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Tiny homes: An alternative with lots of benefits

Published on December 18, 2023

Tiny homes are very popular at the moment, for people who want to save money, adopt a voluntary simplicity lifestyle or have more freedom of movement. The trend does not seem to be losing steam, and more municipalities are allowing the building of tiny homes in various forms.

Here’s a complete guide of all you need to know about tiny homes and how they are spreading throughout Quebec’s real estate landscape.


What’s a tiny home?

It’s basically a type of house characterized by its very small size, which makes it possible to live in an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly way. Tiny homes have an interior living area of 300 to 1,000 square feet. They are often built on slab or on piles. They can also sometimes be on wheels and therefore be movable. They generally include multipurpose furnishings to optimize the use of space.

The 3 types of tiny homes

There are different types of structures that meet the requirements to be considered tiny homes and that fall under the category of green houses. Here is more information about the three most widespread models.

Movable tiny home on wheels

1. Movable

These were very popular when the tiny home movement first gained mainstream attention, after the 2008 financial crisis. They are built on a steel frame that can be towed and they meet size standards for road transport, allowing owners to move them easily. Because of this, they have a fairly rectangular shape and have ground clearance.

2. Fixed

As the name implies, these tiny houses stay in place and are permanently rooted on a lot. They can be built on a concrete slab, on piles or, in some cases, on a foundation. Given that it does not need to be moved, it can have a variety of shapes and even a second storey or basement.

3. Prefabricated

These can be on wheels, on slab or on piles. However, even if they are intended to be fixed in place, they can easily be moved because they are built in a single piece and already have to be moved for the delivery. Most models have large windows, to let the light in, but also have quality insulation.

The characteristics of tiny homes

While their look can vary and they can have unique features, tiny homes share almost all these characteristics:

  • Multipurpose furnishings
  • Creative storage spaces
  • Lots of windows
  • A source of central heating and air conditioning
  • A mezzanine bedroom
  • A bathroom with a shower
  • A rainwater collection system

Tiny homes established in nature and that are not hooked up to municipal utilities will generally have a compost toilet, flexible water tank and solar panels. And despite space limits, some even have a dishwasher.

Prefabricated units offer a multitude of customizations if budget is not an issue.

Lounge area inside of a tiny home

Size and footprint

A tiny home has living space between 300 and 1,000 sq. ft., but some purist will say it should not go over 800 sq. ft.

The building footprint varies by model, but most are built in basic geometric shapes. In order to maximize the amount of available space, many structures have a rounded shape, for instance teepee-shaped tiny homes, which are especially popular.

The different shapes of tiny houses

Construction costs

It is difficult to establish a price range for building a tiny home, but it is reasonable to suggest that costs start at $40,000 for basic models and can go up to $250,000 for more luxurious and equipped models. That said, a wide variety of structures are available for $100,000 to $150,000.1

In addition, there is the cost of buying a lot or of renting one. If the building is mobile, a suitable vehicle will be required to move it. It may also be wise to buy a shed for additional space.

Maintenance costs and future expenses

Aside from the cost of the tiny home itself, there are other things to budget for. For instance, installing the base on which it will be set, transporting the house and landscaping the lot. In some cases, a crane must be rented to lift the house from the delivery truck to the ground.

If it is not possible to get a hookup to public services, there will be sizable expenses involved in digging an artesian well, installing a septic tank and getting connected to the Hydro-Québec grid.

Once the house is installed, however, the yearly maintenance costs should be relatively low. There is little renovation or repairs to carry out and, when needed, there is less to do than with a typical house. Since the space is small, you can also expect energy use to be low.

