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Posts Tagged zoning

Tiny House Building Codes

It’s been a while since I did a post about how tiny houses deal with building codes, so today I wanted to share the top 5 myths about building codes, zoning and tiny houses.

Building Code Myths(1)

Myth 1:  I don’t need a permit if it’s under ___ sq/ft.

This is true, typically if you are building something under a certain square footage than you don’t need a permit.  The catch is there is an exception to this is and it’s when you want to dwell/live in it.  The second you place any personal property in that house, it is classified as “dwelwing” and it doesn’t matter if its 10,000 square feet or 10 square feet, you need a permit.

Myth 2: It’s an RV, Mobile Home, Camper.

Again this true… If your home is being built by a certified RV or Mobile Home manufacturer; also important to note, to become a manufacturer it will cost you several thousand dollars, an LLC and an inspection process to ensure you meet all 500+ requirements.  So you can’t just build an tiny and and say “look!  it’s a RV or Mobile Home.”  To top it off once you do become classified as such, you often can only reside in certain zoning areas, which are fast disappearing.   There is an exception to this: if your state has a “home built RV” class, but these are few and far between and more and more campgrounds and trailer parks refuse entry on them.

Myth 3: I can just say I’m “camping”

Somewhat true.  Typically municipalities have limits of how long you can camp.  This is is often 2 days to 30 days in one spot or on one parcel of land.  In the city I live in, you are legally not allowed to camp at all unless FEMA has declared a state of emergency.   In some cases you can “camp” if you move every few days, but the city could also say “you’re not camping, you’re dwelling” and then its curtains.

Myth 4: They can’t stop me!  I’ll do what I want.

In some places you’re right.  It’s often the case that its not that they can’t stop you, but they won’t unless it becomes a big public issue.  In most places they can stop you.  They will come in and condemn you tiny house, which means if you enter it, they’ll arrest you for being in your own home!  They can also fine you, run a bulldozer through your house to destroy it, or deny you utilities like they did to me (read about it here).  All of which they legally can do, have done and you have no recourse for.

Myth 5: It’s on wheels codes/zoning don’t apply.

This is a big myth perpetrated by those who want to make a quick buck of tiny house people.  It is true that having a tiny house on wheels will help things generally because it confuses the bureaucrats, you can move it so easily, etc.  But the truth is that the second you dwell in it, all bets are off and the city can do what they want.

So what can I do?!?

There are two approaches to this:  1) you can beat them at their own game and know how to leverage the codes 2) you can fly under the radar.  Each of these have their pros and cons.  To get a better understanding of these things I have an ebook of how you can work within the system to gain legal status with your tiny house.  I show you the key barriers for tiny house folks, offer possible solutions and give you strategies to beat the system.  I also show you how to fly under the radar, how to live in your tiny house without getting caught.  Both are covered in Cracking The Code: A guide to building codes and zoning for tiny houses.

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Cracking The Code – Updated!

Cracking The Code - A guide to building codes and zoning for Tiny Houses_Page_001Many of you have checked out our ebook Cracking The Code – A guide to building codes and zoning for tiny houses; well today I have some good news!  We have updated the ebook and added 14 more pages of core content to the ebook with our Toolkit!

Here’s the kicker!  If you bought the old version, I just sent you the updated version for FREE!  So those of you who supported The Tiny Life, thanks so much, we hope you’ll enjoy the free update.

The Toolkit comes out of some great feedback we got from the first version, where I presented what I came up with as the single best approach to tiny houses and building codes.  What we have learned since then is that people were able to take what we taught them and then started coming up with some creative ways to make tiny houses legal in their own towns.  So I took those approaches and created this Toolkit which teaches you 10 additional ways to make a tiny house legal!

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Get your copy today!

Get Cracking The Code Here

If you have bought the ebook already and are having any issues with it, use the “Contact” tab and let us know, we’ll help you out!

Reporting Tiny Houses To The City…. There’s App For That

Today I was researching codes and zoning when I discovered Charlotte now has an app for reporting public nuisances.  You can snap a photo, mark the location on a map, then send it the complaint anonymously.  You can see it at    http://charmeck.org/Pages/MobileApp.aspx

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For those of you who don’t know, I blog to you from Charlotte, NC; A decent sized city in the south with around 2 million people.  It’s a great place, it has a lot to do, not a lot of traffic, good jobs, and while ranked 17th largest city in the US, I can still find a multi-acre lots here.

