Big Roadblock for Owners of Tiny Homes

October 9, 2017

Homeowners who have embraced the “tiny home” lifestyle are discovering that it’s not so easy to find a place to put their property. Many tiny houses—usually considered to be between 100 and 400 square feet—are built on trailers with wheels so they can be towed, but zoning regulations in many cities don’t allow for temporary structures such as RVs or other movable homes. These laws also frequently specify a minimum size for a home or lot size, and building codes for residential properties can be problematic for tiny houses built on foundations, The New York Times reports. 

Andrew Morrison, a professional builder, told the Times that he believes “upwards of 90 percent of tiny-house owners are living illegally when it comes to zoning. …  A very small minority live in RV parks, though they usually have a limit on how long you can stay. A friend or family’s backyard, or land in the country, is much more common.”

The tiny home movement has become popular over the last few years, and many municipalities are facing increased pressure to embrace smaller structures as legal residences. Advocates in some cities have made headway in changing ordinances governing accessory dwelling units and backyard cottages. For example, Fresno, Calif., and Nantucket, Mass., now permit tiny houses to share land with existing homes. “It’s a spirit of cooperation,” Morrison told Times. “It’s a simple way to bring in affordable housing that doesn’t cost the municipality anything.”

The tiny home movement won another victory recently when the International Code Council approved a model code for tiny houses to be included in its International Residential Code. The document is the most widely recognized residential building code in the U.S. “There’s a fear that people are going to end up living in shanty shacks,” says Morrison, who helped write the code guidelines. “We don’t want that either. We want people to be safe in their houses and in something they can afford.”

Source: “Where Can You Park a Tiny Home?” The New York Times (Oct. 6, 2017)