Tiny houses by their nature are much smaller than traditional homes. But, lot sizes tend to be much larger than what you need to build a tiny house. This has led to many people wanting to know what they can do with the extra space of the lot.
Can you legally build more than one house on a single lot?
In many cases, it is legal to build additional houses on the same lot. However, it’s important to consult the local authorities about the rules for spacing between the houses and issues about how big a lot you can purchase.
I’d say “possibly” because it isn’t allowed in every town. Still, confused? Don’t worry – I’m here to help!
Here are all of the important rules and restrictions you should know about before attempting to build multiple homes on one lot.
Get Approved Before You Build!
You might be able to build multiple houses on one lot. However, there are many restrictions and rules to keep in mind.
The first thing you will need to do is get permission to build multiple homes on one lot.
Depending on where you live, there are several different processes for this. However, most of the steps will still be the same.
Before you even begin planning, visit your town’s office in order to get all the information you need.
From there, you should also be able to find out if building more than one home is even allowed in your area. If it is, make sure to get all of the paperwork as well as guidelines and regulations. This way, when the time comes to plan for the build, you will be much more prepared.
The most important information you will want to get is the exact zoning restrictions.
This will be the complete guideline for you when the time comes to build. However, it does much more than that! These zoning restrictions will give you a good idea of what to expect when it comes to common complications.
One of the best ways to learn is to learn from the people who have tried before you.
Your Property, But Not (Always) Your Rules
One of the biggest misconceptions is that the property you buy is yours to do with what you will.
But, just because you buy a large plot of land does not mean you can build whatever you want. There are plenty of hoops to jump through.
This is especially evident when it comes to building multiple homes on one lot.
This does not mean, however, that you won’t be able to build multiple homes either. Once you visit your clerk’s office, you will have a better understanding of what you will be able to do. What do you do if your town doesn’t allow you to build multiple homes?
Unfortunately, you will have to follow the laws of the land when it comes to building.
Why Wouldn’t You Be Able To Build Additional Houses On Your Lot?
It can be hard to understand why the laws wouldn’t allow you to build on your own property. However, there are many reasons why certain areas have such strict restrictions.
The number one reason I have found for this is that the town wants to uphold a certain image.
By being able to control who builds what and how the town can better control the way, the town looks as a whole. Most towns want to avoid their neighborhood, becoming a “dumping ground.” We have all seen those small towns that have yards that resemble junkyards with broken-down cars and furniture spread across the lawn.
Some consider this to be another way for the local government to have more control over the people. However, it isn’t just because they worry about their town becoming an eye-sore. Officials also have major concerns when it comes to safety when multiple homes are built on one lot.
This is why it is so important to only build within your local laws.
Lot Size Regulations To Be Aware Of
While some towns do not specifically say that you cannot build multiple properties, they have put regulations in place to prevent it.
One regulation that works to do just this is plot sized regulations.
Some areas have put restrictions on the size of a lot you can purchase. This means that you can build multiple houses, but they will have to fit on a smaller lot.
While this makes it hard for multiple traditional homes to be built on one lot, it is good news for tiny houses. Tiny houses, on average, are only 150 square feet. So, if your town only allows for a half-acre lot, you still have plenty of room to build a few tiny houses.
However, you will still have to make sure that you’re following proper building guidelines in accordance with your local government. Because you are technically building on a loophole, you want to make sure that everything else is properly in place!
Regulations For Distance Between Each House On The Lot
The government has a funny way of restricting you without you even knowing it. One way that this is done is by putting limitations on the distance between homes.
For example, some towns state that houses must be at least 2 acres between them.
This means that there will be a great deal of distance between you and your neighbor.
But, how does this restrict you when it comes to building multiple houses on one lot? This means that you will not be able to build multiple homes if they are within 2 acres of each other. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t build multiple homes either. You would just have to purchase a large enough lot to put dual houses on either side.
This is another example of the way the government tries to insert control while leaving loopholes wide open!
Guidelines Regarding Additional Lots On Your Property
If you are lucky enough to live in a town that doesn’t restrict the number of properties, you can build on your own lot, rejoice! But, this doesn’t mean that you are completely out of the woods either.
Having the privilege to dictate what happens on your property means that you have to work to protect it.
But what does this mean exactly?
Why should you still have rules to follow if you are permitted to build how you want?
Unfortunately, there will always be zoning rules to follow, no matter how many houses you want to build. This has little to do with the government having control and more to do with safety.
Here are some of the most common rules that you will have to keep in mind when planning to build multiple houses on one lot:
1) Water and Power Issues
The first thing you will need to work out is how each home will be receiving water and power. Many towns will be where you will be getting your water and power from. Generally, a town will be contracted with a single power company. This is because the town will receive deals and kickbacks from the power company.
But, this also means that your options are restricted when it comes to selecting where your power comes from.
Once you know what power company you will be working with, have them out to visit your lot. You need to make sure that your lot will be able to provide power to all the homes you are planning on building.
The last thing you would want to do is overwhelm the system. This also means that you might expect to pay extra money to properly set up your lot to provide the right amount of power.
Being able to supply water to your home in a whole different story. Many people like to set up their own water collection system when planning on building multiple homes. But did you know that collecting rain and lake water privately is illegal in some states?
This is done to ensure the safety of the people.
So, if you are not able to collect your own water, what other options do you have? Much like the power company, you might not have options when it comes to water in your town. It would be a good idea to work with your town when it comes to planning how you will provide water to each house.
2) Work With Your Town – Not Against It!
I admit that have government restrictions is frustrating. Especially when you are just trying to do what you want with your own property.
However, sometimes it is easier to go with the flow instead of fighting the current.
Your town may be much more open to the idea of multiple homes than you think. Working with your town is definitely the way to go.
This is especially true since you will be filing all of your permits and paperwork with your local office. Not only will they be able to guide you when it comes to power and water, but they can also help to ensure that your properties are safe and legal.
Building multiple houses on one lot isn’t such a new idea.
Way back in the day, families used to buy one large lot for their entire family. As members got older and started their own families, they would simply build another house on their parent’s lot. This is why you see old traditional homes that look like a little “colony.”
As the country got older, more and more restrictions were in place. And while at times it can feel restraining, other times it can work in your favor.
So, before you start planning to build your own family compound, make sure you’re staying legal. Not checking with your town first is a sure-fire way to find yourself under a mountain of fines.
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Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.