Category: Tiny House Regulations

Tiny Houses Legality: Everything You Need to Know

Tiny Houses Legality: Everything You Need to Know

Mobile tiny house. Great for outdoor experiences and wildlife. Lots of mobility and pure adventure. No need for special authorizations, only a decent car to pull this tiny house and off you go.
Tiny houses aren’t just tiny houses. They are following rules and regulations that each state has made.

About 10 years ago, tiny houses became popular. Since then, a lot of people have embraced minimalism through the tiny house lifestyle. Much more than a simpler lifestyle, tiny houses have helped people save money while saving the environment as well. 

Due to its increasing popularity, states across nations have developed building codes and zoning regulations specifically for tiny houses. These building codes and zoning regulations have a direct impact on the construction and placement of tiny houses. 

Whether you are planning to build a tiny house right on your own property or move into a tiny house community, you must know the tiny house legalities in your area. 

Before you finally move into a tiny house, it pays that you carefully review the state and local regulations. Knowing so will help you get the most out of your tiny house right at the moment you step foot on it. 

Here is everything that you need to know about tiny houses’ legality.

Building Codes for Tiny Houses

The following standardization for tiny houses are made in compliance with the International Building Code (IBC)

Ceiling Height

The ceiling of a tiny house in common spaces must have a minimum height of 6 feet 8 inches. Bathrooms must have a minimum of 6 feet 4 inches while lofts are allowed to be less than 6 feet 8 inches. 

Windows

There is no existing law that requires how many windows a tiny house should have. However, the law requires tiny houses to abide by the standard requirement, which is to have at least one window that can be used as an emergency exit. This is important so that you can easily escape in case an emergency happens. 

The bottom of the opening of the window shall not be located more than 44 inches above the loft floor. 

Plumbing

One separate bathroom is required for each tiny house. This is required for sanitation purposes. It would be unhygienic to place your bathroom right inside your tiny house without a wall to keep it separate from the rest of your tiny house. 

Mobile tiny house interior. Great for outdoor experiences and wildlife. Lots of space and pure adventure.
There are parts of the tiny houses which follow certain standards as some codes require.

Lofts

The code does not include the loft in the maximum floor area that a tiny house can have. However, the code requires a minimum floor area and dimensions for a tiny house if it will be used for living and sleeping. 

According to Section AQ104 of the IBC, lofts shall have a minimum floor area not less than 35 square feet and shall not be less than 5 feet in any horizontal dimension. 

However, there are portions of the loft that are not included in the minimum floor area and horizontal dimension that is required. If a portion of a slope is less than 3 feet from the floor to the ceiling, then this is not included in the minimum area required for a loft. 

Stairways

Tiny houses are required to have stairs in order to reach loft areas. Stairways above the handrail height shall not be lower than 17 inches while the stairways below the handrail height shall not be less than 20 inches in width. 

Risers shall not be less than 12 inches in height and not more than 7 inches in width. To get the accepted riser height of a certain tiny house, the following formula is used: 

15 inches – ¾ of the Tread depth = Risers Height

Tread depth, on the other hand, is calculated using this formula:

20 inches – 4/3 of the riser height = Tread Depth

 A landing platform shall be built from the top tread and the riser of the stairway accessing the loft area. The landing platform shall have the following measurements

 and dimensions:

  • 16 inches to 18 inches in height from the landing platform to the loft floor
  • 18 inches to 22 inches in depth from the nosing of the landing platform to the edge of the loft

The handrails and stair guards of tiny house stairs follow the same dimensions that are required in a full-sized house. 

Ladders

The rung of the ladders that are used to access the loft area of a tiny house shall have a width that is not lower than 12 inches. The rungs shall have 20 to 14 inches spaces in between. 

It is required that a ladder could support a 200-pound load and shall be installed at a 70 to 80-degree horizontal incline.

When it comes to Alternating Tread Devices or Ship Ladders, the required is 20 inches and above below the handrail height. Loft guards shall be placed on the side of the loft that is open. The minimum height for loft guards is either 36 inches or ½ of the height to the ceiling.

live big in a tiny living space - tiny house interior with brown and white hues

Zoning Regulations

In as much as you can’t build a full-sized house anywhere, tiny houses have restrictions when it comes to where you can build or park them. To find out if it is legal to park or build a tiny house to where you are planning to have one, consult your local zoning department. 

There are federal laws and local zoning regulations that a tiny house should comply with. However, you are allowed to build outside of the existing codes by applying through your local planning commission. At the end of the day, it all boils down to how tiny-house friendly a place is. 

Variations in Tiny Houses

Generally, there are two types of tiny houses – tiny houses on wheels and tiny houses on a foundation. The rules and regulations that govern each of these types of tiny houses vary drastically. Take a further look at the things that each of these types has to abide:

Tiny House on Wheels

Legally, tiny houses on wheels are called recreational vehicles or RV. This means that you have to find a legal place where you can park your vehicle. RVs are required to be registered with the state’s motor vehicles department. 

While there are a lot of campsites in the States, most of the states do not allow an RV to serve as a full-time residency. Not unless the campsite has a designated RV parking area. 

In most cases, these rules are not followed not unless you give your neighborhood a reason to complain against you. 

Tiny Houses on Foundation

Tiny houses on a foundation are legally referred to as an accessory dwelling units or ADU. This type of tiny house may be site-built, or it may be transported to your lot and permanently attached to the foundation. They often come in the form of cottages or granny flats.

Due to the regulations which prohibit purchasing lands for tiny houses alone, most owners opt to build their tiny house beside an existing residential dwelling. 

Codes and Regulations for Tiny Homes in Some States

USA map with states - pictorial geographical poster of America, hand drawn lettering design for wall decoration, travel guide, print. Unique creative typography vector illustration.
In the United States of America, laws, and requirements from each state vary.

Whether you own a tiny house or plan to have one, you will surely come across the problem of where you can build or park it. Finding a place where you can legally have a tiny house is not as easy as it sounds. 

Finding a place where you can home your tiny house starts with knowing the codes and regulations that each state has. Here are the codes and regulations that each state has when it comes to where you can build or park your tiny house:

Alabama

Tiny House Friendly: 2⁄10

In Alabama, tiny houses are not that accepted. The building codes and zoning requirements drastically differ from one country to another. In fact, some cities in Alabama have their own set of limiting and unique requirements, which makes it hard to make tiny houses.

Thankfully, Alabama has not totally closed its door to tiny houses. Some areas in the state have accepted it. In Jefferson County, ADUs are allowed in certain areas, given they do not exceed 200 square feet. 

Alaska

Tiny House Friendly: 4⁄10

Alaska is more open to tiny houses than it is in Alabama. But, there are still considerable differences between counties and towns in the state. In the Anchorage metropolitan area of the state alone, around 40 percent of the state’s population lives there already.

Tiny houses on a foundation are required to secure a conditional use permit and have to meet certain building codes. On the other hand, tiny houses on wheels are considered as RVs, which makes them restricted to R – 5 zones. Also, the state requires tiny houses that are built on municipal properties to be connected to sewage and water.

A point to remember is that Anchorage’s suburbs have specific requirements that vary from unincorporated areas. In addition, Anchorage and the communities that surround it do not have official building codes that are specifically made for tiny houses. 

Arizona

Tiny House Friendly: 7⁄10

Arizona is more tiny house friendly than other states. Just like any other state, it does not have statewide tiny home building and zoning requirements. Due to this, tiny houses are subjected to city and county regulations and laws.

In Piman City, which is located on the southern border with Mexico, building a tiny house is legal. Pima City is the second most populated county in the state of Arizona. Tucson and its suburbs mostly compromise this county. 

In this county, a tiny house on a foundation can be built on any lot allotted for single-family detached houses. On the other hand, a tiny house on wheels is considered as a factory-built home given that it is located on a permanent foundation, and its suspension and axles have been removed.

The county has building codes that are specifically made for tiny houses. Such building codes include the following:

  • Tiny houses with loft areas should have stairs or ladders as access. 
  • Tiny houses with lofts must follow standardized safety requirements. 
  • Tiny houses must abide by the special electrical circuit requirements.

The building codes in the county do not have any specific requirements when it comes to the number of windows, doors and emergency exits. It does not also require any specific ceiling height. 

As of now, the county places second as the most tiny house friendly area in the state, which is followed by Coconino county. Unluckily, other areas in Arizona do not still have tiny house regulations. 

Arkansas

Tiny House Friendly: 2⁄10

It is not a secret that the housing cost in California is expensive. This makes it very thrilling to know that somehow, California is open to tiny houses. Tiny houses are considered to be accessory dwelling units or ADUs in most jurisdictions which means that they are allowed yet with certain restrictions.

The destructive fires in Sonoma County have made it possible to build tiny houses without building permits. It also has permitted the fire victims to build tiny houses without compelling zoning. 

Tiny homes on wheels are allowed as a secondary dwelling in San Francisco and Fresno as long as there is an existing residential house in the lot. 

This means that tiny houses are only allowed in a residential neighborhood and can’t be built as a permanent house. 

One thing to keep in mind when planning to have a tiny house in California is that RVs are not allowed to serve as a permanent house. But this isn’t exactly an issue. Besides, California has one of the highest numbers of nomads. 

Nomad is the general term used for people who travel trailers or even their car or the ones who live in RVs. They are the ones who do not have a permanent address. It is advised to reach out to local jurisdictions since laws and regulations vary from one suburb to another in California. 

Colorado

Tiny House Friendly: 6⁄10

In Colorado, there is no such thing as national laws or regulations specifically for tiny houses. The good thing is many counties have welcomed people who want to live in this lifestyle. 

There are already established site-built tiny house codes in Park County. To be more specific, tiny houses in this county must have a private bathroom and a separate closet. The private bathroom must have a lavatory, a water closet, and either a shower or a bathtub.

Moreover, if the tiny house is for one or two occupants, then it should at least be 220 square feet. An additional 100 square feet is required for an additional occupant. 

Tiny houses in Park County should also abide by the standard residential building codes for life safety features, mechanical equipment, ventilation, and lighting.

Also, the kitchen counter’s work area should be at least 30 inches long. If a modular or manufactured tiny house is your choice, then it should at least be 600 square feet. It should also follow local Land Use Regulations.

Walsenburg has a specific regulation when it comes to tiny houses. Tiny homes are required to compel to a lot of building code requirements just like residential houses do. However, the city has certain requirements when it comes to exit door width, stairways, and minimum square footage.

Connecticut

Tiny House Friendly: 0/10

Connecticut is considered as one of the strictest cities when it comes to tiny houses, be it an RV or on foundation. Despite the fact that the city needs affordable houses, the topic of tiny houses is not yet unveiled yet. This is because its zoning regulations aren’t compatible with tiny houses.

Delaware

Tiny House Friendly: 4⁄10

There is no specific regulation for tiny houses yet in Delaware, but there are already advocates who are bringing out the topic. Tiny houses on wheels are considered RVs in Delaware. This means that the owner should secure an ownership title 30 days after purchase. 

If a tiny house is greater than 400 square feet, then it is qualified as a mobile home. Thus, it has to abide by existing laws and regulations. On the other hand, if a tiny house falls less than 400 square feet, then it is considered as a trailer. 

Florida

Tiny House Friendly: 7⁄10

Most parts of Florida have openly welcomed tiny house dwellers. In Florida, there are already existing tiny house hotels and rental communities which allow everyone to experience the lifestyle. This indicates how open the city is when it comes to tiny houses. 

Tiny houses on wheels in Florida are required to be properly registered as RV at the Department of Motor Vehicles. On the other hand, laws and regulations on tiny houses on foundation vary from one area to another. 

In St. Petersburg, accessory dwelling units or ADUs that are between 375 and 750 square feet are only allowed in specific zones. 

While in Orange County, it is required that an accessory dwelling unit should at least have footage of 400 square feet. Lastly, in Sarasota County, if you plan to stay in the same RV park for 45 days or more then you should build it on a foundation. 

Georgia

Tiny House Friendly: 8⁄10

Just like Florida, Georgia has widely accepted tiny houses too despite the lack of statewide regulations and requirements. This is because tiny homes are more affordable compared to traditional houses. Most areas in Georgia have not addressed the issue yet between tiny houses on foundations and tiny houses on wheels.

In most cases, tiny house owners are required to abide by the 2012 International Residential Code. Furthermore, accessory dwelling units or ADUs are not legally available for rent. 

Particularly, there is no minimum square footage requirement for accessory dwelling units in Decatur since 2014 under the Unified Development Ordinance.

On the other hand, Atlanta has classified accessory dwelling units as a tiny house that has a kitchen stove. Tiny houses with full-time occupancy are also considered as ADUs. Such tiny houses are only allowed in R-5 zoned areas. 

Tiny houses without full-time occupancy or gas stove are considered as a guest house. Guesthouses are allowed to stay anywhere from R – 1 to R – 5 zoned areas. 

Hawaii

Tiny House Friendly: 5⁄10

Unlike other states, regulations, and requirements of tiny houses in Hawaii is statewide. Tiny houses are allowed to be built anywhere in the state. Tiny homeowners wanna-be can freely buy land and build a tiny house. But, tiny houses are not allowed in places that are ruled by restrictive covenants. 

Hawaii has a unique requirement when it comes to tiny houses on wheels. This is because tiny houses on wheels are considered as ADUs in the state. This means that they have to abide by all relevant zoning restrictions. They are also considered travel trailers so they must be registered to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. 

The Hawaii Tiny House Initiative has greatly contributed to accommodate the affordable housing needs of the state’s agriculture workers. Building a house in Hawaii is expensive due to the booming tourism industry that makes it hard for residents to build a home which makes tiny houses a perfect option for them. 

County codes have been changed through the Hawaii Tiny House Initiative. Such codes have allowed tiny houses (less than 220 square feet) to be built as special farm dwellings. These special farm dwellings should have a bathroom and a separate living room and kitchen. 

