Northern Alberta Tiny Home Finance

General 25 Jul

Tiny Homes  and getting them financed in Northern Alberta

Now I’m a big fan of the tiny home movement. I think that simple lifestyle, so minimalist is… very tempting. The only real problem is that there is a disturbing lack of tiny home developments up here in Northern Alberta!

Our House Magazine (which we give away free at our office in Downtown Grande Prairie) recently ran an article on a new tiny home development and charity in Calgary. “Tiny Homes for Heroes”

I’ve posted the article on another blog for today, but wouldn’t it be amazing if we could get a tiny homes community going here in Grande Prairie too!

The Challenge of Financing a tiny home

Financing a tiny home has some challenges. Here in Canada, most Tier A lenders (The big banks) want a single family home to be a minimum of a 1000 square feet, before lending. Lenders assume a smaller home is a cheaper, older home, with few upgrades.

So how are people getting tiny homes built if financing is so difficult?

Option 1 – Start a charity

Well, this is what our friends in Calgary did. Tiny homes, the 200-300 square feet version’s are fairly cheap to build. Fundraising enough money to build several little homes in a community format work’s well, and a normally sized plot for one home can support several tiny homes. This option is hard for most of us dreaming minimalist though. I want to live in a tiny house…. not just help build them!

Option 2 – Buy Raw Land and Start your own tiny home community

Most city’s have these pesky things called bylaws. They tell us the minimum size our house should be, what the proper ceiling height is, and how large windows need to be for fire code. For our safety, or so that all of the homes look nice and uniform… these bylaws make it difficult to find a place to build your tiny house!

Some developers and tiny home enthusiast’s have gotten around this by declaring their plot of land mobile home parks. If a tiny home is built on a trailer, different bylaws apply that are more favourable to a small home. Why build just one tiny home, when you can build a community?

Option 3 -The Easiest Financing Method

Grande Prairie’s rental market has less than 1% Vacancies right now. (July 2018)  A carriage house is a garage with living quarters, and that is something we can finance or refinance into your existing mortgage. So maybe you just design a garage that can be easily converted into a tiny home!

The downside is your sharing your lot, but you get to live in a tiny home, and have rental income! Later on, if you find the tiny home lifestyle isn’t as grand as you thought, you can always move back into the main house. Or move your kids into the tiny home.

Option 4 – Lobby our city hall representatives to make zoning exceptions for tiny homes

One day maybe! Now Calgary and Vancouver each have several bylaws designed to allow tiny homes in various communities throughout these two cities!

In the meantime, give our office a call to discuss options that may work for you!

Jillian Napen

Tiny Home Enthusiast, and Office Manager at Dominion Lending Centres
Ht Mortgage Group, 101 10001 100 ave Grande Prairie
July 25, 2018