cozy tiny house in nature side

What’s The Minimum Square Footage For Houses? 7 Important Facts

In Tiny Houses (on wheels) by Kate Holmes

Tiny houses obviously have smaller square footage than traditional homes.  This is especially true when it comes to the overall size of the home.  The average size of a tiny house is 150 square feet.

What is the minimum square footage for houses?
According to zoning regulations, the minimum square footage for a house is 120 square feet. The minimum plot size that is legally required is around 320 square feet.

But, there are other regulations you will have to follow.  So, whether you are looking to downsize to a smaller traditional home or looking to make the leap to a tiny house, you are covered.

Here is everything you need to know about square footage for homes so that you can start your downsized journey!

What Are The Size Regulations For Houses?

While the minimum square footage for a house is 120, there are other things to keep in mind.  For a traditional home, it is required to have at least one room that is livable.

But, what constitutes a livable room?

For a room to livable is must hit a couple of points.  First is that the room will have to have a closet.  The size and style of the closet don’t matter.  As long as there is a place to store clothes and other odds and ends.

Another thing that will be needed to consider a room livable is a window.

Like the closets, the size of the window doesn’t matter.

This is why basement apartments are still considered to be a livable space.  Even the smallest of windows still counts when it comes to livable space.

What About Houses With Multiple Rooms?

If you start looking at houses that have more than one room, the minimum size of the home starts to go up.  In studio homes, the minimum square feet is 120.  However, with multiple rooms, each livable room has to be at least 120 square feet.

Also, the rooms that are not meant for sleeping can be no less than 70 square feet.  So, a two bedroom home with a livings room should be no less than 310 square feet.  The minimum size of the home only goes up the more rooms the house has.

Are There Rooms That Don’t Need A Minimum?

Yes, there are rooms that do not have restrictions when it comes to square footage.  These rooms are the bathrooms and kitchens.

But, while there isn’t a minimum for floor space, there are regulations for room height.

All rooms need to have a ceiling height of at least 7-8 feet.  This way there is safe clearance for most average sized adults.  So, while each room can vary in size, they cannot vary in height.

This makes the most sense since you rarely see homes are staggering levels.

What Is The Minimum Land Size Needed To Build A Home?

A small house is only as good as the land that it is built on.  While the minimum for a single room house is 120 square feet, the lot needed will be much larger.  This is because you will need room for much more than just the house you are going to build.

Many times, people who are looking to downsize their home still want a good amount of yard space.

This is because outdoor areas have become an extension of the home.  Since space inside is so limited, outside becomes a great place for family dinners and even entertaining guests.

So, what is the minimum plot size you should have before building a home?  The minimum plot size that is legally required is around 320 square feet.  With the minimum square footage of a home at 120, that leaves roughly 200 square feet of outdoor space to play with.

While 320 square feet may the minimum for plot size, there are plenty of other factors to consider.  One of the main things to keep in mind is what type of outdoor space you want.  If you are looking to have outdoor space in the front as well as the back of your house, the minimum required space goes up.

Homes that are looking to extend the outdoor space must have a plot size that is the minimum of 900 square feet.  This is because there needs to be enough clearance on all four sides of the home for it to be safe.

Do Tiny Houses (Also) Have A Minimum Plot Size?

Brand new shiny tiny house

When it comes to regulating tiny houses, there is still a great deal that is unknown.

Because tiny houses are not federally regulated, it is up to each state to outline the guidelines.

Some states are more welcoming to the idea than others.

We have laid out the rules per state regarding tiny houses in this post. It’s a must read before you start planning your tiny home.

However, there is a loophole in most state laws that allow for the building of tiny houses.  This lists the homes as government approved schemes.

Many times this type of regulation is for lower-income homes as well as government housing.

This is also why we are now seeing a rise in tiny house communities that are being marketed as a lower-cost option.  These types of communities are popping up everywhere from Seattle to Detroit.

But, what is the minimum square footage for the land size that is allowed by law in these types of dwellings?  According to government regulations, the minimum plot size is 30 square meters and should be no larger than 65 square meters.

This offers many more options when it comes to finding the right plot size to build your tiny house.  This regulation will also apply to over non-traditional homes like RVs or converted trailers.

For more information on what state’s are the most “tiny house friendly” check out this helpful article! 

Do All Cities Have A House Size Minimum?

Sometimes finding the best place to live means having to work with the particular laws of the land.  But, there is another way to get what you want while still staying lawful.

When it comes to tiny houses, there are several loopholes that still allow you to legally live in your tiny house.

However, there is an even easier way!

All over the country, there are pockets of cities that don’t have a set minimum for building houses.  The cities that currently do not have a minimum for house size are:

  • Newfield, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Spur, TX
  • Sarasota, FL
  • Union Mills, NC
  • Knoxville, TN

But, does this mean that you can build your home at any size?

Not exactly.

While yes, you will have more freedom when it comes to size, you may have more hoops to jump through.

This is because areas like these have let the communities decide how the homes should be structured.  Using community-based programs like the Homeowner’s Association allows for the town to regulate things like building and plot size.

However, this doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t be able to build a home smaller than 120 square feet.  It just means that you will have to get approval from the association before starting to plan.

The Homeowner’s Association is within their right to either approve or disapprove a project.

Other Factors And Guidelines To Consider

Even if you were able to build the smallest home imaginable in one of these areas, you still will have to follow other guidelines.  These guidelines are fairly similar to the same guidelines for building traditionally styled homes.

More specifically, when it comes to the size of the livable rooms.

Habitable rooms must still have the floor space of 70 square feet.  If you are planning on making a one bedroom house, that will take up half of the space. 

This, of course, is assuming that you wish to make a minimum sized home at 120 square feet.

The only room that isn’t strictly regulated is the kitchen.  This is because kitchens come in all sort of styles and sizes.  Also, because there is a limited amount of space, your kitchen may be multi-purpose.

This can be anything from an eat-in kitchen to a kitchen that doubles up as a workspace.

Wrapping It Up!

Why is it so important to know what the regulated minimum for a house is?  This way you have more control over the type of house you want.

More and more we are seeing people trade in their sprawling homes for a much more humbled living.

This is beneficial not only to your stress level but also to the environment as a whole.  The less we have, the less waste there will be.  With the downsized movement picking up speed every day, lavished living will soon become a thing of the past.  So, while 120 square feet is the minimum now, next year may be a different story!

Take care.