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He built a tiny home for $40,000 — then learned they’re not allowed to live in it

Cory Grandfield spent $40,000 building himself a house only to find out he’s not allowed to live in it in Vancouver.

That’s because he built a tiny house, a type of home the city does not permit.

Grandfield says he was happy living in his 220-square-foot home with his wife, a 60-pound dog and two cats. They parked the tiny house in a friend’s backyard near Trout Lake and settled in last fall. But his version of a picture-perfect home was shattered when a city bylaw officer came by the home with an infraction notice in April.

“It sucks,” said Grandfield.

“Two people who found a perfect place to live within the city are getting displaced because of archaic city bylaws.”

City of Vancouver zoning bylaws do not permit housing smaller than 398 square feet – or 250 square feet in the Downtown Eastside. The city also does not allow people to live in mobile homes or vehicles.

But Grandfield, who works in the film industry, says he did exactly that for two years with no problem, because no one filed a complaint.

“I lived on in an RV for two years on the street, with no problems, in plain sight.”

But his tiny house, which looks like a miniature single-family house on wheels, is significantly more eye-catching.

After receiving the bylaw-infraction notice the city, Grandfield and his wife decided to abandon their dream of living in their own house because while they could have simply moved to someone else’s backyard, they didn’t want to get any other homeowners in trouble.

The pair plan to park their tiny house in Squamish and have found a more conventional place to live for now – a basement suite in East Vancouver.

Grandfield says they didn’t want to take away a rental unit in a city that has a vacancy rate below 1 per cent, but that they have no choice.

“What we did was we found an empty space that was uninhabitable and we built a house and parked it here. We found our own solution to the housing crisis. Now we have to leave. Now we have to take a perfect basement suite that could be suitable to someone else, in the midst of a huge housing crisis.”

It’s an argument the BC Tiny House Collective has been trying to make in its bid to make tiny houses legal in Vancouver.

“Tiny houses are not going to solve all the systemic problems that exist in our society,” co-founder Samantha Gambling told Metro in February.

“But it will fit alongside single-family dwellings and high rises and microsuites and the whole spectrum.”

Grandfield acknowledges living tiny isn’t for everyone. For him, it wasn’t about pursuing a certain lifestyle – it was a pragmatic solution to a problem many Vancouverites live with, he said.

“We don’t have half a million dollars to build our own house so we built a way smaller one,” he said.

“We’re not minimalist – we have an entire garage full of gear. We have surfing gear, motorcycles. But you don’t need a giant place to live.”