Tiny House Building Codes: Top 5 Myths BUSTED

tiny house building codesIt’s been a while since I did a post about how owners of tiny houses deal with building codes, but coding questions come up often. There’s more regulation on tiny houses and dwellings than you may think. In fact, understanding building codes, zoning, and regulation is one of the areas that really trip up new tiny homeowners when they first start out. So today I wanted to go over several of the questions and myths that arise with tiny house code compliance.

It seems there are a lot of tiny house building code misconceptions out there. Knowing how to navigate through the tiny house regulations and codes will help you avoid headaches later. So here are the top 5 myths about building codes, zoning, and tiny houses.

Tiny House Building Code Myth 1

tiny house building codes myth one

I don’t need a building permit if my tiny house is under ___ sq/ft.

This myth is true, but with caveats. Typically, if you’re building a structure under a certain square footage you don’t need to acquire a building permit. So do you need a permit to build a tiny house if it falls under that square footage? There’s a catch: the exception to the building permit rule is in the term “house.” When you want to dwell or live in the home it shifts from a tiny structure to a tiny house, and you run into building permit issues.

The second you place any personal property in your structure, your small house is classified as “dwelling.” Building regulations dictate it doesn’t matter if a dwelling is 10,000 square feet or 10 square feet, you need a permit to build a livable space. Tiny house laws by state vary, as do tiny house size requirements and limits…BUT if you plan to live in your house, you’re going to need a building permit.

cracking the code

Tiny House Building Code Myth 2

tiny house building codes myth two

My tiny home is an RV, mobile home or camper—No tiny dwelling code compliance is required!

Again, this tiny house myth is somewhat true… IF your tiny home is being built by a certified RV or mobile home manufacturer. It’s possible to live in a homemade trailer house, but to get around the building code compliance, you’ll need to become a certified manufacturer.

To become a certified tiny home manufacturer, the certification will cost you several thousand dollars, require you get an LLC and go through a rigorous inspection process to ensure you meet all 500+ requirements.

So you can’t build a tiny homemade trailer house on wheels and say, “Look—I built an RV or mobile home.”  To top it off once your dwelling has passed inspection to classify as a certified RV or mobile home, you can often only park and reside in specifically zoned areas, which are fast disappearing.

There is an exception: if your state has a “home-built RV” classification, but these are few and far between and more and more campgrounds and trailer parks refuse entry for home-built RVs. As you see, the answer is more complex than simply saying RVs and mobile homes “don’t count” when it comes to tiny home building codes.

Tiny House Building Code Myth 3

tiny house building codes myth three

I will say I’m “camping” if any issues come up.

This tiny house coding myth is once again, somewhat true. You could, in theory, get around any regulatory issues by saying you were camping (which is allowed in dwellings regardless of coding compliance—like lean-tos, tents and pop up shelters).

Where the camping excuse runs into problems, is when you realize most municipalities have very specific limits on how long you can camp. The limit is often between 2-30 days in one spot or parcel of land, if camping is allowed at all. Typically, it’s limited to designated campsites. For example, in the city I live in, you aren’t legally allowed to camp at all unless FEMA has declared a state of emergency.

In certain cases, you may get around the camp restriction if you move your tiny home every few days, depending on the camping laws. Then again, the city could also say, “You’re not camping, you’re dwelling in your tiny house,” and you’d face a big problem.

Tiny House Building Code Myth 4

tiny house building codes myth four

“They can’t stop me from building my tiny house!  I’ll do what I want.”

In certain cities and states, you’re partially right. The question isn’t if they can or can’t stop you (they can). Your city inspectors won’t stop you unless your tiny house becomes a big public issue. If you don’t create too much buzz, or cause any complaints, they may turn a blind eye even if you don’t comply with building codes.

It’s important to note here that a city inspector holds all the power, if they decide they don’t want you in your tiny house, they can choose an array of legal justifications to enforce it.  The saying is you can’t fight town hall, because they’re the final say on all things.

But not complying is certainly a risk. The truth of the matter is, in most places they can stop you. The city inspectors will come through and condemn your tiny house. What condemnation means, is if you enter your house, you could legally get arrested for being in your own home!  The city regulators may also fine you for not complying with building codes. They may deny you utilities like they did to me (read about it here). In the worst cases, they may even run a bulldozer through your house to destroy it and tear it down.

