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Owner of Naramata, B.C. tiny home pushing for change

Tucked away at the back of a Naramata, B.C., property, Adrienne Fedrigo and her family live in a tiny home adjacent to her parents’ house.

Fedrigo, who is also the chair of the Tiny Home Builders Association, says tiny home living has become more popular over the last few years due to the cost of living.

“It’s a great option where we’re on the same parcel as my parents, it gives them that option to age in place, allows family to be close by and helps with their mental health and their well-being. We are on a half-acre parcel with lots going on, so it gives them that opportunity to have family close by to assist with anything around the yard,” said Fedrigo.

“It provides our younger family who’s very prevalent in the community a place to live, it gives us our autonomy in our own house that’s just kind of tucked away in the corner with minimal environmental impact and it allows us to stay here in that affordable and attainable kind of way. And if life gives us different opportunities elsewhere, then our house can come with us.”

The tiny home on wheels is the only one located in Naramata, and until recently the Fedrigo family had been living there without an issue.

“A complaint had come in from a resident within Naramata and so then it had gone to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) under a temporary use permit process up until this point,” said Fedrigo.

According to Fedrigo, their tiny home is ‘CSA Z240 RV’ built to a specific building code, however, bylaws do not allow residents to live in an RV full time within the regional district.

“Ours is technically still built as an RV but the structure is built more to the housing code, but because there isn’t a standard designed specifically for tiny homes on wheels, tiny home builders are stuck in that do you build under the BC Building Code, but there isn’t a specific one, or do they build as a CSA,” said

“The industry had just started to build under the CSA Z240 RV because that was the closest commonality or closest code that they could find to build and we’re in kind of a spot right now where it’s trying to get the industry to build to those appropriate standards that allow for year-round living that a municipal building code would allow for.”

The Ministry of Housing was unavailable for an interview on Monday, but in a statement to Global News said if a tiny home has wheels, it will not comply with the BC Building Code as the code doesn’t consider a building to be on wheels.

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Instead, it would be regulated by the Manufactured Home Regulation, similarly to mobile and recreational vehicles, and must meet the federal Canadian Standards Association’s specifications.

“The current specifications for mobile and recreational vehicles have not been developed with permanent occupation in mind, and therefore do not necessarily address all the health and safety concerns that may come with permanent occupation,” read the Ministry of Housing statement.

“For example, recreational vehicle heating and ventilation systems may not be designed for extended use during winter months, which could create risks in vehicles without smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms. Recreational vehicle connections to potable water and sewage or septic systems are also designed with temporary use in mind, and it may be appropriate for those systems to be re-assessed in the context of permanent use to minimize the risks of failure, which can pose risks to occupants as well as the environment.”

Meanwhile, the Tiny Home Builders Association of Canada is pushing for change in the way tiny homes are built as well as with provincial and national regulations surrounding tiny home living.

“We’re working with tiny home builders across the country to change from building as a CSA Z240 RVs and to start building as a CSA Z240 Manufactured Homes as those are designed to live in full year and under municipal rules those would be allowed for that full time occupancy,” said Fedrigo.

“We are working with different levels of government both provincially and federally as well as some non-profits and other advocacy groups to get code changes put in place, either under the manufactured home standard, or to have our own building standard for tiny homes so that way we can see that compliance at a municipality level.”

The Ministry of Housing added that the province recognizes tiny homes are a viable housing option for many people and are working to address whether or not it can be included within building codes.

“The province knows that everyone wants to find a good home they can afford that works for them and their families. That’s why we are building on our work to provide lasting solutions to the housing crisis and are taking action to increase the supply of attainable and affordable housing for all British Columbians. The province is also committed to ensuring that codes and technical standards for buildings are keeping British Columbians safe,” read the Ministry of Housing statement.

“We are working with national code development partners to look into how buildings codes may more specifically address tiny homes without wheels. Though tiny homes do not yet have a specific classification in the Code, the Code does not prohibit them. A house can be as small as possible, provided it meets the Code objectives of safety, health, accessibility, fire and structural protection, and energy and water efficiency.”

Meanwhile, Fedrigo was granted a temporary use permit through the RDOS and plans to continue living in her tiny home.

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