Solutions To The Top 5 Barriers Of The Tiny House Movement

About two weeks ago I wrote a post on the five barriers to living in a Tiny House and it sparked a lot of great discussion and got some coverage around the blog-o-sphere, but I promised to do a follow up post on what might be some possible solutions to those barriers.  So today I wanted to do just that.  This got really lengthy so I have split it in two parts, the next one will go up later this week.


Land is expensive no matter how you slice it, but there are a few things you can consider when looking for land.  If you are willing to live in very rural areas, you can pick up land at a better price, but you trade being close to things and having more employment opportunities.  Since many Tiny Houses are off the grid, you might consider purchasing land that has failed to pass the “perk test” which is way cheaper, but consider the implications down the road.

Many people have found success in parking their Tiny House behind other people’s houses or on a corner of their property in exchange for money or barter of services.  I have seen this particularly resonate with retirees as keeping up a lawn or things that need to be fixed around the house becomes too daunting psychically.  In this case you simply work out an agreement and officially you state that you sleep inside their house, you just happen to park a trailer in the back yard.  Most zoning (but not home owners associations) usually allow for a trailer to be parked out of view of the road as long as it has a market value over a few hundred bucks.  Tiny House Trailer

Next option is cooperative purchasing, co-housing, or intentional community models.  These are a huge topic in and of themselves, but in short, you find a group of like minded individuals that pool their money to purchase some land.

Mobile Home parks, RV parks and campgrounds are the next option, the two big caveats on this is that some places require that an RV or mobile home must be legally designated as such in order to be allowed into the park.  This can good and bad in some ways; you can operate in a box that municipalities know and understand, but also you might be limited by that box.  With Campgrounds you will have to be sure that they don’t have a limit on stays, many do.



Loans are a tricky one; banks inherently want to manage risk, which means they don’t want to step outside the box.  Some people have had luck with securing personal loans, but this option has had limited mileage.  The kicker is if you build a Tumbleweed style house yourself then you are often looking at what is normally 2-3 years worth of rent.

The solution I advocate for is to be self funded, aka save up and pay with cash.  This is not what many people want to hear, but philosophically I feel that it is very much in line with the Tiny House movement.  We have recognized that how our society currently conducts itself isn’t always the best approach.  Part of the philosophy of living in Tiny Houses is to reduce the things you have to remove the clutter and stress from your life.  Entering into a Tiny House without debt is essentially removing stress from your life so you can enjoy it more and focus on what is important.  A Tiny House is not inherently the solution, it is the process and change in living that brings it.  Taking Out Loans

Realizing that no matter how much I try to convince others that saving up is the solution, many will not heed my advice, there are other ways to get there.  Some people found a low APR credit card (all things relative) and used that to pay for the house, then treated the monthly credit card bills as their mortgage payment.

Some have been able to have family or friends loan them money and they work out a payment schedule.  Some even pay interest to them.  The downside to this is that it can put a strain on relationships and change the dynamic, so proceed with caution.



When it comes to laws you need to make a decision, are you going to abide by them or not and understand that there are very real consequences to both sides.  It is a tricky problem. Ask for help with tiny homes!

For those who want to be above board on everything, the best advice I can give you is hire a contractor/developer who is sympathetic to your cause.  What you are buying is their expertise and knowledge on how to navigate the codes and permitting process.  They know how to get variances, they speak code enforcement’s language and might even have relationships they can use.  When approach them, make sure that your homework is well done, you should have sample drawings, plans, photos, and copies of sample codes that other municipalities have used to deal with Tiny Houses.

For those who wish to do it under the radar, understand you are technically breaking the law, it could have criminal consequences.  I personally haven’t heard of people getting in trouble, but there is a potential and legally they have the right to pursue criminal charges.Get the loans for a tiny home

When it comes to skirting the law, there are some things you can do to mitigate the risks.  First off, be a good neighbor, this will go a long ways.  This is because most municipalities are complaint driven, meaning only when code enforcement gets a complaint, do they investigate.  The other thing to add to this is, don’t be obvious.  Have your house be out of sight of the public and keep a low profile.

Next powerful tool to have in the tool box is know the laws, codes and speak the language.  I can’t stress this enough, it take a lot of time and it is a frustrating process, but being legal savvy is very helpful.  For example, if you state your primary dwelling is, in fact, the normal sized house you park your Tiny House behind, this means that you do not live in the Tiny House and it is simply a trailer.   By knowing the system we can exploit it’s weaknesses in a legal manner, much as a shady lawyer would do to get his client off on a technicality.  Basically you want to legally show you live somewhere else, that no one lives in the trailered Tiny House, and that it is a trailer that is compliance with zoning.

TAnalyze why you want to go minimalhe last way to mitigate risks legally is know that many municipalities now use satellite and or aerial photos to do tax assessments.  Essentially they take photos at different times and compare to look for changes in your land.  If they find something has changed, they will often send someone out to check it out.  Usually this is a tax assessor or they just send a letter, but you can usually settle their fears when they see that it is on wheels and you can say that you are storing it here for a week, month, etc. in accordance with zoning laws; at that point pull out a copy of the code and they will generally leave you alone.    Again, knowing the legal speak can get you out of this.


The rest will be continued in part two in a few days.   UPDATE:  part two is here

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  1. Get a licensed manufacturer to produce tiny houses, or become a licensed manufacturer. With the RVIA designation, you can get loans, INSURANCE, admittance to RV parks, etc. Tiny houses are just park model rvs. What’s all the fuss?

    Change the laws where you live! Why does everyone emphasize sneaking around, “keeping a low profile,” pretending to live elsewhere etc., when the solution to untenable law, is to change the law! Organize a group of tiny house residents, family, friends, tiny house experts, etc. Draw up a petition, go door-to-door, stand outside wally world, go to city hall, etc. And CHANGE the LAW! In the process, you might get a glimpse of what actually is meant by living in a democracy. “They” are not out to make your life difficult, “They” are US!!! Participate in your communities decision-making process!!!