All of these actions they can legally do and have done.  Worst of all you have no recourse for these actions, especially if your tiny house isn’t up to code. If you decide to risk it, it’s still important to learn and understand coding and zoning laws for your specific area. Then, if someone does complain or issues arise, you’ll be familiar with your rights.

Tiny House Building Code Myth 5

tiny house building codes myth five

My tiny house is on wheels, so codes and zoning regulations don’t apply.

The idea that wheels mean your tiny house is exempt from codes and zoning regulations is a big myth perpetrated by those who want to earn a quick buck off selling pre-made homes and plans to tiny house people.

It’s true, wheels will help your tiny house comply with loopholes and certain regulations, generally because it confuses the bureaucrats. There’s little official regulation out there specific to tiny home zoning. Plus, wheels mean your tiny home is easier to move, so there’s always the possibility of working around the regulations. But the hard truth is, the second you dwell in a structure it becomes a home, and when it comes to homes, all bets are off and the city will do what they want.

So what’s a tiny homeowner (or potential owner) to do?!?

So what is a tiny homeowner to do

It’s frustrating when you realize there are few ways (if any) to legally live in a tiny home. Even if your tiny home passes inspection, chances are high it’s technically still not legal in the full language of the law.

So, what’s your best approach to live in a tiny house? Well, there are two approaches:

  1. Beat the city at their own game and know how to leverage the codes,
  2. Roll the dice and try to fly under the radar.

Each of these approaches to living the tiny life, have their pros and cons.  To get a better understanding of all aspects of building codes and tiny homes, I’ve created an eBook. This book will help you understand how to work within the system to gain legal status with your tiny house as much as possible. In the book, Cracking the Code: A Guide to Building Codes and Zoning for Tiny Houses, I’ll show you the key barriers faced by tiny house folks. I’ll offer possible solutions to overcome these common tiny house coding conundrums and issues.

In the book, I’ll also share with you a few strategies to help you beat the system. I’ll explain what you need to do if you choose to fly under the radar and how to live in your tiny house safely, without getting caught.

Whichever approach you choose to deal with the tiny house building code issues and regulations, both are covered in Cracking the Code: A Guide to Building Codes and Zoning for Tiny Houses. If you’re wondering how to understand codes and enjoy life in your tiny home hassle-free, you need this book!

cracking the code

  1. Hi Ryan,
    Thanks for sharing all this great info with us.
    Have you experienced some of the issues you describe above?
    Are you able to live in the tiny house you built? Do you have electricity (and AC)? I know it’s hot there in NC.

  2. Great info but kind of depressing. I am new to tiny homes and am absolutely sold on the idea. But I’ve discovered that finding a place to permanently park one is a real challenge. You also mention that “zoning areas are fast disappearing.” Does this signal the beginning of the end to the tiny home movement?

    • In unincorporated Snohomish County I’m 50 miles NE of Seattle, on 5 half-wooded acres. Zoning (on-line) says: no living in a tent, camper, boat, shed, trailer, outbuilding. I was told by zoning, “YOU HAVE TO LIVE IN THE HOUSE” Not in my awesome custom 40′ travel trailer (with wood stove) because neighbor calls code enforcement whenever my smoke shows. Unfortunately, rocket mass heater not applicable to trailers, TOO HEAVY. Zoning codes suck on a personal level, but okay over all, I guess?? My advice, find spot, build in place, AFTER speaking with ALL the neighbors.

  3. A distressingly accurate analysis. Still, that just represents where we are now, not necessarily where we’re going. Hopefully things will change for the better as sensible people chip away the barriers bit by bit. Stay polite and reasonable when working with officials, they’re just people too. Remember the Aesop’s fable about the North Wind and the Sun https://www.aesopfables.com/cgi/aesop1.cgi?3&TheNorthWindandtheSun

  4. Wow! Good information to know. Each one of those “myths” were things that I would have totally said and argued to the death! Hopefully all of us “tiny home” people can work together to create some positive change with the bureaucrats.


  5. Good insights!

    I am a teacher of gifted students at a private school and for our architecture unit we are on the precipice of building one as a class (tomorrow I learn where we stand on funding). The plan is to building one that is 117 sqft. and auction it off as a fundraiser for our 25th Anniversary as a school.

