Building a tiny home can be an exciting process, but many people are often confused about just what is required of them. Every state has its own rules and regulations about what needs to be done for you to reside in one of these eco-friendly dwellings legally.
You have to do a lot of reading up to make sure that you check all of the boxes before you start building.
If Oregon is the place you call home, what do you need to know about tiny houses?
Here is the breakdown of what rules you can expect to encounter!
What Counties in Oregon Allow Tiny Houses?
Oregon is one of the more progressive states when it comes to its tiny house rules and regulations. Unfortunately, the codes do stilly vary in each town.
Some of the more popular cities that are adopting tiny home friendly communities include:
To tell if your county allows for tiny homes, be sure to look at the zoning map for your property.
See how your property is categorized and if you can lawfully have an accessory dwelling unit. Most tiny homes will fall under this category, as long as they follow the building requirements.
One of the issues that currently face tiny homeowners is the movement of tiny houses on wheels. Oregon does allow for individuals to reside in tiny homes on wheels, one of the few states to issue a statement on this. However, their Recreational Vehicle Industry Association has no way of regulating codes and inspections just yet.
Until the day that happens, tiny homeowners will have to have a special trip permit and a commercial hauler to move their home.
What’s the Minimum Size for Houses in Oregon?
There is no minimum size for a tiny house in the Oregon area, but there is a maximum size.
According to the State Building Codes Division (BCD) and the International Residential Code, a tiny home is considered to be a property with 400 square feet or less, not including any loft areas where you may sleep.
Where Do People Place Tiny Houses in Oregon?
Once you have your tiny home or are in the planning stages, you need to know where you can place it. The key is to understand how to read the zoning maps for your particular area to determine whether they allow for permanent or temporary tiny homes.
In residential areas, you want to look for areas that are zoned to allow for accessory dwelling units. This means that you can build a tiny home in the backyard of another property, as long as you comply with all of the local building codes for a permanent structure.
Some cities in Oregon are known for their tiny house communities where small lots are sold for individuals to build their own tiny home. This is particularly true in cities like Lakeview and Eugene.
If you are uncertain whether an area is zoned to allow for tiny home development, take it your local building officers or zoning office. They can answer any questions you may have and point you in the right direction to get started with the necessary paperwork.
Never risk building a tiny home in an area that you are unsure about as the city can evict you and impose fines if you refuse to leave the area.
Another option for those who only wish to dwell in their tiny home part-time is to live in an RV park. A park model tiny home is 400 square feet or less and is constructed on a chassis for easy movement. It must be held to the nationally recognized standards for RVs, but there are no state-level regulations. Your tiny home should be small enough to be easily accommodated at almost any RV park.
Where Can I Find Land for Tiny Houses in Oregon?
Some areas are exploding with tiny home popularity in Oregon. Portland, Lakeview, and Eugene are all major cities where tiny home communities are cropping up in droves. When it comes time to find a property where you can build your own tiny home, these are the places that many people start. However, there are other options.
The zoning rules and regulations will vary based on your city and county, so it is hard to give specifics on where you can find land for tiny houses.
Instead, it is advised that you do a good bit of research about any potential property that catches your interest. Look at it on the local zoning map to see if it allows for tiny home properties. It may have certain development standards such as minimum size requirements that would exclude a tiny house. Before you fork over any cash for a property that someone tells you can hold a tiny home, make sure to take it up with the local zoning department.
They can give you clear answers on whether your property can legally hold a tiny home or not.
Rules and Regulations for Tiny Houses in Oregon You Should Know
The building codes that pertain to tiny homes in Oregon are rather extensive.
Fortunately, they can easily be broken down into three main categories. Each tiny home is considered to be permanent, temporary, or transitional.
Let’s take a closer look at the regulations that each home must adhere to based on its category.
A permanent tiny home is one that is attached to an approved foundation. Above all else, it prioritizes safety and energy efficiency at the expense of being able to move it around on a whim. Each permanent tiny home must adhere to Oregon’s state building code or federal standards.
A contractor should be able to steer you in the right direction when it comes to filing the appropriate paperwork and getting inspections on your tiny home.
There is one exception to traditional building codes known as the Oregon Residential Specialty Code (ORSC). It allows one sleeping loft per tiny home where a ladder can be used as the primary means of access.
This applies in tiny homes that total 600 square feet or less. When you have this type of loft, you must also install an automatic fire sprinkler system. Plan reviews, permits, and inspections are all mandatory.
Contractors who work on the tiny home, including builders, electricians, and plumbers, must all be licensed by the state.
Temporary homes apply to those that are made to be moved, with or without the installation of wheels.
Most tiny homes that are intended to be temporary are exempt from construction regulation.
However, you do still need to work with your local municipality to ensure that your home can be safely sited and occupied.
Those that are designed for movement on public highways and roads are subjected to the rules of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. This includes the normal standards for brakes, lights, wheels or tires, rear impact guards, and VINs. The maximum width is eight and one-half feet.
An RV tiny home also falls under this category. An RV tiny home is only designed to be used for recreational, seasonal, or emergency purposes. They typically are built with a pitched roof, bay windows, or other specified exterior materials and are exempt from state RV regulations.
A park trailer or park model tiny home is 400 square feet or less and built on a chassis. It is also certified by the manufacturer to comply with nationally recognized standards for the construction of RVs. There are no state regulations for the construction of park trailer tiny homes.
A transitional structure is a temporary housing camp that municipalities can use to provide living facilities for homeless individuals and those who do not qualify for low-income housing.
These communities are established within urban growth centers and are regulated solely at the municipal level.
What Are the Rules for Other U.S. States?
Tiny houses are still a relatively new phenomenon that is taking over the country. Many people are intrigued by this new way of living but are uncertain about the rules surrounding it. In the United States, it is hard to make blanket statements about what is true for the overall rules surrounding these small dwellings.
The truth is that rules about tiny homes vary greatly depending on the state and county, even the city itself.
Many parts of the country do not have any specific laws regarding tiny houses just yet. As long as your builder is complying with the local building codes to construct your home, then you may not face any issues with the process of building.
Most states do not require you to have a certain size home to get your building permits. The only thing they care about is that you do get your permits. Living in your tiny home can be another story.
If you are interested in the details for a different state, be sure to check out our more detailed Where Can I Build a Tiny House? (Laws by State)!
Was this article helpful?
Did you find wrong information or was something missing?
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.