Tiny House Codes – A Break Down

Macy M28 comments30676 views

Codes for tiny houses are a complex issue. I’m going to attempt to break them down. This is a lot of facts and some opinions. Take it as you’d like but keep this in mind: I have no skin in this game. My tiny house goals are accomplished, I’m fine with it if I am asked to leave my home tomorrow.  I do not own a company. I don’t even make much money from this site. Always consider motives of your source in your research. I always stand solidly behind the DIY builder but definitely understand and encourage those who want a pre-built tiny home. And I certainly respect someone who chooses to build tiny houses for a living.

At the start, many, many years ago….

A guy wanted to build a very small house. He went to the BUILDING DEPARTMENT to get permits, like [almost] every build has to do to be legal (or face fines).  He was told he didn’t meet the minimum size standards.

Him: ‘I just want a small place to call my own, like 200 s.f.’

Building Dept.: ‘we require a minimum of xxx s.f. for structures based on ‘xyz”

Him: ‘Well what happens if I build it any way?

Building Dept.: ‘We will have it removed and fine you for not following the proper path that EVERY structure in our city has to follow’

Try, try, try, the jurisdiction just wouldn’t budge and allow less than the minimum s.f.! No matter how much he proves he can meet every other code required.  

Him: ‘Ok, well I’ll put it on wheels then, will that work?’

Building Dept.: ‘Oh, we don’t regulate temporary structures or vehicles, talk to DOT…’

DOT: ‘Sure that’s fine. Let us know when you’re completed and we will title and register your new LEGAL RV’

Him: ‘But I want to live in it all the time, not just recreate in it…’

DOT: ‘Oh, well you’re going to have to talk to the zoning department to see where you can live in an RV year round in your town…”

Him: ‘Ok’

Zoning: ‘Well, we don’t have anywhere that you can live longer than ‘x’ amount of days in an RV but we have these nice RV parks here, here and here…’

Him: ‘Hmmm, well I don’t really want to live in an RV park… What if I just park it in my friends backyard… I mean how will you know if I am living in it or not?’

Zoning: ‘Well, we don’t police that stuff. If someone files a complaint we will have to ask you to vacate the property… and you’ll have ‘x’ amount of days to fix the situation’

OR Him: ‘What happens if I stay ‘x+1′ days?’

Zoning: ‘Well, we are complaint based so if there is a complaint we will have to ask you to leave…’

Him: ‘but if no one complains no issue?’

Zoning: ‘Pretty much’

Basically how Tiny Houses are regulated  

Sketchy, right?  No one wants to invest all this money to be told to vacate?  This is that ‘grey area’ that some people are trying to fix… but it is a part of the tiny house movement since day one…

Remember, this guy just wanted to build a very small house, on a foundation.  The wheels we a work around that was taken to bypass a regulating agency, the building department.  By doing this he was able to avoid fines that would otherwise have been placed on the structure BUT also by doing this he has to deal with the uncertainty of his location. If he is reported, he won’t face fines but he’ll have to move. For this guy the benefits outweigh the risks so he goes forward. Follows DOT requirements and builds a homemade RV. Then lives in it and get’s lucky, with no reports. Or he doesn’t, he gets reported and has to move.

Ok, now YEARS later…

There are 100 people who want to build a small place, all their own.  The go to pull permits, like EVERY build has to do. They are told they can’t build that small. The building department (who work directly for the citizens of their town) notice, ‘hey, we have a lot of folks asking to build small places, smaller than code currently allows, we should question this requirement.’ (this is why it’s important you TALK TO YOUR JURISDICTION about your desire to live tiny).  He processes the thought through city council. People show up to say, ‘yeah, this is a good idea!’ Changes are made and folks are allowed to live tiny, legally. Permitted and regulated through the city, just like all other structures in the given city.  Now 100 more people want to build their own small place, they are allowed to, no questions asked, it’s just normal.

So… If what you want is a tiny house on a foundation it is infinitely easier to do completely legally! Right now! Go to your building department, ask if it’s allowed. If they say no, ask about getting a variance from code. If they say ‘yes,’ you’re done and off to the races. (and you can thank all of those annoying TV shows and click bait articles for helping to normalize it!)