    I met with a Planner, Project Manager, and Plans Examiner with the city two weeks ago and here is a brief rundown of what I learned.

    1) Because it is a unique build, they are willing to be relatively lenient with us (also because we are a school and this is for education/fundraising).
    2) Whoever buys it cannot keep it within city limits because it would be viewed as a dwelling and does not meet the city minimum of 750sqft. Also, they would probably run into problems with HOAs.
    3) There was considerable debate about what this is to be classified as: RV/Trailerhome/Resident Dwelling. The conclusion was a mobile/rv structure.
    4) It was determined that no building permit would be required since it was 3ft short of the minimum (120sqft). Rather, this project will fall under the business license of the school.
    5) We are to build it relatively out of sight. The city does not have a problem with the structure, but some random citizen just might complain to a councilman and we would then have to go through the process of obtaining a special use permit. (They told me several times, the more low key the project in the initial stages, the better it would go).
    6) We are to submit two copies of the plans (stamped by a MO approved engineer/architect), and have 3 inspections along the way.
    7) The city is actually really excited about this project!

    Overall, meeting with the city was a wonderful step and experience. It allowed us to really hash out questions and come to an agreement. My encouragement is to really know your project before you meet with them so that you can answer any/all questions they may have. You might just be pleasantly surprised as I was!

    • An HOA is a Socialist Entity which assumes it is a government and since it is not a Constitutional Government of the People, but rather a Dictatorship to the People, I suggest to everyone not to purchase from an HOA. You sign away your Constitutional Rights at their pleasure to remind you that THEY are the true owners… which is an unconscionable Contract.

      To keep your Tiny Home in the City, DECLARE IT TO BE AN ART FORM. Then they are banging their heads at the First Amendment. Then Declare it to be a Research Project. And Finally an EDUCATIONAL ENDEAVOR. And then, because of the 750 sq ft requirement imposed by City Code, Sue the City for Denial of a Right under the Color of Law. Yes this will work because the purpose of a 750 sq ft minimum is STRICTLY FOR TAX REVENUE and is not based on any Safety or building code for Public Health and Safety. The City will have to prove not only where the power to regulate comes from (ALL OF THE CODE RESTRICTIONS are based upon Public Health and Safety.. But wait are you not placing your home on PRIVATE PROPERTY, not in the public domain? ANd if 750 Ft is the minimum, are we supposed to accept that a family of dwarfs sets that minimal Standard? If that is sugh the case, then SIze Matters and persons that are over 4 ft in height must be required to have a standard of building that increases in sq footage based on their height or it is discrimination… But I see it as a Minimum Tax.

      I have a property that I purchased in a City in which ALL LOTS are considered Residential. However you cannot build on a Lot that is not 10,000 sq ft. Yet the City allows the sale of 1,250 sq ft lots (25×50) a size in which a Tiny Home can be placed.. but not according to their code. This building code is an abomination of the Law and discriminates against the Poor/Homeless in that a person with limited income is relegated to RENTING or being homeless only to be pushed out of the city because they cannot finance a home that is affordable to them and not the City.

      So think about that a while

      • Fascinating! I have long believed the discrimination aspect of building codes in the US.

  6. Jacob, will you be able to register your structure as an RV with the DMV?

    • To my understanding, pulling from my notes from the city hall meeting, that is what would happen. Since we are auctioning it off, that would fall upon the buyer.

    • Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisncdoivnosncdsvn;s

  7. I think a petition is in order to have these tiny homes legal to dwell in! People live out of their cars when they have no other choice but that isn’t illegal, right? Yet, a place where we can live small on a trailer is illegal?

    I think we should take a tiny home, place it in front of Walmart parking lot for example, and have problems sign the petition to allow these units to be legal to dwell in rather it’s in a trailer park or RV Park! We need to figure out something because I do not want an RV or Mobile Home when I can have a custom unit built to my liking for much less money than an RV or Mobile Home!

    • BuddySteve, sorry to say, but living out of your car *is* illegal, pretty much everywhere in the US. Though I will say, 80% of the time, especially if you’re not in a big city, cops will ignore you as long as they don’t get complaints from other people about you.