Idaho

Tiny House Friendly: 7⁄10

Different types of tiny homes have different definitions in Idaho, which serve as the basis for regulations going forward. Tiny houses in Idaho must comply with one of the following options:

  • Modular Tiny House – This is a type of tiny home that has been mostly or entirely prefabricated in another place before it has been transported to its intended location. A modular tiny house must follow everything under the HUD construction and safety standards created for manufactured housing. A modular tiny house should at least have a floor space of 150 square feet.
  • Site – Built – Site built tiny houses are the ones that are built where they are really intended to be placed.vThey are not meant to be moved or relocated. It should also have a floor space of 150 square feet just like the modular tiny house. 
  • Recreational Vehicle – A recreational vehicle in Idaho is defined as a travel trailer, camping trailer, motor home, or truck camper that is designed for emergency human habitation or for recreation. Their maximum width is 8½ feet.

Illinois

Tiny House Friendly: 5⁄10

Most areas in Illinois have not yet accepted tiny houses. Besides, there are areas which really do not accept tiny houses. Chicago and other cities, for example, have not allowed tiny houses to be built in their respective areas at all. 

Yet, there are still places that have accepted tiny houses. In these areas, tiny houses are allowed to be built or parked in private properties as well as in mobile home parks and campgrounds. 

Whether you can build a tiny house or not on your own land depends on the county-specific rules. If what you own is a tiny house on wheels, then it is classified as a recreational trailer that compels you to register it to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Indiana

Tiny House Friendly: 6⁄10

Building codes for tiny houses in Indiana vary from one place to another. The residential building codes in the state are not applicable to tiny houses that were built for personal use. This is known as The Log Cabin Rule. The Log Cabin Rule is only applicable to tiny houses that are fixed on lands and not on wheels. 

You can, however, find tiny home neighborhoods in Indiana. Some residential neighborhoods have also been allowed to build tiny houses near or beside residential homes. Also, the tiny house rules vary in Carmel, Indianapolis, Evansville, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Bloomington, and others.

Iowa

Tiny House Friendly: 3⁄10

A lot of communities and counties in Iowa can’t build tiny houses because of the set minimum square footage requirements for residential dwellings. This requirement hinders residents from building their own tiny house in their desired area. One particular place with such a rule is Iowa Falls.

In Iowa Falls, the minimum size requirement for residential properties has been adjusted to 500 square feet. So, the city can only allow larger tiny homes as of this time. But actually, the 500 square feet minimum is a downgrade of the 600 square feet requirement before. 

Other parts of Iowa greatly discourage tiny homes. In Des Moines, a proposed tiny house development was not approved. This means that people who want to have a tiny house near Des Moines should look for land in rural or outlying areas surrounding the city. These places have less stringent zoning regulations.

Kansas

Tiny House Friendly: 6⁄10

Kansas is more open to tiny houses as long as it is on a foundation and not on wheels. There are county-wide and state-wide regulations in the state when it comes to tiny houses. The minimum square footage for tiny houses on a foundation is 170 square feet. 

The 170 square feet floor space should have one room and a second room which can’t be either the bathroom or kitchen. The second room should at least be 50 square feet. 

Furthermore, all tiny houses on foundation should be built on a lot with an area of at least 3,000 square feet. RS3 is the smallest zoning district that allows tiny houses. 

Accessory dwelling units are not allowed in RS3 or RS5 zoned areas. They can only be built on single dwelling residential zoning areas with the likes of  RS40, RS, RS10, and RS7. Composting toilets are banned regardless of where the tiny house is built. 

But, propane gas and solar panels are allowed based on IFC regulations. A small wind generation system that does not exceed 35 feet is also permitted. 

Tiny houses on wheels are not allowed to park in private lands and parks. They can only be parked on designated campgrounds. 

Kentucky

Tiny House Friendly: 5⁄10

Most tiny houses in Kentucky are built in Louisville because of how large the city is. There are specific rules in restriction in the city but all in all, tiny houses are allowed in the entire metropolis. 

Site-built or permanent tiny homes are allowed only if they are built on a foundation. And, the process of securing building requests for a tiny house on a foundation is the same as acquiring other residential construction requests.

In Louisville, a modular tiny house is considered as a house with components that are made off-site that will be assembled on a fixed foundation later on. In order for a tiny house to be considered as a modular home, special tiny house construction kits should be used. 

Louisville is very open to tiny houses but a special review process is necessary before a permit may be granted. The applicant may also be required to submit additional documentation to secure a building permit. 

On the other hand, tiny houses on wheels are required for the zoning restrictions of Louisville. Keep in mind that manufactured and assembled off-site tiny houses are considered as pre-manufactured homes in the state. Pre-manufactured homes in Louisville are subject to special state approval. 

Louisiana

Tiny House Friendly: 4⁄10

A lot of tiny home designs are not conducive to Louisiana’s building regulations. This is because compliance with the 2012 International Residential Code is mandatory in the state. 

The code requires ceilings of tiny houses to be elevated to at least 7 feet. This includes lofts and all other areas of the structure. Stairs are more preferred than ladders in loft areas. A window that serves as an emergency exit is also required. 

Furthermore, one of the rooms of the tiny house should at least have a floor area of 120 square feet. Doors, hallways, and staircases must be 3 feet or wider. The city is open to tiny houses but its restrictions make it hard to build a tiny house. 

Maine

Tiny House Friendly: 9⁄10

Maine is one of the few states that has approved requirements when it comes to the construction of tiny houses. To begin with, a tiny house should not exceed 400 square feet. Sleeping lofts with ladders as access are allowed. Skylights in loft areas that serve as emergency exits are also allowed. 

Tiny houses on foundation must comply with the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code requirements. These guidelines for tiny houses are statewide, but cities have the power to deny a construction request. 

There are areas in Maine too wherein boat houses are converted into an accessory dwelling unit following the time home’s construction guidelines.

Tiny houses on North Yarmouth are considered as camping if it is in the same exact location for more than 120 days of the year. If it exceeds 120 days, then it must comply with the established building codes for tiny homes already. Tiny homes that were built before the effective date of the ordinance are exempted. The same goes for land areas that are more than 30,000 square feet.

Maryland

Tiny House Friendly: 4⁄10

There is no specific definition of what a tiny house is in Maryland. This means that there are no existing tiny house laws or requirements yet in the state. But generally speaking, they consider tiny houses on wheels as recreational activities or RVs. 

Since tiny houses on wheels are considered as RVs, they can only be parked on designated RV parks. It is the management of the RV parks too who establishes specific rules for the tiny houses. 

Tiny houses on a foundation are allowed in most areas in Maryland. That is, as long as zoning restrictions in urban and suburban areas permit. But since such zoning restrictions do not confirm with tiny houses, most tiny houses then are in rural areas. 

Massachusetts

Tiny House Friendly: 8⁄10

Living in a tiny house that meets the requirements for an accessory dwelling unit is an easier option than living in a tiny house on wheels in Massachusetts. Most of the towns in the state allow accessory dwelling units. But, the building requirements vary from one town to another. 

They are very open to tiny houses that certain towns allow up to three ADUs with the condition that the third tiny house should not be more than 550 square feet. However, the state has no definite definition yet of what a tiny house is. But certainly, tiny houses do not meet the requirements for accessory dwelling units.

Tiny houses on wheels are allowed for camping purposes in the state as long as they are parked on an RV park. Certain problems may arise for people who want to permanently live on tiny houses on wheels. 

Michigan

Tiny House Friendly: 8⁄10

In the entire state of Michigan, zoning restrictions and building requirements are set in order to accommodate tiny houses. There were campaigns before for accessory dwelling units to be allowed in all residential areas as well.

As a matter of fact, Economy Efficiency Dwelling was introduced in Briley Township. An Economy Efficiency Dwelling is a house that has an area between 240 and 500 square feet. The exterior of this dwelling should be between 20 to 30 feet wide and 12 and 20 feet tall. 

In addition, it also has to abide by the state’s sanitation and building codes. Economy Efficiency Dwellings is also required to meet all requirements for a Certificate of Occupancy. 

They must be built on a permanent foundation. Such houses are only allowed in areas zoned for Residential 2, Agriculture and Forest Rec.

Minnesota

Tiny House Friendly: 7⁄10

For zoning purposes, Minnesota has defined tiny houses in two ways. The first one is, tiny houses on wheels are Recreational Activities or RVs. The second one is, tiny houses on foundations are considered as accessory dwelling units. 

This is because ADUs in the state are required to be built on a foundation. Furthermore, ADUs also have to comply with the same building codes for traditional houses. 

Finding a place where building or parking a tiny house is legal is very hard in the city. Thankfully, a lot of towns in this state are becoming more open to tiny houses as a more affordable option for seniors and disabled residents. 

Mississippi

Tiny House Friendly: 4⁄10

After Mississippi was hit by hurricane Katrina, the state has used tiny homes as emergency shelters. But, the use of tiny houses as a permanent home is not yet allowed in most cities of the state. Generally, Mississippi has not yet officially accepted tiny houses since there are no defined rules and requirements yet. 

However, there have been a lot of efforts in order for tiny houses to be fully accepted and be legalized in the state. Tiny houses on permitted places typically measure between 100 square feet and 900 square feet. 

Some of the places in Mississippi which have accepted tiny houses include Southaven, Jackson, Vicksburg, Biloxi, Meridian, Hattiesburg, Meridian, Gulfport, and Tupelo.

Missouri

Tiny House Friendly: 3⁄10

Tiny houses on wheels are considered travel trailers in most parts of  Missouri. This limits the place where tiny houses on wheels can park. Travel trailers are defined in the wheel-mounted portable temporary shelter platform. 

Travel trailers are not allowed to be parked on streets and in any public place in the entire state. They are also not allowed to be used inside the boundaries of a city. Tiny houses with a living area that is less than 220 square feet are not required to secure special permits. 

The cities Saint Charles, Branson, St. Louis, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Columbia, and Springfield have permitted site-built tiny homes on foundations. However, zoning restrictions and construction guidelines vary between cities. 

Montana

Tiny House Friendly: 3⁄10

Montana is in great need for affordable housing solutions but has not yet recognized the existence of tiny houses. This makes it important for tiny house owners wanna-be in the state to do thorough research on laws and permissions which might be needed when building or parking a tiny house. 

Tiny houses on a foundation are allowed while tiny houses on wheels are considered as RVs or travel trailers. Thus, it must comply with relevant restrictions and regulations. 

Nebraska

Tiny House Friendly: 6⁄10

Nebraska has a formal definition of tiny houses. It also has specific building requirements and zoning restrictions when it comes to the different types of houses in the city. 

A manufactured or mobile home is an assembled structure based on the regulations of the HUD Federal Manufactured Home. These are the tiny homes that have successfully passed the HUD inspection which qualified them to receive an approval label. 

Modular home refers to tiny houses that are constructed under the guidelines and codes of the National Electric Code and the International Residential Code. These tiny houses have received a label that approved their status as a Nebraska Modular Housing Unit.

The last type of tiny house on the list in Nebraska is the tiny house on wheels. Tiny houses on wheels are required to comply with the Park Model Recreational Vehicle Standard, the National Fire Protection Association Code 1192 or the NFPA Standard on Recreational Vehicles. 

Tiny houses on wheels in Nebraska are classified as to how travel trailers and motor-homes are classified. 

New Jersey

Tiny House Friendly: 4⁄10

Due to how affordable tiny houses are than traditional houses, a lot of residents in New Jersey are getting interested in it. But, there are no zoning regulations and requirements yet when it comes to tiny houses. Besides, there are cities in New Jersey that have totally banned the building of tiny houses.

The Land Use Board did not allow tiny houses in a community that would be used by military veterans. Other areas have passed laws allowing restricted uses of tiny houses. For example, Haverstraw allows you to build a tiny house on a foundation if it will be used by a property caretaker and only if the parcel of land meets acreage requirements.

In Rockland-area communities, a tiny house on wheels that is classified as a recreational vehicle and that is not occupied can be stored on an unincorporated parcel.

North Carolina

Tiny House Friendly: 6⁄10

The legality and acceptance of tiny houses is a hot issue in North Carolina. This is because some netizens think that tiny houses have a negative value on the impact and appeal to their houses. 

Others consider tiny houses as an excellent solution to overcrowding in high-density areas and are a good alternative for people who can’t afford a full-sized house. 

In the county of Wilmington, a tiny house that is occupied by a single person is to at least have a floor area of 150 square feet. If there will be another occupant, then another floor area which is around 100 square feet should be added. 

Tiny houses in North Carolina are subjected to local housing ordinances too. Just like in Winston-Salem wherein accessory dwelling units are allowed to be built on single-family residential lots given that the occupant is the caretaker or a relative. 

There are still other restrictions on tiny houses in the entire state so make it a habit to check first before doing something. 

North Dakota

Tiny House Friendly: 5⁄10

Tiny houses are of increasing popularity in North Dakota. But there are no specific laws in the state yet when it comes to tiny houses. The requirements in each city and county generally vary which requires a thorough understanding of each of them.

In Burleigh County, residential homes are required to at least 965 square feet floor area. This is too large for a tiny home. 

Due to this, tiny houses are only allowed on agricultural lots throughout the area. This requires tiny houses to comply with the Burleigh County Ordinance and the North Dakota Century Code. 

Tiny houses are also allowed on lots that are more than 40 acres. In the same county, all residential structures are required to meet all local building codes. 

Tiny houses are also required to be connected to public utilities for water, electricity, gas, and sewer. 

On the other hand, tiny homes on wheels that are meant to stay one place must be mounted to a permanent foundation. Accessory dwelling units are not accepted yet in Burleigh County. Only specialized granny suites that have met the specific requirements are allowed. 

Ohio

Tiny House Friendly: 3⁄10

Ohio has no specific classification system for tiny houses yet. This means that there are no laws and regulations for tiny houses yet in the state. 

For example, in Cleveland, residential homes, regardless of their size, are required to at least have 950 square feet floor area. There are no local ordinances yet for tiny houses alongside its unique building requirements. But, accessory dwelling units are allowed in the area as long as it will not serve as a primary house. 

On the other hand, other areas have grouped tiny houses with other structures known as a variance. The confusion on the residents is the primary reason why tiny houses are not yet fully grown in the state. 

