Living Legally In A Tiny House

Living legally in a Tiny House is a hard subject to talk about because it’s going to be different depending on where you live. Unfortunately, we can’t look up the information for everywhere in Canada, but we are going to focus on New Brunswick, specifically the South-Eastern area, and we encourage you to contact your local city building advisor, or your Regional Service Commission office if you live outside the city.

Ask the hard questions

I know it’s hard and scary to ask certain questions about Tiny Houses and by-laws that might affect where and how you can live, but it’s really important to do it. You might be really surprised about the answers – we sure were! Turns out that it’s legal to have a Tiny House within the city limits here in Moncton, as well as in Riverview. But when we contacted the Southeast Regional Commission, they told us that the legal minimum size for a full-time home is 485 square feet, which means technically, it is not legal to live in a Tiny House year round in the areas that they govern (if there’s no mayor, they are in charge).

Always be honest

I was really nervous about contacting people to talk about by-laws concerning Tiny Houses, but I knew that being honest was the right way to go about it. You’re not doing anything illegal by asking questions or by showing interest. Sometimes it’s even helpful because those people making building code by-laws might not have been aware that there was a interest for people to be living in such small spaces. Nothing is ever going to change if we don’t talk about it.

Double-check the “facts”

I don’t know why, but I had this weird feeling when I first got an answer for the Southeast Regional Commission. I felt like they didn’t really know what I meant or weren’t familiar with the bylaws so they weren’t really able to answer any of my questions properly.

I waited a few days and tried calling again. Funny thing happened, I actually ended up speaking to a total of 3 different people, and I got different feedback from each individual. The last person I spoke to was very helpful and was obviously looking to answer my questions as best as he possibly could. He told me that the National Building Code of Canada insists that a home may not be a permanent residence if it does not meet the minimum size requirements. (I still need to find a copy of this and see if this is actually true) He specified that you can live in a building that is smaller than 485 square feet, but only seasonally.

I then asked if he knew what the consequences might be if one chose to live in one full time, and if you could get a fine or kicked off your land. He proceeded to tell me that it would probably never happen, because it is highly unlikely that someone would go out of their way to find proof that you live there year round, and then even more unlikely that the police would go to all the trouble of finding you, knocking on your door, and asking you if you live there full time. And in which case, simply put, he told me that you are not under any obligation to admit whether or not your Tiny House is your permanent dwelling.

Educate Others

We can help others by educating them. Without education and open dialogue, we can’t expect cities, towns or regional commissions to understand or be willing to make changes to accept Tiny Houses. So I think it’s our responsibility to take action and try to create change by talking about it, sharing posts and articles, and being an active member of the Tiny House Community to keep it current and relevant.


If all this is something that interests you, then you need to check out this 3 Part Documentary from Tiny House Expedition called Living Tiny Legally.


Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 – In progress

Here are also some other links, none of which I think are really that helpful, but maybe one day:

Tiny Home Alliance

Tiny Homes Canada

Unfortunately, we aren’t nearly as far along as they are in the states, where they have the American Tiny House Association working on changing and creating by-laws to allow people to live more a sustainable and minimalist lifestyle.

18 thoughts on “Living Legally In A Tiny House

  1. Thank you so much for this, it is super helpful.
    I am also in NB, with a tiny house and am having the exact same issues right now with getting electricity hooked up to my tiny.
    I didn’t do all the proper research obviously, but I will live in it seasonnaly, which I think will be ok. May just be a long season 😉

    1. That’s fantastic! The tiny house that is, not the issues with getting electricity hooked up. If you don’t mind my asking, what is the issue? Are they refusing to hook-up to the house because it’s not a “permanent” fixture? We are still figuring things out for our own Tiny House, but we are probably going to have a post put in and that’s where the meter will be fixed. And I would definitely extend it into a very long season if I were you! 😉

  2. Hello Fellow Tiny Enthusiasts,
    I just found this site, so glad it’s in New Brunswick.
    I’m looking at trying to find a place to park a tiny before I get one built.
    I live in Fredericton, NB and wondering if you know of any contacts I may start with to ask these questions. I have emailed the city planning department but didnt get much direction.
    Any other tips or help would be greatly appreciated….Thanks.

    1. Hi Kelly! So glad you stumbled upon our website! I would recommend trying to contact them by phone or in person, more likely to receive a timely response. I know someone who had an off-grid cabin in that area, so I’ll ask around and can get back to you! 🙂

  3. Thank you for the information. I’m looking into building a small home in Sussex, NB. Maybe around 500 square feet or so, but not sure about the regulations. I tried emailing the city, but haven’t received an answer. Would you happen to know what Sussex regulations permit? Thank you.

    1. Hi Ivan,

      Long story short – in New Brunswick, if a city or town has a mayor, the by-laws are dictated by the specific place you live. For example, within the city limits of Moncton, there exists a bylaw to allow citizens to live in small houses (smaller than the minimum requirements indicated in the National Building Code of Canada). I was able to get this information by contacting the City of Moncton. I’m not familiar with Sussex, but if there is no mayor, then all homes would automatically fall under the regional commission of that area. I always encourage everyone to contact regional commission office, even though technically they all must follow the National Building Code of Canada, which I’ve been told states that the minimum size for a permanent dwelling is 485 square feet. If you haven’t been able to get a hold of anyone in regards to this, I would continue to send e-mails, and try different people who might be able to send you in the right direction (I started e-mail the complete wrong person but they gave me some information on who I should contact). With the City of Moncton, e-mail worked very well as a means of communication, however I had to call when it came to the regional commission because they never answered my e-mails.