      That being said, I fully support a tiny home zoning petition and movement.

    • I completely agree with you!

      As economic situation getting worse and worse, or people with inferior work opportunity/strength or any reason to rid of life of city system, and probably can just afford to pay a land to stay, can’t a county of country defend their basic dignity to live like a human being???

  8. Problems = people

  9. You can build a tiny home, but if you have zoning laws that mandate lot size, it’s not going to save you much. My HOA requires motor homes to be in the back yard shielded from view.

  10. We are running into several road blocks with the city while building our tiny house. In your book, what building code do you reference? Trying to decide if it is going to be helpful for us.


    • I’m also interesting in knowing more about the ebook. I didn’t see a table of contents or any information other than whats on the ebook cover.

  11. So where CAN I build a small house LEGALLY even if a permit is necessary. Whthout having to worry about having to move it etc.

    In the USA ?

  12. I am lucky enough to have bought 2 acres smack dab in the middle of central Minnesota that has no building restriction, 2 miles away from town, and in a private secluded area! I’ve even seen like 4 tiny homes out here!

    • Todd, where in central MN? We are in St. Cloud. We have a tiny house that we are trying to place somewhere and are running into all sorts of problems with city and county zoning restrictions.

    • Todd,

      Where in central Minnesota is this? I live about 45 minutes directly north of Minneapolis and about an hour directly west of St. Cloud. I commute to St. Cloud five days a week and have been researching where I could possibly go tiny around here.

    • Where in Minnesota

    • Todd what do you do about water,sewer and electric

    • Todd: I live in Alexandria, MN, and was just about ready to give up on my tiny house dream, due to restrictions. What county, municipality, did you put your tiny house?

  13. Aren’t the codes different in different cities?

    I dont live in the same city as you, so how can you break the codes in my city?

    Sorry I am disabled and live on a fixed income and that $15 will feed me for a week, otherwise I would buy it just to see…


  14. Hello, I have been interested in building a tiny house on a cheap plot of land. My current financial situation doesn’t allow me to even think about it at this point, but I came across something about a WA tiny house bill that would remove restrictions for tiny houses in cities of less than a certain amount of people. What had become of this? Did the bill pass or is it still being processed, reviewed, argued about? I would love to hear some good news about it. I live in Tacoma, and the nearest city that fulfills the requirements is Gig Harbor. I’m hoping and praying for the day that I can build whatever I want, how small or big I want, without restraints and having to obtain special permissions.

    • I 100% agree with you!!

    • I LOVE Giig Harbor area…..was planning on moving back to the Puget Sound with a THOW. They are a tough crowd though…wouldn’t allow a Walmart in.

  15. My wife and I are excited about the Tiny House movement, but are discouraged after reading some of the posts here. I’m wondering what all of the companies that are building these homes are doing to overcome these crazy restrictions? Does the restrictions fall on the buyer after the purchase? I’m willing to jump onboard with the fight against bureaucrats for this cause, where do I sign up?

    • From what I found in my research of asking builders themselves: is people they sell to either found a place legally to put it (very few)), or they use them as BnB’s renting them out. So basically, they build them, and sell them but it’s the buyer who has to find legal placement. The ones I spoke with were very vague and didn’t appreciate my questions. All in all, my conclusions are: many builders are jumping in to build and sell while the idea is hot, they are aware that most states do not allow them legally as permanent dwelling unless in a park hooked to the grid, they are not saying much if anything to inform buyers of the limitations and they are doing little to change the zoning. It is one of the biggest scams and dream crushers ever, though it’s legal.

      • > People want tiny houses.
        > A company supplies these tiny houses.
        > Men with guns, unaffiliated with the company, will break in your house, drag you into a cage, and bulldoze your house if you place it somewhere they don’t want it.
        > It’s the company’s fault, those crooks!

        People like you are the reason I am a misanthrope.

        • lets do something to change it I am tired of government tell me how to live watching me flush my tolit every morning so I don’t want city water or sewage so the can keep up with what time I poop every day If I live clean and safe what is it to them it the people who live close to you telling your local government how you can live and what you need to live by like keeping up with the jones (so to speak)some people think that if you cant keep up with them your trash and don’t what you in they neighborhood.

