Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Steps Towards A Tiny House Community

In my view Tiny Houses are the answer to many of our larger systemic issues that exist today; The inaccessibility to housing, toxic mortgages, materialism, abuse of the environment and lack of community.  When I think about these issues it occurs to me that many of these issues have stemmed out of one thing, the lack of responsibility to our fellow man or woman.  But who can blame us, we live in these large houses where we don’t even know our neighbor, where politicians live in an alternate reality of millionaires and closed door deals, where cities drown their citizens in bureaucratic red tape. 

So what can be done?  We need a Tiny House strong hold, a place to make a home, to demonstrate our viability, to make our statement or….. just simply live.  It can get frustrating at how complicated the process is to live simply is, that’s some irony right there!  I am emailed almost daily by individuals wanting to live more responsibly, to connect with those around them and to do so legally.  While there is hope in more progressive locations like the west coast, many places find themselves locked in building codes that won’t budge.  Here on the east coast, we find ourselves having to sneak around, hide our Tiny Houses, it’s quite difficult.

The trick is to have one viable Tiny House Community, a model that can be replicated.  With one model, we can show people what it looks like, how it functions.  We can show our municipality that from a legal standpoint, that there are models that exist that work.

It occurs to me as I write this, what if we were to write a set of building codes and zoning laws that pertained to Tiny Houses, that was licensed under creative commons and we designed to slip into existing codes of most cities.  These codes and laws would outline the construction, zoning, taxation, safety concerns, and issuance of permits for Tiny Houses.  It would be a template which, with some convincing, we could provide to our local code enforcement and lawmakers to show them how Tiny Houses could function within their framework and where they could issue permits, collect taxes, ensure safety, ensure public health etc.

I think where many people get stuck at is when approaching code enforcement, they are unable to articulate a solid plan to achieve both the goals of the municipality and the Tiny House person.  A set of codes would demonstrate the person is serious and establish talking points relevant to those who make the rules.

Dare I say, this just might be the first step on a journey to spark a revolution for Tiny House communities?

 

16 Comments
  1. The tiny house codes idea would work very well for those who really must live within city limits…but how long before the codes were expanded and tweaked until tiny house construction became as cost-restrictive as all other housing? Look at the cost of studio apartments in most large cities…they were intended to be a more affordable alternative for the financially strapped…I personally could not afford to rent a studio in my area. My 800sf house payments are less (even with taxes and insurance included) than a tiny studio apartment. A lot of “affordable” housing projects (government sponsored, etc.)are not affordable. Tiny house legislation would require better public education as to what more government regulation is doing to poor people (in the name of helping the poor). I am lucky enough to live in a state that does not have a nanny government. We can build on unrestricted property without government intervention, except where sanitation is involved (proper septic system to avoid contamination.) If we build for ourselves and not to sell, our house construction is our business. We are free to install solar or choose no electricity, etc. My husband and I are preparing to scale down in order to avoid having to live our senior years in the financial shambles our ever-expanding government will leave so many…I don’t want to trust my health care or financial security to “Big, humongous, bloated Brother.” I would not be considered politically…er…I mean…”medically” viable in our new, “improved” government-controlled so-called healthcare system. As part of our ministry, we are hoping to help disadvantaged folks into tiny home ownership and possible community development, but not in a location where a city council could destroy all our achievements with more laws and regulations…we have already way too much of that in our federal government…(despite the negative tone of my comments, I am hoping and praying for the return of a free America, unfettered by agencies created to by-pass legal process and unconstitutional legislation passed unconstitutionally in order to by-pass the will of the people)

  2. I hope a tiny home community will take into account and design for the needs of the disabled and elderly as well as the abled. The homes must be accessible, the streets and public buildings too.

  3. Hi Ryan, I’m in full support of what you wrote. I, too, would like to start a tiny house community. I believe that the first steps are to find a group of dedicated tiny house lovers who can agree on a location for the community and who have the funds to buy land. The blog on tinyhousecommunity dot com is a place to discuss ideas.

  4. You really don’t need to re-invent the wheel. What you are looking at are pretty much the same codes as a mobile home park. In fact, there are mobile home parks for sale. While it is usually too much money for most of us to purchase the park, I wonder if a group of people could purchase it and turn it into a cooperative of some sort.

    The real trick then, is to get a group of people who want a similar community and find the park in the location desired to accomplish the goal. I think once the community is formed, you can search for the park to buy.

    Otherwise, to keep it simple, you can just park the tiny house in a mobile home community. It may be a stretch to use a compost toilet, but all the other essentials are already in place.

  5. Many mobile home parks will not accept tiny houses because they don’t meet the National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. If we bought an established park, we would still need to work with local officials to get variances. RV parks are a closer fit but generally have rules allowing the RVs to reside for a maximum of six months.

