This section of the guide covers constructing a tiny home in a rural, suburban or urban location.

The information provided is for illustrative purposes only and may not apply to your particular area or cover all possible scenarios. It is important to check with your local municipal planning and building department to make sure you are meeting their requirements.



Depending on the municipality, there will be different options for servicing a tiny home in a rural area. One way is to use municipal water and sewage services, if they are available. If not, you may be able to connect to a well with sufficient water supply and have an on-site sewage system. The sewage system could be either a septic tank and leaching bed or a composting toilet.

Some municipalities rely on regional health units or conservation authorities to enforce the septic system requirements of the Building Code. Your local building department will advise you if that is the case.

While electrical services are typically available in most of rural Ontario, if you build your tiny home far away from existing service it can be quite costly to run the wiring to your home. It is important to consider this when deciding on a location for your tiny home.

In areas where there is no electrical service, the Building Code allows houses to be “off-grid” with no electric service. In such cases, the Building Code contains requirements for installing solar panels or geo-thermal systems.

Rural by-law considerations

Lot severance

Local rural planning policies may not permit lot severances without further municipal permission. If the plan for building your tiny home includes a severance, make sure you have checked that your municipality allows lot severance in its by-law.

Urban settlement areas

Some rural municipalities require new permanent residential development to be built in locations known as “urban settlement areas.” You need to know whether your municipality has requirements about urban settlement areas before you decide where to locate your tiny home.

Waterfront development

In some parts of Ontario, building and development has the potential to impact lakes and rivers, in particular water quality and shoreline ecosystems. In these areas, municipalities restrict waterfront developments. This is another important consideration as you choose the location for your tiny home.

Did you know?

The Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands amended its zoning by-law to accommodate tiny homes by removing the minimum floor area size for all dwellings, including tiny homes.

The Township of Edwardsburgh-Cardinal has a draft Official Plan that would address permitting tiny homes as a dwelling.

According to Policy 6.14.2: Council will provide for affordable housing by enabling a full range of housing types and densities, including tiny houses, to meet projected demographic and market requirements of current and future residents of the Township by:

  • making provision for alternative housing types such as accessory dwelling units
  • encouraging cost-effective development standards and densities for new residential development to reduce the cost of housing
  • ensuring that the Zoning By-law does not require standards which preclude the development of affordable housing, especially as it relates to house and lot size



In suburban areas, the range of options to provide servicing to your tiny home are often greater than in rural areas, including connecting your tiny home to the local utility grid.

Municipal water and sewage services are also likely readily available. In some places, especially outlying suburban areas, water service may be available, but a municipal sewage connection may not be. In these cases, an on-site system may be needed to provide sewage service.

Some suburban areas have communal sewage services where several properties are served by a jointly owned common sewage system.

Suburban by-law considerations

Lot frontage and setback requirements

Most suburban municipalities have setback requirements from the street and rear and side yard lot lines. These requirements need to be carefully considered as you think about where to place your tiny home. Since houses are generally spaced more closely together in suburban neighbourhoods, setback requirements often become more of an issue than in rural municipalities.

Make sure that when planning the location of your tiny home you know how close or far your tiny home is required to be from lot lines and public streets. We recommend you check with your local planning department about the setback requirements for your particular area and whether you may need to apply for an amendment to the zoning by-law or for a minor variance.

Lot coverage

Lot coverage by-laws set out how much of your property can be occupied by a building or buildings. Lot coverage requirements are usually based on the total area of buildings on the lot as a percentage of the total property area. Some municipalities may require minimum or maximum coverage of buildings or other structures on a lot.

Building size requirements

While the Building Code sets out the absolute minimum sizes for a dwelling unit, many municipal zoning by-laws also have minimum size requirements that are often larger than those in the Building Code. Make sure you know what the minimum size for residential buildings are in your municipality as you design your tiny home.

Did you know?

Oshawa allows for tiny homes in its Zoning By-law 60-94. In this by-law, a tiny home is considered a single detached dwelling, although the term tiny home is not explicitly stated. Single detached dwellings are permitted in a variety of residential zones where they meet Ontario's Building Code and all applicable Zoning By-law 60-94 regulations for a single detached dwelling.

According to Oshawa’s zoning requirements, tiny homes must comply with all provisions related to a single detached dwelling. This includes but is not limited to, two 2.75 metres wide by 5.75 metres long parking spaces, one located in the front yard, the second in a side yard, rear yard or garage, minimum of 50% landscaping in the front yard, minimum front, side and rear yard depths etc. For the full list of provisions, please refer to Zoning By-law 60-94 under the appropriate zoning.



In urban municipalities, full services for water, sewage and electrical are nearly always available. If you are planning to build your tiny home on a lot that already has an existing house, the main thing you will need to determine is whether you will be allowed to:

  • connect to the services of the existing building
  • provide separate services to your tiny home

While it is generally better that each house has its own services, it will likely cost less to connect the services of the tiny home to the existing one.

Some municipalities may have concerns about whether there is sufficient water and sewage capacity to allow new development in a particular area. Your municipality will likely have rules about water and sewage servicing and whether you can connect to the existing ones.

Electrical services may be above or below ground. Check with your local electrical utility company for this information.

Urban by-law considerations

Setbacks, access and frontage

Urban municipalities tend to have more restrictive rules about where a tiny home can be placed on a property. These rules deal with things like setbacks from the street and property lines, frontage requirements, and access on the lot to your tiny home including for emergencies.

It is important to know these rules as you consider where to locate your tiny home. We recommend you check with your local planning department so that you are fully aware of all the requirements for your particular area.

Parking requirements

In some areas within a municipality, parking on-site may be prohibited, and street parking may be necessary.

Sometimes street parking is limited, and parking permits may be required. Your municipality will be able to tell you about the parking requirements you need to know about.

Streetscape and architectural design

Urban municipalities often have rules about the design of new buildings and how those buildings fit with the rest of the buildings on the street.

Your municipality may require your tiny home to meet a set of design standards, such as the colour or look of your tiny home. These rules are intended to ensure that the architectural character of neighbourhoods are protected, especially older ones.

Massing and height

Massing and height zoning by-laws deal with how big and how high a building can be. Most often these rules are intended to prevent houses that are too big and too high from being built.

Sometimes massing and height by-laws have minimum requirements which may prevent buildings that are too small from being built.

These rules often require a certain size of housing in an area. This can be a challenge to tiny home construction that does not meet these size requirements.