      I hope this helps a little bit!

  4. In NB there is a law that states anything under 608sqf for overnight stays does not require to meet any building codes
    Only requirement is a permit to put it up. Service no rep stops in to measure it to make sure it’s under that magical number and that’s it.
    As noted in this article nationally there is a minimal number and different city’s, townships & municipalities have by-laws with their requirements.

    I am building a 300sqf container home and I am not even required to get a permit for it.
    It’s not a permanent structure u set nb laws

    1. How about NB power? They gonna hook you up?

      I’m in stilesville… Hope to have a tiny home built but getting info is tough from the old gnb.. I don’t want to even buy land until it comes together..
      Who do we get the permits from to put the homes on a piece of land?
      Thanks for your time and help..

    2. I have moved from Ontario to Miramichi and live 20 minutes out of town. Chaplin Island road. Looking to build a 24×16 foot home, what permits do I need? Should I put as a camp? I will be building myself as I have experience building? Need hydro as well. Currently living in trailer on land with a 6 month hydro hook up. I just want an open concept with a slant basic roof 8x7pitch

      1. Hi Adam,

        That sounds like a fantastic endeavour! Even if you build yourself, you should follow the instructions on the GNB website:

        In regards to building, a permit of $25 is required if it is less than 608 square feet in dimension. Fees for larger builds are explained in the “Fees” tab of this article. No inspection is required is the build is less than 608 square feet.

        As for hydro, everything has to be done through Power NB. They set up poles, wiring, and the meter, which must be hooked up to a permanent dwelling (i.e. cannot be a moveable house that isn’t fixed in place). Here are the rates on the NB Power website:

  5. CJ posted August 21, 2020 that in NB there is a law that allows anything under 608 sq feet for overnight stays to be built without a building permit. I would like to know what law that is and whether I can rely upon it to build a cargo container for a seasonal cottage. I am afraid to start my project only to then find out that NB requires me to have a permit and meet specified code standards. < Mark

    1. Hi Mark,

      Thank you for your comment. Here is a link to what I believe you are referring to in regards to building permits:

      Stated in the article is that you will need to get a building permit (from the regional commission of the area you are building), but will not be required to have an inspection done. The fees on the website indicate that is costs $25 for a building under 608 square feet in dimensions. There’s also an email address linked that you could use to contact if you have any more questions.

  6. Thank you for the quick response I’ve sent an email to my city and waiting for response. We packed up all our stuff from Ontario where our city, rent and houses went up 30% since covid and average house price is 650 000 lol in hamilton, Ontario one of the worst cities. I sent my resume off to several east coast facilities, got an online interview and took the job. Bought a $5000 f150, $2000 24 foot rv and packed it full, went 80kms due to swaying lol, hit a snow storm, snow shoveled for 3 days straight as our property had 6feet of snow, had to self isolate in the dead of winter with no hydro, just our little buddy heater. Now have hydro clear driveway hydro and bought another car as wanted 2nd car just incase. I now am looking to build mini home in rural New Brunswick and live in rv at same time. Hardest thing in our lives, tested our relationship, but would have regretted it as in 10 years I would own nothing in Ontario. We own 1acre of land we bought for 4000, 5000 with lawyer fees , a rv and pick up truck, currently mortgage free but not for the faint of heart, we didn’t pay rent or mortgage and purged un needed things, so liberating and freeing. Its a story we will always remember and everyone love us to tell it. We have lots of footage and going make a youtube channel called DUPREE, I will link when updated. I have satellite xplorernet internet and it’s not the best however I am going to apply for starlink and get fast internet as I live in beta test zone. You can do it, any will has a way….:)
    Darrell and Brittany
    Thank you for making this resource, be nice to have a community and who knows meet when the world isnt crazy as NB everything ain’t to far away

    1. Hey Darrel,
      Your story is very inspiring and my wife, 2 toddlers and I are looking to do the exact samething for the exact same reason. Im looking at property now in a rural area, within 30 mins of a major city centre for hopeful future employemnt. We want to build a tiny home, but just not sureabputthe best way to do it? On a chasis to avoid certain permit regulations etc….. We really really want to make this happen and if you have any advice (along with anyone on this site) it would be greatly appreciated 😊. We want to eventually be self sufficient and go further into the abyss and live off the grid, but 1 step at a time.

    1. That’s amazing Darrell! Thank you for sharing, and congratulations on the big move!

      We currently do not have hydro set up, but we are not living in the tiny house. As always, plans are taking much longer than anticipated; we’re still in the building stages.

  7. This is what I got back from our ministry for permits in my city of miramich, new-brunswick. Really sucks

    I have received your inquiry regarding the construction of a cottage/cabin/camp under 56.08 square meters and have attached a checklist of documents of what would be required if you wish to apply for a building permit.

    As of February 1st, 2021, the Province of New Brunswick adopted a new Building Regulations and Act. There were many changes in these new regulations and one of those changes removed the exemption of a small overnight accommodation completely. Since then, anyone who wishes to construct any structure designed for overnight accommodations must meet the 2015 National Building Code.

    As mentioned, the checklist I have provided you with outlines what drawings and other documentation that will need to be submitted in order to apply for a building permit.

    To note, we have received directive that the Government plans to reinstate that exemption, however we do not have a firm time of when that exemption will be back.

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