    • Can you explain the RVIA thing a little more? I’m planning on building a tiny house on a 24 or 30 foot trailer starting in the next few months and I don’t want to have to move it every week or so. I’m going to buy the land so that I can own it from the jump but it seems like it would be a waste of money if having the house isn’t legal. You’re right about getting the laws changed making more sense than basically living as an outlaw.

      • RVIA is the certification that makes it an actual “RV” on paper! I got an RV loan, RV insurance, and RV campground lined up for my RVIA certified tiny home..delivered SOON..on December 2016!!!! It’s legit and I’m so excited I paid a bit more for this to happen so fast!

        • Who is building yours

        • How did you go about getting certified? Is this possible if one were to build their own tiny house so long as they built to RV codes?

    • We don’t live in a democracy. The first rule to changing any law is knowing what kind of system you’re living in, and a democracy is not what the founding fathers established. No matter how much Obama and other talking head politicians try to get you to believe it. We live in a constitutional republic. BIG difference from a mob rules democracy.

    • I’m with you. Skirting the law, even legally, can be expensive and in the meantime, create hard feelings among neighbors and townsfolk. Changing the laws and ordinances requires a lot of like-minded people to get together and let your elected officials (they are hired by the people and work for the people) to change the laws. I’ve done this in a small city that banned ALL lawn-mowing before a certain hour because of a) noise and b) air pollution. I had a battery-operated lawn mower, and the existing law didn’t make any provision for new technology. A simple petition and going to town meetings forced the City Council to adopt amendments to allow electric and battery-operated mowers to be used any time during the day. It’s a process, but it can be done.

  2. Almost every town, no matter how ‘expensive’ has lots that are not buildable on, but have utilities nearby, etc. Seems like they’d be perfect for this use. It means more of a tax base for the local authorities, who are already hurting for money and that will only get worse.

    In the humor department, a few weeks ago I saw a Craigslist listing for a ‘one bedroom, 75 SF lot’. It was a double cemetery plot. At least the neighbors would be quiet… 🙂

  3. “Get a licensed manufacturer to produce tiny houses, or become a licensed manufacturer. With the RVIA designation, you can get loans, INSURANCE, admittance to RV parks, etc. Tiny houses are just park model rvs. What’s all the fuss?”

    You could just as well say “Move into a normal house, just make it a small one, Whats all the fuss”

    For many people building your own home is as much part of the experience and decision making process as choosing to live in a Tiny House in the first place.

    Licensing just adds an unnecessary cost of the whole process. I have heard as many complaints about bad builders as I have the praises of good ones. For the most part these licensing programs are a case of filling out a form and paying a fee, something anyone can do. I’ve helped build 14,000 sq ft homes before with no more experience than being able to pick out a hammer in a line up of tools. I’ve toured heritage villages where not one thing is up to current code and yet the houses are fully functional and over 100 years old.

    Too many of the rules and regulations are about limiting financial risk for lenders and insurers and maximizing manufacturing efficiency and have nothing to do with protecting the general public or making housing more affordable and accessible. It’s all about maintaining the status quo.

    Sadly we live in a society where nobody wants to take responsibility for anything any more and as a result when something goes wrong someone always seems to want to sue someone else. That’s a big part of why there are more rules and regulations than ever before.

    I think the solution to all of these problems lies within the community, the more voices we can get, the louder we get, the more likelihood there is that we will eventually be heard. Lets get organised and start tackling these issues together and sharing the results.

    • Hi Andy!

      Okay, I”ll say it: “move into a normal house–just make it a small one!” One of the things that makes the tiny house so appealing is that it looks like a “normal” house. It is stick built, which is also pretty normal.

      I think it is GREAT that many people want to build, live in, and own, their own homes, whether an earthship, yurt, treehouse, zome, earthbag, straw, or whatever. However, not everyone is physically capable of building a house on their own. Some would like an alternative form of housing, but would have to purchase it. I am in that category.

      So, I spend my life savings on a tiny house from, say, from Jay sSchafer over at Tumbleweed ($50,000.00+), right? I get it out on the highway to transport it to my land and a semi trundles over it. Guess what? I have no insurance! I am now out $50K! I am now out of a place to live! So what do I think now? Do I think that insurance is just an “unneccessary expense”??? Or do I now wish that little park model house Tumbleweed had had an RVIA sticker, which would have qualified it for a little Geico insurance on the road and foremost insurance on its new lot? HELLO! If getting a license is as simple as filling out some forms and paying a fee–” something anyone can do”, why not Jay?

      • I tend to shy away the RV and Mobile Home options because of a few reasons. First off, to become a RV or Mobile Home manufacture you need to first become an LLC ($200-$500), then you need to apply for the license which costs around $3,000-$5,000.

        The biggest issue with becoming a RV or Mobile Home is that you then become subject to the laws that govern them. This means you can only have them placed on areas zoned for RV’s or Mobile Homes (depending on which one you do).

        If you go with the trailer/mobile home approach, many municipalities are phasing out trailer parks in favor of section 8 housing and will not grant new zoning to allow for trailer homes. Through gentrification, the existing zoned areas are being eliminated. This isn’t true for everywhere, but it is a general trend I have seen in many mid to big sized cities. Regardless neighbors will freak out when they hear that land near them is being rezoned for a trailer park. Additionally mobile homes are typically defined as something that is at least 30 feet long.

        If you go with the RV approach almost every municipalities classifies it so that staying in one is designated as camping. Many places put limits on how long you can camp, typically 30 days. There are also places that prohibit the storage of RV on residential properties and will not grant rezoning to store it in residential areas.

        So in short, it costs money to do this option and then it locks you into situations that would make it not a viable option for most people. Your only option would be to do this in the very rural areas that are unincorporated or not regulated.

      • Methinks you’re presenting a bit of a false dichotomy here. For starters, why would the alternative to a conventional house have to be one of TUMBLEWEED’s rip-off curiosities for the rich. You could have a perfectly functional tiny home for a 5th or even a 10th of that price or even just get a caravan and slap some extra insulation on it.
        For 50K you could easily build a great conventional house which holds it’s value far better. The problem here being that a conventional house will need to be located on zoned land, whereas a wheeled tiny home or caravan can just be officially “parked” in your field.
        I think the people who buy tiny homes off TUMBLEWEED are really missing the point.