Country style tiny home

Pros and cons of tiny homes

It’s interesting to weigh the pros and cons of tiny homes. Here’s a summary of both sides:


The increasing popularity of living in a tiny home is due to quite a few factors, including:

  • An affordable purchase price
  • Quick construction or delivery time and the possibility of assembling it yourself
  • An ecological gesture and low environmental footprint
  • Little maintenance or cleaning needed
  • Ability to move it easily
  • The opportunity to densify cities without building at a height


The basic concept of the tiny home, that is, having little living space, turns some people off. But it’s still considered an advantage by those who want to reduce their consumption. The cons include:

  • Limited living space
  • Lack of privacy if several people are living together
  • The complexity of bylaws to build or install
  • The obstacles involved in getting financing
  • Lack of storage space
  • Difficulty in having guests

Which Quebec municipalities accept tiny homes?

The best way to answer this question is to check the interactive map of the Quebec tiny house movement (Mouvement québécois des mini-maisons—MQMM). It shows the locations of dedicated neighbourhoods for tiny homes, cooperatives and parks for tiny homes on wheels.

It also gives the bylaws in force in various municipalities regarding builds of under 700 sq. ft. and where it is possible to add an accessory dwelling unit on a lot that has a main residence.

Where to install a tiny home in Quebec

There is a limited selection of locations available. Each municipality has its own bylaws covering the building of properties on its territory. Some are more open to tiny homes while others are more reticent. Here are some of the towns that accept them:

  • Adstock
  • Chertsey
  • Dixville
  • Farnham
  • Ham-Sud
  • Gore
  • Granby
  • Knowlton
  • Lac-Brome
  • Lantier
  • Mont-Saint-Hilaire
  • Papineauville
  • Saint-Côme
  • Saint-Donat
  • Saint-Étienne-de-Bolton
  • Saint-Nicéphore
  • Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval
  • Sainte-Émélie-de-l’Énergie
  • Shawinigan
  • Sherbrooke
  • Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac
  • Venise-en-Québec

Several other municipalities are currently in the process of authorizing tiny homes as an accessory dwelling unit (also known as a granny flat or backyard cottage), meaning they can be built on a lot that already has a primary residence. This will certainly become more popular in the coming years, in places that want to limit urban sprawl but increase density.

Neighbourhood of tiny homes

Preparing to buy a tiny home

Before proceeding, there are several things to check before the project can go forward.

Why buy a tiny home?

There are many reasons enticing people to buy a tiny home. The appeal can be having an eco-friendly dwelling or the desire to access home ownership for a lower price than renting in many cases.

How much does a tiny home cost?

The price of a tiny home varies according to its size and the options it includes. Some of least expensive models sell for $83,5002 and the more spacious units retail for up to $250,0001. To get the price facts, your best bet is to contact a tiny home manufacturer directly.

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Financing a tiny home

It is possible to get a mortgage loan to finance the purchase of a tiny home if you own the land on which the tiny home will be built or installed. To make things easier, the model should have a good value. The lot will serve as additional collateral. Note that it will therefore be seized with the new house if you fail to make the payments.

However, the chances of getting a mortgage for a tiny home on wheels are practically nil: these are considered movable property rather than real property. As a result, you need to request a personal loan, or a leisure vehicle loan.

Kitchen area of a tiny home

Life in a tiny home

Living in a tiny home means making do with about one quarter of the things the average person owns in a conventional house. Adopting this lifestyle can be viewed as a significant sacrifice by some, but as a form of liberation by others.

A tiny home requires less in terms of time and money invested, which means that homeowners have more time for leisure and travel. It also allows them to reduce their ecological footprint. For people with these priorities, the tiny home is ideal.

Nevertheless it’s still a challenge if several people are living in a small dwelling. A possible fix for this is to have two structures and link them, to increase the living space and improve privacy. This is a popular solution for families with kids. It is important, however, to make sure the municipality in question allows two units.

In light of this information, it is easier to decide whether a tiny home might be a suitable option, or whether it’s preferable to save up for a more conventional type of property.

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1. According to the tiny house and tiny cabin collection of Drummond House Plans, as of November 30, 2023. 2. Price of the standard 20 ft. CABANE model as of November 30, 2023.