If you are a fan of tiny houses and pondering living in one yourself, your next question will likely be where to build a tiny house. You're smart to wonder, because you can't just plunk it down anywhere, even if you own the land and there's more than enough space. The reason: A slew of building and zoning restrictions dictate where these diminutive dwellings can sit.
So, for starters, it's best for tiny-home enthusiasts to be flexible on where they live.
"For better or for worse, the best place to build a tiny home may not be up to the individual that wants to do so, but rather city and government ordinances," says Than Merrill, CEO and founder of the real estate educational and investment company Fortune Builders.
Curious which areas of the U.S. will support your tiny-house dreams? Check these guidelines below to find out.
How small is too small?
Where you can build a tiny house will depend on how "tiny" you're talking about. The federal building code, aka the International Residential Code, mandates just how small a home can be anywhere in the U.S. Currently, the minimum size is 120 square feet. That said, in 2018, the minimum size will shrink to 88 square feet (70 for a habitable room, plus an additional 18 for a separate bathroom).
But note that those are just the federal codes that states, cities, and towns use as guidelines for their own local laws, which can vary wildly. In Oregon, for instance, the minimum size of a tiny house is 70 square feet. Yet in Wilmington, NC, you'll need 150 square feet for the first occupant and 100 more for each additional resident.
Where's the best place to build a tiny house?
Meanwhile other areas like Spur, TX; Sarasota County, FL; Union Mills, NC; Newfield, NY; and Philadelphia have no size restrictions for tiny houses as long as they meet building codes. In other words, they must have things like a minimum ceiling height; bathroom, bathtub, or shower; and two means of egress in case of a fire.
To find out more info for a particular area, check the national state and local regulations compiled by the American Tiny House Association.
The rules for tiny houses on wheels
If the tiny house of your dreams is on wheels, you're in luck: The laws for these dwellings more lenient than they are for houses that are attached to a foundation. These dwellings can join existing tiny communities from Lemon Grove Village, CA, to Green Bridge Farm, GA, where you can buy a lot for $30,000.
Tiny House Community's map lists parking spots for rent by the month (like in Pipestem, WV) or year (like in Cordesville, SC).
Another option is to have your tiny house certified as an RV so you can live in various campgrounds. The catch is that some local codes prohibit RV owners from living in the vehicles permanently, so before you go this route, check local restrictions.
The rules for accessory dwelling units
If you're interested in adding a tiny house to land that already has a larger house on it, then we're talking about something entirely different: an accessory dwelling unit. Many people consider building these types of tiny houses for elderly relatives so it's easy to keep an eye on them.
The good news: The laws are generally lenient on where ADUs can be built. In Sonoma County, CA, regulations regarding "caregiver dwellings" allow ADUs on a property if the owner needs medical assistance.