Oklahoma

Tiny House Friendly: 4⁄10

The state of Oklahoma has no specific definitions and regulations yet for tiny houses. But this did not become the hindrance to tiny house owners to spread the lifestyle in the entire state. Besides, there are already tiny house communities in the Wheeler District and in the northwestern region of the state as well. 

Tiny houses on wheels are considered as RVs in the state. This means that they should meet all necessary requirements. Due to the unaddressed specific requirements of tiny houses, a lot of Oklahoma residents prefer to have their tiny houses in a rural area which is not under the strict zoning regulations of the state. 

Oregon

Tiny House Friendly: 8⁄10

The state of Oregon already has established laws and requirements for tiny houses. There are already existing housing construction and zoning requirements due to the popularity of the state’s Tiny House Hotel. 

Tiny houses on wheels across the state are required to secure required documents from the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, the permits and inspections for tiny homes on wheels are not yet under the control of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. 

This means that tiny houses on wheels residents must use a commercial hauler. They should also have a special trip permit whenever they want to transfer to another area. 

Pennsylvania

Tiny House Friendly: 8⁄10

Pennsylvania is open to tiny houses. Generally, some cities are more accepting while others are not. 

The largest tiny house community in the entire USA is located in Elizabethtown, which is a county in Pennsylvania. On the other hand, there is no minimum house size requirement for tiny houses in Philadelphia. But, they should follow the requirements of the International Residential Code 2009.

The tiny house should also have at least one room with a floor area of 120 square feet and above. In addition, another room with a floor area of 70 square feet and above is also required. Unless it is the kitchen of the tiny house, all rooms should be 7 feet and above in length, width or height. 

Rhode Island

Tiny House Friendly: 2⁄10

There are no laws and regulations yet for tiny houses in Rhode Island. However, there are passed laws already for accessory dwelling units. The law allows ADUs to be built if the primary home is used by the owner or if the ADU will be occupied by a family member that is 62 years old and above. 

South Dakota

Tiny House Friendly: 7⁄10

South Dakota has gone through a lot for tiny houses. Communities across the state have passed different ordinances for tiny houses. For example, tiny houses on wheels are allowed to stay at a commercial campground for a short time. 

While tiny houses on a foundation are required to comply with the local zoning restrictions and building codes. A tiny house that will be occupied by one person only should at least have 187 square feet of living space. 

If there will be an additional person, the tiny house should expand by around 50 square feet. The tiny house must have a width ranging from 8.5 feet and 20 feet.

Texas

Tiny House Friendly: 9⁄10

Tiny houses are not yet that popular in Texas but there are established regulations already. These codes and regulations are based and determined by local jurisdictions. 

In Breckenridge, tiny houses should be permanently fixed on a foundation. They should at least have a floor area of 320 square feet. While on Spur, there is no required floor area. Tiny houses on wheels are also allowed as long as the wheels have been removed and the home is anchored to the ground. 

Conclusion

Generally speaking, the laws which authorize tiny houses vary from one state to another. This makes it a must for you to check the existing laws and regulations in your target location. In as much as possible, avoid areas that are very strict when it comes to tiny houses to avoid any problem from arising. 

Related Questions

Do you need council approval for a tiny house?

If your tiny house is registered as a trailer, then you do not need council approval. But if your tiny house is on a foundation, then you will have to secure DA approval. 

Do you need planning permission for a tiny house?

Mobile homes that measure around 65 x 22 ft in size can be placed on a property without planning permission as long as members of the household use them as additional living space.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Critics Don’t Like Tiny Houses

10 Surprising Reasons Why Critics Don’t Like Tiny Houses

Many happy individuals and families have praised the tiny house movement. Still, there are many reasons why critics don’t like tiny houses.

In the U.S., tiny houses have been all the rage in recent years. People from all walks of life seem to be interested in the idea of downsizing. 

For them, their needs can fit in an area that measures less than 400 square feet. 

However, does the tiny house living really work for everyone? 

As your reliable source of tiny house information, we don’t just talk about the rainbows and unicorns of owning and living in a tiny house. We will also shed light on critics’ statements about tiny houses. 

In this article, we listed some surprising reasons why critics don’t like tiny houses. 

Why critics don’t like tiny houses

They are not always right, but critics don’t base their opinions on pointless things. Again, we are a tiny house blog—but that doesn’t mean we advocate for the movement blindly. 

The Tiny House movement has its advantages, yes—but our normal and our good is not the same for other people.   

1. The semi-false promises of cheap cost of living. 

why critics don't like tiny houses - tiny house with no roof
Does living in a tiny house like this really reduce your monthly living expenses?

When people think of tiny houses, a lower cost of living instantly comes to their mind. The thought of living with no debt, no mortgage, and cheap insurance is too sexy to pass by.  

We don’t disagree, though—living in a tiny house does allow you to pay way smaller utility bills, compared to living in a bigger house. However, what about the other expenses that will add to the monthly cost of living?  

The truth is that the cost of living in a tiny house can potentially balloon bigger because of the hidden costs. 

You may have already paid off the construction or the prefab model, but you will still spend on the following as you reside in your small abode: 

  • Home improvements and upgrades
  • Insurance plans 
  • Zoning applications and permits
  • Traveling expenses
  • Parking spots 
  • Service fees and maintenance for your SUV/truck, which tows your tiny house.
  • And many more factors, which we will expand later.

This is why tiny houses don’t get the approval of most critics. The movement itself has a semi-false promise of a cheaper cost of living when in reality, some people might have to spend a little more than a small amount. 

2. Not the most ideal space for pregnancy.

This might not sound too surprising—pregnancy, after all, is a scary and overwhelming journey. So, living in a tiny house (with wheels, lord!) might sound like stepping on your own toe with thorny soles. 

Yes, you can make many preparations and adjustments to make your SO or wife comfortable, but what if it comes as a surprise? Making those changes in your tiny home will be even harder. 

Case in point: this couple eventually abandoned their tiny house when they became pregnant. Sadly, they came to the realization that their space was too tiny for the girl’s growing belly, and their living expenses were also increasing. Worst of all, they encountered unexpected health challenges. 

Because of those and a couple of other risks, it’s unsurprising why critics don’t like tiny houses. It’s also why housing and building authorities scrutinize the safety of tiny houses on wheels. 

That is why if you’re planning to start a family, you might want to think twice before you buy that plan or build that tiny abode. 

3. Raising a kid is difficult. 

why critics don't like tiny houses - a kid sleeping on a white bed
Raising a kid in an unsuitable environment is NOT a walk in the park.

Yes, this is the ugly truth— just because kids are small doesn’t mean their needs are the same size, too. Raising a kid is a humongous challenge on its own already—but doing it in a tiny house would be brutal. 

In our blog post about raising a kid in a tiny house, we mentioned that parents should consider the ethics of the act itself. That’s because every child has different needs because every child is unique. As their parent, you should be able to cover their changing needs in the various stages of their life—this is the ethical thing to do. 

California Department of Education (CDE) reports that the first eighteen months after birth is a critical stage in a child’s development. They learn how to make sense of the world—and they do it in such an overwhelming sense for the parent because they will taste, climb, and grasp everything. 

As a result, it’s only imperative that a child’s environment is comfortable and safe. Being in a limited space, your challenges in securing an ideal surrounding might increase. 

Add that to your existing problems and you might fail in achieving your goal in providing a good environment for them. 

Therefore, even though living in a tiny house may help you save expenses, you should reflect more if you are emotionally, psychologically ready to raise a child. Remember: they depend on you, only you. 

4. Structural safety concerns.

Shrewd, hungry thieves can find many ways to break into a home. That means not all houses are 100% safe, including tiny houses. However, tiny houses especially become risky when storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes are thrown into the mix of living hazards. 

Safety could easily be a deal-breaker for tiny house owners, especially if they live in nearby states where hurricanes are most common. Those calamities are also why tiny houses are strictly monitored in Florida, despite the state having RV parks. In other words, it’s not a tiny house-friendly state.

Can tiny houses on foundations and on wheels withstand external elements like storms? They can. The only thing is, you have to spend time and money on ensuring they are secure. 

Not only will you have to consider the structure’s endurance during the storm, but also the debris, electrical, and water damage after all that ruckus. You also have to check if the foundation, the windows, and roof panels are still in one piece. 

Apart from those, you also have to be sure that moisture doesn’t stay for too long in your restricted living space. Otherwise, you’ll be sneezing and sniffling from mold and mildew in no time.

Considering how “easy” it is for a tiny house to be unsafe if the homeowners are lazy and neglectful, it’s no wonder why critics don’t like tiny houses. 

5. The high cost of building one.

why critics don't like tiny houses - mobile house
You will still spend money to achieve financial freedom. Ironic, isn’t it?

Now, this might surprise a lot of people, especially those who just knew about the movement: tiny houses don’t cost a tiny amount

Don’t let the idea of downsizing prevent you from considering the additional expenses you might have in this journey. 

How much can a tiny house cost?

  • Excluding the hidden costs after constructing one, building a tiny house might cost you up to $30,000 alone. 
  • The median price of buying one might also cost more than $55,000. 
  • Ryan Fitzgerald of Raleigh Realty also recommends setting aside $65,000 for building a tiny house. 
  • Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which can be considered tiny houses, might also cost you up to $200,000. 

What elements affect those prices? Well, there’s plenty—materials, the builder, the building permit, and the location. If you buy a prefab model, you might also pay for a hefty shipping fee. 

Buying only a kit or the blueprint and then building it on your own will allow you to save a lot of labor cost, obviously. However, you are risking that peace of mind from knowing your house is built by licensed experts. 

This is why most critics refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of tiny houses. They say that people become blinded by the inexpensive lifestyle—when in truth, they will still need to spend a considerable amount of money before tasting that financial freedom. 

6. Inevitable isolation.

You’re a human, not an island—you don’t always have to deal with things by yourself all the time. However, in living in a tiny house, you might find yourself in that situation frequently. 

It might be challenging for you to find your tribe, a.k.a. people who also live in tiny houses. Why? Well, for one, some states are just beginning to build tiny house villages and communities, which means only a few of them exist in a state. 

Another barrier is parking spots. In the U.S., it’s already hard for large vehicles like trucks to find a decent parking area. Imagine finding spots for a whole house on wheels! 

Besides that, some parking spots will also cost you $300 to $600 every month. Nevertheless, it’s still way cheaper than apartment rent, which could go as high as $1216.

The point here is you will jump through several hoops before you settle in a place where you can be around like-minded individuals. Therefore, isolation, when you’re living in a tiny house, is inevitable. 

Being human beings, we need socializing as it affects our overall health. Even the quality and the number of our social relationships are factors in the longevity of our lives. It has also been proven that socializing has a positive effect on relieving work stress

For those reasons, it’s understandable why critics don’t like tiny houses. People may benefit from the low cost of living in one, but some are not really mentally equipped to handle the drawbacks that come with it—one of them being isolation.  

7. Poor-performing resale value.

why critics don't like tiny houses - resale value of tiny houses are poor
Tiny house loses its value pretty quickly.

You might want to think twice if you’re buying a tiny house as an investment. Tiny houses, especially those on wheels, don’t do well in the resale value department. 

There are many reasons for this. First of all, tiny houses don’t maintain almost all the critical factors that boost resale value.

Location, usable space, age, and condition—most tiny houses just can’t compete with regular houses when it comes to those. You have to deal with the irregularity and unavailability of tiny house communities, plus the constant maintaining and upgrading of the house.

The market of tiny house buyers is also not that big and active. Remember the legal hoops you have to jump through to own and live in a tiny house? Yes, that also discourages people from buying into this trend. 

This is why critics don’t give this movement a chance, especially those who are long-term thinkers. 

8. Sanitation issues. 

Let’s talk about what most of you are really curious about… How does sanitation work in tiny houses? Do tiny houses have toilets? Where does the waste go? The questions can go on and on. 

Critics specifically scrutinize sanitation in tiny houses. It’s understandable, though—a tiny space that’s not well-maintained will easily become a breeding ground for bacteria. 

Moreover, apparently, the waste can be an issue to the local waste and sewage authorities, since the homeowners often use composting toilets. 

It can also be challenging for plumbing professionals to install a waste system that has different specs than the average toilet, but it still has to cater to the local building code.

Tiny houses do have bathrooms with functioning toilets and showers. The toilets, in particular, are specially designed for tiny houses on foundations and for RVs. 

For example, the water-only toilet is hooked up to a sewer permanently, so you can flush the waste and urine using water only. Meanwhile, a power-only toilet disposes of waste in trash, which will be picked up. 

RVs can also have toilets that use both water and power to dispose of waste, which will then go into black water tanks. 

As for the smell, the key is proper ventilation to induce proper indoor airflow—just like in regular-sized houses.

The myth of poor sanitation with tiny houses does not ring true all the time. It all depends on the owner. So, the critics don’t get a point on this one, even though their concern is valid. 

9. There are many fakes in the industry. 

woodworkers building a tiny house
You have to hire the legit builders and craftsmen even though you’re building a tiny house.

Even builders and suppliers of tiny house models and plans have weighed in on this. In every industry, there are two evils: the greater ones and the lesser ones. 

The greater ones? Those who pretend to be authorities and entice people to buy into this movement using promos and low prices. 

People who unfortunately fall for it are those who are starving for a downsized life. 

Remember, this is a living space of which they are taking advantage—a place where people stay for years. It’s simply not fair for the scammers to use this for their own benefit, without thinking about the impact on those gullible people’s lives. 

This is why even though tiny house advocates have increased in number, their critics in the government and property sectors still exist… They are still pushing against the movement. 

10. Too many legal hoops and obstacles. 

Finally, tiny houses get the disdain from critics because getting one right now is simply complicated. 

Sure, the movement is spreading around the world, but one can’t deny that buying a tiny house is still a major event in a person’s life, even though the house is tiny. 

Here’s the thing about building or even buying a regular house: it’s not that easy. Sure, you can hire a realtor or an appraiser to take care of things for you. However, it will still be a parade of exhaustion and financial setbacks. Did you know that buying a house is one of the most stressful events in life?

Now, imagine getting a property that’s not yet recognized in your state, which market is not too big yet. Indeed, the stress that comes with buying a tiny house will be, ironically, bigger.

