The Tiny FireHouse – Station #9

Just when it seems like I have seen everything the Tiny Home Movement can throw at us… a Tiny FireHouse comes along!

It’s the brain-child of John & Fin Kernohan and was designed and built to help teach fire safety and fire prevention. It is 148 square feet and of course is complete with a fire hose, hydrant, fire gear, and of course…a pole!

The house is also equipped with working fire extinguishers, smoke & carbon monoxide detectors and a ladder fire escape.

The house was featured by the Today Show and as mentioned, tours around teaching fire safety & prevention.

Have a look at some photos and let me know what your thoughts are!

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To see more photos, check out their Facebook page!

Special mention to Nature’s Head Composting Toilets and Trailer Made Custom Trailers used in this build.

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Tiny Home Community Being Planned

One tiny village in Alberta may set a huge precedence for the Tiny Home Movement. Big Valley is village of about 350 people, roughly 220km Southeast of Edmonton (East of Red Deer). It’s in that tiny village, council decided to change their bylaws to allow 22 lots measuring 30 feet by 80 feet in one subdivision.

Big Valley

“Putting them all together in one subdivision will give unity to the area and a community-type feel.”   – Michelle White – Chief Administrative Officer

The only catch…the tiny homes will have to be on a permanent foundation, be connected to municipal water and sewer, and have hook-ups for gas and power. They had to actually look at regulations from the U.S. because they couldn’t find any in Canada. That needs to be rectified!

Council in Big Valley will now go through the processes of passing the new bylaw, engineering the land development and figuring out how much the tiny lots will cost.

You can read the full story HERE.

Tiny Solar Power

So one of the biggest decisions you need to make when deciding to follow the Tiny House Movement is whether to go on or off the grid, or both. For many, getting off the grid and out in the wide open spaces of serenity far outweighs the option of ‘hooking up’ at an RV park or wherever it may be.

The most costly, and perhaps the most important part of planning to go off-grid is your power source. Solar is a very popular option, and some even go with wind and water turbine power sources. This post is dedicated to solar power.

Here are some links to some articles, posts, and websites  you may find handy in planning and making your decisions.

As always, if you have any experience with solar power or any tips or tricks, let us know.

Articles & Posts

How Solar Power Works – Solar Wholesaler

Best Solar Panel Kits for Your Tiny House – Tiny House Blog

Tiny House Solar – The Tiny Life

Taking a Tiny House Off Grid – Home Power

Solar Power for Tiny House RV’s – Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

Tiny Home Solar Power – Sol Solutions

Tiny House Solar Panel Kit – Go Green Solar

 

Resources

Off-Grid Solar Panel Calculator (This is from an American company so the Sun Hours/Day Zones are in the U.S. but you can estimate your area in Canada looking at the map)

Appliance Power Demand Chart

Sun Hours Per Day Chart (U.S.A.)

 

Websites

Solar Wholesaler (Canada)

Solarwyse (Canada)

Wholesale Solar (U.S.A.)

Solar Direct (U.S.A.)

Sol Solutions (U.S.A.)

What is a Tiny Home?

One of the biggest questions I get asked most often from people is, “What is a Tiny Home?” It’s a fair question, and I am going to try to explain as much as I can from what I have learned from research and hearsay from ‘the experts’.

How Big is a Tiny Home?

A tiny home is a self-contained structure that is typically under 500 square feet (46.5 square meters).

Now the dimensions are where we get into some regulations. I am sure the restrictions and bylaws are different everywhere you go, and this also depends on whether or not you intend to transport your tiny home, but here is what I have noticed mostly everywhere in Canada and the United States.

Anything under 8′-6″ wide and 13′-6″ high from ground to peak can be transported without a permit. The allowable lengths differ from province to province and state to state. Here is a handy AAA reference. Anything between 8′-6″ wide and 12′-0″ wide requires a permit to transport, which vary in cost anywhere from $20 to $200 (check with your local municipality). Anything over 12′-0″ requires a pilot truck, and I am pretty sure those probably are not cheap.

Now, those dimensions are for tinys that require transport. If you are planning to build on site and not transport your tiny anywhere, local bylaws apply and I urge you to check them BEFORE you build. I have seen structures torn down because they did not adhere to local bylaws.

Where Can I Park a Tiny Home?

The best answer I can give to this question is you should be able to legally park a tiny home anywhere you can legally park a flat-deck trailer or RV. As with the building to code, location is another very grey area right now. I am finding that most times on the good old television shows like Tiny House Big Living, people are parking them on private owned land. On other shows like Tiny House Hunters, I see a lot of people parking them at RV parks.

Perhaps the best answer is to do your homework and due diligence and check with your local bylaw enforcement agency.

Does a Tiny Home Have to be Built to Building Code?

While we are discussing grey areas, now would be a great time to get really grey. The really grey area is the National Building Code (or provincial Building Code in my case for Alberta). Part 9 of The Alberta Building Code states that it applies to structures 3 storeys or less with a building area not exceeding 600 square meters (6,458.4 square feet). It also states that it does not apply to an accessory building not greater than 10 square meters (107.6 square feet).

The grey area is this, tinys can be on wheels (mobile) or built on skids  which makes them non-permanent structures which the building code does not apply to. But at the same time, once you are ‘living’ in a structure, it must meet certain safety requirements. Athough the code doesn’t specifically list ‘Tiny Homes’ or ‘Tiny Houses’, it does say words like ‘structures’ and ‘dwellings’ so technically I would say it applies. This is not an issue as there are some tiny home builders out there that already build to meet or exceed building code such as Finished Right Contracting.

The bottom line is, ALWAYS check with local municipalities regarding bylaws and use a builder that ensures your tiny is code-compliant whether it is required or not because they will be better structures in the end.