        • “I think the people who buy tiny homes off TUMBLEWEED are really missing the point.”

          Amen to that.

    • The fact you helped to build a 14,000 sq/ft house with no knowledge of building other than being able to pick a hammer out of a pile of tools shows me how little you know about building. Things like codes exist for a very real reason. Homes have many hazards such as electricity, gas, heavy surrounding objects, fall hazards and combined with exposed hazards such as weather and seismic activity, inspections are crucial in our homes. As a carpenter i can attest that the majority of home owners have no clue of household hazards until a disaster happens.

    • Amen my friend. Great post. A responsible person might choose to buy a book and wire his own house and then have someone who knows more take a look but instead society tells us it is illegal to wire your own home.. for that matter you can’t even wire your own chicken coop in many cities. Oh wait, it is illegal to even HAVE a chicken coop where I live.

  4. Wavers. Most municipalities have a waver process that allows you to do things that the code prohibits. One example would be minimum building size. Get your immediate neighbors to sign a petition to wave the minimum size requirement in the same way you can get a waver to build a garage closer to the property line than the code allows. Present that with a well written request to the building department and they will schedule a hearing with the local decision makers. Normal process for big developers but intimidating to the one time home builder.

    If you neighbors buy in you stand a really good chance of getting approval. One thing is that you would have to have an approved foundation and pull the wheels off. Like a mobile home converted to a “modular” or “factory built home”.

  5. Hi (again) Andy! You make some excellent points. Many people want the experience of building their own homes. You are also correct in that many people don’t want to “take responsibility.” If a prospective owner-builder is ready, willing and able to risk his or her money, energy, and time to build a tiny house (or any alternative dwelling), than I say Hooray for them! But, if that structure burns down, or is otherwise destroyed, I expect them to SUCK IT UP! Take PERSONAL responsibility for the fact that they CHOSE to build/buy without a license, without a building permit, without insurance, et cetera. If everyone is okay with that, than fine!

    As for lenders and insurers wanting to limit their financial risk–so what? If you were a lender or an insurer, wouldn’t YOU want to limit your financial risk? As to the expediency of manufacturing and the status quo: you are right! I do not see the quality in park models that is seen in most tiny houses. So, I guess the answer is take my tiny floor plan and elevations down to a licensed manufacturing company and say this is what I want built, and I want it built to spec, and quality built. No code, no quality no moolah!

  6. I do not understand Ryan’s objections. If he is capable of manufacturering tiny homes, licensing fees of $3200 to $5500 are peanuts compared to what he can get for ONE well-made tiny house.

    Next, if Ryan makes an 8.5’x16′ tiny house, or x20′ or x30′, it is a Recreational Vehicle on the highway. You can sell it to anyone who wants to buy it–which seems to be quite a few people! You do not have to provide the land that goes under it, or worry about any zoning issues whatever. What, then, is, actually, the problem?

    Furthermore, your customers will be able to get loans and insurance to buy the tiny house you manufacture, thus, you will not only be providing inexpensive insured housing (hopefully, you won’t get excessively greedy), but also, you’ll be able to hire workers and contribute to your community. I’m still waiting to hear wherein lies the downside????

    • The problem is there is no legal place to park them, other than RV or mobile home park or so far out of any town that daylight has to be piped in. That is not going to change regardless of how much going to city hall you do. As an earlier poster commented mobile home parks are being phased out they certainly aren’t going to reverse that.

      • I understand your concerns, Bob. Yes, mobile home parks are closing for many reasons. One of them is the fact that when codes change, a lot of mobile home owners don’t keep up. Practically no mobile home owner maintains the frame or axles of the house. Municipalities and states are trying to get people to buy safer houses that fit existing codes by refusing to register or allow older, unsafe homes to be moved or allowed in parks. Some parks are disasters, while others are well-maintained. There’s just so many factors going into the decision to close parks, and one big one is lawsuits from residents.

      • “The problem is there is no legal place to park them, other than RV or mobile home park or so far out of any town that daylight has to be piped in.”

        Very nice.

      • There are RV Parks and Intentional Communities a plenty. I am considering buying a smallish Airstream and I have been doing research on where to live in a permanent place. I may go traveling to Panama and would like to have it in a safe place while I am gone, preferably in a 55+ community, and there are lots of them in every state.

  7. To Andy and Ryan:

    I own 2 pieces of land. One is a 2.1 acre lot in New Mexico where I currently live, and which will be ‘For Sale’ soon, the other is 4.5 treed acres in New Brunswick, Canada–which is where I plan to go.

    In New Mexico, I live in an area where anyone can build whatever they like, no code enforcement, no experience needed. Not even common sense is required here! My annual tax is only $24.00 per year. The land is double fenced, has a nice driveway, and 21 trees–that were not here 15 years ago! It is on cooperative water and cooperative electric and has it’s own inground septic, land line phone line. You can have satellite tv, cell, internet here and it is only 5 minutes to a new hospital and 10 minutes to all shopping. There is even a 1984 5th wheel trailer that I have made weather-tight–and anchored on the property that can serve as someone’s home whilst building a tiny house–or finish rehabbing the trailer–or you can do both! There is a 7’x8′ garden shed and there are 3 rich deep-dug 5’x10′ raised garden beds that produce excellent tomatoes, greens, squash, and every kind of melons! I have about $45,000.00+ in, anyone can have this place for $20K! Or, maybe trade for a trailer of equal value?

    I would love to show Ryan or Andy, or anyone, around my neighbourhood so that they can appreciate, in person, what I have been talking about in response to their blogs!

    Failure to think things through logically is one thing–living through ones’ failure to think things through logically–is something else altogether! I have been guilty of BOTH! I have been trying to give you and your readers the benefit of wisdom gained from painful experience. But, apparently, discussing the Value of licensing, insurance, zoning, code enforcement, laws, et cetera, are not what y’all want to hear. So I challenge Andy and Ryan to visit me and see for themselves the logical outcome of doing without these “inconveniences.”

