worried about what direction Canada and particularly Ontario is heading, worried about your future, worried about interest rates rising, worried what would happen if you or your spouse lost their income, worried about the rising costs for basic necessities or what life will be like on a small Canada pension, then this is certainly something you should take a real serious hard look at.  You would be healthier, more secure, have less stress, more freedom and you will be financially better off on any lower paying job or small Canada pension than someone earning $60,000 or even $80,000 a year living the traditional way!  You would also be doing a great service to the younger generations coming up, by minimizing your carbon foot print, reducing your waste and over consumption of energy. 

 

Is it just human nature why most people are reactive to situations only when they occur, rather than being proactive?  Maybe it's just easier to turn a blind eye to today's reality in Ontario, or pretend everything is just fine, or maybe you think governments will solve all your problems, or perhaps you feel defeated and think there's no way out.  Well, now there is. Why not secure your future while you still can?

 

 

QUESTION:  Can I buy my own property and live there in a tiny house?

 

ANSWER:  NO.  By way of the many restrictions in place, governments are actually a major contributor to the ongoing affordable housing crises!  It is illegal to live full time in an RV (or tiny house)  UNLESS  you are in a RV resort or park where RV's are allowed.  You can't even build a smaller house or "right sized house for you" on the ground in Ontario and legally live in it.  It must be built to a dictated minimum size, usually 800 square feet or more, adhering to every building code and every bylaw requirement.  MPAC will also asses any building, a shed, garage, even a outhouse and make you pay extra yearly taxes for it.  Anything under the minimum size requirements would be considered uninhabitable, would not be in compliance with the building codes in Ontario, and is clearly outlawed to be occupied full time.  You would be shut down.  

 

 

QUESTION:  Why do you build tiny houses on steel frames with wheels? 

 

ANSWER:  There are many reasons why this is necessary.  First it eliminates the need and high development costs you normally would have when building a home on the ground.  There are no building permits required so you don't have to follow outdated or unreasonable building code.  It eliminates the laws that restrict housing to be of a certain larger size, so you can actually build a right size house.  And, you would pay no yearly taxes as you normally would have to, for a house built on the ground.  Ontario considers these a home made RV, ( there not ! ) and as such plate them at a small one time fee.  They are also portable, so you could build in one location and move it to a smart community when finished.  Or move anytime, with your house, to any other location or smart community in Ontario.  You can build a building in Ontario on the ground around 10' X 10' or 100 square feet without a building permit, but not a house that small, it would be illegal to live in it.  See above question.  Again, you would be shut down.

 

 

QUESTION:  How big can I build my tiny house?

 

ANSWER:  Because we want to stay within the RV size restrictions for all the advantages listed above, it must be no wider than 8.5 feet and no taller than 13.5 feet when traveling down the road.  It can be as small as you wish for a single person or to reduce your energy consumption, or can be quite large, as long as 40 feet.  You can also design it with multiple slide out rooms to enhance and expand your living space.  Many of them contain sleeping lofts (second floors) which increases your square footage.  In general they can be as little as 100 square feet and are usually no bigger than 500 square feet.  You will discover that these are very well designed and efficient smart spaces.  They feel much bigger than they actually are!  You could build small for a single person, or roomy enough for a small family with 2 kids.  You could also build more than one.  The best way to get a good idea of the amount of space you can expect in a tiny house, is to visit any RV dealer and tour through several models on display.

 

 

QUESTION:  Why not just buy an RV?

 

ANSWER:  Although RV's can look very appealing and comfortable, especially inside, they are not built to the same standards, or built to be lived in full time.  The insulation values in the thinner walls, roof and floor are almost non existent and totally ineffective during a Canadian winter.  The windows are single pane and do not keep the cold out.  Basically, they are built to be appealing, built as quick as possible, and cheap as possible to turn a profit.  Maintenance and repairs on RV's are costly and sometimes impossible. They also lose their value quickly, same as any vehicle does.  A tiny house is a real house, constructed much like any larger home is, except better.  Smartly designed and using modern building materials along with some of the latest technologies, you end up with a permanent home which is easily sustainable, low maintenance, easy on your pocket book and highly efficient on energy consumption.  Unlike an RV that is ten years old (many parks now refuse them) your tiny house should easily last a lifetime!

 

 

QUESTION:  Can you tell me more about WHAT IS a Smart Community in Ontario?