Here is where it get’s tricky…

Some people LIKE the work around (wheels). They are mobile. How cool is it to be able to move whenever you want and take your whole house with you!? (Hint: It’s very cool!  There are thousands of retirees and families who have been doing that for years in the RV world). It’s just that little ‘RV’ clause. You may say, ‘but these are not RVs, these are TINY HOUSES!’

…No, they are RVs…

It’s not a personal attack to say that. It doesn’t mean ‘the government is keeping you down’.  We are talking about codes and legalities. WE as a collective people have made those! It is NOT ‘us vs them’ (and once you turn it into that sort of an argument you give up all of your ability to affect change!). The thing is, ‘RV’ is the ONLY classification for a mobile structure that you can live any amount of time in. You have mobile offices you can work out of, you have semi trailers, utility trailers, etc. None of those allow habitation. They don’t allow utilities, ovens, beds, etc.  RV’s are the ONLY classification that is close because they allow temporary habitation.

The thing is, they don’t have to follow any safety standards or rules other than the size requirements and hazard steps required by the DMV in most cases… but there is that pesky issue of not being able to live all the time in the ‘unregulated but probably fine, potential death trap…’

We have to change that!  

Solutions offered:


Regulate all tiny houses through RVIA which certifies that builders construct to ANSI standards…{opinion} Not a great option, RVIA certifies builders, not houses. This would entirely remove the DIY option for tiny houses… and would offer you no more permanence than anything you can already have with a homemade RV except a slight amount more security in being able to park it in an RV park (which mostly enforce time limits anyway).


Changing codes is a long process and not easily done.  ANSI stands for American National Standards Institute.  It is the agency that creates codes for basically everything, housing codes (IRC) and building codes (IBC) defer to ANSI and they regulate Recreational Vehicle codes (NFPA 1192) (that’s right, there already ARE standards for RV’s, they don’t necessarily get followed in homebuilt RV’s).{Opinion} It’s silly to think, since it isn’t easy to meet ANSI we would have the power to just change it to our favor as one organization would suggest.  ANSI is already currently obtainable for tiny houses, RVIA builders produce ANSI certified tiny houses (RVs) currently.  DIY builders can build to ANSI standards as well, the portion that is lacking for DIY RV builds is a certifying body.

There have been a few options for this popping up on the radar but so far they have been certifying standards ‘based on ANSI’ but those are just bypassing the real regulating body.  Further, standards ‘based on ANSI’ are NOT necessarily ANSI standards. So certifications being offered ‘to standards based on ANSI’ are not necessarily worthwhile certifications…
If you’re going to go this way, use ANSI, certify ANSI, either for RVs or for a permanent structure, but use an existing code.  That is what RVIA does for builders but it is a whole different ball game to certify DIY builds.  That is a whole lot of liability that would be tough to take on without an awesome business plan AND training acceptable by ANSI.  Take that as a challenge all you entrepreneurs! 

Even if these were alternately ‘certified’ it would still be an issue of zoning. You would only be able to park where RVs are legally allowed still. Mostly just RV parks.

Changing IRC to include Tiny Housing

It’s not difficult anymore to design a very small space to IRC codes.  The wheels are the sticking point. That shortcut was pursued entirely to avoid the building department, and, in doing that, the IRC. {Opinion} This pretty much already exists.  IRC covers foundation houses though. To turn around and make any demand that building code now covers mobile structures without due process is silly. I am guessing it would be fairly simple though to allow for a house to be built on a trailer. So long as you were able to remove the axles and get an approved foundation detail on tying the trailer frame to the ground, permanently.

Change Zoning to allow full time RV living

This is an option, although not a very appealing one and probably not easily done. The reason RVs are not allowed to be lived in full time is the code that regulates them (ANSI) doesn’t offer the same safety as full time building codes (IRC/IBC). egress, structure, etc., real concerns.  By allowing full time use for RV’s you’d be opening up room, not just for ‘Tiny Homes’. For all sorts of other RV’s that aren’t built as well. While this may work in some areas, it’s not likely to work in most for that reason.

