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Kitchener seeing a gradual increase in tiny homes

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It seems more people are taking advantage of a change that allows them to build tiny homes on Kitchener properties.

In June 2021, Kitchener city council made the switch and interest continues to grow.

There's been a gradual increase in building permits for backyard homes with nine in 2021, 16 in 2022, and 23 in 2023.

That’s a total of 48 permits since this type of new housing was allowed.

“The turnaround time is about two months," said Richard Kelly-Ruetz, senior planner for the City of Kitchener. "So if we see some that [permit request] come to the city in December, it may not be issued until January or February.”

The city added that it’s encouraged by the interest.

“One of the main things that Kitchener City Council was looking to do when they passed the bylaw in 2021 was really look at unlocking more housing options across Kitchener’s neighbourhoods, and that’s what was enabled by allowing backyard homes on most residential properties,” said Kelly-Ruetz.

Kevin Boland, a builder and president of King Street Construction, agrees this helps address obvious housing needs.

This month he finished building his second miniature masterpiece in Kitchener.

A tiny home in Kitchener, Ont. (Source: King Street Construction)

“The biggest thing for us was you can build something on an existing lot,” he said. “You don’t have to purchase more land.”

As he explains, tiny homes aren’t even that small.

“’Tiny home’ is kind of a deceptive term. A lot of people used to think they’re small sheds in a backyard. But you can build actually up to 860 sq. ft. That’s the maximum, or 50 per cent of you main house, whichever is less,” Boland explained.

That’s not including a basement, which these homes are allowed to have in Kitchener. When you add that, the homes can have up to 1,720 sq. ft. of livable space.

Boland’s company offers different tiny home models, with several slated for construction next year.

A tiny home in Kitchener, Ont. (Source: King Street Construction)

The number of his projects could increase if the City of Kitchener approves four units on a property. That would mean tiny homes would also be allowed on lots with triplexes.

It’s a cost-effective solution, Boland says, compared to the overpriced options we’ve grown accustomed to.

One of his builds is 800 sq. ft.

“Our build cost would be right around $250,000 to $260,000 plus tax,” said Boland. “For this one we have a full gas-fired furnace.”

It hits home the idea that a little house can go a long way.

King Street Construction is hosting an open house for a tiny home on Dec. 16 and 17. You can find the details here.

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