East Prefabricated House Manufacture (Shandong) Co., Ltd.

Housing prices have risen. Are smaller houses the answer?

Mullins grew up in Halifax but spent most of his life in Montreal. Before the pandemic, she considered moving back to Nova Scotia. But by the time she began looking for housing in earnest, home prices had skyrocketed to the point where she couldn’t afford a traditional single-family home.
“I never even thought about building a tiny house [before],” she said. “But it’s an option that I can afford.”
Mullins did some research and bought a tiny home in Hubbards, west of Halifax, for $180,000. “I’ll tell you, it was probably the best choice I’ve ever made in my life.”
As housing costs continue to rise in Nova Scotia, officials and service providers are hoping small homes can be part of the solution. The municipalities of Halifax recently voted to eliminate minimum single-family home sizes and remove restrictions on shipping containers and mobile homes.
This is part of a shift where some want housing to be provided at the pace and scale needed while the province’s population continues to grow.
In Nova Scotia, the spike in prices at the start of the pandemic has leveled off, but demand is outpacing supply.
Atlantic Canada recorded the country’s highest annual rental value growth in December, with median rents for purpose-built apartments and rental properties up 31.8%. Meanwhile, house prices in Halifax and Dartmouth are set to rise 8% year-on-year in 2022.
“With the pandemic and inflation, and the ongoing imbalance between the number of people moving to [Halifax] and the number of units we produce, we are falling further and further behind in terms of available supply,” said Kevin Hooper, Manager, Partner United Way Halifax Relationships and Community Development.
Hooper said the situation was “dire” as more and more people had nowhere to go at all.
As this trajectory continues, Hooper said people should move beyond traditional housing that focuses on individual homes and instead encourage the construction of compact homes, including microhomes, mobile homes and shipping container homes.
“To build a tiny house, of course, one unit at a time, but right now we need units, so there is an argument not only in terms of cost, but also in terms of the time and requirements it would take to complete it.”
Encouraging more small developments could allow individual families to act as developers, Hooper said, including for older children struggling to find housing or seniors in need of support.
“I just think we really need to open our minds and see how this really applies to housing and community building.”
Kate Greene, director of regional and community planning at HRM, said amendments to the county’s bylaws could expand opportunities for existing housing stock faster than building a new proposal.
“We’re really focused on what we call achieving moderate density,” said Green. “Most cities in Canada are made up of large residential areas. So we really want to change that and use the land more efficiently.”
Two recent HR bylaw amendments are designed to encourage this shift, Green said. One of them is to allow cohabitation, including rooming houses and housing for the elderly, in all residential complexes.
The bylaws were also amended to remove size limits for the eight regions that had minimum size requirements. They also changed the rules so that mobile homes, including tiny homes, are considered single-family dwellings, allowing them to be placed in more locations. The ban on the use of shipping containers as holiday apartments has also been lifted.
HRM previously took steps to encourage small developments in 2020 when it changed the rules to allow backyard and non-essential apartments. Since then, the city has issued 371 building permits for such facilities.
With a projected population of over 1 million in the Greater Halifax area by 2050, it’s all about solving this problem.
“We will have to keep watching as we create different housing options and new forms of housing across the region.”
Demand for housing increased dramatically after World War II, but little housing was built in ten years due to the Great Depression and the war.
In response, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation has designed and built hundreds of thousands of 900-square-foot one-and-a-half-story residences known as “Victory Homes” in communities across the country.
Over time, the house got bigger. The average home built today is 2,200 square feet. As cities look to accommodate more people on existing land, shrinking could be the answer, Green said.
“[Tiny houses] are less demanding on the land. They are smaller so you can build more units on a given piece of land than a large single family home. So it creates more opportunities,” Greene said.
Roger Gallant, a small PEI developer who sells to clients across the country, including Nova Scotia, also sees a need for more types of housing, and he’s seeing more and more interest.
Gallant said his clients often want to live off the grid in rural areas, although it can be converted to connect to the grid and city water supply.
He says that while tiny houses aren’t for everyone, and he encourages potential buyers to take a look at his tiny houses and shipping container houses to see if they’re right for them, they can help some people for whom a regular house isn’t. not arrival. “We will have to change some things because not everyone can afford [a house],” he said. “So people are looking for options.”
Given current housing costs, Mullins is concerned about the impact on households. If she hadn’t bought her mobile home, it would be difficult for her to afford rent in Halifax now, and had she faced these housing costs many years ago when she was a divorced mother of three with multiple jobs, it would have been impossible. . .
Even though the cost of a mobile home has gone up — the same model she bought is now selling for about $100,000 more — she says it’s still more affordable than many other options.
While moving to a smaller house did come with downsizing, she said being able to choose one that fits her budget was worth it. “I knew I could live comfortably financially,” she said. “terrific.”
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Post time: Jan-05-2023