Tiny houses have found their niche in modern society and are even more popular than ever!
Many people are looking for more and more ways to live a more simplistic lifestyle. Unfortunately, if this is the lifestyle you are looking for, you will need to live somewhere that you would be allowed to have a tiny house.
Do tiny houses require permits?
Tiny houses do require permits in most states. Like any home, tiny houses have rules, regulations, and codes that need to be followed. Where you put it, on what land and for how long all factor into legislations surrounding the Tiny House Movement.
If you’re going to be prepared, you should take a look at these facts we’ve compiled here for you:
Where do I go to Get a Permit for a Tiny House?
If you plan to live in your tiny home, you will treat its construction like you would treat building a traditional home.
You will take all the same steps to build your tiny home as you would need to build any other primary dwelling.
To do this, you will want to meet with your local code official. This will either be in your township building or county building. Meeting with them before you begin construction can save you time and money in the long run.
They can make sure that you make everything up to code and that your building will follow building standards before you even begin construction. They would also be able to tell you whether or not building your tiny home would be legal or not.
After you consult with the building code official, you can finalize and submit your plans for a permit.
After your permit application is submitted, the local code official will then review the final plans to determine if everything fits the local building codes, environmental codes, zoning codes, environmental requirements, and construction requirements.
After your permit is granted, you will get your building permit and you can expect on-site inspections during the building process as well as when construction is complete.
What are the Primary Reasons for not Permitting a Tiny House?
There are a few reasons why tiny houses would not be permitted. One of the major reasons is because it is hard for states to regulate tiny houses.
One requirement in many local governments is a size requirement for homes. Most counties require your house to be at least 1,000 square feet for a single-family home which can disqualify tiny homes.
This means that if you want to have a tiny home legally in a residential zone, you might have to zone it as an auxiliary dwelling unit.
If you build a tiny home on your property and do not classify it as your main dwelling, it is less likely to be rejected. This is because having a tiny home as the only dwelling can lower the taxes of that lot, which is not ideal for the local government.
Whether or not your tiny home is legal, or classified as an ADU, you will still need to follow building codes and regulations.
Some building codes are what dictates how the tiny house is built. These codes will dictate the minimum ceiling height, emergency exit point requirements, plumbing requirements, and stairs or ladders to help reach any loft areas.
One reason tiny homes are not deemed legal is because they are on wheels. Most places require your dwelling to be placed on a solid foundation to be livable.
If you want to live in your tiny home on wheels, your best bet will be to look into RV parks. These places will be one of the only places that allow you to live in your “RV” or tiny home full time, whether it is on wheels or not.
One of the hardest parts when living in a tiny home is finding a place to put your tiny home. Not many places will let you buy a lot of land with the sole intention of building the tiny home, so you will have to find a county that allows you to build a tiny home on your land.
Either that, or you will have to put it on a property that already has a standard home.
What Happens if I Build a Tiny House without Seeking Permission?
If you build a tiny home that you did not get a permit for or any other form of permission, you could have many issues in regards to living there.
Repercussions for you, or your tiny home, if you build it without permission will depend on what your county’s feelings are on your tiny home.
If your tiny home does not meet building code standards or size requirements then they can require you to get it up to code. This could mean rebuilding or expanding your tiny home. This could even mean you might have to relocate your tiny home elsewhere.
If you refuse to comply with orders from the city in regards to your tiny home, they do have the right to condemn your home. This means that they can declare it “uninhabitable” which means you will legally not be allowed to enter the home.
You could even be facing charges or even jail time for “trespassing” in your own home if you do choose to enter.
Overall, it is not a wise idea to build a tiny home on a piece of land without first getting the proper permits from the local government and building it up to code.
Where Can I Live in My Tiny Home?
If you are worried about where you will be able to live in your tiny home, don’t be! There are still many places you can live in your tiny home, you just have to know where!
Best Cities to Have a Tiny Home:
Some cities are starting to recognize the need for smaller and more affordable housing. This means that they are making strides in legislation and zoning laws in regards to tiny homes.
These cities include but are in no way limited to:
Fresno, California has some of the most groundbreaking laws when it comes to tiny homes. In 2016 Fresno changed their development code to allow tiny homes to be considered backyard cottages. This also applies to tiny homes on wheels.
This means that you can build or park your tiny home as a permanent living space in a single-family home’s backyard.
Rockledge, Florida not only allows tiny homes to be built within the city limits, but they also are working on a designated pocket community for fellow tiny homeowners.
Durango, Colorado has also amended its zoning laws to allow tiny homes that are situated on foundations to be installed in single-family home backyards in six different city zones.
Finding a city that will allow you to construct your tiny home might be challenging, but it is not impossible. Just make sure that you know all the rules for the city you are specifically looking to move to, as these rules can vary greatly.
Tiny Home Communities:
Another great option for you is a tiny house community. This is an area where all the residents live in tiny houses. These areas are normally outside city limits but are ideal places for setting up your home.
Some locations of tiny home communities include, and are not limited to:
Habitats Tiny Homes:
Habitats Tiny Homes is one of the first tiny house community that has a master-planned structure. This community is located outside of San Diego, California and allows for 50 dwellings that each have their own private backyards.
These backyards even have gardens, an on-site farmers market, and energy-saving features that help you live in a way that reduces your carbon footprint.
This aging RV Park located at College Park in Orlando is transforming into a tiny house community after years of decline as an RV park.
This means you can live in your tiny home at this location even if you have wheels on your tiny home.
Currently, only 13 tiny homeowners live here but the RV Park can hold up to 40 more.
Another example of a tiny home village can be found in Las Vegas, Nevada. This village has around 30 dwellings that are a mix of Airstream trailers and tiny homes.
This village was created by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, to revitalize Las Vegas’s downtown area.
If you are interested in tiny home living, know that you are not alone! It is becoming increasingly popular to want to downsize your living situation.
Because of increasing popularity, you should be able to find a place to build your tiny home.
If you currently live in a place that does not offer tiny-home living, you can look at one of the many options elsewhere, or you could even petition your city to look into the zoning laws and codes and see if there is anything to be done.
Most cities that are now making changes to the law to accommodate tiny homes are due to demand as well as popularity.
If your city won’t budge, then you have other options like RV Parks or moving to a county or community that accepts your tiny home.
Just make sure when you do decide to put down roots, you know the laws and building requirements your tiny home is expected to follow!
For additional information check out our other Godownsize.com articles!
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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.