{opinion} This is also something that would be handled on a case by case basis, there is no overall ‘Zoning Code’ that all jurisdictions play by, it’s something developed by the jurisdiction with direct input from people like you and me (so get involved!).  In this case I would expect that only ANSI certified RV’s would be accepted (RVIA is currently the only governing body producing RVIA builds so this wouldn’t necessarily help the DIYer even though it sounds like it may.)

HUD Regulation

HUD stands for department of Housing and Urban Development. They are who regulate affordable housing.{opinion} it sounds appealing but there are very strict regulations that come with HUD, they are who regulate manufactured housing.  This option would likely require licensed manufacturers to produce housing, also taking it out of the realm of possible for the average DIYer. AND still leaves that pesky zoning issue.

Here’s an idea though…

And it’s just an idea… This came up as a possible solution given from a local zoning official at one of our local MeetUp groups… it’s a bit of a mix of the above options, zoning and building.

If you want to make a tiny house and you don’t want to move it, build on a foundation. You most likely can anymore. Talk to your local building department.

If you want to make a tiny home to travel the country, you can. Do it. Talk to your local DMV for special requirements (they are probably few).  Just be aware of your parking situation and zoning ordinances locally. You are regulated as an ‘home built RV.’ (unless you purchased a certified tiny house RV)

BUT, if you want to make a tiny home to live in full time in mostly one location but you MAY want to also move it at some point. You would have to do so to measurable safety standards while also paying attention to zoning codes. There are few places that allow full time RV use in a way that most people want to use their tiny house.

So… the idea…

What about opening a new category? One that is clearly a vehicle, because there are wheels (this is not an insult but a categorization). Yet a vehicle who has gone the extra mile to meet safety standards for full time use.  The officials words were to call it an ‘Advanced RV’. It would be different than a typical RV or a homemade RV because it meets higher safety standards for full time use. Yet it is still characterized as the vehicle it is. It COULD be moved. This would make it easier to open up a zoning classification separate from ‘RV’. Something rated for full time use (a tiny house) while not opening a flood gate to ALL RVs which don’t necessarily meet those standards.

This WOULD mean that tiny houses wanting to achieve this level of location security would have to meet ANSI codes and possibly more strict IRC codes per building dept. (still very possible) and it may mean they would have to meet some vague material/aesthetic standards via zoning ordinances. But it may be a valid path?

As an example

This would allow an empty-nester to live permanently on their own land nine months of the year. If it was approved for ‘advanced RV’ use (likely tied down and secured semi-permanently). Then, in the winter hitch up their home and drive to Florida to live temporarily at their daughters location, within RV regulations.

Long story short, there isn’t necessarily a way to live legally and securely in a tiny house by avoiding codes. There are a lot of people living less than legally currently. In the suggested solution it won’t take away anyone’s current abilities to live tiny in the ‘grey area’. But it WOULD open up a new legal path to this lifestyle. Offering security to a greater amount of people. Therefore, allowing more people to set off on their tiny house journey.

Currently, you’re either ok with the ‘grey area’ and possibly moving or {opinion} you should be actively trying to work within the existing regulations to find a legal process to live tiny.  It’s a very complex and probably overwhelming issue for most. I write this as an overview so you can be aware of the obstacles. My hope is you don’t get sucked into something that sounds ‘legit’ but isn’t. I have seen a few of those offered now.

There have been a couple of other great articles posted on the topic:

I would love to hear your comments, thoughts and feedback.



  1. I’m wholeheartedly in favor of your idea – but not your name for it! Calling it an “Advanced RV” enshrouds the “RVness” into it – and the idea that they are meant for recreational use.

    I’d like to have a name that emphasizes the intent that it is a full time residence. Here are some ideas:
    Tiny Home on Wheels (Duh!)
    Towable House

    I’m working – very slowly – on definitional wording creating this new class of residence – wording designed to be incorporated in local and state zoning ordinances/laws.