This is why critics don’t simply have confidence in tiny houses—one has to buckle up and toughen up before they achieve that downsized, mobile life.  

More about tiny house critics 

The not-so-surprising reasons why critics don’t like tiny houses

why critics don't like tiny houses - little house on the prairie
Tiny houses still don’t attract some people because of simple reasons like space and sanitation.

Restricted common area

In a tiny house, every inch of the floor space and wall space matters. Tiny houses measure under 400 square feet; that’s why any allowance in your common area should only function for mobility and traffic. 

It will just come out as a waste if you give yourself the luxury of allocating spaces for coffee tables, throw pillows, etc. Your guests will have to understand why your common area is small. 

Not enough space for recreation

When you’re not working, what do you do? Read a book, play video games, or paint or draw—or perhaps all of these? You might have difficulty doing recreational activities in a tiny house, especially if you live with a younger kid. 

Just like what we said, the floor space in a tiny house is crucial. You might have to make many adjustments to create a nook for recreational activities. For instance, you might have to make cleanups more frequent to free up space constantly.

Complicated for throwing a party

Do you like throwing gatherings in your home? Sure, it’s not impossible in a tiny house, but it will be more challenging. It might also take more time to prepare. Just think of the waste the guests will inevitably generate and the cleanup after the party. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

However, don’t lose hope that quickly. Check out our blog post on how to throw a party at your house. We listed a few tips and some recipes.

Zoning issues

The most blaring barrier to tiny house living is zoning. If you live in a state with strict zoning regulations, it might just be easier to give up and find a better and safer alternative. 

Several states in the U.S. allow tiny house living, but they still have restrictions. Tiny house living is one endeavor you should only explore when you’re ready, and you are financially equipped.

Conclusion 

As you can see, tiny house living is not a fairy tale. Don’t get the wrong ideas about this lifestyle. It requires patience, money, and time to achieve that downsized life. 

If you are dead serious about living in a tiny house, then, by all means, start your research now. Talk to the authorities and get advice from realtors. 

You’d consult a doctor when you’re sick, right? So, it’s best to converse with property experts when you’re itching to live in a tiny house.

If you have any more questions or if you disagree with our list, let us know in the comments below. We’d like to learn from you!

Related questions 

Why is tiny house living illegal? 

Tiny houses are illegal in several states, primarily because of their building and zoning codes. They might not have modified their codes, specifically, the required legal size of a dwelling.

Besides that, tiny houses are also complicated to regulate because of their safety issues from the restricted space.

Can you live in a shed in Oregon? 

It depends on the duration and if you already built the shed in your background. If it’s temporary because your main house is under construction, and if it has comfortable amenities, then it might be okay to reside in the meantime. 

In Oregon, sheds are considered accessory non-habitable structures. However, in Central Oregon, several builders are offering prefabricated sheds. Therefore, it’s possible that you might find some way to live in a shed. You have to clarify with your town’s zoning codes though if you can put a new shed in your backyard. 

What rooms do tiny houses have?

Tiny houses can have bedrooms, kitchen space, bathroom, common area, and lofts, which you can access using a roll-up ladder. The lofts can also serve as sleeping spaces if you have a guest. 

You can also put storage boxes on the loft if you’re short on storage space. RVs or tiny houses on wheels can particularly have two bedrooms, which is one master bedroom and one sleeping area with bunk beds.

Tiny Houses and Taxes: Everything You Need to Know

Tiny Houses and Taxes: Everything You Need to Know

Tiny houses and taxes: do these two words even belong in the same sentence?

The essence of the Tiny House Movement is downsizing. The primary aim of people moving into tinier homes is financial freedom. But does that really happen?

Sure, compared to regular (in this case, larger) houses, tiny houses generate cheaper utility bills. Still, you have to deal with the possible hidden costs of this movement, one of them being taxes. 

Are you planning to move into a tiny house soon? You might want to read up before you buy that prefab kit

In this post, we discussed everything you need to know about tiny houses and taxes.

About property taxes

tiny houses and taxes - property tax word on magazine
North American homeowners pay property taxes every year.

First, let’s have a recap about property taxes in the United States. 

What are property taxes?

American homeowners pay an annual property tax, based on the value of their purchased houses.  You can also say it’s how the local government makes money or revenue.

If you own land and built a house on it, you will pay for an annual property tax. If you fail to pay it, the government will seize your property. At the beginning of this tax collection, a tax authority will conduct a property tax assessment

Why are property taxes important?

If you don’t pay your home taxes, you could lose your house. Besides that, property taxes are important because they sustain public infrastructure—public schools, libraries, community centers, parks and recreation, etc. Without these funds, those facilities would not survive on their own. 

How are property taxes in the U.S. calculated?

The tax authority will conduct a property tax assessment on a scheduled date. Through this, they can calculate your home’s assessed value. As for the amount of your property tax, you can multiply your home’s assessed value by your local government’s imposed tax rate. The result is your property tax. 

How are property taxes collected? 

The local government annually collects property taxes. If you buy a house, you also have to pay a property tax during the transferring of the house. This is also called the Real Estate Transfer Tax or simply Transfer tax. 

What is the average property tax rate in the U.S.?

Homeowners typically pay 1.2% tax rates, but it can range from 0.4% to 2.44%. The main factor in the property tax rate in a state is the cost of living. A homeowner can annually pay a property tax as low as $560, but it can balloon into $7,800, depending on where he or she lives. 

States with property taxes: Lowest Vs. highest 

If you want to pay the lowest property taxes, you can live in the following states: Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, Hawaii, or Delaware. Don’t want to pay a giant property tax? Avoid these states at all costs: New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Illinois, Massachusetts. 

Tiny houses and taxes

tiny houses and taxes - a row of colorful tiny houses in a grassy land
A row of colorful tiny houses in a grassy land

Will owning or buying a tiny house on wheels still involve taxation? We answered your questions below. 

Does a property tax apply to tiny houses? 

The property tax for regular houses does not apply to tiny houses. However, if you will live in a state that collects personal property taxes for motor vehicles, then you still might have to pay it. Tiny houses towed by a car is considered a recreational vehicle (RV) in many states, so the same taxation rules might apply to them as well. 

What is a personal property tax? 

Tangible Personal Property (TPP) or Personal Property taxes are levied on mobile properties—boats, RVs, campers, etc. In some states, TPP taxes are also imposed on anything that generates incomes. For instance, if you own a mechanic shop or an apartment rental, the state will still levy TPP taxes on the equipment and furniture. 

What are the states that don’t levy TPP taxes?

A report by Tax Foundation in 2012 stated that ten states in the U.S. have stopped imposing TPP taxes. Still, most states still levy TPP taxes, especially on businesses. 

What are the taxes I might pay for my tiny house on wheels? 

Tiny houses on wheels are RVs, hence you will be levied for the same taxes. If your state imposes the following, then you have to pay for them: sales tax, Tangible Personal Property (TPP) tax, Mortgage Interest Deduction, real estate tax, and a home office, if you have one. 

How to avoid paying for a sales tax on an RV?

The tricky solution is buying an RV and then registering it in a state that doesn’t levy sales taxes. However, you can’t easily do this because some states require minimum years of residence from a person before they register your RV.

More about tiny houses and taxes

tiny houses and taxes - tiny house at night
Property taxes don’t apply to a mobile tiny house, but you still have to watch out for other types of taxes.

Whether you’re building or buying a tiny house in the US, you must know the different taxes or the tax breaks that you might possibly encounter. After all, the laws about tiny houses and taxes vary in every state, so knowing these will prepare you for that possibility. 

Taxes

Sales tax

When you buy a tiny house on wheels, you might also pay for a sales tax if your state levies it. Alaska, Oregon, Montana, New Hampshire, and Delaware don’t have a sales tax. According to Avalara, it’s easier to register an RV in Montana because of a registration rule loophole. 

Real estate transfer tax 

In a real estate transaction or the transferring of the property’s title, the buyer and the seller must pay a transfer tax. They can split it halfway; it depends on their agreement. The seller can also pay it on their own. The state will also determine the transfer tax based on the property’s market value and classification. 

Death taxes 

1. Gift tax. 

Donator’s tax or gift tax is imposed on the transfer of property, whether the giver is living or already dead. When you give a property that costs more than $15,000, the government will levy you a transfer tax starting at 18%. There are many exemptions to this tax.

2. Estate tax. 

When a person suddenly dies, the government will levy an indirect tax on the transfer of the property. An indirect tax is what sellers add to the original price or a product, so the buyer indirectly pays their tax through buying the product, in lieu of the seller. 

3. Generation-skipping tax (GST). 

This tax is imposed on the transfer of a property or a gift to a younger relative or unrelated person (at least 37 ½ younger). For example, when a grandmother transfers the ownership of a house to her grandson, the GST will also take effect on the latter, even after the death of her grandmother. This also ensures that he will pay the 40% flat rate.

Tax breaks

Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction

This tax break gives homeowners a chance to minimize their taxable income. Since a tiny house on wheels is still a house, you can also claim your mortgage interest tax deduction on it. If you bought a tiny house after December 15, 2017, you could reduce the first $750,000 in your mortgage. 

Home office tax deduction 

Do you plan to work in your tiny house? The home office tax says hello. It’s a tax break for any functioning office in a dwelling that measures less than 300 square feet. If you have this at your tiny house, you can use this for a deduction.

Tiny house resale values

tiny house on wheels with black car in grassy area
The tiny house lifestyle is indeed cheap, but their market value depletes easily too.

Just because you’re about to make your nomad dream come true doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about the future anymore. Besides the taxes, you also have to think about a tiny house’s depreciation. Here are the facts about tiny houses’ resale values.

Do tiny homes retain their value?

Things that get easily damaged also lose their value faster. That is why over time, tiny houses depreciate because they are more prone to wear and tear. 

Since the space is limited, the easier it is to mess a tiny house. Over time, these scratches and dents become more obvious. As a result, their market value quickly depletes. 

There’s also the likelihood of dust gathering. If the occupants aren’t savvy in choosing their appliances, causing them to buy more things. As a result, you have to be extremely meticulous about your equipment because tiny home appliances are more expensive. 

Because tiny house appliances don’t have standard measurements, like those sold in malls or appliance centers, people have them customized if they can’t find a furnished prefab house package. 

Are tiny homes relatively cheap to own? 

Sure, tiny houses are mobile and light. They are in demand. They are also relatively more inexpensive than regular houses to maintain. Despite those qualities, they are not always cheap to own. 

Owning a tiny house involves many hidden costs, which may be surprising to many people. If you’re not careful or savvy enough, you might spend on external storage and unnecessary upgrades.

How to retain my tiny house’s value?

Planning to resell your tiny house in a few years? Well, get ready to spend on some improvements. If you’re serious about reselling this tiny property, just follow these golden, foolproof tips. 

Spend on smart improvements.

Not all upgrades are necessary. Think about the tiny house on wheels (THOW) enthusiasts. What kind of people are they and what are their needs? Think about investing in improvements that cater to their needs. It can range from a dehumidifier and solar panels to an HVAC system

Care for your SUV or pickup truck. 

Just because the vehicle that tows your car is for heavy-duty use doesn’t mean you have to skimp on maintaining them. Don’t be complacent in your car. You want a THOW with fully-functioning wheels, right? Therefore, follow your vehicle’s manufacturer-required service schedule.

Plus, make sure to use a sturdy and reliable towing kit. Check out this Reese Towpower 21536RAK  Kit.

Connect with other people with nomad lifestyles.

People who have been on the road for a long time know the crucial tricks in maintaining their lifestyle. If this is your first time pursuing this lifestyle, you could use a tip or two from them—or even more!

They know how to navigate this kind of living more than anyone, especially the safety and maintenance tricks, without slashing a hole in your pocket. 

Take heed of your local government’s regulations. 

Rules are not here to ruin your life; they exist to put it in order. It will not hurt for you to read your local government’s laws about tiny houses. Give your state’s ol’ dusty building code book a skim.

If you live on your own, you will DIY most of the time, right? So, you should keep a stack of your town’s construction and zoning codes when the going gets tough. 

Renting out tiny houses: Does it work? 

two tiny houses on wheels in grassy land
It’s possible to profit from renting out tiny houses, but make sure there’s a market for it, first.

Think of renting out a tiny house under 400 square feet? Here’s a short overview of it. 

Is it possible to profit from a tiny house?

You can start renting it out as a vacation house. You can lease it as a writing cabin. Nomad people or backpackers need someplace to stay from time to time—and they’re looking for cheaper places than hostels and AirBnBs. 

The overheads might be lesser than if you live in it. 

This is provided that you have a red hot market. If you do, and if you’re into short-term rentals, you can expect lower maintenance costs. If you live in it permanently in a tiny house, you have to 

What are the possible businesses you can do with tiny houses?

You have several ideal choices—a Bed and Breakfast business, an apartment, and a food truck business. There are other brighter ideas if you’re creative. Of course, you have to watch out for the sales tax and rental tax. 

In a nutshell

The bottom line is every state imposes different, localized tax rules and breaks for every homeowner. 

As a tiny house owner or to-be-owner, you might deal with either more complicated tax rules or none at all. That’s why you should take the time to talk to a tax authority or study local resources about your town’s tax legalities. 

If you fail to pay—or even fail to be aware of such a regulation exists for tiny houses—you might face dire consequences. 

We’re not scaring you, but you might lose your house, your dream lifestyle. So, do your best to investigate!  

Related questions

What are the tiny house laws in Texas? 

Texas is very accommodating to the Tiny House Movement. In fact, Spur, the first town that opened its arms to tiny houses, is in Texas. So, if you’re planning to build a tiny house in Texas, you’re free to do as you wish. Other Texan towns like Austin, Fortworth, and Breckenridge are also welcoming to tiny house builders. 

What are Wisconsin’s tiny house laws?

While Texas is friendly to tiny houses, Wisconsin is the opposite. Besides having a few tiny house builders and many restrictions, the state also doesn’t have a clear definition of a tiny house. As of the moment, the state considers tiny homes as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). That means they don’t see tiny houses as legitimate living structures in which people can permanently live.

Why are tiny houses illegal in some states?

