I had endured the work commute from London to Exeter for 11 years.  Sometimes it was a quick 55 minutes and other times a white knuckle drive for 90 minutes in winter white outs and often seeing cars in ditches. It was a difficult decision to make but with my children grown up, it was time to live a little closer to my work. Ever since I saw Jay Schafer on Oprah back in 1999, I knew that someday, I was going to live in a tiny house.

I had followed the tiny house movement for years and I realized that Canadian laws for living tiny were different that the American laws. I noticed our U.S neighbours were struggling to push the tiny house movement forward; meanwhile, the movement in Ontario was pretty much at a stand still. My research on living tiny had lead me to an Act that was passed in 2011 called the “Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act”.  My perception from this act was that the Ontario government mandated every municipality in Ontario to amend their bylaws: to allow backyard tiny house on foundations (THOF).  I really wanted a THOW (tiny house on wheels); but, back in 2015, the movement had not progressed far enough to live in a THOW legally. Since I still had at least 7 years before retirement, living in a THOF was a pretty good start.

So, I decided to start looking for properties with a house that was suitable to rent out and had space in the backyard for a THOF to be built. While flipping through the countless pictures online of houses in Exeter, I stumbled upon a house for sale with a workshop in the backyard.  Wow, was I excited!  The workshop was 16 x 20 and much bigger than the THOF that I had planned. I was nervous about building my own tiny house from start to finish; so, this was a good way to cheat. I thought that renovating a workshop would be easier than building a tiny house from start to finish. After confirming that the workshop was the right size for me to renovate into a tiny house, I then looked at the pictures of the main house.

My vision wasn’t totally clear, but I knew it was the right size for my tiny house and it had a beautiful view on a treed lot. I knew I wanted to re-purpose the deck from our trailer, that had been at Shelter Valley in Holmesville. I also knew I wanted to replace the barn door with French doors; but, that’s where my vision ended. I checked out both the main house and workshop with a real estate agent and put in an offer that was conditional on an inspection, and proof that the workshop had a proper permit. The proof of permits came in quickly. The inspection revealed that the main house was a solid house that was built before World War 2.  The workshop had been built only 3 years before on a cement pad, and the walls had been insulated. The workshop was a blank canvas: to create my tiny house dreams. The deal went through and I took possession on June 30, 2015.


Karen Rollins-Beneteau
Contributor, LiveTiny Canada