Tiny Homes Face Building Code Challenges at Every Turn

All over the United States, would-be tiny house owners struggle to get building code officials to think differently.

As reported by the Chewelah Independent:

With the popularity of the “tiny home” movement growing throughout the United States as a way to address overpriced housing or housing shortages, determining how to legally build and situate a home under 400 square feet can be a considerable challenge. The tiny home movement is often promoted as a way to escape the 30-year mortgage, build your own home and live simply by spending $10,000 or less.

However, tiny homes, either built on a foundation or more popularly on a flat-bed trailer, fall into the unique position of neither being considered a regular home nor a manufactured home by most city and county building department officials. For local governments in Stevens County, the trailer-based tiny homes would be considered an RV, which is not permitted for permanent habitation.

“Any building larger than 200 square feet requires a building permit and must comply with the international building code (ICC),” said Chewelah City Planner Mike Frizzell. “I would not issue that permit for a trailer based unit without council and planning review. Until decisions were made by planning and council, a trailer mounted unit would be treated the same as a motorhome or RV which have limitations within our code and cannot be used as a permanent dwelling. A non-trailer mounted unit would fall under the same building code requirements as any other residential structure and a permit would not be issued unless it met all of those requirements.”

For those who opt to build a tiny home on a standard foundation or a trailer, some of the regulatory hurdles can come in meeting the requirements of the International Residential Code. Most cities and counties defer to the code that sets minimum sizes for rooms (no less than 120 square feet for the main room and other rooms no less than 70 square feet), ceiling height (not less than 7 feet) and other standards.

Siting a tiny home within a municipality can also run into zoning issues, and if the tiny home is on a trailer it would be considered by most officials to be an RV and not for full time occupation.”

Read the Full Article from the Chewelah Independent, which includes how officials in that area are trying to work with tiny home owners to accommodate their environmentally smart homes.

Photo by ▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