On behalf of EcoCabins and the National Tiny House Jamboree, we have written this article to serve as an introduction to the complicated coding and zoning issues that surround legal placement for tiny houses. Throughout 2016 we received multiple questions from tiny house people confused about codes, zoning, and “certifications.” In this post we will attempt to answer as many of those questions as possible!
Now, let’s get started:
Please refer to the photo below. This is a MODULAR (IRC) build. Surprising right? It’s 16’ x 16’ with a loft, but yes, it’s a modular structure.
The photo we’ve shown is an example of an IRC (housing code) built home, even though it is also a tiny structure.
Virtually anything, like this cabin, or a smaller structure can be built to a HOUSING code. (Required to be put on a permanent foundation.) When local officials inspect a structure before issuing a certificate of occupancy they are inspecting it according to a certain code. (This is basically the local official’s way of deeming a structure, safe for occupancy.) IRC code is one code that a structure can be inspected to. It is a national code for housing safety. Houses that are built inside a regulated production facility can have a Certificate of Occupancy (“C.O.”) built in if the facility is pre-determined deemed to meet code. No house will be officially certified to meet any code until it is inspected by an official who is recognized by a governmental regulatory agency.
THE THING WITH TINIES:
The difficulty in building a tiny house that meets a safety code when inspected usually has to do with the fact that tiny houses aren’t typically built to rest on a permanent FOUNDATION. Strangely, the challenge usually has nothing to do with the build type, or the quality.
There ARE legal ways to “live” permanently in a tiny house, Code-built, or not. This = ZONING. Find a place that doesn’t care, or places that look the other way. These will mostly be rural areas. There are dozens of these options across the country. RV Parks are common, but not the only way. Think logically and creatively!
Unless there are changes in the EXISTING governmental regulatory codes, there are NO CERTIFICATIONS FOR tiny houses. A tiny house is either built to a CODE or it is not. Advice to our DIY friends and SMALL BUILDERS: work within the system as much as you can. Get letters from local inspectors saying that your house is built to a high standard, mimicking and closely following a housing code. This may have some sway with the municipality where you hope to place your tiny home.
WHY FOLLOW THIS ADVICE?
Our experience goes far beyond EcoCabins and the Tiny House Jamboree from mobile homes, to commercial projects, fix and flips, custom homes, land development, you name it. Close to a gazillion (yes that’s a number) dollars’ worth. We’ve been factory-built advocates for years before it was hip. We build tinies, park models, and modular homes all over the country. We’ve dealt with about every issue imaginable and we are here to help! Please reach out to us with any questions you may have. Viva la tiny!