Well Charlotte is also a very difficult place to be a tiny house person, with the city growing by 40,000 people every year, our code enforcement and zoning are very busy, leaving little time to entertain the idea of a variance for tiny houses.  Between strict codes that are difficult to get variances on and a most of Charlotte’s housing under HOA’s, its a tough place for tiny houses.

So I thought I’d share this new innovation that cities are taking up.

If you want to know more about how codes affect you, check out our ebook: cracking the code!  here

 

Your Turn!

  • What do you think of this app?
  • Have you talked with your local code enforcement about tiny houses?

Our Wheels Stay Put…For Now

Last post I was pretty much freaking out about having to go and talk to town officials about parking our house on our friend’s farm but I’m sure glad I did! It ended up being a fairly straightforward process, however (there always seems to be a however with tiny houses) we only have a permit for a year. As long as it’s on wheels it’s considered a temporary structure and can only be lived in for 365 days. After that, I’m not sure what we do.

P1000545They didn’t say it was renewable so do we keep it on wheels or try and set it on a foundation? I feel like taking it off the trailer will be quite a hassle with zoning and code but trying to explain to people that you LIVE in this, that’s it’s NOT a camper and is your home is pretty much beyond people’s expectation. Some children I care for down the street actually passed by and asked if it was a new playhouse for the children of our friend! This is totally fine with us. We figure the less serious people take our living situation the better off we are.
It’s pretty amazing to me though the amount of attention such a small square footage receives. We have had strangers stop their cars, get out and ask to take pictures. Folks are asking if we build them and how much they cost. There is definitely an opportunity here to gain community support. Who knows? Perhaps even change the zoning laws! I’m definitely debating how I begin to advocate on the town administrative level so that tiny housing can be considered a legally viable living alternative to the statue quo.

We plan to live in this area for at least the next ten years, who knows-maybe the rest of our lives, so I feel like it’s well worth the effort to begin changing the laws. It’ll probably take me ten years to accomplish so I might as well get stared!
The fact that we landed on a farm whose owner is open and supportive of our lifestyle was huge. For changes to happen I feel we need support from property owners like her who have a solid place in their community and can say, “We had a tiny house on our land and it was a positive experience!” Not to mention that the situation often benefits the land owner who either receives work trade, rent or some other barter situation from tiny housers.

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In my mind it’s a way to create a more locally minded economy rather than paying a bank for a mortgage we can’t afford. Cedric and I were looking at properties a couple months ago but in Vermont either you find raw land, which isn’t cheap and needs a lot of money put in to make it livable, you find a camp, which is usually only livable in Spring, Summer and Fall or you get huge houses with a price tag far beyond what we can consider.

It’s not an easy situation for the tiny house dweller but right now I’m extremely grateful to have a place to rest our weary wheels for the next year. Winter in a tiny house is a whole new issue for us and we realize we need to start getting ready now for those cold, blustery months. With all the challenges we’ve faced, I still look forward everyday to climbing into our snug little home and enjoying the knowing that it is ours, and ours alone.

Your Turn!

  • Any advice on how to get started advocating change in zoning laws?
  • Have you received community support in your city/town living in a tiny house?
  • What are most folks reactions to your tiny house?

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Cracking The Code: Tiny Houses And Building Codes

So many of you have heard about my ebook that I have been working on, I have been putting it together over the past few months and it is finally here!  You can check it out here

tiny house building codes

This guide is designed to help you navigate all the red tape when it comes to tiny housing. I have designed this manual to help you quickly familiarize yourself with some of the key bureaucratic road blocks, suggest possible pathways to building your home from the legal perspective, and several strategies to make it a success.  If you are hoping to build a tiny house, this is information that you will need.  For those who purchases this they will also get and additional 180 pages of reference materials and free updates on future versions!

This ebook came out of me trying to figure all this stuff out, after hours of working with local code enforcement, zoning, builders, trades people and tons of research we have this book.   This guide also helps you navigate getting all your utilities setup, which is more complex that many think.  The real strength of this is that I have actually been there and done this, so I grappled with the real world issues of tiny houses for you and shared them here to make living in a tiny house a success.

For anyone wanting to build and live in a tiny house, in the city or the country, this is a must read.

  Check it out here

 

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