    1. WE don’t have to call it an ‘advanced RV’ that would just be it’s legal classification… like cottage houses are rarely called cottage houses, just homes… this is where legalese meets mainstream and why I say it’s not a personal attack, just a classification. 🙂

    2. What is wrong with “tiny house” as the term? It makes the most sense because it actually is by far the most established term. Wheels or not is irrelevant because that distinction was only to navigate the code problems that this solution solves. Well, irrelevant other than if it is moved down the road, it should meet dmv requirements like anything moved down the road.

  2. EXCELLENT discussion of a complex issue! Glad to see TH regulatory discussions moving toward code hybridization within the RV regulatory codes where they are already regulated. “Advanced” status makes perfect sense — raise them to a higher level of safety and building requirements than standard recreational/short-term assemblyline RV’s also regulated by the same codes. One is a duck, one is a goose and both share the same traits while being entirely different. Any individual should be able to learn what the codes are and be allowed to build an Advanced RV. I am NOT in favor of moving building permission only to certified RV builders — I would rather live in a shed.

    Well done discussion, Macy!

  3. Oh thank you Macy! You just took my last months of worries, stress, and wrapped it up in a nice package with a pretty bow. I so appreciate you dissecting it out and summarizing it so detailed yet straight forward. I think I finally have wrapped my head around it all! I have an idea… if it would help the local relationship if I were to build my THOW and involve them throughout the entire build. Sort of being the guinea pig. If Tricia and her folks were involved step by step, inspections, etc – if that would support and advance the THOW movement here locally. Yes, I would probably have a dish out a little dough on licensed folks for certain aspects of the build. But to create the road that future DIY’s could drive down? What’s your thoughts?

    1. I think it’s probably a smidge too early to work out atm. They would have to create the designation and find the avenue that would best inspect it (likely via the building department, probably on a semi permanent situation. I think there are too many unknowns with her suggestion to be able to attack just yet. Definitely worth asking them, just to show them that there is a real interest. I always advocate being very open with the powers that be, they need to know stuff is going on so that they can incorporate things properly…

  4. Um, there is a huge difference between “zoning” and “building codes.” Zoning is purely a local issue that has NOTHING to do with safety, and everything to do with the local jurisdiction’s idea of INCREASING PROPERTY VALUES overall. For example, where I live it is 100% illegal to have an apartment lived in by anyone other than an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent). Many old houses have detached carriage or boat houses with servants apartments from way back when, but you WILL be reported and fined if you allow someone to live there. Even for free – I know someone who allowed her husband’s nurse to stay in her carriage house for free, and as soon as the neighbor reported her she was fined and the nurse was evicted immediately. Also, my village regulates fences, trees etc. It is illegal to live in an RV or boat AT ALL. In fact, any vehicle other than an normal car or SUV cannot be parked on the street or in a driveway. Any commercial vehicles, RV’s or boats must be parked so that they cannot be seen from the street at all. And, there are no trailer-park type houses allowed.
    As for a minimum size of house on a foundation, I haven’t looked at our local zoning, but approval of a building permit where I live is purely based on aesthetic zoning. The “building codes” part comes later.

    Building codes come into effect after you get a permit from the zoning board. My Village requires a minimum of a 5/12 pitch roof for snow loads, massive egress (36″wx48″h) windows in each bedroom, fire/CO alarms in each bedroom, hallway and kitchen, and fire-blocking and hurricane strapping of the frame, and the minimum code insulation. They defer to the Township for the electric and plumbing inspector. ALL hamlets and villages where I live require CENTRAL HEAT in every room, and there is NO WAY a gas or wood stove alone will be given a variance (we tried). Even if you never use that heating system, you still must spend thousands putting one in.

    As for tiny houses and building codes, right off the bat, the fact that a “legal” bedroom requires a minimum square footage of ceiling height ABOVE 7ft tall (say, in a Cape Cod attic), a 2’x4′ closet, an egress window and central heat, there is no way, as it stands, that any tiny house I have ever seen could pass. And would a house without at least one legal “bedroom” actually be considered a “house” by building codes?