      • Gosh Su…NOT AT ALL true. Blanket statements and posting personal opinions without knowledge is not helping ANYONE here.

        Codes and regulations, rules and laws re a part of life. It is a persons responsibility if they want to live in a certain State, Town, City, County, etc…to research what is permissible. There are homesteaders out there who aren’t bothered…..there are BnB’s able to have a business. And there are now SEVERAL legal, knowledge builders who tell you straight up but hey……it is still OUR responsibility to do our homework or pay the consequences.

        MANY States have come on board, many are in the process….let’s work positively to help the situation not KILL hope for change. It will happen it just takes longer than we all want.

      • Yep, I had dreams of being a builder, after my own was done.
        But, nowhere to put them, I just can’t sell a lie, willingly.
        So, my dream crushed, time to move on.
        Build yours upon 2′ posts, prevents low siding rot. Jack up and trailer under, if you wish to move it, when they’re fully legal ??????? Best wishes, cheap land build a cabin, hail peace.

  16. Some time ago, someone sent email with the Bill for people to sign up. If the quantity over the limitation, for instance, 20,000, it will be put into the law. We might consider encourage Senators to set up the criteria to build the tiny house in particular area, as RV or Mobile Home.

    I believe lots of people more and more like to live in a tiny house, enjoying rural life than going through city life 9~5 and paying many kind of bills, but living like pig or dog; or like slaver to pay rent month by month. We should be aware of what life can bring more meaning to us, but not passing through life day by day without any new content. Especially I’m vegitarism, I won’t have problem to live in rural area or forest. My only dream now, is where to find a land cheap but full of trees, then put a tiny house or build by myself on it.

    • That is the crux of the matter – being embedded in a slavery system. It is still slavery because then, you become indebted to everyone else, and there is NO ESCAPE until you forcibly extract yourself out of it. For instance, at the time, I lived on SSDI and earned the other half of my income from a part-time job.

      Rent kept creeping up, and my SSDI didn’t keep up with it. There always something coming up to force me to stop saving for a while, when I paid off the emergency bill, and I could resume saving for a couple of months or longer (if I was lucky) until something else came along to be dealt with. Meanwhile, I was never able to save money to pay off my school loan and other bills. I needed my savings for when SHTF, in which emergency bills didn’t qualify for because I could pay them off over time with my work income and still be on good terms. I used credit cards to help keep my savings from being attacked. It has been successful so far.

      I extracted myself out of the city when I found that I was no longer wanted by my company (because my hours were being cut while the newer people were taking the hours away from me, and I lost access to health insurance). I chose to quit and take my losses and get out. I managed to get out of my apartment lease with a note from the then-volunteer organization saying that I was relocating to that town for work. This was over two years ago.

      I went on the road, looking for a trade skill within the renaissance faire circuit, which so did not work out because as insular people are in the world at large, the rennie business owners are even more so. I did simple ranch work with fencing, working on an organic produce farm, and now I write articles for a small amount of money for about half of what I earned part-time in the city, BUT, I don’t have rent or electricity to deal with, which was more than the income I’ve lost. It’s a better situation, and I like where I am living now. I have been homeless at one point and stayed in a homeless shelter for about 3 weeks.

      Someday, I want to take the money I saved to possibly pay off everything I owe when the time is right.

      • Ann, I am just about in the same boat. Collecting SSDI and having a monthly check that is below the poverty level for one person. Thank GOD I am not on SSI which would be even worse. I feel for those who are.
        Fortunately I do have enough coming from my back pay to build something very small, 500-700 Square Feet plus a loft , as long as I am careful about buying a lot that will not require any HOA or other hidden BS to pay every month.
        Then It will not be quite so bad living on such a limited monthly budget. Friend me on FB … Colin Cote

      • Stephanie Ellison… you too friend me on FB ,,, Colin Cote

        • I am in the “Houston – Tiny House Enthusiasts” FB group. You didn’t indicate WHICH Colin Cote you are.

  17. The zoning quagmire is exactly the reason I gave up on trying to get a tiny house. I own land, but in order to have the tiny house built I would have to get multiple permits and pay for inspections and after all that there’s no guarantee that they will let me have it!! Plus the cost of all that just to find out I can’t have a tiny house is a waste of money. It’s a catch 22. Either fork over the cash and take your chances, or sit on my empty land and watch the prices of everything keep going up. Including the mortgage on my 3bedroom home that I can certainly do without as I am single.