 

ANSWER:  Sure!  Necessity is the mother of all inventions.  People are tired of being controlled and having to pay higher costs for EVERYTHING, in Ontario.  If you are as old as I am, you might remember a time when you could actually order a smaller house out of a Sears Catalogue.  So there's nothing new about living in smaller spaces.  But the great recession that started in 2008, and continues to this day, has caused a resurgence and higher demand than ever before for smaller and truly affordable housing solutions.  It's kicked off a new movement commonly known as, "The Tiny House Movement".  A continuing problem for this movement has always been finding places they can legally park their tiny homes and live without costing them a fortune.  Because these tiny houses in Ontario are considered an RV, they can only be parked and lived in where RV's are legally allowed.  Smart Communities Ontario will educate and help organize small groups of people all across Ontario, who will jointly purchase a small piece of land together at a one time cost of up to three thousand each, become equal shareholders and create their own beautiful private year round RV Resort, or (Smart Community)  so you stay within the laws in Ontario.

 

Ontario communities must embrace mixed-use development to build cities and towns that are affordable and livable for everyone. You don’t separate your more affordable residential areas from your employment areas and your retail areas. You mix them together. That’s what enables places to flourish!

 

SMART COMMUNITIES ONTARIO is an innovative company that explores the most economical and legal solutions to develop smart (tiny house) communities in Ontario.  We provide in-depth knowledge on the construction requirements of tiny houses, and provide consultancy services for smart community developments and builds.  We are the FIRST in Ontario, FIRST in Canada and one of only a handful of companies in north America that is involved with expanding the tiny house movement into smart communities and changing peoples lives.

 

 

QUESTION:  I want to "Get Involved" and sign up, but what am I really committing to?

 

ANSWER:  There is no commitment.  You are signing up because we have peaked your interest and you want to learn more or possibly become a part of one of the smart communities in Ontario.  Who doesn't want to live legally, in their own cozy, warm, smartly designed smaller home, on their own property, without any mortgage or rent or house taxes with utility costs of less than $50 a month?

 

As more and more people sign up, lists of interested people are being compiled for the different areas in Ontario they wish to live.  We are starting with a Kingston group first, and until that is established we won't be organizing another.  Once we have enough interested for a Kingston group,  you will be notified about your first meeting.  The meeting is to educate you about the tiny house movement and Smart Communities Ontario.  It's about organizing your group to move forward and begin the process of forming your own smart community that you will own and be living in.  It will be only then that you will be committing to participate in your groups goal of establishing a Smart Community.  Your life will definitely change for the better!  You will be healthier, more secure, have less stress, more freedom and you will be financially better off on any lower paying job or small Canada pension than someone earning $60,000 or even $80,000 a year living the traditional way!  It's true, even with low earnings or a minimal pension, you will be spending less than 10% of your income on all your housing costs! That includes heat, hydro, water and taxes!  That's what I call SMART and a truly affordable housing solution!

 

 

QUESTION:  How difficult is it to build one of these tiny houses?

 

ANSWER:  If you have any building experience at all, even if you have only built a shed, you will likely have few problems building a tiny house.  You will need to be educated on the requirements and differences with building a tiny house as apposed to a regular house.  For many, the project of building their own tiny house was the very first build project they had ever done.  Usually these people attended tiny house seminars to pick up the basics skills and knowledge needed to build up enough confidence and take on the challenge.  Many of them are women.  Even children as young as 16 years old have gone ahead and built their own tiny house.  Time is the biggest investment.  It can be a daunting task, and usually takes about three months of full time labour, if you build alone.  But this can be dramatically reduced if you have help, or are using more modern building materials such as SIP panels.  If you can't build, or can't get help, then your best bet is to have someone local build it for you.  Labour of course will drive the cost up significantly, if you decide to purchase a custom ready made tiny house.  Smart Communities Ontario can help with the design and build knowledge required, as certain requirements must be met and followed that contractors will not be familiar with.

 

 

QUESTION:  What is different about building a tiny house compared to a regular house?

 

ANSWER:  The most obvious is the size. It will cost a lot less, because you are building a lot less.  Your foundation is an appropriate steal frame on wheels.  Because they are so much smaller, they become smartly designed taking advantage of every square inch and are built to a much higher standard than the actual Ontario building code.  Insulation values in the floors, walls, and roofs are above code reducing your heating and cooling costs.  Hurricane ties are necessary and common throughout the tiny framing.  Vaulted ceilings are common as well as lofts.  LED lighting is often used to reduce electrical consumption and propane used for your fridge, stove and heating,  as well as instant-on hot water heaters.  Basically, they are high tech, taking advantage of the latest technology and are very efficient units that consume very little energy.

 

 

QUESTION:  Who started Smart Communities Ontario and how can I reach him?

 

ANSWER:  I started Smart Communities Ontario.  A self employed entrepreneur for the past two decades, mature, and in my 50's, I've witnessed to many hard working Canadians slowly lose their livelihood, vibrancy, hope for the future and faith in our political systems.  It's not just the poor who suffer today, but the middle class who many are just one paycheque or life changing event away from entering into poverty.  It's also many of our elderly who must rely on a very minimal Canada pension.  I have also felt the effects of this ongoing recession and believe the only way out is "we the people" must join together and create our own solutions to enrich our lives.  Real and effective change will not come from the top. 