    For my part, I will either buy a park model rv (which I already know will not be the quality of a tiny house–and will require lots of renovations) or have the smallest house possible built–to Code–on my new place! At least I will be able to insure my home, which becomes even more important when you are old and cannot start all over again completely “from scratch.”

    • Hello Karen, I was reading about the property you were selling for 20k. I am interested . Also, can you tell me where in NM, a guy could place an outhouse, and a small cabin, maybe a shipping container cabin, or Yurt I m interested in Central to Northern NM. Any help appreciated. Blessings.

      • Dear Chad,
        I sold my sand near Portales, NM. Unless you appreciate the “ambiance” of a Mexican Border town–like juarez, you would not have liked my former neighbourhood. Ugly, filthy falling down shacks–including old travel trailers and mobiles, –no building or health code enforcement. BLARING musical at all hours, –no noise ordinance. Tons of garbage dumped all over the place. No nuisance ordinances, etc. I was trying to make the point that lack of regulation and/or enforcement of same doesn’t always make for a Shangri-la!!!!!!

    • Hi Karen,

      I’m in the Fredericton area. I know your post is almost two years old now, but can you provide any insight to someone here in NB who’s thinking about living in a rural unincorporated area within one hours’ drive of Fredericton in either a small home (not a trailer home) or even in a class A winterized motorhome?

      I’m particularly concerned with property tax laws here. They’re quite draconian, for example: my current $180,000 legal two-unit bungalow in New Maryland gets a quarterly water/sewer bill for around $300, and an annual property tax bill of $3100. But that’s only because it’s owner-occupied. If I were to move out and rent both suites the bill would be $4200 per year.

      You can see now why living on a rural property with low taxes (and even lower if there’s no official “building” on it seems so appealing.

      Any info you can provide would be most helpful.

      Thanks in advance,


      • Dear Brett,
        Just so happens, I sold the NM property, bought land in NC and am selling the 4.45 acres in NB. The annual tax is 125.00 p/year can$. It is on old frederickton rd near new canaan.

    • Hi Karen, do you still have your property for sale? And in what City is it located? I’m really interested!

      • NM land is sold. NB land is for sale. Bought “unrestricted” lot in NC for homesite.

        • Thanks for your posts. Very informative. I’m thinking of buying some land for a park model rv in NC. Can you tell me where you bought? My goal is to have minimal, or no, property taxes. I want a view, close to town and services, and internet availability. I aim to pay cash for the land and buy a manufacturered unit. Probably the Escape Cabin. Any help greatly appreciated!!

          • Any general advice from anyone would be great, too. Thanks!!

      • Sold NM land. It was near to Portales, NM.

    • Karen, where is the town in NM that allows you to have a tiny home? Been thinking of buying land in New Mexico.

      Thank you.


    • did you sell your property in New Mexico. I just found this blog and am from New Mexico currently living in Colorado but badly wanting to return to New Mexico and very interested in building a tiny home for myself. if so please contact me by email. Thank you.

    • Sounds awesome! Can I ask where you will locate your new RV/tiny home? Not where, but what, an RV park, someone’s acreage you will lease? That is the issue for me, I don’t want to be so close as an RV park, but also want water/power so not out in the boonies. Why can’t you just buy an acre or couple and park it on that?

  8. I’m with you Karen – I live in Federal Heights CO and I am working with the city to convince them to give people waivers/variences to move a Tiny Home that is up to code in with the homes that are here now. There are places in Colorado where you can own your own land as I do and live in a tiny home – mine is 10 X 55 w/a mud/storage room built on and a 2 car garage. Any one is free to come out here and see how zoning and codes work and how nice things can be and then go to Dacono CO and see what happens when zoning and codes are ignored. I have no problem with people building their own homes – BUT I don’t want one next to me unless it is up to code – I worry about fires and such. I’ve seen how fast tiny homes get blown over and how fast they get burnt to the ground without the rules and regs being followed. I don’t want to end up being collateral damage when a tiny home next to me is destroyed.

    • Thank-you, Patricia Lynn! It seems you understand what I am talking about! I am getting the “vibe” that folks may think I am trying to rain on their parade. Not so! I bought the first copy of Mother Earth News, when it was 2 sheets of long paper, folded in half and stapled in the middle–back in the early 70s! I have been dreaming of, and working toward, a little place in the country where one can grow veggies, and critters; live in relative peace and self-sufficiency, whilst keeping the “footprint” small–since forever! When I moved where I am, there were hardly any people. Now, I am surrounded by people who blast their music, let their feral dogs and cats run wild, along with their goats, cows, horses, etc., and put their gargage on the ground and wait for the wind to recycle it onto my land. Some even allow their raw sewage to run on the ground–not compost–raw sewage. They build dangerous structures, and/or do not maintain the structures (mobile homes) they do buy. Parts of the roof of two mobile homes on either side of me are now in the field across the street. One of my neighbours decided to build a house around her mobile home. It looks like a house–all framed with 2x4s with osb siding, floors and roof. It is huge! Unfortunately, she didn’t have money for roofing, siding or even tyvek. Consequently, her roof is rotted, and so are her floors. Her house is a total death trap. Her risk, but what about her small children? Speaking of traps, who will buy my lovely clean, green little lot? You could put 20 tiny houses here! C’mon guys, it’s perfect: no zoning problems, noise ordinances, animal ordinances, building permits needed, no inspections, no code enforcement of any kind! And, a really bargain basement property tax. I do not understand your hesitation!

      • Karen,
        How is North Carolina? We have property in western NC that we are thinking of farming.

    • Hi Patricia Lynn–
      I live in southwest Denver (almost Littleton) and I am looking to sell my home (1000 sq ft plus full basement so really 2,000 sq ft) and downsize. Do you have any info on where I can learn about the various codes in/around Denver? The type of place you are living in sounds a lot like what I’d like to do. I’d like to live on a small lot with a home the size of a two car garage. Any info you have would be most helpful.