Why are tiny houses illegal in some states?

Living in a tiny house is the ultimate goal for many American families today. Yet, that aim might be a mountain to climb. Why? Well, some state governments have rendered tiny houses illegal in their residential zones.

Now, why are tiny houses illegal in some states? Tiny houses are not legal in several US states primarily because of their building codes. If a state doesn’t recognize a tiny house as a legitimate structure in its construction code, then it’s very likely that it’s illegal. Although, there are states that allow tiny houses—however, it comes with restrictions. 

We listed several reasons why tiny houses are legal in a few US states. 

Why are tiny houses illegal in some states?

Did you know that the demand for downsizing has been stronger than ever? People, especially young families, are exchanging their American dream houses for smaller, cuter, and energy-saving mobile abodes. 

Apparently, they have been realizing that all they need can fit in less than 400 square meters. And best of all, they can drive it anywhere they want to! That is why, despite the fluctuating costs and prices and minor legal obstacles, the tiny house movement is all the rage in the United States. 

Despite this huge exigency, some states still look down on tiny houses. Now, to answer the question “Why are tiny houses illegal in some states?”, here are the main issues. 

1. The state’s building code does not allow it.

house plans with a miniature house and pencils
Building codes vary by state in the U.S.

No national building code considers tiny houses as legitimate residential structures. States’ regulations, meanwhile, can vary; that’s why some states are more lenient with tiny houses and others are not.

As for those states that prohibit tiny houses, the reason is that their building code does not allow it. This might sound too much of an Occam’s razor, but it’s true. 

The state government might have refused to acknowledge the tiny houses’ practicality yet. It could also be that they lack the resources to validate the movement’s sustainability.

Although, if a community is passionate and relentless enough about advocating for tiny houses, that restriction might eventually loosen up. Connecticut, especially, is known to be very uptight with tiny houses—but they are apparently scouting for advocates for the movement.  

Some states also allow tiny houses but pose strict limitations. Other states such as Alabama, meanwhile, don’t also have a state-wide construction code. The sliver of hope, perhaps, is that the state is on its way of legalizing tiny houses. 

RELATED: The 7 Best States For Living In A Tiny House

2. HUD is against tiny houses. 

white tiny house on wheels.
Tiny house on wheels are considered RVs

There are two prominent kinds of tiny houses in the US: tiny houses with foundations and tiny houses on wheels. 

The federal government has always been stringent with the former. However, lately, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a federal agency, has been proposing to outlaw tiny houses on wheels and RV living in general.

With this looming circumstance in the future, the increasing number of tiny houses, and some states’ dependence on the federal government aid, state governments might find it harder to legalize tiny houses. 

If that proposal takes flight, thousands of families and occupants will stop having their right to own and live in tiny houses. Ultimately, the tiny house movement will lose its legs.

3. Tiny houses are not easy to regulate.

Many licensed professionals and firms in North America build and offer tiny houses. These experts have years of construction experience behind them. 

Regardless of the manufacturers’ credibility and compliance, some states are still on the fence about tiny houses, particularly tiny house living. That’s because tiny homes are tricky to regulate when talking about zoning, security, and privacy. 

For a house to become a viable place in which one can permanently live, it must pass certain standards. Unfortunately, tiny house designs are not conventional enough to check all the boxes. 

This does not mean tiny houses are not safe abodes for living. They are not just equipped with the ideal specs for standard house living in America.

Particularly, tiny houses, despite being well-designed, will inevitably have ventilation challenges. Tiny houses have limited space, making indoor airflow high-maintenance. If a family is not savvy enough, it will add to their home-related expenses, considering they might add HVAC systems and dehumidifiers.

That safety issue alone is why some state governments find it hard to regulate, and ultimately, approve of tiny houses and tiny house living in general. 

4. To prevent greedy landowners from taking advantage. 

an abandoned shotgun house in New Orleans.
A shotgun-style house in New Orleans

Apparently, because of the demand for tiny houses, some greedy landowners in the US have taken advantage. 

For instance, some landowners in 2017 have built many rental shotgun houses in residential land, going beyond the required number of properties built in a land. 

Shotgun houses are tiny dwellings, with widths measuring less than 12 feet. Minorities, such as African-American families in Southern parts of the United States, mostly live in shotgun houses. 

Having more than the required number of houses in a residential zone brings many issues. Besides that it’s illegal, it will also compromise the quality of life of the residents in that area, especially the children’s. 

The danger doesn’t end there. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), housing has a significant impact on a child’s development. Along with constant moving, this inconsistency might cause a behavioral problem in the kid. 

5. They are strict with recreational vehicles (RVs). 

white RV with extended porch.
RVs have stringent regulations in some states as well.

Finally, some states are stringent with tiny houses because they are the same way with RVs and towing. 

Since tiny houses on wheels are considered RVs, the same strict rules also apply to them. Other RVs such as campers and travel trailers also fall under the same roof. 

We’ve mentioned here that states are likely to be less uptight with recreational vehicles. However, it’s the opposite for a few towns. The concern lies in the dwelling disengaging from the SUV or any car that hauls the tiny house.

Some states don’t also allow parking in some areas, but the aim is to make sure the occupants in the RV won’t be in harm. 

Therefore, if you’re planning to invest in a tiny house on wheels, it’s best if you check the enforced regulations for RVs in your town and neighboring cities. 

You should also study the required lane usage, trailer lights, parking rules, and even required safety items. Not only will studying those protect you from theft and accidents but will also save you from paying penalty fines. 

Final thoughts

There you have it. The next time someone asks you “Why are tiny houses illegal?”, you can share these five main issues.

It’s unfortunate that some money-hungry capitalists are taking advantage of the tiny house movement. Because of this, tiny houses are becoming not so tiny and even pricier. 

Nevertheless, there’s good news and bad news. 

The good news is that some states have become looser with their restrictions, making zoning laws beneficial to tiny house residents. The bad news, however, is that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) might be out to get the tiny house movement. 

Related questions

How to start a tiny house community? 

First, you have to study your town’s zoning and construction codes regarding tiny houses. You need to find land in a residential zone. After that, you still have to deal with an endless barrage of legalities. Expect submitting requirements, meeting with town officials, and, of course, estimating how much everything would cost. 

Why are tiny houses on wheels? 

Most people choose to build a tiny house on wheels to exempt themselves from construction codes. Tiny houses on wheels have looser regulations since they are not defined as structures but as recreational vehicles (RV). Also, people who own these types of dwellings like to move around. They love the feeling of not having a permanent home. 

Tiny Home Living: The Hidden Costs

Tiny Home Living: The Hidden Costs

Sure, the concept of tiny home living is attractive. For some, it’s their long-time dream. But what about the hidden costs of tiny home living? 

At a glance, you might spend more if you add upgrades, if you need external storage, or even if you raise a little kid. You also have to face zoning regulations. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

That is why we listed these potential hidden costs. We are not aiming to discourage you from tiny home living; we just want to warn you of the possible financial roadblocks ahead. 

Hidden costs of tiny home living

1. Upgrades

The one benefit of owning a tiny house is saving on home expenses, compared to having a regular size dwelling. 

For example, tiny house residents in Orlando only spend less than $1000 every month for their home-related expenses. Meanwhile, according to Pocket Sense, the average American family of 2 spends $5,005 per month to maintain their lifestyle. 

Living in a tiny house, you can definitely save more disposable income. 

However, whether it’s necessary or not, you will eventually have to pay for house upgrades if you live in a tiny house. These particular hidden costs of tiny home living will even be more likely with a tiny house on wheels.

Such, inevitably, those upgrades will pile up on your monthly home expenses. 

Several of those installations might be a newer (or better) HVAC system, a solar panel, or an alarm device. Other maintenance and towing necessities will also add up more quickly to your home-related budget.

So, you have to watch out for that. 

Tiny Homes: What Is the True Cost of Living Small? 

2. External storage

Being in a restricted space, one of the most obvious concerns you might deal with is storage.

Sure, you can find plenty of storage-saving hacks online and they are easy to follow. However, eventually, your stuff will multiply—especially if you’re living with a kid. 

You can’t forever rely on storage containers because you need space for them to occupy. As a result, some tiny house residents have even used their lofts as storage space. 

The consequences? Dust and poor indoor airflow. 

So, what happens when you already filled every nook and cranny in your house with things? Well, you might now have to spend on additional outdoor storage.

 The average fee for renting a storage unit is $40 to $50, and that’s just a 5×5 unit. The price will vary based on the size of the facility and unit and its location.

Urban places, of course, have higher annual and monthly fees. 

3. Your town’s zoning laws 

This is one of the more complicated and potentially expensive hidden costs of tiny home living—dealing with your town’s zoning codes. 

Zoning laws are important because they help residents live peacefully without the commercial hustle and bustle from businesses that disturb neighborhoods. Similarly, zoning laws also protect businesses from trespassing residents in an area. 

You’re lucky if you live in a state that is relaxed about the Tiny House Movement; however, if you don’t, you might have to adjust and pay for fees. Moreover, if you violate a zoning code in your state, the consequences might be brutal. 

It is even more challenging, considering residential zone areas are not that many these days. So, if you want to build a tiny house in a non-residential land, then you might have to request for a zone change. This involves an application, a payment, which depends on the locality, and a hearing with the zoning board. 

On top of that, your tiny house has to pass building code compliance. But to do that, you have to be a certified tiny house manufacturer, which will cost you more than a thousand dollars and requires submitting a dozen qualifications. 

Meanwhile, you can expect looser zoning codes if your house is on wheels, which is considered a recreational vehicle (RV). 

And, if your town isn’t that friendly with tiny houses, you can also advocate for the changing of its zoning laws

4. The appliances 

Haven’t bought a tiny house yet? Well, prepare an allowance for appliances, because customized equipment for tiny houses can cost more.  

Sure, you can find some fully furnished prefab tiny houses; however, one size doesn’t fit all, right? Your family might have specific needs the prefab can’t provide. Moreover, your needs might change over time. 

For example, if you have a tiny house on wheels, you might have to spend on a compact heater if you’re commuting to colder places like Wyoming or Vermont.

Additionally, you might have to spend on battery or solar panels for your other off-the-grid appliances.

One thing you should also consider, besides the cost of your appliances, is the hidden price you’re paying for your appliances. 

Some cheap appliances might be noisier than their expensive competitors. For example, be wary of the noise that some “eco-toilets”, Roombas, and water pumps make.

Knowing you’re in a tiny house, where sound can quickly travel, this will be a hassle. So, when buying appliances, you have to think about that as well. 

5. Insurance

yellow tiny house on wheels

In the past, insurance has not been kind to tiny house owners. Tiny houses that are towed by an SUV or a truck, which are considered RVs, are not even covered by traditional homeowners’ insurance. 

The good news is that insurance options for tiny houses are slowly increasing. Still, it greatly depends on the location and their laws about tiny houses. So, if you’re living in a state that acknowledges their existence with fair regulations, then you’re fortunate. 

Tiny houses on foundations and tiny houses on wheels have different insurance policies. Interestingly, the cost doesn’t stray far away from a traditional regular size house.

According to the Home Insurance Learning Center, a tiny house’s annual insurance can cost up to $1,500. Factors such as the house’s materials, location, and level of difficulty to repair will also affect that amount. 

6. Your tolerance and patience 

Finally, the often-overlooked ones—you will probably lose a lot of patience and tolerance in your tiny home living. 

From your buying/building journey to your living stage, you will deal with different personalities, trials, setbacks, and more. It’s totally normal to go through those, but you can avoid those by studying what you’re heading to. 

If you’re hiring a contractor, make sure they understand your journey. Not only do they have to be skilled and fast with the deliverables, but they should also empathize with your woes as well. 

Fortunately, with everything going digital right now, it’s easy to scrape the web for a tiny house supplier’s reputation. Get to know them through tiny house owners’ forums on Facebook, Reddit, etc. 

Conclusion 

As you can see, every dream has prices—and that includes the hidden costs of tiny home living. That is why before you rush to buy your dream tiny house, take a few steps back and plan properly.

Never forget to save up for an allowance for these hidden expenses in your tiny home journey. 

Related questions

How much does it cost to build a tiny house in California?

The starting cost of a tiny house in California is $40,000. Depending on many factors such as location, materials, and zoning codes, it can cost you more than $100,000.

How do you build a tiny house?

It all depends on your construction experience, budget, and personal preferences. You can either buy a blueprint from a tiny house provider and then build it yourself. Or, you can also order prefab tiny houses and the supplier will ship it to your location. Check out our blog post about tiny house marketplaces to know more.

Tiny House Safety: 5 Major Safety Issues You Can’t Ignore

Tiny House Safety: 5 Major Safety Issues You Can’t Ignore

Living in a small quaint house sure does sound like a dream. And with the Tiny House Movement, that dream isn’t far from reach for many. Nevertheless, you still have to face issues such as tiny house safety.

Just because you’re living in a tiny house doesn’t mean you’re free from hazards. Below, we discuss these five crucial safety issues of living in a tiny house. 

5 major tiny house safety issues

In the US, you will find many different types of small housing. The tiny house that we’re describing below is any dwelling that measures less than 400 square feet and is built on foundations, as defined by this review. 

If you’re planning to live in a tiny house, you have to face reality. Having one isn’t a walk in real estate park. Read on to know more.

1. Fire hazards

burnt roof of an old house.
Burnt roof of an old tiny house

There are two common fire hazards in most tiny houses—combustible materials and space heaters. 

If a tiny house is built with combustible materials, and you use gas or electric heaters and gas stoves, the fire risk is greater. 

For example, plywood fire is a Class A fire, which means the fire can spread easily on a structure built with plywood. Therefore, if you’re planning to buy or build a tiny house, consider other non-combustible materials. 

Fiberglass, for example, won’t burn when it catches fire—instead, it will just melt. Besides that, it’s also lightweight, strong, and an excellent heat insulator, which means you can rely on it during cold nights. 

Moreover, because it’s a tiny house, you should watch out for space heaters. Appliances like space heaters commonly cause deadly fires in US homes because they easily overheat.  

2. Carbon monoxide poisoning

a hand holding a white carbon monoxide detector device.
This CO detector will help save lives.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning is a common house hazard, but it’s deadlier than others since it’s colorless and odorless. Therefore, it’s very tricky to detect without a device, making it even more critical in a tight space with poorly designed ventilation. 

Since a tiny house is often tightly sealed, you have to be three times careful with equipment. A gas-powered kitchen range, especially, gives off a lot of CO when you start it. 

The CO level in your kitchen’s air elevates even more when you don’t use a range hood when using your gas range. So, don’t forget to use that range hood to reduce the harm of CO. 

Are you still serious about living in a tiny house? Besides using a range hood when cooking, you can also invest in a carbon monoxide detector. In the US, 27 states mandate residential buildings with fossil-fuel burning devices to install at least one CO alarm. 

Other cost-effective ways to prevent CO poisoning is making sure your kitchen is well-ventilated and letting a qualified pro inspect your gas range for combustion safety. 

3. Indoor air quality 

female Asian disgusted of indoor air quality in her house.
Indoor air quality has long-term effects on wellness.

Indoor air quality is a significant factor in your wellness. Whether you’re in a tiny house or a workspace, the indoor air quality will affect your physical health and even your productivity. According to this study, people perform poorly if they work in an area with terrible indoor air quality. 

Now, in a typical residential house, improving the indoor air quality can be as simple and cheap as opening the doors and windows. However, in a tiny house, it can be a bit trickier. Compared to a wider space, where the moisture can dilute better, a tiny house with poor indoor air quality will bring you many issues. 

Humidity problem

First, you might encounter a humidity problem. When a house in an already humid area develops a high level of air moisture, it will pose some risks to the occupants. People’s bodies might not cool down easily, exposing them to a risk of heat strokes. 

Allergies

Another issue you might encounter with a humid place is allergies. Dust mites thrive on air moisture since they can’t absorb water. Their waste is particularly dangerous, as it can trigger allergic reactions like red eyes, sneezing, runny nose, inflammation, and itchiness. 

Make sure to have an air purifier available in your tiny home.

Costlier electricity bills

With poor quality and circulation, a tiny house’s indoor air will easily allow dust buildup in the HVAC systems or Air Conditioning (AC) units. And if they do have dust buildup, they will work harder to maintain the required level of heat exchange in your house. What comes next will be a series of repairs or high utility bills. 

4. Mobility inside the house

wooden interiors of a tiny house
Any occupant should be able to move freely inside a tiny house.

Mobility may be the well-known benefit of tiny houses, especially for the elderly who can still take care of themselves. Since all the facilities are near each other and easily accessible, older people won’t need to walk several meters just to relieve themselves. 

However, mobility inside a tiny house might pose safety risks for most people.

For example, if a person injures themselves, and they use a wheelchair, their dwelling needs to have enough space to cater to wheelchair mobility. However, it’s rare for a tiny house to have ramps. 

Another concern is the occupants doing different activities in the house at the same time. What if one person is cooking and another person is fixing something nearby?

They should be able to move freely to avoid bumping into each other. The stairs inside a tiny house shouldn’t be too steep as well to prevent falls and slips. 

The point here is a tiny house should supply adequate mobility for each occupant. You can’t ignore this issue because people’s needs change, and so do the activities in the house.

5. Mold growth 

disgusting mold growth on a white wall.
Long-term exposure to mold growth will worsen underlying upper respiratory diseases.

Mold growth is another crucial safety concern in a tiny house. 

Humid spaces enable the growth of mold. Therefore, any small signs of growth in a poorly ventilated tiny house will blow up to a mold infestation in no time.

Wooden materials are especially notorious breeding grounds for mold. If you notice a rotten wood smell or a musty smell, you might be having a huge mold infestation. You should not dismiss this and identify the source. 

If you find mold, you can instantly get rid of it. You can either use a soap and water solution or bleach to remove mold from a wooden surface. Bleach is a known mold killer.

Mold is dangerous for a number of reasons, just like the following. 

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Asthma 
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Red and itchy eyes

If a person has a compromised immune system or an undiagnosed lung problem, they should be extra careful of living in tiny houses. They are more at risk for complications if they get exposed to mold. 

Conclusion

Do you still think tiny houses are good investments? If you do, then never forget to address these five safety risks we listed. Tiny houses already have a bad rap to the public, so don’t add fuel to the fire by being even more careless with your tiny home. 

Related Questions 

How do you avoid mold growth in a tiny house? 

To avoid mold growth in a tiny house, make sure to fix any roof leaks immediately. Make it a habit to open the windows and doors frequently if possible to allow better air circulation inside the house. Finally, ensure that you have properly functioning vents. Tiny houses easily get wet inside.

Are tiny houses safe? 

Living one will surely not expose you to fatal conditions. It can also withstand storms and strong winds if it’s properly designed and constructed. However, just like the ones we listed here, you will still encounter major safety issues, and you should be ready to address them. 

State-by-state Tiny Home Regulations Explained For Beginners

State-by-state Tiny Home Regulations Explained For Beginners

tiny house regulations

One of the challenges of building a tiny home is understanding the zoning laws and housing regulations set by the state. Only when you have read and understood the provisions can you decide whether building a tiny home in that state is a good idea or not.

Home regulations for tiny homes are usually placed to ensure the safety and quality of living of its occupants. However, because the tiny house movement is fairly new in the US, several states don’t have a concrete framework on how to deal with them. 

Additionally, there are a lot of legal issues that surround tiny homes once you consider building one in a particular state, county, town, or jurisdiction. In some cases, you need to consult with a real estate attorney to ensure that everything is legal. 

Tiny Home Regulations in the Different States

If you are new to the concept of tiny homes and where you can build them, we created this article for you. Here we will briefly explain some of the requirements you need to comply with to be able to make a tiny house in a particular state. 

tiny house zoning laws

1. Alabama

Tiny houses aren’t widely prevalent in Alabama yet. Zoning requirements and building codes vary from one county to another. In some cities, they even have their unique provisions on their zoning laws. 

In short, it’s quite challenging to build a tiny home in Alabama, given that the state is not quite ready to accept this housing revolution. However, there are a few counties that are showing some great potential. In some areas of Jefferson County, for example, they allow them as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) provided they are smaller than 200-square feet. 

2. Alaska

The Last Frontier state has a slightly more accommodating treatment of tiny houses. Roughly 40-percent of Alaska’s population dwells in the Anchorage metropolitan district. This unified home rule municipality allows tiny homes on wheels (THOWs) in their jurisdiction. 

However, there are also some limitations to THOWs ownership in Anchorage. For example, tiny mobile houses are considered as recreational vehicles and can only be parked on lands designated as R-5 zoning. 

On the other hand, tiny homes built over a foundation must comply with residential building codes. Furthermore, homeowners are required to get a conditional use permit before they can develop their unit. Sewage and water connections are also needed if the structure will be built within city limits. 

Areas around the city of Anchorage have slightly more flexible laws, but there isn’t anything specific yet about tiny house building codes. While there are a few tiny homes in Alaska, their popularity has grown over the past few years. 

3. Arizona

Arizona is considered one of the friendliest states when it comes to the tiny house movement while there are no statewide zoning requirements and building codes for small homes, many of its jurisdiction favor micro-housing. 

In Pima County, for example, it’s legal to construct a tiny home on any lot that is designated as single-family detached houses. However, the small house must be built over a permanent foundation. In case you didn’t know, Pima County is the second most populated county in Arizona and encompasses Tucson and its suburbs. 

Meanwhile, THOWs can be categorized as factory-built homes if they are placed on a fixed foundation. In addition, Pima County has also come up with its building codes specifically for tiny houses. For example, loft areas must have access to stairs or ladders, plus they must meet fall protection essentials.

Coconino County, located on the Arizona northern border, is also following the footsteps of Pima. Other counties in the state have also shown interest in the movement. 

4. Arkansas

While Arkansas is not yet on the list of friendly states towards tiny homes, it’s at least pointed in the right direction. The town of Rogers, for example, allows tiny homes in their residential area provided that they are built over a fixed foundation. The town has also rezoned an area near Bella Vista Lake Park to accommodate tiny houses.

Meanwhile, tiny house regulations and codes may still differ by county, city, or town. Some jurisdiction has also placed size restrictions for tiny houses. Walnut Ridge city, for example, limits the minimum size of a tiny home at 600-square feet, which is a bit big’ in micro-housing standards. 

Restricting the size of tiny homes has made it challenging to build tiny homes that are usually 400-square feet or smaller. Consequently, the state also views THOWs as RVs and therefore restricts these types of dwellings to mobile home or RV parks. Furthermore, the complicated zoning laws are slowing down the development of potential tiny home communities in the area. 

5. California

The recent housing crisis in California has made the state more open to micro-housing alternatives. Most cities in California authorize its residence to build tiny homes and treat them as ADUs. Historically, the state is also known as a travel destination for people who live in camper vans and mobile homes.

However, California does not legally allow people to live permanently in tiny homes or RVs. The exception being Sonoma County, which is vulnerable to wildfires every year. The local ordinance allows displaced persons to temporarily live in mobile homes and THOWs outside the burn zones even without permits. 

Additionally, California Title 25 also doesn’t allow RVs to be used as dwelling units. The state’s Health and Safety Code also bans truck campers, motor homes, truck campers, and travel trails, with or without a motor engine, as a permanent or temporary residence. 

On a lighter note, the city of Fresno allows THOWs to be used as secondary dwelling units. Fresno is the first city in the US to allow tiny mobile houses as ADUs in residential neighborhoods. San Francisco followed suit and has allowed secondary dwelling units in the city’s residential areas. 

Overall, while specific rules about tiny homes vary by county and city, California is quite supportive of the tiny house movement. 

tiny home rules
PHOTO by Pedro Szekely via Flickr

6. Colorado

The state of Colorado and the tiny house movement has a rich history together. One of the pioneers of the tiny home movement, Jay Shafer, started his company Tumbleweed Tiny Homes in Colorado Springs. Furthermore, nothing says nomad living than being on the magnificent rocky mountains. 

That being said, tiny house regulations in Colorado still vary depending on which county, city, or town you currently reside in. The town of Walsenburg, for example, has waived the minimum square footage of a tiny home to allow people to build their micro houses. Furthermore, the town also has limited stairway regulations and revised the minimum width requirement for exit doors. 

Colorado’s Park County, a well-known destination for tiny home supporters, also has specific allowances for stick-built dwellings. Such as:

  • The living room of tiny homes must be at least 220 square feet and must have an additional 100 square feet for every person living in the unit more than two occupants.
  • Each tiny home must have a separate lavatory, bathroom and water closet, shower, and a bathtub.
  • The Refrigeration unit, kitchen sink, and cooking appliances must have a clear working space of at least 30-inches. 
  • Efficiency dwelling units that are not part of a multi-unit structure are required to have provisions for mechanical equipment such as pressure tanks, heating components, and hot water.
  • Life safety requirements, including light and ventilation, must be met no matter what the size of the dwelling. 

Meanwhile, the county’s Land Use Regulations still require manufactured and modular dwellings to be at least 600 square feet at grade level. Overall, Colorado is one of the best places in the US to build a tiny home.

7. Connecticut

One of the least progressive states in terms of accepting tiny homes, Connecticut, has many restrictions for site built micro-housing. They also have several limitations to THOWs, which the state classified as RVs. In short, it’s one of the countries that may get you into trouble when you build a tiny home.

However, this situation could change in the near future. Connecticut requires affordable housing for its residents, and tiny homes offer an alternative solution. Right now, it’s only waiting for someone to advocate micro house in its communities. 

That being said, there are numerous challenges ahead. The state has strict zoning laws that don’t support the idea of someone living in a tiny house. As such, if you are a resident of Connecticut, you need to look elsewhere to build your tiny house. 

8. Delaware

Building a tiny stationary house in Delaware is quite tricky at the moment. The state doesn’t have specific regulations for small homes. The great news, however, is that many organizations promote micro-housing as an affordable dwelling for their communities.

Meanwhile, THOWs are more promising, given that the state regulates them. For example, tiny mobile houses need to get titles within the next 30 days after it was purchased. These THOWs must also be no bigger than 400 square feet. Furthermore, they should not be longer than 40 feet and must be 8 feet or shorter per the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

9. Florida

Unsurprisingly, America’s go-to-place for vacations is all for the tiny house movement. While not every county allows tiny houses, the majority of Florida does allow them– be they mobile or stationary. 

If you have a THOWs, you need first to register it with the state’s DMV. Fortunately, Florida has plenty of tiny house communities and RV parks where you can park your unit. They also have several little house hotels where you can experience the “downsized” lifestyle for a small fee. 

Below are some specific provisions that your tiny house met if you want to build in a particular area in California:

  • In Orange County, your tiny stationary house must be at least 400 square feet to be considered as an ADU.
  • If you plan to build in St. Petersburg, your small dwelling must be at least 375 square feet and should not exceed 750 square feet in meeting their ADU requirements.
  • People who want to park their THOWs in Sarasota county can only stay in an RV park for no more than 45 days. If you plan to stay longer, your unit must sit on a foundation. 

Since every case is different, you might need to hire a local tiny house builder or an attorney to help you sort out what is legal and what is not. 

tiny home bylaws

10. Georgia

Another state that we can call tiny house friendly, Georgia, is on the right track of establishing more tiny home communities. The small house regulations are not state-wide, but most jurisdiction allows both mobile and stationary micro-housing. 

Consequently, almost all counties in Georgia follow the 2012 International Residential code as part of their local building codes. If you want to build a tiny home, you must abide by the standards specified in this document. 

The city of Atlanta allows tiny homes used as guest houses to be built or parked in R1 to R5 zoning districts. However, when someone permanently stays in these structures, it’s now classified as ADUs and not guest houses. The state only allows ADUs to be built in the R-5 areas.

Meanwhile, THOWs currently don’t have any definition or restriction in most zoning ordinances. Moreover, renting out an ADU is illegal in Georgia.  

Some cities, like Chamblee, allow tiny house communities or cottage cluster development in their area. However, they are limited to NR-3 districts only. THOWs must also be on a permanent foundation, or they can only still be on these sites for no longer than 180 days or six months.  