 

You can get in contact with me by clicking on the Get Involved page and signing up.  If you are not totally comfortable with providing the information we are asking of you, please do not sign upIt is totally voluntary. 

 

If you choose to sign up however, be accurate with the information you provide.  ( Double check the email address you give for any errors )  You will be able to meet me at our organizational group meetings or sooner if you become a volunteer to assist Smart Communities Ontario.  You will also have an opportunity to correspond directly with me after signing up, as you will receive a follow up WELCOME email if you provided an accurate email address.  The main reason, and most important reason I will not give more personal information at this time is that I am the first and only line of defence that can weed out any undesirable applications that would not be of any benefit to a more serious and mature group of people who wish to come together for the common goal of establishing a private Smart Community. 

 

 

 

QUESTION:  What might be some of the challenges in setting up a Smart Community?

 

ANSWER:  I would guess the biggest one will be dealing with townships or cities when purchasing the land to turn into a year round RV resort and the cost of land in some cases.  The land will likely need to be rezoned for it's intended use which can be a challenge.  Although this happens all the time, each township has their own rules, official plan, processes, bureaucracy and red tape.  Some townships are helpful while others are the opposite.  But we will have 25-50 people to work through it all.  They also have environmental and sustainability plans in place and an RV resort (tiny house smart community) is far more sustainable and environmentally friendly than most any other type of development.  There would be many advantages for the township.  A solution to the affordable housing crises, a solution for the elderly in retirement and an influx of cash into the local economy from 25 to 50 tiny households with above average discretionary spending all year round.  We maintain our own roads, and remove our own garbage, not the township.  And the township receives the appropriate tax as legislated by the Ontario government through MPAC.  The "FIRST EVER TINY HOUSE COMMUNITY IN CANADA" also has tourist destination potential for the township!

 

Being a group of people who want to solve a serious societal issue, the affordable housing crises, there is potential here to access grants like the Trillium Fund, or use Kickstarter, to generate capital to move this forward quickly.  Without any support or financial assistance, a community of at least 25 committed to move forward would be required.  Let's take a look at some financial examples:

 

A Smart Community with 25 residents each paying an initial $3000 would require 1.5-2 acres.

(this is not a fee you are paying to someone else!  You are paying yourself, and investing in your own future, and becoming and equal shareholder of the land purchase, and community, which provides you with your own permanent lot to live on year round in your own tiny house)

 

25 X $1000 to $1500 allows us to purchase the needed land at a price of $25,000 to $37,500.   This is what we would be looking for, water front is not required.

 

25 X the remainder of the $3000 would be $1500 to $2000 each.  This gives us $37,500 to $50,000 as the start up fund for infrastructure.  Gravel road, drilled well, electrical hook ups.  

 

An additional $50 per month from each resident will continuously feed the community fund at $15,000 per year for maintenance and improvements, if we actually even need that much.  Snow removal, garbage removal etc. 

 

So each residents costs will be the $50 a month, ( which goes back into the community, "our community" equal owners ) and less than $50 per month on utilities to run their home.  Under $100 and less than 10% of a minimum wage job or low Canada pension for your home / living costs.

 

A Smart Community with 50 residents each paying an initial $3000 would require 3-4 acres.

(this is not a fee you are paying to someone else!  You are paying yourself, and investing in your own future, and becoming and equal shareholder of the land purchase, and community, which provides you with your own permanent lot to live on year round in your own tiny house)

 

50 X $1000 to $1500 allows us to purchase the needed land at a price of $50,000 to $75,000.   This is what we would be looking for, water front is not required.

 

50 X the remainder of the $3000 would be $1500 to $2000 each.  This gives us $75,000 to $100,000 as the start up fund for infrastructure.  Gravel road, drilled well, electrical hook ups.  

 

An additional $50 per month from each resident will continuously feed the community fund at $30,000 per year for maintenance and improvements, if we actually even need that much.  Snow removal, garbage removal etc. 

 

So each residents costs will be the $50 a month, ( which goes back into the community, "our community" equal owners ) and less than $50 per month on utilities to run their home.  Under $100 and less than 10% of a minimum wage job or low Canada pension for your home / living costs.

 

 

 

 

Why just SURVIVE when you could THRIVE ?

 

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Below are examples of some of the smartly designed smaller spaces people have built.

 

 

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SMART COMMUNITIES ONTARIO

SMART COMMUNITIES ONTARIO is an innovative not for profit volunteer organization that explores the most economical and legal solutions in developing Smart (Tiny House) pocket Communities in Ontario.  We facilitate the joining of small groups of people to work together with the common goal of establishing a pocket community of tiny houses which helps sustain their lives financially and provides each with more freedom.