    My aunt in Maine had a custom timber-frame passive-solar house built in the 1980’s. It has a large greenhouse sunspace off the south side with a concrete thermal mass wall between the posts in the center south bay of the house. Her only other source of heat is a woodstove and a small propane radiator in the bathroom for the pipes. This was build by hand by a local Maine company. A few years ago the town hired a tax assessment firm from Boston and the woman showed up at my aunt’s house, and idiotically my aunt let her INSIDE (legally, they can only measure from outside). She saw that my aunt had NO CENTRAL HEAT, at which point my aunt explained that her house was PASSIVE SOLAR, super-insulated (SIPs), and she had a wood stove. The lady reported her to her insurance company and they tried to drop her property insurance for failing to have central heat. It took my aunt months, writing to her senators and the governor, and finally, she got lucky, because the local company that built the house was still in business and they still had her plans on file, and she was able to submit a variance from the town saying she did not require central heat.

    The problem with foundation houses and building codes is they do NOT take legitimate alternative building into account, and it will be hard to INSURE them, even if you do get a zoning variance. If you cannot insure your house with property insurance and someone trips and falls in your driveway, you are screwed.

    On mobile tiny houses, the most important insurance is vehicular, as any property the house is parked on should be separately insured.

    Sorry for the long post, but I have serious issues with most building codes. Aside from fire and plumbing codes most other building codes should be done away with, since most “code compliant” houses built today are pure crap compared to old pre-code houses like mine that have withstood multiple hurricanes (including Sandy) with no problems.
    Zoning codes vary by town, so simply choosing where you live, and doing your research in advance, makes all the difference. If you want to paint your hose any color you want, do NOT move into an HOA development, for example.

    And, HUD should not apply, since that is government-funded housing, and DIY tiny houses mean paid for by yourself, privately. That being said, HUD SHOULD look into tiny houses for the ridiculous “affordable housing” programs, as that would be much more efficient and more FAIR than giving taxpayer-subsidies to big developers who give political-contributions to politicians who get “affordable housing credits” in return.

    1. I’ve had problems too – so your stories are familiar. Neighbors can be trouble. If/when I build my tiny house – no neighbor will be in sight. And if I drive it to the land, it will be at night, in the furthest point on the property; after which more bushes will immediately be planted – to hide from any passer byes. You might think, ‘oh it’s so pretty..I’m so proud…I’d like to show it off…lots of people want to talk about it..” NO NO NO. Only takes one person, hearing about ‘the tiny house’ to wreck your little paradise. Good luck to all tiny dwellers.

  5. Hi again, I have a question:

    Why do people compare Tiny Houses on wheels to RV’s in the first place? Aren’t they more accurately compared to Mobile Homes – the ones that fill Trailer Parks? Those are mobile in the sense that they can be hitched to a truck and moved, but for the most part they sit stationary. Isn’t that EXACTLY THE SAME as a Mobile Tiny House???

    My guess is that the decision to compare them to RV’s early on was a class factor. As in, nice neighborhoods do NOT allow “mobile homes” in their zoning, but having an (expensive) RV on your lot (not permanently occupied) is ok.

    I was glancing through those HUD regulation links you listed, and to me it sounds like HUD plans to BAN mobile Tiny Houses altogether. In other words, to me, it sounds like Tiny Houses on Wheels will be LIMITED TO ONE STORY – no loft living / sleeping space, based on the height clearance and stair codes alone.

    In that case, the ONLY DIFFERENCE between a “trailer park” Mobile Home and a Tiny House on Wheels will be, at best, the aesthetic look of the design. BUT, if that happens, you can bet your bottom dollar that any jurisdiction that WAS considering allowing a “cute” Tiny House a variance will quickly say “NO!” for fear of being sued by the “trashy” trailer park Mobile Home owners.

    KEEP THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OUT OF ALTERNATIVE BUILDING!!! The FEDs only care about BIG BUSINESS (NOT small Tiny House and alternative building contractors), such as the Manufactured Housing Lobby, and their POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS.

    Local government cares about their tax base, so bigger = higher taxes, but in over-crowded cities they may be cool with “high-class” Tiny Houses that do not negatively affect the property values of the surrounding properties. Those local jurisdictions are put at risk by limiting Tiny Houses to one story “Mobile Homes” since they cannot legally discriminate between the wheat “high-class Tiny House” and the chaff “Trailer Trash.”

