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Hi All,

Just found this great site. I didnt realize so many of you thought and felt as I do. I definately didnt think it was a movement. How great.

Just wondering if there is anyone in the Southern BC area (Vancouver) that is thinking/planning to jump in with both feet and escape the rat race ? 

I`ve been looking at properties and land in hopes of going off grid and becoming more self sufficient. I`ve heard a lot of stories about building codes, bylaws, gov etc shutting people down or preventing this type of living. Any suggestions regarding this would be appreciated.

I look forward to visiting this site often.


Thanks

W
 
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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Welcome Wayne,

There are discussions on building codes which cover a lot of good information, just try out our search feature in the upper right-hand side of this page to find them.

And there have been posts about land in BC, look into the IC (intentional community) section and regional sections for those.

Hope to hear more from you soon.

~Jami

 
Posts: 111
Location: Midwest zone 6
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Hi Wayne.

I don't know the laws in BC.  But there are a few dodges that might work anywhere.

If you need electricity and telephone lines, you can build a simple barn and have it hooked up by the utilities.  Then build your house and wire it yourself from the barn. 

If you are totally off the grid, then don't tell any government official you built a "house".  If asked you could tell them you live in a tent, and the building you are working on is a storage shed or a sweat lodge or whatever.  Land that is unzoned or agricultural zone needs no permits for outbuildings (in most of the US).
 
pollinator
Posts: 1467
Location: Vancouver Island
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Wayne in BC wrote:
Just wondering if there is anyone in the Southern BC area (Vancouver) that is thinking/planning to jump in with both feet and escape the rat race ? 


Already did.... sort of. Moved from Surrey to Courtenay. Hope to move outside of Courtenay to a "few" acres in the future. In the mean time, I am trying to take my home (split level of all things) as off grid as I can. I got rid of Terasen gas so far.... Hydro will be a bit harder   But I should be able to get rid of the part of my hydro that goes for heating. We are also moving off the big food grid (national food chains that don't know and don't care where or how the food they sell came to be) slowly. We are able to do that here as there are a lot of farms in the area. We are learning gardening with what (little) space we have.


I`ve been looking at properties and land in hopes of going off grid and becoming more self sufficient. I`ve heard a lot of stories about building codes, bylaws, gov etc shutting people down or preventing this type of living. Any suggestions regarding this would be appreciated.



I have looked into building codes a bit. In BC there is the BC building code.... quite an expensive tomb, but you can peruse it for free in the library. Every building built in BC if it needs a permit or not, must be built to code... that is it must be "permitable". If you are going to do something off grid and you are going to do so legally, you need to understand the BCBC. It is legal to have a house with no plumbing for example, a privy or even a porta-pottie is ok if they are done right and maintained correctly. It is ok to have a hand pump well if it meets "standards" or to have water trucked in. So building to code can help you get a permit for something odd.... When they say "you can't do this" and you can say " it is on page xxx in the building code" and show that each oddity is actually allowed. It may be cheaper than rebuilding. Having the outside look "normal" to their eye is good too. So the cost of the building code may be cheap in the long run.

Alternate means of getting warm and having light are more acceptable if there is no means of getting them from the normal channels.... so remote living does give you some freedoms.

Number one rule if you are going to try anything "odd" or different is make sure it can not impact your neighbours. (even visually) I have a friend who got a permit to build a house in Burnaby (pickiest about permits in the lower mainland) from a quonset. However the neighbours complained and it cost quite a bit to change the looks of it so he could finish it. He effectively had to re-permit it.

Really, all these guys want is no legal problems, they do not want to be sued. Try to make your building so that neither you or anyone who may buy your building in the future can sue anyone 
 
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I have a small older farm in  a fairly suburban area of the fraser valley,  very humble  older buildings I renovate as i see fit inside and maintain the outside .    If you stay low key and  you don't offend your neighbours , well,  I am sure there are many MANY  lines that get crossed and no one is the wiser.  And up and down our road there are lines getting crossed by all walks of life including municipal leaders.  I am just saying , new construction gets more  watched , older farmsteads  ...  pffftt .    You might think you have to be more rural but i honestly think these suburban areas bylaw enforcement /municipal hall is so busy with new growth, they don't go looking for more work and don't notice if you are low key.  I can pretty much do what I want with my buildings,  without expanding or heavy equipment coming in a digging or clearing , I would not mess with any natural watercourse but I have seen unreal things  done without so much as a slap on the hand and I pretty much  pursue what I want to use alternative power, accomodate my family needs , keep animals to my own standard and other things.  i actually strive to be a good steward of the land and a decent neighbour.  Here everyone is busy doing their own thing and pretty much stick to their own business.  if you had a problem neighbour , or you were a problem neighbour , well that would be a different story. 
 
Len Ovens
pollinator
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Location: Vancouver Island
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Synergy wrote:
  If you stay low key and  you don't offend your neighbours , well,  I am sure there are many MANY  lines that get crossed and no one is the wiser. 



Yup. you can change old buildings pretty much at will if you stick with the inside. You can do a lot outside too if it looks like a "repair" and (as you said)doesn't bug the neighbours. So a new window hole would be fine if it doesn't look right into the next door bedroom Solar panels are fine unless grid tied when you would need a permit. Windmill? depends on property size, tower height, nearest airfield etc. probably need a permit....

A new building, on the other hand.... permit required if it is over 100sqft. And if you are doing anything odd, you need to know the building code better than they do   best to build something that looks like something they like and then use it the way you want.

I guess the answer is if you can find something cheap with a building already there.... mods are not really a problem. Also something thats finished "was that way when I moved here" tends to be a good answer.
 
Lisa Paulson
Posts: 258
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Another plus is for a humble old homestead , it does not catch the eye like all the estates built around it.  Mine has interesting perks like a milk cooling shed with a good shallow well in place in addition to the deep well that serves the property, functional outbuildings that provide tons of storage and the ability to gear up with livestock and lots of roofline for mounting solar panels or micro wind turbines, a surprise -  in place grey water system seperate from the septic system.   It has two homes , woodstove in addition to natural gas heating at present .  Just things that don't look all that interesting from the outside , just an old farm , but go a ways towards being self sufficient.  And while we are out on acreages , we are within reasonable biking distance of schools, stores, public ammenities .  In this day and age it is sort of enjoying the best of two worlds. 
 
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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Welcome Wayne, one of the best ways to not be bugged by all the rules and regulations is to keep things private..what people don't know..well they just don't know.

of course breaking the law is not what I'm suggesting, but sometimes some things are better to not ask about..just do

on another forum a family was told when they asked that they couldn't have domestic animals..but if they hadn't asked a few rabbits and some quiet chickens in a back yard coop probably would have been fine..so sometimes better to not point your play
 
                                
Posts: 12
Location: SE Texas
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Welcome, Wayne. I'm new here as well.
As others have said, it's easy to build without permits (at least here in the states). When I lived in Wyoming, we built additions onto two different houses we had, which were a third to half the size of the existing structure...never heard a thing, of course we lived a few miles out of town.
Here in Texas, we built a small addition onto our house to use as a laundry room. It's only about 12' by 8'. We built that with no permits or inspections of any kind, and we live within city limits. It has been three years, and no one has bothered us about it. I think the key is to make it look decent; as long as it isn't an eyesore, people tend to let it be. I'm sure it's different in other places, where people have nothing better to do than bother people who are trying to improve their quality of life.
Good luck with your project, I hope you achieve what you're after.
 
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