At one time, buying a huge house with a white picket fence was the ultimate dream. While many Americans still have that dream, more people are going in the opposite direction. 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 house that is very tiny. We’re not talking about a one bedroom home that’s 1,000 square feet, either. 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. Others are stationary. Throughout the nation, there are tiny house communities. In other areas, some tiny house owners 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 that people are comfortably living in tiny houses.
Because these are dwellings, in most areas in the U.S., building and zoning laws apply. These laws vary by state, county, and even city. Many areas do not even have tiny house laws yet since this is a relatively new idea, but laws may be implemented in the near future as popularity grows. In all states, though, the proper building permits must be acquired and builders have to follow all zoning regulations.
Some states have outlined specific laws for tiny houses. The state of Michigan has seen an increase in pop-up communities with efficient dwellings that have been helpful in cities such as Detroit. Based on Michigan’s law, tiny houses can be built provided they follow codes and are not less than 500 square feet.
In the state of Nevada, most areas will issue a building permit provided the tiny house has at least 200 square feet of living space.
To get a building permit in the state of North Carolina, the tiny home must be at least 150 square feet. However, for every additional occupant, 100 square feet must be added. This means that a couple must build a structure of 250 square feet, while a family of four is required to build a tiny home of at least 450 square feet.
Laws are similar in South Dakota. A building permit can be obtained for a dwelling of at least 190 square feet, but 50 square feet must be added for each additional occupant.
In Maine, you can build a tiny home provided that the home is less than 400 square feet and there are proper sleeping arrangements for all occupants.
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.