Tiny House - Grey Bruce

There have been discussions lately surrounding South Bruce Peninsulas' decision to allow Tiny Houses Living to become a reality for people who want to do so. Will Grey County follow the same direction?

Much of the information below relates to data sourced from South Bruce Peninsula and likely doesn't apply to other municipalities throughout the Grey & Bruce. For more information on How to Build a Tiny Home, you can read our article >>here<<

Building a Tiny House in the South Bruce Peninsula

Several zoning regulations need to be considered before building a tiny house in South Bruce Peninsula. In some cases, you may need to get a special permit from the city to build a tiny house. You're only permitted one dwelling on a property, whether you call it a tiny home or a garden suite.

South Bruce Peninsula building code requirements for a tiny home:

A tiny home with an open-concept design can be as small as 17.5 m2.

Minimum requirements for open concept design

  1. Combined living, sleeping, dining and kitchen area- 13.5 m2 (145 ft2)
  2. Bathroom- Enough space for a sink, toilet and shower stall or bath. It could be as little as 3.0 m2(32 ft2) 
  3. Laundry-1.0 m2(11 ft2)

Minimum requirements for separated spaces:

  1. Living Area- 13.5 m2 (145 ft2)
  2. Dining area- 7.0 m2 (75 ft2)
  3. Kitchen- 4.2 m2 (45.2 ft2)
  4. Combined living, dining and kitchen areas in a one-bedroom unit- 11 m2 (118.4 ft2)
  5. Primary bedroom (without built-in closet)- 9.8 m2 (95 ft2).
  6. Other bedrooms (without built-in closets- 7 m2 (75 ft2)
  7. Bathroom-Enough space for a sink, toilet and shower stall or bath.

Here are the Building Code rules for mezzanines in South Bruce Peninsula:

  • If the mezzanine is open to below, then the size of the mezzanine cannot be greater than 40% of the floor area of the tiny home, and it must have a guard/handrail to prevent falls.
  • If the mezzanine has walls all around it, then the size of the mezzanine cannot be greater than 10% of the tiny home.
  • The mezzanine must have stairs, guards and handrails that meet the Building Code.

Ceiling heights

You are required to meet minimum ceiling heights in your rooms. The Building Code minimum ceiling height requirements are shown below:

  1. Living room or space, dining room or space, kitchen or kitchen space- 2300 mm (7'6.5") over at least 75% of the required floor area with a clear height of 2100 mm (6'10.5") at any point over the required area.
  2. Bedroom or bedroom space- 2300 mm (7'6.5") over at least 50% of the required area or 2100 mm (6'10.5") over all the area of floor needed. Any part of the floor having a clear height of less than 1400 mm (4'7") shall not be considered in computing the required floor area.
  3. Mezzanine- 2100 mm (6'10.5") above and below a mezzanine.
  4. Bathroom, water closet room or laundry area above grade- 2100 mm (6'10.5") in any place where a person would generally be in a standing position.
  5. Passage, hall or central entrance vestibule and finished rooms not explicitly mentioned above- 2100 mm (6'10.5")

Stairs, guards and handrails

Designing a tiny home with more than one storey means you need stairs. Stairs that meet Building Code requirements can take up a lot of the limited space in a small house. Ladders to a second storey do not comply with the Building Code requirements. You should carefully consider whether you want your tiny home to have more than one storey.

Be sure to check with your local building department to understand the requirements for stairs, guards and handrails in tiny homes.

Door width requirements:

The exterior door of a tiny home must be at least 810 mm (2'8") wide and be a swing-type door (not sliding).

Bathrooms must have doors at least 610 mm (24") wide. These can be folding, swinging-type or sliding doors.

Good to know:

In most houses, the exit (or primary) door swings inwards, but to save space in your tiny home, you may consider having the primary door swing outwards.

Hallway widths:

The Building Code requires most hallways in houses to be 860 mm (2'10") wide. Many tiny homes will not have hallways because they will be open-concept. An 860 mm (2'10") wide hallway will only be needed if a tiny house has two spaces, such as a living room and bedroom, separated by a hallway with walls on both sides.

A hallway can be 710 mm (2'4") wide if it leads to a bedroom or bathroom. If this is the case, these rooms must be served by a separate exit door.


Windows are required in tiny homes. The size of the unit determines the size of windows you need. Larger units will require more or more oversized windows. Window sizes are also based on what type of room they are in. The minimum window sizes are:

Living room or dining rooms- 10% of the floor area

Bedrooms-5% of the floor area

Laundry room, kitchen, bathroom- Windows not required.

Tiny house windows


Your tiny home will have to meet plumbing requirements. At a minimum, you will need:

  • a hot and cold water supply
  • a sink, bathtub or shower, toilet or drainless composting toilet in the bathroom
  • a kitchen sink

You will need a qualified plumber to do this work. Depending on the type of tiny home you have, you will also want to contact the municipal planning and building department about servicing your tiny home, including water supply and sewage.

Energy efficiency

Your tiny home will have to meet the energy efficiency requirements in the Building Code. This means that the exterior walls will have to be designed with the right amount of insulation and keep moisture and drafts outside of your home.