11. Hawaii

The warm tropical islands of Hawaii are the perfect place to build a tiny house. The state has launched several initiatives to promote small houses as alternative housing for their farm workers. THOWs are also allowed if they are registered as recreational vehicles through the state’s DMV.

However, there is a minimum floor space of at least 220 square feet for the tiny home to be legal. Most county codes also require that the dwelling have its kitchen, living area, and bathroom. You can also build your tiny homes on a privately owned piece of land, or you can purchase a plot of land for your small dwelling. 

Meanwhile, a custom-built travel trailer is considered by the Hawaiian DMV as “house trailers.” As such, they don’t need to comply with the International Building Code (IBC). While they are considered dwelling units, these trailers are subject to severe zoning restrictions. 

Over the years, Native Hawaiians have faced several issues regarding the rising prices of real estate and housing, especially in Hawaii’s main islands. Shortly, tiny houses might be a staple housing option for its people.  

12. Idaho

In 2017, Idaho became the first state to implement the International Residential Code (IRC) for its tiny houses. As such, Idaho has come up with definitions for the many types of small houses. These definitions will serve as the basis for future regulations on micro-housing. 

 According to Idaho’s definition a tiny stationary house, it can be either:

  • Site Built Tiny House- is a small home that is constructed at a permanent location and is designed without the intention for it to be moved.
  • Modular Tiny House- is a structure or building component that is not a manufactured home with closed construction. It can either be substantially or entirely assembled or prefabricated at a location that is not the building site. 

Meanwhile, the state treats travel trailers, motor homes, camping trailers, and truck campers as recreational vehicles. Aside from recreational purposes, these mobile tiny homes can be used as an emergency human habitation. The state also limits their length to only 8.5 feet or shorter. 

Idaho is the first state to elaborate on tiny houses, RVs, manufactured homes, and modular dwellings in the same reference document. While building codes and regulations for tiny houses still vary by town, city, and county, a statewide law is right around the horizon. 

tiny house order

13. Illinois

Depending on what area of Illinois you want to build your tiny home, it can be allowed or prohibited based on their zoning laws. For example, most suburbs, including Chicago, prohibit tiny houses. However, some areas in the state don’t expressly prohibit micro-housing. 

On the flip side, tiny mobile homes are quite welcome in most places in Illinois. However, you need to look at the specific County rules where you can place them. Furthermore, they must also be registered on the state’s DMV, which will then classify it as a recreational trailer. 

Depending on the county, THOWs can be parked in private properties, campgrounds and mobile home parks.

14. Indiana

The state of Indiana does not have a statewide regulation when it comes to tiny houses. Instead, it allows counties to create their own specific building codes. However, the state has particular laws when it comes to private homes constructed and later be occupied by its builders, which is referred to as the Log Cabin Rule. 

Under this rule, tiny homes built in the state of Indiana are required to have a foundation. Furthermore, the rule also sets several guidelines in lieu of traditional housing in Indiana. 

A few tiny house communities have also emerged in the state. In some residential neighborhoods, they have allowed tiny homes to be built alongside traditional housing options. Meanwhile, some places like Bloomington, Carmel, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and Southbend have specific building codes and zoning laws. 

If you plan to build a tiny home in cities like Urbana, Springfield, Rockford, and Naperville, then it’s best to consult the local zoning offices. 

15. Iowa

Iowa is one of the hardest places to build a tiny house. The state has complicated building codes and regulations that vary from one town, city, or county to another. While some of the metropolitan areas are catching on the tiny house movement, there are still too many restrictions. 

Joppa, a non-profit group, proposed to build tiny houses near Des Moines. However, they were not given permits because the jurisdiction has not adopted the International Building Code’s section on tiny houses. 

Meanwhile, the Iowa Falls Council has changed its city code to reduce the minimum size for new homes from 600 square feet to just 500 square feet. However, tiny houses are usually much smaller, with an average floor size of 300-400 square feet. While building a small home in Iowa’s cities is quite difficult, it’s possible to build in rural areas that have more flexible regulations. 

16. Kansas

The state of Kansas quite welcomes the tiny house movement. However, you need to navigate some bylaws to ensure you can build one, especially in metropolitan areas. You will also find more success constructing a tiny home on a permanent foundation than a unit that sits on a trailer.

Stationary tiny houses also must follow specific guidelines, such as:

  • At least one room should be at least 120 square feet. Other places, except for the bathroom and kitchen, need to be 50 square feet or larger, according to IRC 2012.
  • ADUs are not allowed in RS3 or RS5 districts. However, they are permitted in areas such as RS7, RS10, RS20, and single-dwelling residential areas like RS40. 
  • Tiny houses can use solar panels and small wind devices. However, the latter needs to be no taller than 35 feet. Furthermore, propane usage is regulated by the International Fire Code (IFC).
  • Composting toilets are not allowed. 

Meanwhile, THOWS are allowed on campgrounds. However, there are no codes that allow you to park them in your backyard or any privately owned land. 

17. Kentucky

Kentucky is also moving forward in terms of accepting tiny houses in some of its areas. The state, however, still doesn’t have anything specific about tiny homes and how they should be regulated. As such, most jurisdiction requires tiny homes to be reviewed under building codes meant for traditional houses. 

Louisville is one of the few places in Kentucky that has a concrete guideline when it comes to building tiny homes. However, they are required to follow some local codes before the structure can be built or assembled. 

Site-built tiny homes built on a permanent foundation are processed and reviewed the same way as any new house. Meanwhile, THOWS fall under portable dwellings which are not intended to be placed permanently on a site. 

The state also recognizes tiny house kits as modular or prefabricated dwellings. For this type of tiny house, local or municipal agencies may review or ask for additional documentation before the structure is assembled on site. However, if it’s been assembled off-site, it will be classified as “pre-manufactured” and requires the approval of the state of Kentucky. 

state by state tiny home laws
Photo by paula soler-moya via Flickr

18. Louisiana

In 2019, the state of Louisiana finally made its guidelines about tiny houses. Unfortunately, the new guidelines that follow the IRC 2015 only apply for tiny houses built on a foundation and not on THOWs. 

All cities in Louisiana follow the 2015 IRC, which requires at least one room in the tiny room to be at least 120 square feet big. It also states that lofts need to have stairs (not ladders) and a window. Additionally, it also insists doors to be at least three feet wide and ceilings to be 7 feet or taller.

That being said, it will be difficult for a tiny home builder to follow such complex provisions. Tiny house regulations in Louisiana also change from one town, city, and county to the next.

19. Maine

As one of the leading states that support the tiny house movement, Maine is an excellent choice to build your small dwelling. They are the first state to implement statewide building guidelines specifically for tiny houses. It’s even possible to convert old boats into floating tiny houses that you can register as a secondary dwelling. 

The state defines tiny homes as dwellings that have a floor area of 400 square feet. If you build your tiny home on a permanent foundation, it needs to comply with Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code (MUBEC), which covers dwellings that are 400 square feet or smaller that are built on foundations.

With the passage of MUBEC, municipalities can now give out building permits for tiny homes. However, they still have to follow certain standards such as skylights and ladder access for lofts. The new tiny house building code, however, does not cover mobile tiny homes.  

On the positive note, some areas, such as North Yarmouth, allow THOWs to be parked privately owned lands. However, the lot should be larger than 30,000 square feet and has existed before the tiny home provision was passed. Consequently, tiny houses that still have wheels can only be placed on-site for less than 120 days a year. 

tiny house zoning laws per jurisdiction

20. Maryland

Demand for tiny homes in Maryland has been on the rise for the past few years. However, the state’s zoning laws prevent more people from living in micro-housing options. You are also more likely to construct a tiny home in rural areas than in Maryland’s metropolitan areas.

However, there is a bit of silver lining for the tiny house movement. The state is more lenient towards THOWs as they are treated as RVs. As such, mobile tiny homes can be parked in RV parks. Consequently, most RV parks restrict parking on their facilities to just a few months. 

Generally speaking, Maryland has not fully acknowledged the role of tiny houses as an alternative housing option. 

21. Massachusetts

The Bay State is a bit friendly to tiny homeowners. You can own a small home built on a foundation with ease as long as you register them as ADUs. Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to own THOWs in Massachusetts. 

Tiny homes registered as ADUs are widely accepted in many cities and towns in the state. Some of these areas include Ashland, Bedford, Medfield, and Rockport, just to name a few. Specifications for an ADU vary from one city or town to the next, so check out with the zoning authority first. 

Massachusetts has not yet defined what THOWs are, making it difficult to own one. However, they still allow camping using THOWs, but using them as permanent dwelling remains illegal. Additionally, the town of Nantucket allows an additional ADU dwelling that is 550 square or smaller. 

22. Michigan

In the past few years, Michigan has revised some provisions of its zoning regulations to accommodate tiny houses. Residents who are advocating affordable housing options are also pushing for tiny homes to be considered as ADUs in metropolitan areas. 

A few places also allow tiny houses to be built in designated areas. The town of Briley, for example, considers tiny homes as “Economy Efficient Dwelling.” However, there are certain specifications that tiny house builder must comply with such as:

The tiny home’s floor area must be at least 240 square feet big and should not exceed 500 square feet. 

Additionally, the unit’s height should not exceed 12 feet, while its length should be between 20 and 30 feet. 

An economy efficient dwelling must be built over an approved fixed foundation. It must also comply with Michigan’s building and sanitary codes, and obtain a certificate of occupancy. 

Michigan allows tiny houses in agriculture areas, recreational forest areas, and residential two zones. 

23. Minnesota

Minnesota is quite lukewarm when it comes to the tiny house movement. There are several municipalities in the area that support micro-housing options, especially for the disabled and elderly. However, the major cities in the state have no specific regulations about them.

In some areas, you can build them as ADUs as long as they are built on a permanent foundation. The structure must also comply with Minnesota’s State Building Code.

Meanwhile, you can also register a mobile tiny home as an RV. However, there are only a few places in the state where you can park them, such as RV parks and campgrounds. 

tiny home zoning laws per jurisdiction
PHOTO by Greg Gjerdingen via Flickr

24. Mississippi

The state of Mississippi used tiny houses as emergency shelters after the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. Seeing the positive benefits of micro-housing, several companies in the country now sell small homes. However, the local government is not yet in full support of such an initiative. 

On a lighter note, there are a few places where you can likely build a tiny home. These places include Biloxi, Gulfport, Hattiesburg Jackson, Meridian, and Tupelo, just to name a few. Just to be sure, research first the local building code of each municipality before attempting to construct or buy a tiny home. 

Tiny house builders in the area, such as Tiny House Life, usually construct units with a floor space between 100 to 900 square feet. It is also expected that tiny houses will get more attention in the next few years because of its increasing demand. 

25. Missouri

Located in the Midwest region, Missouri has 6 million residents and is the 18th most populated state in the country. However, it is also one of the few states that haven’t officially dealt with micro-housing. 

Building a tiny home on a foundation can be quite difficult because of complex zoning laws. Some of its largest metropolitans like Jefferson City, Springfield, Kansas City, St. Louis and Branson all have varying building codes. 

THOWS are considered RVs and are not meant for permanent living arrangements. Furthermore, you can’t park them in public places and are not even allowed for city-use. If your THOWs is less than 220 square feet, it does not require any special permits to be used in Missouri’s highways. 

The state, however, allows temporary residence in tiny homes in times of a disaster. 

26. Montana

Montana is one of the few places where building a tiny home is next to impossible. The majority of the local ordinances have yet to recognize tiny houses as a means of affordable housing. Hence, it’s still illegal to build a tiny home in most areas of the state.

Some jurisdiction does allow tiny self-built houses, but only when they sit on a trailer. In this case, these THOWs are considered as travel trailers or RV and have the same restrictions as the latter. 

27. Nebraska

Nebraska is one of the first states to draft an official document that discusses the different kinds of tiny homes. However, the paper also mentions that it’s up to the local jurisdiction how they will deal with tiny homes in terms of zoning requirements. 

Mobile tiny homes that are manufactured by tiny home builders must pass the requirements of the Federal Manufactured Home Act by the Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD). Only those manufactured mobile tiny houses with HUD labels can be sold legally on the market. 

Meanwhile, modular housing units need to comply with the IRC and the National Electrical Code. On the other hand, THOWs needs to pass the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards for RVs. 

On the other hand, tiny stationary homes need to comply with the zoning requirements of the local jurisdiction. Overall, building or owning a tiny home in Nebraska is quite complicated and needs extensive initial research. 

tiny home laws to abide
PHOTO by david__jones via Flickr

28. Nevada

The desert state of Nevada is quite upbeat about the tiny house movement. Depending on the local ordinance of the area, you can even live in THOWs provided that the owner complies with local regulations. 

Clark County, for example, allows tiny homes that are over 200 square feet provided they get a building permit. While their code doesn’t specifically talk about tiny homes, you can work around some of the loopholes in their regulations. 

In most cases, it’s more favorable to build a tiny home on a foundation. However, you should not register them as ADUs because they can’t have cooking facilities like a kitchen. 

29. New Hampshire

When the 2008 financial crisis hit, New Hampshire was strongly hit by the effects of the housing bubble. This prompted the state to legalize tiny houses and ADUs. Your best bet to build your tiny home is on the Coos County, which sits on the Northern part of New Hampshire. 

The state has also passed several laws that allow ADUs to be built on private property, provided they comply with the local building codes. Additionally, the state does not require ADUs and tiny homes to be occupied by the owner. However, they do require the owner to live on-site, preferably on a larger main residential structure. 

There are also thirteen towns on New Hampshire that don’t have zoning laws such as Alexandria, Ellsworth, Haverhill, Warren, Chatham, and Lempster. You can build a tiny home in these areas without having to worry about common issues like minimum square footage requirements. 

30. New Jersey

In recent years, New Jersey has developed a great interest in affordable tiny houses. However, complicated zoning laws still hinder its growth in the state, prompting many tiny homeowners to go under the radar. 

Some of your best bets where you can build a tiny home are the towns of Rockland and Haverstraw. The former allows THOWs in their residential areas, provided that they are not used for permanent residential use. 