    1. Mobile homes (manufactured housing) is regulated by HUD. There is no legal way that a DIYer can build a mobile home but it IS legal to build an RV yourself. Like I mention in the post, and RV is the only legal way to DIY your own dwelling for any amount of time. Though an RV only allows temporary dwelling. HUD, IMO is not the way to go with this, having HUD take tiny homes under their wing would instantly take it away from the DIYer and it would have to be manufactured in a facility that is heavily regulated.

      HUDS recent news has been HUGELY blown up in a very false way, they are only clarifying that they are not going to regulate tiny houses (leaving it to the RV industry which allws things like lofts etc., and providing a sticker that says so…) in my eyes that is GOOD news.

      Your stance on local government isn’t totally accurate, while there may be some areas that is true it is definitely not the usual case. Local government cares about it’s local citizens, otherwise people move away and they aren’t a thing anymore. They are trying to find a way to accept tiny houses without repeating the history that has already happened with manufactured housing. It is not solely about taxes, tiny houses ARE taxable. It is mostly about safety and protection of peoples’ existing rights.

      I would encourage you to change your perspective, we will get much further with collaboration that confrontation. There are many aspects to this whole debockle and things are changing very quickly in all reality. 5 years ago I had to explain what a tiny house was to anyone and everyone, now, everyone knows what they are and they (largely) like them. The legalities just need to catch up too but they won’t if it’s hostile. The change must happen locally which means people skills will play a big hand it the change!

      1. IMHO the basic problem is that THOWs are neither RVs nor Mobile Homes.

        THOWs are constructed with the specific intent of full time occupancy, RVs (by definition in ALL zoning codes I’ve seen) are intended only for temporary (recreational) occupation. Thus THOWs cannot be RVs.

        THOWs are constructed either as one-off’s (the DIY) or small batch (Tumbleweed etc.). Mobile Homes (to be “certified”) can only be built to specific specifications (HUD) – and as a consequence of obtaining certification are only economical to construct in factories. Thus THOWS cannot be Mobile Homes (OK – unless the builder is willing to spend extra – possibly more than the THOW itself – to be certified AND to conform to the HUD specifications).

        Thus I think we – the THOW community – need to aim to create prototype legal wording (zoning and building) that creates a new category – the THOW category – with essential points being A) Intended for full time occupancy and B) a reasonable (read inexpensive) process for certification.

        Many – perhaps most – current commercial builders who originally called their products a “Tiny House” are now calling them “Tiny House RVs”. Why? Insurance. Without RVIA certification as an RV, they are very difficult to insure. Should we arrive at a new legal definition, the insurance companies will then know exactly what they are insuring – and that THOWs are neither RVs nor Mobile Homes.

        I could go on in much more detail on the building code side – what provisions I consider appropriate and what aren’t, but I don’t want to make this comment 5x as long as it is!

        1. I somewhat agree with you but I feel like it would be easier to ask for alterations to existing regulations to get where we want than to create something from scratch. That is making a whole new organization other than tacking onto an existing one. In that case who wold do inspections and certify the safety required for full time occupancies? Right now we have DOT, HUD and the local building department, none of them seem to want that obligation and they are all saying no, it goes to someone else. DOT will certify it meets DOT requirements but that doesn’t equal anything able to be lived in…

    2. EXACTLY. Taxes are the greed factor… homeowners who can’t afford – rent out a room – pay a fine – you’re not zoned for that. When/if they lift the minimum sq footage – there will be more rules. And the no loft idea is ugly and impractical.

  6. I am currently in a issue that we have had for ten yrs. We are allowed an rv u n our zone and a mh that can be used as guest housing. County has decided it must go. Help.


  7. Codes!! The buy house and rent out – is the favorite strategy. I’d landscape a bushed/privacy area from the house and keep private from tenants; even telling them you have an office here and live somewhere local. Sounds paranoid but the biggest complaint would come if you needed to evict. Or say you have permits if the question arises. It seems like every few years someone would complain – but people complain about everything (if you think about it).

