At one time, buying a huge house with a white picket fence was the ultimate dream. While many Americans still have that dream, rising home prices drive people to explore different options. Instead of buying a huge, expensive home filled with lots of stuff, some people are downsizing, cleaning out their clutter, and living a simpler life in a tiny house.
A tiny house is exactly what it sounds like – a very small house. This doesn’t include a home like a one-bedroom home that’s 1,000 square feet. A residential structure under 500 square feet is considered a tiny home, although there isn’t a set definition, so some homes may be slightly larger.
There are many different types of tiny houses. Some have wheels so they can be moved from place to place, perfect for the traveling homeowner. Other tiny homes are stationary. Throughout the nation, there are tiny house communities. In some areas, tiny house owners choose to live completely off the grid.
The interiors of these homes are creatively designed to get the most out of such a small space. Built-in storage, no bathtubs in bathrooms, smaller kitchen appliances, and lofts that serve as bedrooms are just a few of the ways people comfortably live in tiny houses.
Because these are dwellings, building and zoning laws apply in most areas in the U.S.. These laws vary by state, county, and even city. Many areas do not even have tiny house laws since this is a relatively new idea, but laws may be implemented soon as popularity grows. The proper building permits must be acquired in all states, and builders must follow all zoning regulations.
Tiny homes are legal in most U.S. states. Some states have outlined specific laws for tiny houses. Again, these requirements and regulations vary state-to-state and even city to city within states as well. Some states are particularly good choices when looking to purchase and live in a tiny home.
California is one of the most tiny home-friendly states. Fresno was the first US city to label tiny houses on wheels as secondary living units. Most cities in California allow owners to build and occupy their tiny homes. Maine has quite lenient regulations across the state for tiny homes as well. Anything under 400 square feet is considered a tiny home in Maine.
The cities of Austin and Spur in Texas are also good choices for tiny home living. Austin allows tiny houses of any size to be built as long as the building has a foundation. Spur was the first American town to remove regulations about minimum size from tiny homes, making it an ideal location for your tiny home.
Tiny house communities are popular in Pima County, Arizona because tiny homes with a foundation are zoned the same as detached single-family houses. Washington also has less strict regulations as long as your tiny home is built on a foundation.
Many communities are also established in Florida because of their tiny living hotels and RV parks. Similarly, Oregon has also shown its commitment to being a location for tiny home living through its creation of the tiny house hotel. These six tiny houses built in a residential neighborhood illustrate the state’s acceptance and understanding of the desire for tiny home dwellings.
The only states that specifically make tiny homes illegal are Alaska, Iowa, Louisiana, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. Other states may have cities and counties that do not allow tiny homes as well.
While laws vary across the nation when it comes to tiny homes, this growing movement could push lawmakers to create more specific laws in the future.
Tiny House Legality
|Alabama||Legal||Places you CAN have a tiny house in Alabama: Your own property. Someone else's yard (with permission) An Alabama RV Park|
|Arkansas||Legal||Allows tiny homes in a residential area if they’re built from the ground up on the property with a foundation.|
|Delaware||Legal||Delaware requires owners of tiny houses on wheels to get titles within 30 days of buying them. Bigger tiny houses (8 feet or more in width, 40 feet or more in length and having more than 400 square feet) are considered mobile homes by the Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles|
|District of Columbia||Legal||Construction codes for the District of Columbia allow them, but only in specific neighborhoods, and only as accessory dwelling units|
|Massachusetts||Legal||a wheeled Tiny House is legally treated as a recreational vehicle (“RV”), mobile home, or trailer that must be registered with the state and used as such|
|Missouri||Legal||Special permits are not required for tiny houses on wSheels as long as the living area is less than 320 square feet|
|New Mexico||Legal||Tiny houses constructed on a chassis with permanent axle shall be considered recreational vehicles and shall meet codes for and be licensed as recreational vehicles so long as the axle remain in place|
|Ohio||Legal||Tiny houses aren't illegal in Ohio. However, the building laws do not necessarily make it easy to go tiny. They require a minimum of 950 square feet, which is not typical of tiny homes|
|Pennsylvania||Legal||Tiny homes will be allowed where residential accessory uses and structures are permitted, and the lot where tiny homes are built will need to be to scale.|
|South Dakota||Legal with Permit||In South Dakota, you must get a building permit for a tiny house of at least 190 square feet. For each new occupant, you must add 50 square feet. The tiny house must also meet the building code requirements and be located in permitted residential neighborhoods. SD has made tremendous progress in regulating tiny houses.|
|Utah||Legal||However, the lack of statewide rules makes living in a tiny home full-time in Utah a little more challenging. For instance, depending on where you live, you might have to pay a lot of money for a tiny house on wheels to be used permanently.|
|Vermont||Legal||However, tiny homes must meet local zoning regulations and building codes before they are allowed. Some counties also restrict the size of tiny homes that you can build. Generally, a tiny home should be no more than 1,000 square feet and properly anchored to the ground.|