Buying a Tiny Home

Are tiny home lofts illegal in Ontario?

tiny home with loft bedroom

No, tiny home sleeping lofts are not illegal in Ontario. Technically. But, with the constraints of the Ontario Building Code, they are quite difficult to execute. 

The sleeping loft is such a common feature of a tiny home design that, at first, it can be hard to imagine a tiny house without one. We see loft bedrooms in tiny homes from all over the world, but is that design transferable to Ontario?

The short answer is, no. The 4’-tall sleeping loft with a ladder is not to code in Ontario. Here’s what you will need to consider if you are planning to put in a loft (called a mezzanine in the building code) in a tiny home in Ontario:

  1. Access – ladders are out, stairs are in. Ladders to access a mezzanine are not permitted in the Ontario building code. Putting in stairs with full handrails will take up a lot more room than you probably planned for. But, it’s doable!
  2. Ceiling height – mezzanines must have a ceiling height of 2100 mm (6’10.5”) above and below. A bit of math will tell you this would be very hard to fit inside a 13.5’-tall tiny home on wheels. 
  3. Guard rails – the mezzanine can’t be open to the room. It will need to have a guard rail to keep people from falling off. 
  4. Floor size – not too big, but not too small. The mezzanine should be no more than 40% of the total floor area of the tiny home (no more than 10% if it’s walled). However, if it’s intended to be used as a master bedroom, it must have 9.8 m2 (95 sqft) floor space, 7 m2 (75 sqft) for a secondary bedroom. So, calculators out again, that means you can get away with a 95 sqft bedroom mezzanine if your home is 238 sqft. 
  5. Fire safety. With the introduction of another level where people will be sleeping, you must also introduce a fire escape for emergencies. This can be a window as long as it has a clear opening of at least 3.8 sqft.

So, here’s what this means. For tiny homes in Ontario, the common sleeping loft “as seen on Pinterest” is not going to work. However, the tiny home community is known for flexibility, resourcefulness, and creativity! For one thing, you can definitely meet the ceiling requirements if your tiny home is not on wheels (let’s face it, you will have a lot more options of all kinds in that situation). If your home is on wheels, consider other bedroom options, or lean into the loft, but use all of the space under the stairs for storage and appliances. 

Check out the Ontario Guide to Build or Buy a Tiny Home for more details.

 

2 Comments

  1. I’m seeing allot of designs with “mezzanines” that are much less than 6′ 10.5″ and as you say it’s not possible with 13.6′ total hight. So what is the work around that these builders are using?
    OBC ceiling heights for bedroom or bedroom space says “2300 mm (7’6.5”) over at least 50% of the required area or 2100 mm (6’10.5”) over all the required floor area. Any part of the floor having a clear height of less than 1400 mm (4’7”) shall not be considered in computing the required floor area”
    Does that mean you could build a loft at 4′, not call it a bedroom or mezzanine, and not count it in total sqft?

    1. This is a great question that we don’t have an answer to… From what we see, a tiny home is most likely to get approved as a permanent dwelling if it has a main floor bedroom. However, we do see many mezzanine bedrooms as well. We would encourage you to speak with individual builders to see what their experience has been in getting their homes certified and permited.

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