    • Ann,Stephanie Ellison, I agree with you. That’s the reason why I hesitate to make decision to have land or/and tiny house, since it’s very hard to find the right place you can settle down securely and peacefully. This slavery system has rooted hard in America and lots of other places on earth. But it’s not new. Since ancient time power and wealth go together. The changes of outside has never affect interior content.

      When I suggested to build the tiny house in particular area, as RV or Mobile Home, I expect it can as close to city as possible without legal problem, and most of people live there still can search for job to accumulate savings. More optimistically, they can obtain ample exemption for a period of time in Tax or fee for staying there. There is no way we can have a piece of land or property without paying any tax, right? But, the houses for people to stay are the biggest expense. If we got several years, for most of people, without paying any tax, rent, or fee, it’s already a great relief of burden. At the time of that period, we should regain strength and arm ourselves to a new life. But, if the economic situation can not turn around so quick, certainly government should render more ample time to them, that’s another story…

      Sometimes, I feel uncomfortable to stay in the city that everything exchanges with money. Government can render people in difficulty with benefit of free land for farming or growing vegetables and living, solar system to generate power, compact toilet..etc. But not giving SSI to embarrass them.

      If you find anywhere can park tiny house free or cheap, please let me know. Thank you!

  18. Another big piece of the confounding puzzle is the great handshake between banks, real estate people, and local county politicians. They only benefit from BIG houses and not from small or tiny ones. Banks get much more mortgage interest, real estate folks get higher commissions, and local politicians get more property taxes from BIG houses. This for doing very little except clicking a mouse and answering a phone.

    • That’s called the Housing Mafia or the Housing Nexus.

  19. What about if you’re building a tiny house as an art studio? I wouldn’t be living in it and I’m hoping to build it inmmy back yard.

  20. Well I’m pretty sure that here in PA private developments on private land are allowed. If you guys all got together you could incorporate yourselves and buy your own tract of land.

    A Home Owners Association is basically just a corporation.

    So get yourselves together in a group, find a corporate lawyer willing to draft the papers and I’m almost certain you could create a development of tiny houses.

    You could make the restrictions a maximum size rather than a minimum. Set up bylaws to protect the group.

    Start up a community garden. And take care of your land together. Make it like a gated community.

    • that’s exactly what I’d like to do! A community that works together to live simple! Even a community homeschool, an outdoor theater, fishing pond… yeah I’m dreaming as I have no funds for this, but wouldn’t it be awesome?

    • Does anyone know of some ‘tiny home communities’ in the united states? Ive looked it up, but seem to find they’ve been addressing homelessness with these communities. Not necessarily as simply a place to park and pay rent.

    • Awesome idea Dylan!! I LOVE your approach to resolve. I am in Washington State…. looking at a solution I can do… going to research that.

  21. Look up Erland homes.

  22. Lower case I’s are just the worst… So glad to not see any here.

  23. I have purchased version 2.0 and wondered if there has been an update.

  24. I have been reading in all possible ways of how to live in a nice simple life like many of us would like to with a roof over us we just want live the way we would like to “free” but it seems that is not possible with these tiny homes even if we bought our own lands… we should fight it other then just writing down our problems we should start a petition over it and push it… to do things the right way we must fight in the right way may take years… or not we can hit big mayors and community with it …its more easy now with social media or like the other guy said we can start a community when a land is bought and everyone settles in but with knowing no permites or any other stuff should be allowed but work as a community most thing won’t take action with us getting together and I know a lot of people have the same problem… petition is a start..

  25. Say all of this is true,why can’t someone start a Tiny House Park; like a mobile home park? If pads,utilities,water,etc.are offered,it could be a great way to save the country a bundle on killing trees,relocating nature (or worse)and be the ‘greenest’ thing ever. I dream a lot, but believe this could be the next big thing, if the government would loosen the grip a little…Thanks for hearing me.It is awesome to know that I’m not the only one that sees the good in this way of living.