    • Patricia Lynn,

      I am a teacher in Federal Heights and I would like to eventually live in a tiny home…for financial reasons and sustainability. I also think it would make for a fantastic field trip for my Environmental Science classes. I am pretty clueless on the whole zoning issue and would love any tips and suggestions. I have been renting forever and am totally ignorant in this area. Any help would be greatly appreciated!


      • Hello Charlie,

        I am putting the finishing touches on a e-book that will cover Building Codes and Zoning for Tiny Houses. I hope to have it out very soon! It will be available on this website.

        • Great idea! Looking forward to your e-book Ryan.

        • I would like to know when the e-book is finished. Thanks

          • Hello!

            We actually just release it check it out here:

    • Patricia,
      I have a client that is looking for land in the Denver metro area to start a small house community. I would like to follow up with you and see how the Federal Heights varience went.
      Lisa Lunger

      • Hi Lisa, I’m Leah! Can you share your friends information with me..I’m looking for a place for my tiny home that’s going to be delivered soon! I live in Littleton Colorado now and would love for any information you can give me?! Thank you! Leah Dennison

  9. Love the discussion and that people are offering visits. Tiny House tours! Brilliant 🙂

  10. Important issues raised here…”You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Showing the view from both sides has sent me back to the drawing board. As Karen said, “Failure to think things through logically is one thing-living through ones’ failure to think things through logically-is something else altogether!” Karen, keep opening our eyes. It’s a valuable service you supply.

  11. I’m not sure why anyone would want a cake that they cannot eat? The purpose of the cake is to be eaten and enjoyed. That is kind of like telling someone they can build a tiny house but cannot live in it and enjoy it.

    Anyways, I just wanted to say that those who wish to see the laws regarding tiny house location, insurance, etc need to be joining together with other tiny house owners and enthusiasts to change the laws of the land… and not just local municipalities, but on a state level. We have all seen how collective bargaining functions in work situations and living situations needs be no different. We need to band together and become recognized as a legitimate housing/lifestyle choice that is good for the neighborhood, good for the community, good for the environment. With amazing and conscientious people like the Caverlies (, etc… we can do this!

  12. I’d like to know how all these people supposedly living full time in tiny houses in peoples’ back yards are plumbed or hooked up to water. Nobody addresses this…yet they all appear to have shiny kitchen and bathroom fixtures and toilets, implying there is not only running water, but running hot water AND a legal and non-toxic way to dispose of human waste, which is pretty difficult unless you’re hooked to city sewer or have an incinerating or composting toilet. It’s all very mysterious and misleading if you ask me and I’d like some concrete answers.

    • The way most tiny houses are setup are either have a standard hose connection and they use a drinking safe hose OR Others carry water in and often shower at the gym/work. You can see how one person did water here: another post on another blog here:

      As for plumbing almost all tiny houses use composting toilets (there are some that use incinerator toilets and others that us an RV style hook up that tie into their sewer lines). Many use the composting method outlined in the Humanure Handbook there are also several tiny house people that bag the solids and dispose of it in municipal trash (which is legal if packaged correctly and in small quantities) If you think about it what is the difference between that and disposable diapers. You can read about it here: and here: and another here:

      People then use gray water systems to handle the waste water (which isn’t from toilet) which we just did a post on this site on that topic only a few days ago.

      Beyond that I write about it in my ebook for sale through the store here that gets into the specifics of how to handle all the utility connections and handling of waste, water, and power.

      I found all these links pretty easily by googling so I don’t think its really mysterious or misleading, but that’s just my two cents.

  13. I totally agree with your idea of a tiny house communities.
    I am owner of two properties one in Lake arrowhead – Cedar City,California size 3,700 sq and other property in town of Beryl, Utah 45,000 sq size and I would like if someone would be interested in forming a tiny house communities would help many people who are homeless or are losing their homes today.
    If you have information of people interested I am available to my properties, for those who want to form communities.



    • Osvaldo, this is precisely my idea. I live in the bay area, CA, and I would like to live in a tiny house community in Oakland or Fruitvale because I believe that, if the houses are built with mostly used materials, the money we put into rent normally can mostly go towards owning our own homes. I have some ideas for sharing the rent on a vacant lot with some other tiny houses, but I am realizing that the legal questions are bigger than I anticipated, and they are causing me some anxiety. I just bought a used trailer last weekend, so I have taken that first step to realizing the dream…but before I move forward I would like to learn more about what kind of trouble parking the house will actually become.

      Unlike some of the writers on this list, I am not endowed with the kind of money to throw thousands of dollars at licensing my project. My total construction plan is under 5,000 (I am something of a starving artist in my 20’s) and I believe that I can make the project work nonetheless…in fact I am determined to make it work as a model to empower people in my situation that they can do the same, just by using the money they would normally be spending on rent. This, to me, is the real power of the tiny house movement. I hope it works!!

      If anyone knows anything about what kind of zoning trouble we will get into by trying to park tiny homes in a city, and how to best subvert it, I would greatly appreciate the feedback!!

      • hello Caddandra.
        You have some good ideas for your project, not if we have the same ideas.
        My project is to find someone interested in helping me transform my two lands in parking lot communities tiny houses.
        If you know this or know someone who knows the processes to form a tiny houses communities.
        Please write me.

        Regards Osvaldo

        • Osvaldo, I would suggest you look into zoning your land as camping, if you want the project to be legal. However, if you are way out in the back country, you might not have such big legality issues as we have to deal with in the city.

      • Hello Caddandra,
        How is the zoning process going so far? I plan to move to area with the idea of purchasing a tiny house.

    • I know this is an old post, but I found this while researching tiny homes and Lake arrowhead. Ive come across a site that’s selling really affordable land in Lake Arrowhead. I was just wondering what the regulations are for building off the grid tiny homes/cabins in Lake Arrowhead?

    • I know this is an old post, but I found this while researching tiny homes and Lake arrowhead. Ive come across a site that’s selling really affordable land in Lake Arrowhead. I was just wondering what the regulations are for building off the grid tiny homes/cabins in Lake Arrowhead?

  14. This is in response to Karen, even though this thread is probably long dead.

    How are all these things possible in your immediate area? Cant you get them changed? Or does nobody do anything about these things?

