Building a cabin in Quebec

Started by andrew.zytic, February 10, 2011, 12:11:35 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


This has been a great forum for ideas.  This and small-cabin certainly have the best forms on this topic.  I wanted to add my contributions with regards to details about small cabins in Quebec, Canada.  Because it is all in French I though I would share what I have found out.

I have done most of my research for Val-Des-Monts, Quebec which is a small municipality about 35 min north of Ottawa, Ontario in Canada.  I believe it is applicable more globally in Quebec as a cursory look at other municipalities in the region (La Peche, Pontiac, Val-des-bois) seems to show similar laws.

It is important to understand that the province of Quebec is special in that the official language is French.  Most municipalities only function in French and all bylaws are in French. will become your friend if you do not speak or read French.

The major finding from my research is that small cabins as many of you describe here are NOT permitted to be built on empty land.  In Val-des-Monts the only structure that you can build without a permit is a gazebo of 10 square meters (107 sq feet) and I am sure if you plumb, insulate and put a wood stove they will make you take it down as it does not fit the definition of a gazebo. 

Environmental regulations are strict.  You may not build closer than 15 meters (49 feet) to any body of water (creek, river, pond, lake).  You may not cut down trees within this 15 meters except for a 5 meter (16 feet) window for views from your cabin to the water. 

If you want to build a building that requires a permit, there are minimum size laws.  For a single story structure it must be a minimum of 60 square meters (645 sq ft) with a ground floor of a minimum 50 square meters (538 sq ft) (so I assume you must add a 10 sq meter loft).  If it is 2 floors it must be 100 sq m (1076 sq feet) on the 2 floors.  This sucks as those sizes are no longer cabins but more like small houses or cottages.  The only exception is if you have 20 hectares (49 acres) then you are allowed to build a "camp" where the building may not be LARGER than 55 square meters (592 square feet).

However, once you have an approved building on your lot you are allowed smaller outbuildings.  Make note that only one of those outbuildings is allowed to be habitable and is only permitted to have 1 bedroom.

So you can see that if you want small cabins in Quebec you are better off trying to find an established building that is grandfathered.  These structures are often smaller (eg. Real cabins, 16'x20', ect), and are built very close to or nearly on the water.  The ideal situation is a falling apart structure that allows you to rebuild in the same footprint without paying the full cost for the structure.

As an aside, I guess to increase tax revenues as well as to prevent squatters, you are not permitted to have a recreational vehicle (motor home, tent-trailer, ect) on your empty lot.  Not for a weekend, not even one night!  So you are paying taxes but unless you want to tent you can't spend a weekend on your land!  And for tenting, don't think about leaving a canvas wall tent up for the season either, I am sure they will make you take it down.

So I hope this helps my fellow Canadians who are wondering about what the regulations in Quebec are.

I've purchased a nice lot in the area because the price was too good to refuse.  Unfortunately I bought before I had time to do all this research and I though I could toss up a little 10x12 structure that would make me happy.  I don't have the budget for a 600 sq foot place right now but we will see in a year or 2.



It is sad when building small and efficient is frowned upon. 

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


Wow what a coincidence finding someone in the same area wanting to build in VDM. I have been doing some homework too with the municipality and I concure with most of what you are saying. Here is what I was told.

You could build a smaller cabin before you build the main one. It would become a "villa dortoir" or like a little guest house once your main cottage was built. The cabin can not be greater than 675 sq/ft and it will need a septic system and a well, no outhouse allowed. Some septic systems can only be holding tanks but an engineer will have to assess the land for you. I believe there are designated "green" areas that will not allow a standard septic system. You can add any type of heating to this building (electric, wood, propane) and it can be built on piers. Unfortunately you need plans drawn up by an architect, signed, sealed and approved before you can build but I can't see an architect having too many problems with the plans from this site. You need a permit to build anytthing exept for sheds less than 53 sq/ft.

Ya the rules are pretty strict but what can you do.

Just curious which area/lake did you buy in. I haven't purchased yet but I am still looking.


Val Des Monts is still close enough to a major city so it is a bit of a suburbia and those more ridiculous rules apply. I bought a lot in Messines about an hour north west of there for a rural cottage build and the size restriction isn't there. The environmental laws are still the same (ie. can't clear cut closer than 15m from the water, 5m wide clear cut only allowed for a beach) but no minimum size restriction on the cottage. The only restriction is the max which is it can't occupy more than 5% of the lot's total surface area. Other than that the usual bureaucratic steps apply for permits and evaluations, same as it would be anywhere else. Beautiful area!