regardless of the cultivation enthusiasm for tiny houses, the still isn’t easy to legally construct them for full-time use. Zoning laws and building codes, by and also large, call for a minimum square footage for new-construction homes, and also progress to mitigate that square footage is slow.

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"There are only a handful of cities throughout the country that directly address tiny houses," says Alexis Stephens, the national coordinator for the Tiny residence Association and the producer the Tiny residence Expedition. Stephens is do a three-part documentary around living legally in a tiny home after she uncovered that "there’s a the majority of interest , however people are perplexed by the zoning codes and also regulations, and feel intimidated to walk to the city government."


Cities and towns that have actually started to accommodate tiny homes have commonly been moved by grassroots organizers asking government officials for changes to regional building and also zoning codes. The an outcome is the tiny residence ordinances are "so suturing specific," as Stephens says, to the city or city they’re authorized in.

In the vein, below you will discover a break down of the states across America where it’s actually feasible to develop the tiny house of her dreams and what you should know prior to you perform it. If girlfriend don’t watch your state on the list, the American Tiny house Association rounded up regulations for countless states, as well as contact information for state thing leaders. And there’s always the option to petition your very own city for tiny house-friendly zoning changes.

Types of tiny homes

There room two varieties of tiny homes: a tiny home on wheels, legally considered a recreational car (RV), and a tiny residence on a foundation, legally considered an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU. If you’re building a tiny home on wheels, you’ll need to register it as an RV through your state; in most states, a self-built RV will be inspected before it it s okay a license plate. Building an accessory populated unit, however, is an ext complicated.

So where have the right to I live?

If did you do it registered her tiny home on wheels as an RV and plan to travel v it, friend aren’t taking care of zoning or structure code concerns—you simply need to discover a ar to park it. You can stay in a friend’s backyard or park on their driveway (with permission, of course), or pay to continue to be at a camping or RV site. The latter will dictate how long you’re permitted to continue to be there. Many states prohibit RVs as full time residences in zones other than RV parks—but the ascendancy is yes, really only enforced if your tiny house on wheel is reported or complained about.

Building a tiny residence on a structure is trickier. Zoning and building regulations across the nation prohibit friend from purchase land and building your own tiny residence on it. Instead, you’ll have to develop an accessory dwelling unit, which method a secondary residential apartment unit located on a single-family lot. (These units can be described as a carriage house, granny flat, mother-in-law suite, assistant unit, English basement, or cottage; ADU is the technical term.)

A repertoire of ADUs built roughly one bigger structure is known as a tiny house community. Both ADUs and also tiny house neighborhoods are only allowed in specific states, i m sorry we’re around to obtain to.

Building codes versus zoning

It’s necessary to know the difference in between building codes and zoning—both of which dictate and limit the building and construction of small homes. "Construction codes tell you how to construct your house," explains Andrew Morrison, of Tiny residence Build. "Zoning depends on where you’ll build your house."

Most the the country’s local structure codes have been adopted from the global Residential password (IRC) for one- and also two-family dwellings, which has size specifications choose rooms (except bathrooms and also kitchens) have to be at the very least 70 square feet, while ceiling elevation must be at the very least 7 feet.

Zoning regulations room based off more local factors, and also determine the size demands of her home based upon what zone it’s located in. You will need to contact your regional zoning or planning department to discover that info. Countless cities and counties, however, have a minimum size need of 1,000 square feet or more for building and construction of a new home top top its very own land, according to Tiny home Community.

States with flexible structure codes or zoning regulations

Even though the IRC and also local zoning regulations room in place, a citizen can still use for a variance with the neighborhood planning the supervisory board to develop outside the present codes. The states noted below have most progressive building codes, or castle are home to the most amazing tiny home projects.


California is just one of the ideal states because that being a tiny-house enthusiast. In the counties the Alameda, Contra Costa, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Sacramento, and Sonoma, tiny houses on wheel are allowed as "caregiver dwellings" in the backyard the a human who needs assistance. Simply this year, Fresno city zoning authorized tiny dwellings on wheels together backyard cottages without the necessity for the tiny house dweller to serve as a caregiver. This created a "ripple effect," as Stephens put it, v the plan commission in the town of Ojai at this time drafting amendments because that the same kind of allowance.

