tiny homes: A little house with a lot to offer.

Rena Siddall

Like Alice in Wonderland, the homes on AirBnB seem to be getting smaller. The tiny house trend is on the rise. While they’re not a new concept, tiny homes have been gaining in popularity for a myriad of reasons. Sure, the real estate market around the Island is tough to break into for many and even downright unattainable for some. But what other reasons might drive a person to build what is referred to as a tiny house? 

Related: Read why one Victoria couple converted a bus into a tiny home thanks to the exorbitant real estate market on B.C.’s south coast. 

The BC Tiny House Collective describes a tiny house as under 500 square feet and “designed and built on the principles of affordability, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion/ community.” While some people strictly cannot afford another permanent housing option, others are opting for creative alternatives to sustainable living.

For Rob, a builder by trade, it was the opportunity to own a home for extra income combined with the challenge of building a tiny house with no plan or existing blueprints. Rob began constructing his tiny house with the intention to rent it out as a short-term rental. He started his tiny home undertaking two and a half years ago using a 14-foot double axle trailer- although you’d be hard-pressed to see many remnants of the trailer now.   

Rob's Tiny home dimensions

Despite having to rearrange the layout multiple times to find the most efficient and usable space, thanks to Rob’s contracting and building experience he completed the home in only five months. As for the difficulties of tiny-home living confronting the renter, so long as you’re comfortable climbing a ladder to bed Rob says, “your only challenge in this beautiful and modern rental is staying motivated to get out and see the island.”

“Your only challenge in this beautiful and modern rental is staying motivated to get out and see the island.”

When asked if he would attempt another tiny house project, Rob simply replied “definitely.” Rob’s experience paid off: one reviewer of Rob’s modern, wood-paneled rental exclaimed, “The tiny home was great! Super stylish and comfortable. I wanted to move in!”

Are short-term rentals worth the bureaucratic headache?

While at first glance tiny houses seem like a lucrative option, it’s rarely as simple as that. Not only are there tough zoning regulations to get around in many places in B.C.- in Vancouver you can’t get a permit for a tiny house that you live in permanently- but there’s the added factor of new regulations around short-term rentals that many B.C. municipalities are adopting.

Taxes, limits to what sort of rooms, and business licences which cost between $200 and $2,500 are just a few of the hurdles hosts might face in putting their tiny houses up for short-term rental.

In addition, if you’re looking to own a tiny house, make sure you’ve got a legal place to park it. Other Victoria locals, Steph and Rich, found it’s not easy finding a place with the necessary utilities to park a tiny house on wheels, and in their case luck played a huge part. In Rob’s case he already had access to the property. A quick search of Victoria and Nanaimo’s Craigslist offered all of zero places to park an RV or tiny house. In fact, the only recent listings I could find were both for “Parking Wanted.”

Big dreams offered in tiny living.   

Despite that, plenty of people seem to find a way to jump through the hoops- or skirt them. In the Victoria area right now you can find a total of 11 different tiny houses available to rent on AirBnB. You can filter your search for unique homes which include everything from barns, campers to yurts, tiny houses, and even treehouses. So, what’s the appeal?

Beginning at $55/night for Rob’s tiny home, the excellent value is only one reason why someone might choose a tiny house for their holiday. Some people opt to try a short-term rental before completely downsizing themselves, while others might simply be interested in less house to clean on their vacay.

The owners of these tiny homes take it one step further in promoting their uniqueness or quirkiness depending on how far down the rabbit hole you’re willing to venture. They vary from “A Boat Builder’s Tiny House” to “Bilbo’s Tiny House,” all playing right into the quest for something simultaneously charming and unusual. And if you take your search further from the Island you can find houses you might expect to find only in storybooks. From a silo in Massachusetts to a cave in Grenada to a former corn barn at the base of the Alps, the tiny living spaces certainly have an expansive amount of dream vacations to offer. Ok sure, maybe some are pricier than others and have their own unique challenges but an off-grid treehouse nestled in the rainforest of Hawaii? Sign me up.

Follow Mountain Park Construction @mpc_victoria

Rena Siddall /

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