    • Sorry to be so long in replying. The place I bought 17 years ago in NM was really pretty–then. Then the dairies moved in from California. Then they employed illegals from Mexico to work the dairies. Then the dairy owners bought up the land around me and sold rented out to illegals. No code enforcement as no one wanted to cross the dairy owners. Get it?

  15. While I love the idea of a tiny home it simply isn’t feasible for me, at least right now. I DO live in a tiny home called an apartment. Here are the advantages:

    1. I live close to shopping so I don’t need a car ( Saves About $3,000 a year )
    2. I don’t have to worry about taking care of land , lawn, etc.
    3. It is very quiet ( Ages 55 and Above )
    4. I am close to shopping, movies, cafes, and they provide transportation
    5. I pay no taxes and my utilities are about $50.00 a month
    6. If something breaks down others fix it.

    I still believe small apartments are a great solution but also support those who want to live off grid, etc. I have all the privacy I will ever need and I am close to everything.

    • David, I agree with your comments about apartment living, but please understand that you (and I) DO pay taxes. We pay our landlords’ taxes and yet are considered second-class citizens in our communities.

  16. Hi Karen. Hope you can tell me where in NC you were able to find “unrestricted” land. Hoping to find exactly that.

    • Laurie,
      The word “unrestricted” applies to land use zoning, not building and health code. In other words, I can be residential, commercial, agricultural, or recreational–or actually, any combination in terms of land use. I must, however, build my house to code (at least 400 sf, etc). I must follow health code re sewer and well–or try for a variance. It took me only 2-3 years to find a large unrestricted lot in a place where I actually wanted to live (trees-water-mtns). Just look!

      • Karen,

        Are you in New Brunswick, CA? If so would you have any interest in renting out part of your land for another person with a tiny house?


      • Karen, what county in nc? I have relatives I’d like to be closer to.

  17. Karen: when you say land in NC, do you mean north Carolina? if so, I am very interested in hearing more about your experience; the region, the people, the communities, climate, etc. also, what sort of damage to the land do you forsee from the recent changes in the Fracking laws. thank you for your time.

  18. Hi. I am catching the tiny house bug. It would probably be my only chance at owning a home. I live in Oakland, Ca and would love to connect with people who are interested in creating a tiny house community. – Kareim

  19. Like many of you, I was caught up in the Tiny Home craze a few years back. I am retired now, with a multitude of tools and experience. I had leased a home with ten acres in the country for several years, and building a home on a trailer was not a problem for me, having all the tools and experience I needed. What I was to find, was that finding a place to put it permanently was! I bought two acres way out in the country and found, in the process of building my tiny home, that The planning department in the town my area was annexed to had/have a multitude of zoning and building laws. I did not know that it is now illegal to build an “outhouse” on your own land in the country. I didn’t know it is illegal (with fines and imprisonment) to make gray water wells/drain fields. I didn’t know that having a certified septic tank installed by a licensed installer was prerequisite to having electricity brought on my land. I had a meter installed for rural water and piped it to my home, which is a 36 foot travel trailer modified by me for permanent dwelling. There are pages of printed instructions for how each item is installed. Permits must be applied for and inspections passed before things happen. Example, I had to get temporary approval for electricity so I had power to build things. My two acres came from an old farm. I had to pass a perc test (for the septic tank) before thinking about electricity. Then an engineer from the coop electrical company came out and showed me where my power would come from. It entailed 3 poles and a transformer. I had to erect a temporary 6″x 6″x 20′ pole, with a meter pan, service shut off, and service box on the pole with one 20 amp breaker wired to a GFCI outlet mounted on the pole so they could test it. Thirty two years of experience in the building trades including wiring, plumbing, carpentry and the ability to read and understand blueprints saved me a small fortune. My land sits higher than the road. I had to rent a heavy duty tractor with box grader to cut out a driveway before I could even get my trailer on the property. We lived in the trailer with electricity supplied from gasoline powered generators for 4 months before we got power. We started this last September. Today, we have power, water, a septic tank, a driveway and a mailbox (We had to get our own street address) and in many ways I feel we are just starting. But I have a 20 x 40 garden freshly planted. We plan to can and freeze a lot, and sell the rest at a local farmers market. Next year I will start construction on a 25′ x 25′ cabin. It is quiet at night. I have two neighbors, both of whom have lived here several years. My travel trailer is insured for full time living. But I could not have insured my Tiny Home. Nor could I have gotten electric service for it. Yep, I bought my first copy of Mother’s too, in 1970. And for years we’ve dreamed of doing what we are doing. But things are harder. I’m 68 and my wife is 62. Everything hurts when we wake up in the morning. Good luck to any of you who get past the pipe dream stage!

  20. Land is not the problem. It the people that want to tell you what to do with your land that is the problem. I want a tiny house but of course I am running into the problem of government telling what I can and cant put on land I want to buy.

  21. Three questions:

    How much does it cost to

    1) Park (assuming I don’t own the land

    2) Move ( in case I want to be mobile)

    3 Insure (while stationary or in transit)

  22. There are 9 million people who are or have been breaking the law in living year around in their RV’s or trailers. If they go after the tiny homes they, too, have to go after RV’s or trailer homes. With baby boomers retiring, the law will have to make laws to where it is more affordable for baby boomers to live. Tiny homes that are certified by RVIA and NADA should be able to rent space year around at RV trailer parks. As it is now, there is not enough mobile parks space to rent, so RV trailer parks are the best option.

  23. hi we are currenting living in an apartment paying over 1400 and bought a great 39 ft rv off craigslist Soon downsizing and move into it fulltime in a park.I desire to own land yet do rainwater collection system and solar of course composting toilet to have alternative off the grid.Has anyone done this with an rv? I saw a great segment on Tiny House Nation with a tiny house.So inspiring.I can do this. We already lived in a 240 space for 8 months.Looking at land in Texas.

  24. If you are looking for double duty furniture, check out OoRoo Beds. It’s an ottoman by day and a bed at night. Or you can use it as extra seating.

