Moving into a tiny house is associated with living a simpler, greener life with loads of freedom. When looking for a suitable location, there are several laws and regulations governing the building of the actual structure and the placement. This certainly depends on several factors, among them the size of the tiny house and state you want it in.
The International Residential Code provides guidelines on these codes.
Among the factors to put into consideration when ensuring you are on the right side of the authorities are:
Windows – there isn’t a minimum requirement on the number of windows however they need to meet the required standards of an emergency exit point.
Minimum ceiling height– for common spaces such as the living space and kitchen the height of the ceiling should be at least 6 feet 8 inches. Bathroom height can be at least 6 feet 4 inches.
Plumbing – each tiny house, whether stand-alone or in a community, should have its own separate bathroom.
Stairs – Tiny houses need to have stairs to get to the upper floors of the house.
The use of land is governed by zoning regulations. Land in various states is either zoned for medical or government buildings or commercial and residential purposes. Zoning regulations come in handy before building a house on a foundation or trailer to ensure compliance. It is certaingly advisable to familiarize yourself with them before embarking on construction.
Tiny Houses on Wheels Regulations
Tiny houses on wheels are generally considered as recreational vehicles. These houses require registration with the state’s motor vehicle department, and in most states, zoning regulations do not allow tiny houses to be built on wheels.
Some jurisdictions permit the building of a tiny house on wheels if it is to be parked on an area designated for permanent residency.
Tiny Houses on Foundation Regulations
Tiny houses on a foundation are considered as accessory dwelling units (ADU). This can come in the form of granny flats or cottages that are owned by caretakers of the residential main house.
In some cases, a tiny house meant for permanent human living can be built on a foundation.
You should consult your local authorities to find out what regulations you need to follow before investing in a permanent housing structure.
Read: Starting a Tiny House Community
Tiny House Regulations by State
The laws that govern the building of tiny houses vary from state to state and county to county. Each state has its own set guidelines that are often revised allowing for more, or sometime less tiny house residency.
Tiny houses are still not widely accepted, and hence the rules vary from state to state, in some cases county to county within the same state.
For instance in Alabama, ADUs are accepted in some parts of Jefferson County but cannot be larger than 200 square feet.
In Alaska, 40% of the population of the state lives in Anchorage so it’s best suited to build a tiny house there. In anchorage, tiny houses on wheels are allowed to be placed on land containing R-5 zoning. Houses built on a solid foundation require a conditional use permit. Tiny houses must also be connected to municipal water and sewage.
Pima County in Arizona is the most populated county found near the border with Mexico. Tiny houses in this county must be built on a solid foundation on land zoned for single-family detached houses. A house on wheels is considered factory-built if its suspension and axle are removed. Ladders and stairs are required to reach loft areas that meet fall protection requirements. There should be special electrical requirements for such a place.
In Arkansas, tiny houses are only allowed if they are built on a solid foundation. The state is not very friengly to this minimalist kind of living, with one town in particular, Walnut Ridge, enacting a law requiring a 600 square feet restriction on residential houses. It has been dubbed a ‘tiny house unfriendly town’.
Tiny houses in California have become quite popular, particularly following the recent fires. Residents are allowed to build tiny houses without building permits or zoning restrictions if displaced by a fire. Tiny houses are considered accessory dwelling units. Use of trailers and recreational vehicles are for secondary residency. They should be packed in the presence of the main residential area.
In Colorado, all light, ventilation and life safety requirements must be met despite dwelling size. The living room should not be less than 200 sq feet with an additional 100 sq feet for each extra occupant above 2 people.
The State of Delaware requires tiny houses on wheels to get permits within 30 days. Tiny houses with more than 400sq feet are regarded as mobile homes. Those with less than 400 sq feet are regarded as trailers.
In Florida, a recreational vehicle parked for more than 45 days should have a solid foundation. An ADU should have a minimum of 400 SQ feet and not exceed 750 sq feet.
In Georgia, there are no minimum square feet for an ADU but in some zones, it is illegal to rent out an ADU. ADUs are only allowed in zoning area R-5.
In Hawaii, tiny house owners are allowed to buy land for their tiny houses. Tiny houses on wheels are considered dwelling places but have to be registered with the Department of Motor vehicles.
In the state of Kansas, tiny houses should be built on a solid foundation. ADUs are permitted in various zones with a minimum of 3000 sq feet. Compost toilets are not allowed while the use of solar power is allowed.
In Louisiana, safety regulations require the loft to have a window and stairs, not a ladder. One room in the house must measure at least 120 sq feet in size. The hallway and doors must be 3 feet wide and ceiling at least 7 feet tall.
As for Missouri, tiny houses are not allowed in the city or parked in public. Tiny houses are however permitted in case of a disaster. Houses on wheels are used as temporary living quarters for traveling and recreation.
In New Mexico, each room in the tiny house must have at least 70 sq feet with more than 7 feet in all directions. The house is required to have sanitary facilities with hot and cold water. Tiny house on wheels are not allowed.
In North Dakota, the tiny house should be a minimum of 965 sq feet. It must be placed on a solid foundation and have access to water, sewer, electricity, and gas.
In all states across the country, tiny houses must abide by the zoning regulations put in place. These codes vary by city, town or county. Many states, however, do not have clearly defined regulations when it comes to tiny houses. Some states have not yet adjusted rules regarding tiny houses and thus do not have laws supporting the building plan.
These laws and regulations are however not complete, and if you are considering moving into a tiny house in a particular area, it is recommended that you go in depth.
Now Read: How To Build a Tiny House Legally