It would be great to live in a yurt, on a patch of land close to the city. Or perhaps a cob house built with straw and soil.

What about a shipping container?

Ideas buzzed around a small, cozy table at Queen Street Commons Café on Thursday night as a group of like-minded local residents talked about tiny houses.

Tiny houses to live in, that is.

Typical tiny dwellings can range from a scant 150 square feet to a luxurious 500.

Whether it’s for environmental reasons or financial, to live a simpler life or merely live closer to nature, this small but determined group wants a future of tiny living.

For Jenna Grinham, a 30-year-old Kitchener resident, a minuscule 350-square-foot home in a little community of similar homes is where she wants to live one day.

“It’s the cost of living and how it has consumed your life,” Grinham said. “Especially money. It’s the main cause of stress.”

Wouldn’t it be nice to have time to do yoga, garden and grow your own food, to share resources with your neighbours?

“People have forgotten how to live in a community,” she said.

The movement of itty bitty residences, prevalent in parts of the United States, has grown in popularity in recent years.

And it isn’t just young people jumping on the bandwagon.

Frank Sbrizzi of Kitchener, 57, and his wife, Cristiana Sbrizzi, 55, are ready to ditch their home and mortgage for a simpler, quiet life.

“You trade off living your life because of your home, to be able to afford this place,” Frank said.

Tiny House Community K-W, as they are called on Facebook, only has 30 members right now, but local interest is slowly gaining traction.

Jen Farkas started a similar group in Hamilton, where she says there is a lot of interest.

A blog about tiny homes in Ontario is also a popular resource for many in the province.

“Some people just want to learn more about it,” said Farkas, who lives in Guelph and works in Hamilton.

For Farkas and her partner, the biggest appeal is the chance to live an environmentally sustainable life.

“It’s a desire to live with less,” she said.

Although she admitted she will miss the hoards of books she currently houses.

“It will be years and years before it happens,” she said.

Technically, tiny homes are not legal in Ontario. Farkas, along with the rest of the group, is anticipating years of trying to get laws on the books to allow the pint-sized homes.

Minimum requirements for residential dwellings, determined by provincial building codes and municipal bylaws, make it difficult to legally build them.

Some daring folk live off the grid on farms or other private properties, striking deals for hydro and water access with property owners.

“The biggest hurdle is getting the municipalities on board,” Frank said.

That’s the next step for this ambitious group of dreamers, to take their case for tiny homes to the municipal level.

“Even if it takes five years, it’s OK,” Frank said of getting local municipalities on board.

“We can wait.”

A self-described jack of all trades, Frank wants to refurbish a shipping container for his future home. It’s just one of the ideas he has.

“We will be criticized at the beginning,” he admitted.

“I can just see our parents (saying): ‘You live in a shed, a shed?!’ ” Cristiana added with a laugh.

This tiny house community wants to live together, in a community of tiny homes built on shared property with a common building, tool shed and garden.

“We’re all from different backgrounds and ultimately our goal is the same. That is what’s going to make it work,” Frank said.


Originally published:
June 3, 2016
Anam Latif – Waterloo Region Record