  25. Renting out a tiny house in your driveway is great until some new renter neighbor that doesn’t have a dog in the fight rats you out to codes. Some people just don’t have enough to do in their lives, they have to make other people’s life difficult.

  26. You can all save a lot of time and trouble by contacting the codes/ building inspector in the area you want to live. We built our farm from scratch,followed the rules,no big deal. Sold it recently. All off grid and legal. Moved to town hate it,leaving. Having an Amish built cabin to put on land. Once again all legal,cheap and to code. Why look for trouble? Life is hard enough. Don’t want to follow the rules? Live as a nomad. Stay on the road camping. No matter where you go there are crap holes,uncaring people and filth. No idea why people want to live this way,but shear stupidity,laziness,ignorance…choose the best place you can that seems to fit your needs. No guarenteers in life. No,we’re not rich. Retired and worked low paying jobs and worked more. Ya just got to decide what’s important in life.

  27. Freedom Is. . . LIKE most things-Nothing at ALL BUT AN ILLUSION.

  28. I have a conundrum: I was given a tiny house. It was basically abandoned because it needed repairs and the owner no longer wanted to live in it and it was in my driveway. I made the repairs and rented it out for awhile until an investor bought the house next to me and turned me in to codes. Evidently, it is considered a camper and no one can live in it. I even had to take out the blocks that were leveling it. I want to sell it, but have no title. I know I need to go down to the title place, but with what? Pictures of it or a serial number from the trailer it’s on? I don’t even know where to look. The only history I got on it, was it was refurbished by TN Tiny Homes and they gave me no additional info. I have been advised I will not have an easy time selling it without a title. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Lisa, Just finding this website today. Are you still trying to sell your tiny house? Where do you live? I’m in Gallup, NM but used to live in Boulder, CO and travel back there regularly

      Looking forward to connecting. Thank you.

  29. The hodunk electric company has a minimum bldg requirement of 1000 Sq Feet to run 3 poles. He’s “tired of people building apartments in barns” (well duh…that’s the trend!). We also have a really cutell tiny home. I don’t think it’s right that sn electric company creates Rules of how someone personally thinks one should build a house. Is there anything that can be done? Thanks so much.

  30. The whole “tiny house movement” is much the same, in MY eyes anyways, as valentine’s day in America. There’s a whole lot of hype and commercialism. First of all, contrary to what really anyone writing about them has mentioned, the “movement” is absolutely dying. Very much like Toms shoes and destroying antique furniture with chalk-paint, the fad is losing momentum more rapidly than it began. To CLARIFY (since I feel like I’ll have a number of people try to contradict me on this)… the ORIGINAL movement is dying. Yes, now more than EVER we actually SEE tiny houses everywhere… at every “portable building” lot they’re lined up. Made popular by television shows but destroyed by the very market that constructs/sells them. I know several people who, purely for the FUN of trying it out, built/bought one. They have INVARIABLY ended up on their own properties as various outbuildings, such as guest cottages or hunting cabins. The truth is, that while it’s a cute idea, VERY few people actually want to live the minimalistic lifestyle and even FEWER want to pay the downright OUTRAGEOUS prices these glorified gypsy-caravans cost…. or should I say…”cost”…
    Another fact is that VERY contrary to how the structures are “recieved” on television shows and pinterest pages, people living in “regular” houses generally have a VERY low opinion of tiny houses. More so when they come within even remote-proximity to the neighborhoods designed for…..well……”regular houses”… and why? Because make no mistake, if you’ve got a HOA (homeowners association) you can rest easy knowing that for however long that garishly painted carnival wagon with pallet-Adirondack chairs sits in its parking-spot ….. YOUR “regular” house will suffer the effects of almost instant appraisal-value-plummet.
    Seriously. Did you really believe hippy-hildas hot pink eco-shack would BOOST your half-million dollar homes value? As we can see, the “movement” was doomed from the beginning. They are simply NOT accepted (or should I say, REJECTED) by anyone who cares about the appearance and value of their own real house.
    And if what I just mentioned was the ailment, then get ready for the knife that cut through the tiny-house-heart….. marketing.
    Now, I’ll be fair, MARKETING is only half of this 2 sided blade of death…
    The things cost just WAY too much.
    I personally have 2 COTTAGES (permanent, brick-and-mortar structures) each approximately 200 square feet. These were my own designs, and I must compliment myself by saying they are the epitome of EXQUISITE. I almost totally recreated a rococo apartment suite in one, and a victorian townhouse in the other. The cost of both (materials were purchased before the decision to make 2 separate buildings had been reached) never exceeded $2,000.00
    Yeah. You heard me. Brick cottages, with solid 1″ mahogany flooring. Albeit I spent a good 2 years collecting, and in turn STORING all the materials, but let’s just say the ornate detail rivals rooms of a palace, so if I have managed to resourcefully collect what I have, why do these tiny homes “for sale” cost anywhere NEAR what they actually do? I mean, #TBH …. if I am going to spend $20,000 (the average “cheap” tiny home cost) I would MUCH rather invest that money into a run-down permanent residence as a “fixer-upper”. What has happened here is that contractors, builders, laborers, and more importantly… personel have “inflated” the “cost” to sort of standardize (and in turn JUSTIFY) “cost” among tiny house models…. for those of you who are now lost by what I’m talking about I’ll put it simply…. the tiny house “movement” created an artificial MARKET, which as with any market, at some point or another, OVER inflated costs due to unstable niche demand. Think this over in your head….. Twenty THOUSAND dollars…… for a storage shed with drywall and a window unit. Either you’ve got more money than you need, you just enjoy contractors scamming you for disproportionate “labor costs”, or you’re just too lazy to build the thing yourself (I mean, come on, we’ve established already that it is a lawn-mower shed with sheetrock); whatever the reason, they simply cost FAR more than they’re actually worth. Now, there IS a difference here… I am taking my jabs at the MOVABLE monstrosities. The things horrendously mounted on trailers and wheels. The things that somehow make more sense to their owners than a motorcoach or RV…..
    The things that no matter how witty amd cute they may seem on TV, are never, ever, ever going to be “easy”, “practical” or “safe” to pull around for miles and miles.
    So many articles and hours of filming for television have perpetuated this bizarre notion that all this “tiny technology” is even necessary for a mobile tinyhouse…. it isnt. Your $15,000 super-eco-friendly self-composting tiny- toilet does no more than a $10 toilet from the RV junkyard will do if connected to a similar $25 plastic storage tank. And if you’ve got even a fraction of the witty-quirky-uniqueness that you’re desperately wanting to express to the world with your prefabbed tiny-tourer, you should undoubtedly be able to conceal your ingenuity to a degree comparable to the “factory made” tinyhouses.
    In summary, because I’m tired of talking about this….
    Tiny houses, again in MY opinion, are really only useful for large land-owners (like myself) who value the very traditional escapism found in a hunting lodge, hermitage, or winter cottage. They are otherwise just cleverly marketed trickery to get you to accept MUCH less for your money. A guise of construction crews and contractors to perform very little work but get paid the same on the grounds of “niche difficulty”… (example- fabricating a REASON why the AC unit costs 50 times more money and requires specialty installation even though we all really know it’s only a regular AC unit in fancier casing) ….
    And lastly, at the end of the day, come on, I mean, seriously… is the lure of being a vagabond transcient nomadic gypsy really all that appealling? Do material things repulse you into minimalistic living THAT easily? maybe you’re jumping to tiny house living too soon. I’ll tell you guys what, as an antiques collector, my tiny winter cottages are packed to the ceilings with knick-knackery and trinkets galore! But then again, I own the land, theyre brick-on-slab, and immovable. Why aren’t more people into this? I have never once seen tiny houses done in any realistic styles, maybe if people put more effort into them as permanent vacation retreats instead of wooden RVS with trailer-house demeanors and teenage hippies attempts to get out of participating in the true American Dream (last note, does anyone else kind of view the tiny houses as kind-of “bar-lowering” tools for those who can’t seem to put forth the effort to acquire the full-sized goals? Like “we are going to set a new low standard of dog-house on wheels and justify it by pointing out how expensive real houses are to make the point that tinyhouse living should be viewed in equal respect to adult-owned HOMES”. In conclusion, I think they’re great “play houses” for adults, but they are not the easy-way-out of American society like they’re hyped up to be.

