Still no place for little house on the Prairie

By Chris Morin, The Starphoenix September 20, 2014

Lydia Holden lives in a cabin-style home that features a living room, a loft bedroom and a bathroom that includes a shower - and the whole dwelling measures at 130 square feet.

Powered by solar panels and sitting on a utility trailer, the tiny home was open to the public during Park(ing) Day on Friday, and reflects a growing trend of small but sustainable living spaces that are being built on the West Coast.

Saskatoon city council recently overhauled bylaws to allow garage and garden suites to be built, and received the first building application in May. Holden isn't clear how the recent changes will affect her home.

"My house occupies a really nebulous place that seems to fall in between the cracks," she said. "It has wheels so it looks like an RV, but it has two-by-four construction so it looks like a dwelling."

Because of this ambiguity, Holden has to insure her home in two different ways, both as a trailer and a structure.

Jeff Nattress, owner of Laneway Suites Ltd., a new company that's poised to build garage and garden suites in Saskatoon, acknowledges that water, sewer and drainage are among the challenges facing developers of backyard suites. "It's definitely something that could be built as part of these suites, but I'm not sure if there is a place yet for a mobile tiny house," said Nattress.

Garage and garden suites have increased the amount of affordable housing available in other cities, including Vancouver and areas with a more hospitable climate.

"The legislation in California, I think, is more lax than ours and in B.C. they already have laneway housing," said Holden.

While Holden says her tiny home is insulated against a Saskatchewan winter, she plans on temporarily relocating her home to Victoria.

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix