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Small Cabin Forum / Properties / 10 feet by 10 feet 'building' exemption...Ontario
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# Posted: 25 Jul 2021 12:44 - Edited by: windmillgeorge

This topic has been discussed at length before but I would like to find out if there is any new info.

In the Ontario Building Code, the OBC, there is a definition of a 'building' at the beginning that seems to dictate clearly that any building less than 10 square meters, roughly 10 feet by 10 feet is not considered a building and thus exempt.

The wording is poor, but appears correct. Plumbing seems to make any size building fall under the code. Without plumbing it seems ok.

Even a very small pump house or septic distribution piping constitutes a building from the later clauses.

The bunkie movement brings this to the forefront. The advent of bunkies with a second floor, whether greater than 6 foot 6 headroom or less seems to be exempt as well, depending on how you read it. Some bunkies now have second floors larger than the first. This really complicates things.

From the way I read it, you could have a 3 story bunkie. Anyone concur or disagree? I do not think the height of a floor is factor but please correct with excerpts of the clauses that prove that.

Also an attached deck change things. Decks over 2 feet off the ground or now complicates it even further.

I hope my pic of the clause in question is clear.

I would love to hear from those who have successfully pushed the limit here. Especially from those who have had their inspector clarify or 'ok' their interpretation, not just 'not caught yet'.

There are some interesting wrenches further. Some zoning bylaws say 'no buildings within 30m of waterfront' and such. Further complicates it more.

I kinda feel like this loophole might be closed soon, just a feeling, especially with all the bunkie companies pushing the limits.

One of the most beautiful examples that pushes the limit is this one:

Another beautiful example in Maine are these (over the size limit for Ontario by area but none the less beautiful) ns-vinalhaven-maine/

Any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks
building code excerpt
building code excerpt

# Posted: 25 Jul 2021 22:12

The law says 10 sq. Meters that is 112 sq ft.or 9x12 I have built 3 in the last few years .first one slept 4 with a hip roof and a second floor . It has a queen bed in the loft and a pull out couch down stairs , set of ikea cupboards with sink with a drain pail and a large bottle jug with spigot , fold down table ,2 stools , bar fridge pull out cutting board .porta potty ,outdoor bbq , full stairwell . Room to stand and dress in privet.up stairs .

Second one is very similar with a 6 12 roof .

The 3rd is just a sleeping cabin beside our large cottage for kids . It has a shed roof with a queen downstairs and two twin beds in the loft with a loft ladder.

# Posted: 26 Jul 2021 13:14

About 10 years ago someone on this forum built a 10 sq meter cabin on a water access lot in Ontario I think, which I remember seemed especially clever with space planning.

Do note however, that wherever in Ontario he was the local authority exercising control in his area ultimately discovered his build & said the size wasn't going to cut it for habitation, their minimum was 60 sq m/645 sq ft.

Fortunately, he'd anticipated the possibility he might not meet some jurisdiction's minimum and had the foresight to design his tiny cabin to be readily expanded should any local officials object (but also, I'm sure, if he ever decided he needed more space later.)

Whatever you decide to do, I think his strategy was wise - his initial build wasn't wasted.

I don't think he posts here anymore, but here's his build thread, he has 2 pdfs somewhere in there that show drawings for the tiny cabin & the larger 60 sq m he was required to expand to:

# Posted: 28 Jul 2021 22:19

-Organized or unorganized township?
- in most places in Ontario, a bunkie or shed under 100 sq. Ft does not need a permit and is considered an accessory building...that’s the thing...”accessory” means you already have an existing dwelling on the property. You cannot build a stand alone shed or bunkie on a property in most places in Ontario anymore without a dwelling already on the property.
That’s why it’s always good to check with the local rules...sometimes they are a little lax...often they are quite by the book and will...and have made people remove them. Cheers.

# Posted: 29 Jul 2021 05:26 - Edited by: Steve_S

Every Township has bylaws and rules but the farther you get from "Urban Containment" zones things start to relax somewhat. And sometime how the zoning is setup, things can be quite different. For instance my property is classed as a Year Round Recreation & Hunt Camp, so it is more flexible.

My powerhouse/pumphouse is 14x6 on a frost protected slab foundation, I heat this to 10C/50F in winter because my well-head & 40Gal pressure tank + Solar System are in there.

I have a 20' Sea Can set on concrete blocks (exempt not a building) as it can be picked up and moved.

I am in process of building a 16x8 "toolshed" right now, but this beast is on concrete block base with a 6x6 PT substructure, technically moveable so squeak on by.
16x8 6x6 substructure (doing the endcut treatment
This has 6" of A-Grade Crush and Compacted over GeoTextile. The blocks are "Cottage Blocks" 18"x18"x3".

Here is where a LOT of confusion comes... Look at the volume of pre-built shed, bunkies etc (like the Amish are selling everywhere), a lot of these are bigger than 100 square feet, but they can be moved so the rules are different. It seems that these are fairly well accepted in the country but less so (more limited) in cities due to by-laws and whatnot.

And as BushBunky pointed out the "Accessory Building" clause which in many cases = stupid. But that is the result of people abusing things to a point where those rules had to be made.

Here's a Dumb Example I had to deal with.
Bought untouched land, cleared what I wanted cleared. To build my home, I wanted a storage building to put my gear On-Site (only makes sense). BUT I could not build it as I wanted (with a solid base). So the SeaCan solved that issue, and a good solution IMO.
Hindsight, should have gotten two 20', set them on concrete bocks 20' apart and installed a roof over the cans and space between providing a covered 20x20 covered space between them.

I actually just called around for SeaCan prices, they went NUTS thanks to Covidus Interruptus and some are asking $5K for a 20' now - I bought mine for $1500 delivered ! in 2015. Hence why I decided to build the 16x8.

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