    • As far as the outrageous prices of some of these tiny homes is concerned, I think you’re spot on. I assume a major appeal of tiny houses, caravans or liveaboards is the much lower cost when compared to conventional housing. When you then see these 60K curiosities for the rich, it just seems to miss the point, to put it mildly.

      Now regarding homeowners associations and their potential objections, I’d be more inclined to tell them to stuff it. Why should the already rich feel entitled to validation for their overpriced purchases, or to appropriate their neighbors land. If you own a field somewhere in a nice spot and can get away with “parking” your wheeled caravan or tiny home on it, then hey go for it,..’s your land afterall and people need to respect that.

  31. I realized I should probably have added one more thing…. I am also in my 20s. I was fortunate enough to one, live in Texas, and two, Inherit nearly 300 acres. However, I’m so confused by all these people desperately wanting to do away with building codes and regulations…. even at 300 acres, if I personally opened my property up as a tiny-house town, I can guarantee everyone, I would mandate probably even stricter codes than a regular town, purely for aesthetics, because SO MUCH can go “wrong”. It’s scary to me that so many people use the tiny house “freedom” to live like slobs, or at least live outside the realm of maintaining decent lawns and landscaping. As a land owner, I would severely question your desire to put a tiny trailer on my property if you express such distaste for the “governments” regulations and standards. To me, when I hear statements like that, I almost instantly interpret it as “I couldn’t assimilate in regular upstanding society, so I decided to move into a glorified RV like Joe-dirt with my barbecue pit right outside my front door and a rain barrel full of beer cans on the side; and if you bother me about cleanup I’ll just pack up and move on”.

    • Nailed it! I’ve thought the exact same thing. I was/am thinking about creating a Tiny Home community, but am worried about the exact same thing: People with no class or taste moving in. I’d have an HOA, for sure, to make sure the place was kept clean and neat.

      Side note: I get a kick out of all the people on the Tiny House shows that talk about down sizing for every BS reason they can think of, when the reality is they’re doing it because it’s a lot cheaper. I think of the one show with this couple from Florida who built a Tiny House out of a cargo container. Super generic design and they have 2 kids to stick inside it, too. They talk about wanting to lve simpler and who needs all the stuff. LOL Yeah. Riiight. White trash.

      For me, going tiny would be strictly to save money in retirement – assuming I can ever retire, given the money-grab by the super wealthy with their massive tax cuts while everyone else gets a tiny one- if at all. (Reagan, Bush, and Trump’s tax plans). But, with the restrictions in most states forbidding one to buy a piece of land and just put a small house on it, it makes going Tiny really tough. It’s all about the government getting their property taxes. THOW is an end-run around that. I’ve determined that it’s more sensical to use the same amount of money I’ve saved to buy a tiny house and buy a small lot and build a house on it with a rental unit attached – over the garage. The rent, along with the tax write-off, will cover most of the mortgage. Double up the payments while you can, and pay it off in 10 years.

  32. I am not a tiny house person but understand the desire to simplify,
    My thoughts are if you are doing it just because of the money you are missing something. It has to take a lot of sacrifice to live in <300 sq feet. If you are not happy what is the point of having all that saved money.
    I think that all the above is true that there are all types tying to downsize for all kinds of reasons.
    I will all the best of luck with their endevors in the tiny house Movement.

    Why I found this blog is I was looking for some info on hosing a family or couple on my homestead next summer. I have 25 acre in southern WI would like to open up & contribute to deserving people as I can ,
    I have good organic tillable soil & equipment to work with.

  33. I like how you mentioned that land is going to be easier to get if you have a tiny house or a park model and chip in with everyone. I think a few of my buddies and I should do this when we grow old and want to live in the country. Maybe I can convince my wife to start now with the park models we have nowadays.

  34. Can a tiny home be on a lot long-term that does not perk? How does this work?

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