  8. Okay, these are my wildest fantasies: I build a Tiny Home that could stand up well to really bad weather. One that could be cemented to a foundation but also be unattached and put on wheels. Regular houses can be moved in this way. I wish LEED certifications could be expanded to include: the ability to live off the grid, the green notion of a house having less sq footage / using less resources and the green concept of using reclaimed building materials and/or furnishings. It seems climate change is forcing this issue quicker than our culture can adjust.

    “Super Efficient Off-Grid Earthship Built for Early Retirement Plan”

  9. Opps. About the YouTube video above, the Canadian couple said getting a building permit was easy, that the county welcomed it actually. They said as long as they were working with an architect and an engineer the county was fine. I prefer a tiny home, but I appreciate their zoning success.

  10. Building codes and zoning laws have evolved over the years to make dwellings safer and to protect property values. Some cities have gone so far as to almost have an HOA feel to them with all of the requirements. I feel people have a right to want to live in a place whether it be a neighborhood with an HOA or a city or county with certain codes and zoning rules. If you don’t like them you have some choices. (A) Move, (B) Give in and live in a home that meets the requirements of the municipality or (C) Try to change the rules. I was doing construction work in a city in south Florida near where I used to live. It was a nice city where home prices where kind of high. At some point in the early 80’s a group complained that there wasn’t affordable housing in the neighborhood. Zoning laws were changed and apartments, duplexes and quadplexes were built. I installed many doors in those places. Fast forward 30 years and now a lot of those places are like a ghetto, bringing down the value of the nice homes. In a large city, I believe codes and zoning rules are mandatory, otherwise they would be like a third world shanty town. I, however, don’t want anything to do with an HOA or crippling zoning laws, so I live in the country where almost anything goes.

  11. Whilst I am not completely done your article yet, I wanted to initiate a response to say how thorough these words are. Good work. I’m looking forward to (and trying to get as involved in as I can) seeing the tiny house movement more accessible in Canada.
    We might benefit from a building code that is relevant to different geographical areas based on temperatures and moisture, so that the R value can be adjusted and other such considerations including sustainable material choices and adaptions to existing code to account for heating smaller spaces.

    I will return and look through the comments in search of likeminded folk.

    I see quebec is doing great things at the moment too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIOANRRdoUs

    Andrew Morrison is also proposing the new codes for IRC in 2018 – https://tinyhousebuild.com/proposed-tiny-house-code/

    Thanks again for this so far…


  12. Bad name for this article…a breakdown of the codes for tiny houses leads me to think you might actually site some of the required intricacies within the codes for building.

    1. It was written before tiny houses had the ability to fit within codes, I suppose it is time for an update now that the IRC Tiny House Appendix has passed, I’ll try to carve out some time to do an update!

  13. Hello and thanks for a discussion worth taking part in. My current residence is a mobile home in Alabama, one of the states that considers 2009 IRC to be good enough for people who prefer more free will than is allowed by such a burdensome set of regulations. Another significant point for me is that I’m an over-the-road truck driver. I’m no stranger to making the most of a very small area. In fact, I feel more comfortable in the sleeper of my truck than in the 15 x 18 master bedroom of my home. I have no objection to multiple egresses, minimum ratio of window area to floor space or safety requirements that are founded solely on relevant facts. I still haven’t figured out why ceiling height is not relative to the vertical size of the tallest occupant that will dwell within. Ask any small person if they take issue with needing a tall ladder to clean a ceiling fan. Size matters. The right size isn’t for a regulatory committee to determine. Science, logic and personal preference are the only factors that should apply. If not for “the pursuit of” in the second paragraph of the first article in the Declaration of Independence we would have tiny houses if we saw fit. I’m fine with living in the grey area until the fight is won as long as the fight is ongoing and led by people who understand legislators and regulation enforcement agencies. If all else fails, I can overbuild my chosen portion of a code compliant house to include interior walls that could have served as exterior. If nothing else, I’ll have an abundance of storage and hobby area. Problem solved since money isn’t my driving force.

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