There are different energy efficiency requirements depending on where you live in Ontario. For example, if you live in northern Ontario, your home will require more insulation.

We recommend that you work with an expert designer who knows these requirements. The good news is that an energy-efficient tiny home will not cost a lot to heat.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning

Tiny homes must have heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) that conforms with the Building Code. Tiny homes have much less space to heat and cool. A typical furnace for a regular size house will be too large. You may want to consider alternatives such as:

  • a ductless split system
  • a baseboard heating system

Regardless of the HVAC system, you select, the Building Code requires the installation of a heat recovery ventilator which reduces energy demand and increases energy efficiency by recovering heat or conditioned air.

In addition, installing a fireplace or wood-burning stove in your tiny home is not recommended. While such heat sources may comply with the Building Code, using a fireplace or wood-burning stove in such a small space can reduce your fire and life safety.

It would be best if you considered getting help from a professional in designing the HVAC system for your tiny home.

Electrical facilities and lighting

Tiny homes must meet the same Electrical Safety Code requirements as traditional homes.

We recommend that you hire a licensed electrical contractor to do the work. They can also get the electrical permit and arrange inspections for you. To ensure adequate lighting in rooms and spaces, the Building Code requires that your tiny home must have the following lights:

  • a light at the entrance to your tiny home
  • light and switch in every room and space of your tiny home

The Electric Safety Code:

The Electrical Safety Code, produced by Ontario's Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), has further requirements when building a house, including a tiny home. You will need:

  • a separate electrical permit to do the electrical work
  • an ESA inspection of the electrical work

Foundation, anchorage and grading

A tiny home must be attached securely to the ground like a regular house. The Building Code has detailed requirements for footings and foundations.

The Building Code also requires that the land on your property be graded so that it slopes away from your tiny home. This is to help keep surface water out of your house and reduce damage in case of flooding.

tiny house foundation

Fire safety

Many of the exact fire safety requirements for traditional houses apply to tiny homes.

Emergency access

An important safety aspect of your tiny home is providing access to it if there is a fire or medical emergency. Firefighters with portable equipment and EMS personnel with a stretcher or gurney need to access all dwelling units.

To provide this access, municipalities typically require an unobstructed access route on the property containing the dwelling unit. The City of Toronto, for example, requires a 1.0 m (3'3'") wide clear access route to rear-yard dwelling units for emergency purposes. Finding out your municipality's emergency access requirements is something you must do early on as you consider building your tiny home.

In addition, the Building Code has access requirements for firefighting vehicles, including fire trucks. The Building Code requires that each building access fire department vehicles by a public street, a private road, or a yard. Private roads or yards are only acceptable as a means of fire service access if certain conditions are met, such as connection to a public thoroughfare, location of hydrants, and overhead clearance.


Getting out of a building quickly in an emergency is another critical element of fire safety. For most tiny homes, based on a one-storey open-concept design, a single exit door is likely acceptable to meet the Building Code requirements for safe exiting.

If the sleeping area of your tiny home is located on a different level, the Building Code requires a second exit to provide a different means of escape in an emergency. In such cases, you can use a window as a second way to exit instead of a door if it:

  • is openable from the inside
  • does not need a tool, key or special knowledge to open
  • will stay open on its own without supports or levers
  • has a clear opening of 0.35 m2(3.8 ft2)
  • is not smaller than 380 mm (15") measured in any direction
  • has a window sill not higher than 1 m (39.5") above the floor

Escape Window for upper floors:

  • minimum dimension of unobstructed opening no less than 380 mm (15") in any direction
  • has a clear opening of 0.35 m2(3.8 ft2)
  • 1 m (3" 3.5") maximum above the floor

Smoke alarms

You will need smoke alarms (sometimes known as smoke detectors) in your tiny home that must meet the CAN/ULC S531 standard. A label on the alarm will indicate whether it meets this standard. Smoke alarms are widely available at hardware and home renovation stores.

Your smoke alarms must also have a flashing light when activated and connected to an electrical circuit.

Proper placement of smoke alarms is essential. They must be located:

  • on every level of a house (if adding a second storey)
  • outside of sleeping areas (depending on the layout of a floor, it can also count as the smoke alarm for that level)
  • in each bedroom (if more than one and not open-concept)

Carbon monoxide alarms

You may also have to install carbon monoxide alarms. They are required if your tiny home has an appliance (for example, furnace, water heater or boiler) that uses natural gas, propane, other similar fuels or a wood-burning device.

Carbon monoxide alarms must be connected to an electrical circuit, but if the tiny home is not serviced with electricity, the alarms may be battery-operated. Carbon monoxide alarms must be located near bedrooms and sleeping areas in tiny houses.

Given the small size and likely open-concept design of a tiny home, installing a single combined smoke and carbon monoxide alarm may be sufficient to meet Building Code requirements.

Factory-built tiny homes

Factory-built homes can be an excellent housing choice. Since they are built in a factory, these homes can often provide greater quality and precision than site-built homes. As they are assembled indoors, they are not exposed to sun, rain, wind, or snow as traditional houses are built.

If you plan to buy a factory-built tiny home that will be shipped to your property, there are essential considerations that you should know about before you buy a manufactured tiny home.