Meanwhile, the town of Haverstraw allows tiny houses granted they are used as ADUs or as a caretaker’s cottage. That being said, there are also a few places that allow tiny house communities, especially if they contribute to solving social problems. 

31. New Mexico

New Mexico is one of the best places to build your tiny home, primarily because of its mild continental climate. Additionally, the state allows people to build tiny houses provided they follow local building codes and regulations. 

The state requires tiny houses here to have at least 70 square feet of floor space and at least be 7 feet tall. The structure must also sit on a permanent foundation and comply with the state’s Energy Conservation Code. 

Furthermore, the dwelling must have sanitary facilities like bath, sink, toilet, and shower. The kitchen and bathroom sinks must also have access to both cold and water. There are a few other requirements which you can check out on the building code of a particular town or city. 

Albuquerque also provides its guidelines for constructing tiny homes. It’s also possible to live in a converted THOWs that sits on a foundation, so long as you get a residential certificate. You also need your THOWs to comply with a permit if you want to tow away or move your tiny home. 

32. New York

The populous state of New York is not an ideal place for tiny houses. The state doesn’t authorize temporary structures, where tiny homes fall according to their state laws. 

Consequently, you can register your THOWs on the state’s DMV; you can’t live there permanently. There is also a small chance that you can live in a tiny home built over a foundation on areas that are farthest from the city.

Overall, we do not advise you to build your tiny home in New York, unless more positive regulations on tiny homes are in place.  

33. North Carolina

North Carolina is currently divided with the issue of tiny houses. Some residents are worried that these alternative housing can drive the prices of their properties down when allowed near residential areas. Meanwhile, some acknowledge its potential as an affordable dwelling for those who can’t afford traditional housing options. 

Your best bets to build your tiny home are in the towns of Wilmington and Winston-Salem. The former requires tiny homes to be 150 square feet or larger for a single occupant structure. It also needs to have an additional 100 square feet for every additional occupant, and the building must abide by its local housing ordinances.

Meanwhile, the town of Winston Salem allows tiny homes as ADUs provided that they sit on a single-family lot and are occupied by caretakers or relatives. Meanwhile, THOWs need to be examined and approved by the state’s DMV inspector before hitting the road. 

34. North Dakota

North Dakota is not very keen on the tiny house movement despite its popularity. Very few places have laid out a framework on how they should regulate these micro-housing options. The few places that do require them to meet standard building codes and other restrictions. 

Your best bet in living in a tiny home is in Burleigh County, which has loosened its ordinances to allow tiny homeowners. However, tiny houses built here are not considered as ADUs but are more leaning towards housing for the elderly family members. 

Burleigh County also has a minimum square footage requirement of 965 sq. ft., which is too big to be considered as a “tiny home.” They also require THOWs to be placed on a foundation. Additionally, micro houses need to have access to water, electricity, sewer, and gas.

tiny house laws

35. Ohio

Ohio’s housing crisis has forced many people to live in tiny homes under the government’s radar. Many neighborhoods and communities have yet to set minimum square footage and other regulations about micro-housing options.

However, they are mostly allowed as ADUs and must have a minimum square footage of 950 square feet or less. In cities like Cleveland and some other counties, you can file for “variance” for the local government to grant you a special permit to build your tiny home. 

In this case, you need to go to the City Hall or zoning office and submit your case. There are a few instances that the local government will allow you to build a tiny home, such as using it for housing an elderly member of the family. 

36. Oklahoma

Oklahoma has also faced a housing crisis in the past decade or so. Because of this, the state has become more welcoming about the idea of tiny houses. However, regulations are not yet in place for micro-housing options. 

Currently, there are small tiny house communities in northwest Oklahoma City and in the Wheeler District where you can build your unit. However, you have a better chance of complying with zoning requirements if you build them outside the cities.

Furthermore, the state is more lenient with stationary tiny houses built over a foundation than THOWs. The state treats tiny mobile homes as RVs and is regulated as such. 

37. Oregon

Tiny houses are quite popular in Oregon and for a good reason. The state’s outdoor scenery is quite exceptional, and tiny homes that sit near these natural sceneries are perfect for accommodating tourists. 

The city of Portland allows tiny houses built on a foundation provided they meet the city’s building codes. Meanwhile, THOWs and RVs can be hosted in a residential property for a limited amount of time. 

Oregon is also home to the famous Tiny House Hotel, which lets you experience what it’s like to live in a downsized dwelling. They also allow THOWs to be parked in RV parks and campgrounds. However, mobile tiny homes need to be registered with the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) before you can drive them around. 

However, some places in Oregon are not yet clear about their stance on tiny houses. As such, it’s best to check with local zoning authorities if it’s allowed in their area or not. 

38. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is generally a tiny house friendly state. It is home to Elizabethtown, which claims to have the biggest tiny house community in the country. Many of Pennsylvania’s rural areas also allow tiny houses to be built on private lands. 

Even some of the state’s largest cities are also getting into the action. Philadelphia, for example, has no minimum square footage for tiny homes. However, they require the structure to be compliant with the guidelines of IRC 2009.

Under this building code, a tiny house must be at least 120 square feet or bigger. Habitable rooms in the structure must also be at least 70 square feet, with the exception of the kitchen. Furthermore, rooms should be 7 feet or longer in any direction except for the food prep room or kitchen. 

Overall, the state is an exceptional place to build your tiny home, given their lax regulations. Before building a tiny home, though, make sure to check with the local municipality for specific details they have on tiny houses. 

tiny home regulations
PHOTO by Doug Kerr via Flickr

39. Rhode Island

The smallest state of the US is not yet sold with the idea of tiny houses. In most places, tiny houses are more likely to be referred to as sheds, where gardening tools are kept. 

In most areas, such as the city of Providence, tiny houses have not yet been acknowledged by their local ordinance. However, the state recently allows tiny houses to be used as ADUs for single-family homes where there is a senior relative aged 62 and above. 

40. South Carolina

South Carolina is among the states that currently experience rising real estate costs. As such, some counties are now leaning towards allowing tiny houses as an alternative to the more expensive traditional housing options. 

Places like Greenville County and Rock Hill allows tiny houses on a foundation provided they meet minimum square footage. For Greenville, that’s 400 square feet or larger, and for Rock Hill, it’s 850 square feet or bigger. 

However, building codes and regulations still vary in different places in South Carolina. On the flip side, many counties are beginning to consider the merits of small dwelling units. 

41. South Dakota

In the past decade or so, South Dakota has made significant changes in how they regulate tiny houses. Several places have stepped up and created a concrete framework on how to control small homes, especially the towns of Beresford and Spearfish. It’s expected that other towns and cities in the state will follow in their footsteps. 

In Spearfish, a tiny stationary house built over a foundation is required to comply with the local building code. Additionally, they must also obtain permits to construct residential zoning districts in the town. THOWs can also be parked on any commercial campground in the area. 

Meanwhile, Beresford requires tiny houses to be no less than 8.5 feet wide and 20 feet long. The minimum floor area is set at 187 square feet and only requires an additional 50 square feet per occupant. Additionally, THOWs must be set on a foundation; its trailer must be licensed and must be secured to withstand severe weather when parked. 

Overall, it’s one of the best places to establish a tiny home community, given its “considerate” nature to micro houses. 

42. Tennessee

Tennessee is quite divided with regard to the tiny house movement. Several counties and cities allow them provided they comply with building codes and regulations. However, some municipalities ban them altogether. 

If you are planning to build your tiny house in this state, you may want to consider the following places:

Warren County- authorizes tiny dwellings as long as they are at least 138 square feet. 

Dandridge- created their guidelines for building tiny houses. However, they only allow those built over permanent foundations and needs to be between 100 and 300 square feet. 

Knoxville- still follows the 2012 IRC when it comes to tiny houses. As such, the dwelling must have at least 120 square feet for single person residency and 320 square feet for two-person occupants. The town also only allows up to three people to live in tiny houses at a time. 

Meanwhile, towns like Etowah have made it harder to build tiny houses because of a recently amended ordinance. To create a tiny house in Residential 2 and 3 zones, it needs to be 600 square feet or larger, which is way big for your typical micro house. 

43. Texas

The Lone Star State is one of the most welcoming places for the tiny house movement. Texas widely accepts and regulates micro-housing options– both on the foundation and wheels. Additionally, there are several small home builders in the area where you can get your unit for a reasonable price. 

While there is yet a statewide definition and guidelines, several towns and cities have favorable regulations to tiny houses. Some of these places include:

  • Spur – which prides itself as the “first tiny house friendly town” in the US, does not have any minimum square footage requirement for tiny homes. Additionally, they allow THOWs on private property provided that its wheels are removed. 
  • Breckenridge- allows tiny houses built on a foundation as long as they are at least 320 square feet.
  • Austin- the city, allows tiny stationary houses of any size. Meanwhile, they treat THOWs and RVs and regulate them as such. 
  • Fort Worth- allow tiny houses as ADUs provided they are less than 400 square feet big. However, you need to apply for their Town Hall manually. 

Overall, the state of Texas has one of the best policies when it comes to tiny houses. While there are some restrictions in some places, building a tiny home is generally legal. 

small home regulations per state
PHOTO by Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr

44. Utah

Utah is one of the most visited tourist destinations, especially during the winter months. Tiny houses are viable optional housing for tourists who are into outdoor activities. The state is also home to some of the best tiny home builders that supply the mountain states. 

Building codes and regulations about tiny homes vary from one town, city, or county to another. Below are some of the best places to build your tiny home:

Eagle Mountain City- allows tiny houses on the foundation to be built in residential areas. However, THOWs need to be in a base and are restricted in Tier I residential zones. 

Salt Lake City- authorizes tiny houses to be used as ADUs provided that they are at least 650 square feet large or has a half square footage of the main structure (whichever is greater).

Washington County- stationary houses in residential areas require them to be connected to basic utilities like water and power. The structure must also be at least 300 square feet big. Meanwhile, THOWs are considered as park model RVs.

Overall, Utah is one of the best places to own a tiny home because of its more lenient treatment of micro-housing options. 

45. Vermont

The Green Mountain State is relatively lenient when it comes to tiny houses, especially on THOWs. However, many of its major cities are quite strict when it comes to constructing tiny homes in metropolitan residences.

On the positive note, there are a few places where you can register your tiny home as an ADU such as Burlington. The city does not have minimum square footage for ADUs. In the town of Williston, however, tiny homes are restricted to a maximum of 1,500 square feet. 

46. Virginia

The tiny house movement has been on the rise in Virginia for the past few years. However, while many of its significant cities allow micro-housing, the state has tighter regulations compared to everywhere else. 

Fortunately, there are a few places which are more lenient than others. Virginia Beach, for example, treats tiny houses as residential space provided that they meet Virginia’s building code. Staunton County is also another place that allows tiny homes as long as they are at least 200 square feet large. 

47. Washington

In recent years, tiny houses have become more popular in the state of Washington. The majority of the cities in the state allow tiny homes to be used as ADUs. However, building a THOWs is more challenging because of the many restrictions, especially where you can park it legally. 

Below are some of the best places where you can establish your tiny dwelling:

Seattle- generally allows tiny houses built on a foundation when you register them as ADUs. However, the city doesn’t allow THOWs in residential communities. 

King County- also allows tiny stationary houses in their area. However, they only have a few places where you can legally park your THOWs.

Woodland- permits people to build their tiny homes provided they are used as ADUs. Additionally, they need to be 300 to 800 square feet big. 

Ultimately, if you want to live in a tiny home– you’ll find more success on a unit built over a foundation than its wheeled counterpart. 

small houses rules per jurisdiction
PHOTO by Diana Robinson via Flickr

48. West Virginia

The tiny house movement hasn’t gotten any significant traction in the state of West Virginia. However, there is a lot of potential in micro-housing, especially as a temporary shelter for disaster-stricken residence. 

The majority of West Virginia has yet to adjust the building codes and housing regulations to accommodate tiny homes. One of the few exceptions includes the town of Charles in Jefferson County. The township restricts tiny houses registered as ADUs at a maximum size of 1,700 square feet. 

49. Wisconsin

The Badger State classifies stationary tiny houses as ADUs, while tiny houses are still left without any definition. With that said, Wisconsin is not the best place to build a tiny home because of the many restrictions in place.

However, there are a few places that welcome the idea of micro-housing. Madison, for example, is considered as “portable shelters” and should be no more than 150 square feet. On the other hand, Dane County allows them as long as they are registered as ADUs with a floor area that is no larger than 800 square feet. 

50. Wyoming

Wyoming has stunning mountain views and tons of outdoor activities to offer. For this reason, tiny houses have become quite popular as an alternative dwelling near-natural destinations in the state. Consequently, several cities and townships have also made specific definitions and regulations about tiny houses.

In the town of Cody, which is located near the Yellowstone National Park, tiny homes on wheels are considered as RVs. As such, they should follow all restrictions and requirements, and not that of an ADU. 

Meanwhile, the town of Casper classify THOWs as trailer homes and are only allowed to park with R-6 zoning. On the other hand, tiny stationary houses are allowed on private lands provided they are larger than 120 square feet. Additionally, the unit’s living room and bedroom should at least be 220 square feet combined. 

Wyoming is also using tiny houses as rental properties to help boost its tourism. Tiny homes built on a foundation are also defined as “efficiency dwelling units. 

Conclusion

If you have made it to this point, congratulations! 

As you can see, some states have more complicated laws and regulations on tiny homes than other places in the country. Ultimately, if you want to build a tiny home in a particular area, make sure you first check with the city council or zoning law officer, if your plan is plausible or not. 

Related Questions

Do tiny homes need permits?

In most states, you need to obtain building permits before you can construct a tiny home. Doing so will ensure that the structure is built based on existing building codes and zoning laws of the town or county. 

If you make or buy a THOWs, you may also need to apply for a special driving permit, especially if you intend to drive it on major highways or roads.

Do tiny house owners pay real estate taxes?

If you build your tiny house on a foundation and it sits on private or residential property, you are likely required to pay taxes. However, some places impose tax breaks on residents who live in tiny homes. Meanwhile, if you live in a THOWs, you are less likely to be required to pay real estate tax.