    If we can find an enthusiastic group of tiny house fans, I think these challenges can be overcome, but it will take some effort and negotiation.

  6. “Many mobile home parks will not accept tiny houses because they don’t meet the National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards.”

    Is it possible to get these safety standards and meet them? I would think that we could use better materials and meet such standards. Some of the parks I have talked with are more lenient and are most anxious about the water, sewer, gas hook-ups being up-to-date.

    I’m planning for a rather large tiny home (park-model size -slightly less than 250 square feet). I feel comfortable that I can arrange for standard size doors and passages as well as 1 room with a minimum of 120 square feet. Do you know where the National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards can be accessed?

    There are several mobile home parks for sale in my area. I would like to buy one, but have too many student loans and am self-employed and thus may have difficulty in getting a mortgage. I think another one of the challenges might be existing mobile home owners, although I expect they might welcome changes that would benefit their well-being.

    • I know locally here in Charlotte, a mobile/trailer home is legally defined as a dwelling that must be at least 30 feet long. When talking with code enforcement, they didn’t want to allow it to be classified as a mobile/trailer home. Plus they said by not doing so was actually doing me a favor, because it would open up a can of legal worms, some of which neighbors could leverage legally to make it a violation to place a tiny house on most properties.

  7. I found the standards. Here is the link for anyone interested. I feel that from what I’m reading that they could be met, although one might desire to build a slightly larger tiny home to make it easier to meet. It still could easily be between 200-400 square feet.

  8. This is a fantastic idea. When I was looking for my land, I did exhaustive searches on land use, zoning and building codes and ordinaces. I’m pretty up on the California situation so when you’re ready to put the new “Small House Architectural Zoning And Municipal Ordinance Research Advisement Master Alliance”, aka S.H.A.Z.A.M.-O.-R.A.M.A., together, please give me a shout!
    I’m all in!!

  9. I still wonder if we can do this in ways in which to not recreate the wheel, but make the wheels that we have “better.” For instance, buy up mobile home parks and work with zoning to revise the codes.

    Also, I would love to help shift mobile home parks from simply being a money maker for an investor, to a “nice” eco-friendly place to live. For instance, in the parks I’m looking at, it’s all about how to get the most trailers on the piece of land. Instead, put some energy efficiency and community codes in place to ensure that all homes have access to south facing sunlight for passive solar energy and a safe place away from car exhaust for community gardening, etc.

    We need to start creating the ideal way of living to create a harmonious eco-friendly community rather than just a money making option for an investor. Investors could care less about saving the renters money on heat or providing them a healthy gardening option.

    Are there any community planners involved in energy-savings and community health out there? I’ve got the community health background, but need some financial grants to make the model work.

  10. Ryan,
    In my view the best land you can buy is located in an area with no zoning, no building codes, and no inspectors. In this way you have the greatest freedom possible in this country. You can build a tiny house or whole community of tiny houses with no problem.

    This, of course, will be more rural and even in rural areas is becoming more and more rare. I realize that some people want to live in more developed areas and still want to minimize or eliminate the mortage by building a tiny house. For that reason, I think your ideas about codes are excellent. As another commentor already stated, there is a danger of those codes becoming more restrictive and driving prices up. This is just the reality of government, but you have to start somewhere.
    Tony

  11. I live in Ithaca N.Y. There are Yurts, Straw Bale, Cobb homes all over the place. There are several intentional – co-housing – sustainable – experimental group living communities within several miles. There is a lot of local support for simple living and local food. There are several re-use material stores. There is a huge amazing local Food Coop. named Greenstar, and the huge Farmers market has been voted one of the best in the U.S.A., and it is now year round. Ithaca is the place. If you want a tour, contact me. firstfrostphoto@gmail.com

  12. I am looking for a tiny home community on the west coast or AK s. Of ANC. If there is any news of one, please contact seventhgeneration09@gmail.com

  13. I love the OpenSource solution. I think this will offer more broad-reaching changes because of the issue of people being interested in creating small communities for mobile living. Also the notion of not reinventing the wheel is appealing, perhaps blend the model of state parks with that of a trailer home, and then throw in a market and public gardens. The idea of having a depot for recycling materials is also awesome.

    Has anyone started a forum for like-minded folks to meet and create local groups? My family has been searching but we haven’t found it yet.

    One last thing, has anyone talked to any developers about this? They have the teams in place to handle all the legal stuff and I imagine they might find it interesting to be able to skip the whole process of building structures as soon as they finish the utilities. They like making easy money and collecting rent, right?

  14. Very interested in the discussion on where to park the structure.

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