Los Angeles has proven to be less progressive. Previously this year, the city agreed to return tiny houses that were built for homeless people and seized by the police. But the mayor claimed he didn’t support the concept of a tiny house village.


There are a couple of towns in Colorado that have actually been open up to tiny house amendments. In 2013, Walsenburg came to be the an initial town in the state to amend zoning regulations for tiny houses between 120 and 600 square feet. In the hill town the Durango, an ordinance to enable ADUs in the eastern Animas City neighborhood was approved in 2014.


Some of the most gradual tiny housing zoning ordinances in the nation were authorized in Rockledge, Florida, two years ago. A citizen-led plan led the city to think about two appropriate zoning districts for tiny houses: redevelopment combined use ar (RMU) and planned unit development (PUD). The city also added definitions to differentiate tiny houses and tiny dwellings on wheels.

Today, both tiny residences on wheel and structure are legal within the city boundaries within 2 zoning districts the include neighborhood use. The Rockledge tiny House ar will it is in a Pocket neighborhood with dwellings ranging 150 come 700 square feet around shared park space.


This year, a Nantucket resident started pushing because that an amendment to the town’s zoning bylaws for residents to start building tiny. The state’s attorney general office is currently expected to provide an amendment that would allow brand-new residential construction under 500 square feet in several districts. (Tiny houses would need to had water, septic and also electricity hookups and fitted to fixed foundations as result of hurricane concerns.) If approved, Nantucket will officially it is in the an initial Massachusetts ar to provide zoning the specifically permits for tiny houses.


A tiny house population designed to residence low-income citizens is now under building in Detroit. That is is the first project that its type in the city, and required a ar organization to job-related with the city ~ above the suitable zoning to build homes between 250 and also 400 square feet. The first phase of building and construction is intended to plunder this fall.

New York

Although not a tiny house, brand-new York City’s an initial micro apartment building opened to residents this year. In effect, the mayor’s office has actually relaxed zoning constraints so the developers can now encompass apartments under 400 square feet in brand-new development. While small cabins can be found throughout much more rural areas of the state, no towns have actually officially adopted more lax zoning rules to permit for tiny house construction. Tiny residences that have made news in brand-new York recently—three 160-square-foot modern "Getaway" cabins that deserve to be rented out—are top top wheels, meaning they would be registered together an RV.


Consider Portland the best major city because that tiny houses. The city permits for, and supports, the building and construction of accessory populated units. (Here’s a website on how to build an ADU in Portland.) The pin money has allowed for whatever from tiny residence communities—in i m sorry a arsenal of tiny residences surround a larger structure—to a tiny house hotel.


Two years earlier the city of Spur, Texas asserted itself the tiny house resources of America, v the local government voting to perform away with virtually all building restrictions. The town has because attracted tiny residence buildings, who have to submit your tiny house design for approval and also agree to affix to the electrical grid, water supply, and sewage system. Houses on wheel must also be put on concrete foundations as result of tornados.

Rules top top ADUs were recently relaxed in Austin, and also in fort Worth, the plan commission is flexible with ADUs so far as they satisfy the city rules. Dallas regulates the ADUs have the right to only be developed via a special exemption.

Texas additionally has what’s recognized as "unrestricted zoning ordinances," which Stephens explains as "more prefer the ‘wild west’... There room no, or really loose, zoning guidelines and you’re maybe to build as you check out fit."

As you can guess, this (lack of) zoning exists in greatly remote, rural locations throughout the country. The small house neighborhood Austin LiveWork is an exception, together it’s situated 15 minutes external of the city and is under no zoning governance. Builders are currently planning because that tiny resides living end 10 acre of land.

The future of small houses

There’s plenty of inert to continue transforming zoning regulations at the regional level. Yet there’s activity on the nationwide level, too. Tiny residence advocates are right now pushing to incorporate a tiny home code in the worldwide Residential password (IRC) that would come to be a design code for all tiny residences used together a major residence in ~ the united States.

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"Issues like ceiling heights, emergency escape egress and lofts are virtually impossible come pass through the currently IRC code," states Morrison, that is behind small House construct and additionally spearheading this proposal. Morrison considers tiny dwellings on wheels and also ADUs "great procedures forward," but, the says, "We require a national-level password ." If included, this brand-new code would be combined into latest IRC codes, set to get in motion in 2018.