    • Stoneman,
      Hello, there are several Tiny Home parks already established throughout Northern California that I know of for sure. I just saw an article this morning for a park in San Jose, they lifted the enforced codes, regulations, etc. in order for it to be approved so it ca help house the homeless. My question is, since they lifted it for that use, could everyone have the same right in that area? I would think and hope so! Why thet place such strong enforcement on it in the first place is beyond me! It could actually help save people from becoming homeless in the first place if they had options for affordable living to begin with. It leaves less footprints on our earth, as you and others have mentioned, and numerous other “green” benefits. Unfortunately, our government doesn’t want to see people be self-sufficient! It’s beyond ridiculous that a land owner doesn’t have the right to do with their land what they choose, as long it’s not harming others or the earth; which with tiny homes and being self-sufficient would actually benefit our earth! Look at how they restricted “rain collecting”! What kind of bs is that?! They’ve lifted the ban in most places, but not all. There’s no reason why a person shouldn’t be able to have rain barrels. When they did that, I lost all faith in our government system! Since, I’ve lost even more as I’m now more privy to just what thet like to keep their hands in. Could be in getting older and more wiser too! I hope to have a tiny home in the near future, I’m reasearching and trying to gain as much information as I can! There are some brilliant people on this thread who have excellent ideas and firsthand knowledge and experience. Thankful they’re sharing their thoughts, opinions and ideas! Have a great day!

      • Catchment of rain water, can become a problem if/when too many residents are capturing rain water, and the local flora, fauna and wildlife, are not getting a reasonable amount of rain saturation. Of course, you’re probably considering a couple hundred gallons annually, but, then there is the “guy down the street,” that decides he is going to create a reservoirs worth of water catchment, and 350,000 later, all of the Pine trees below his place are dying, because, he got carried away. Someone had to have done abused the privelage, for a law to be penned, and agreed upon. I hate big gvmt.! And, these giant houses are difficult, and possibly expensive, as well. Alot of people are taking their back country dwellings, “off grid,” since solar is quickly becoming a viable power source.

  26. Nomad these and you’ll never have a problem. They license as an Rv. I stay at relatives, on my plot of zoned farmland.. Campgrounds. I never wear out my welcome. Campgrounds are 400 a month, water, electric and sewer. And I’ve yet to be refused into a campground, rather they love it. I built my 24ft. {use the phrase rv} of run solar battery powered and generator, or direct hookup. Water pressure from the campground runs a water turbine that charges batteries.
    I built it discrete. I’ve been pulled over. All were amazed.

  27. The person who wrote this does not entirely know what they are talking about. There are many inacuraciea. Without knowledge of the contents of the book, do not buy it. And if you do, if it contains the same information as the sales pitch, it will be incorrect. Beware. There are many comments on zoning. The comments are not answered because they are different in every jurisdiction. There is no way for anybody to summarize but only inform on how to find out. Contact the jurisdiction you want to build in and they will tell you the zoning laws. As for building codes, they are usually the IRC like mentioned, but also amended as reqd for jurisdictions. Contact local city, county or state building code department for information. Tiny houses are a part of the future so do not give up and enjoy.

  28. We live in a civilized society. That is why we have zoning rules and building codes. Go live in Siberia with your thinking

    • This country was founded on being wild and free, now we have Uncle Sams boot so far up our butt we can’t even build a house without getting arrested. Why should we have to go to Siberia to be free?

  29. Bottom line is municipalities and counties do not want tiny houses. It’s 10% safety, 10% incompetent bureaucrats and 80% about collecting taxes. Governments provide services and the bean counters calculate how much services cost per residence. Almost everywhere bases their taxes on square footage. Simply put, tiny houses do not provide enough revenue for the services provided. I have run into this in urban areas and in no zoning restriction rural areas. I’ve learned there is no such thing as a zoning free area. If you can get past the building requirements, the health departments will get you. In short there is really no where one can go and not be regulated on air, water, or human waste. Campgrounds and RV parks are even more regulated so there is no way around it legally. We are not free. We can not pursue our happiness as we wish. Government is no longer by the people for the people. Government no longer fears us, we fear their power. Once we accepted government provided services, we became their dependents without an out clause. Most are happy with that. People who want to live independent are not. There are more of them and they keep reelecting the same bureaucrats so this problem has no end in sight. Depressing isn’t it?

    • You’re very honestly true!

      But, don’t give up, we’ve to find senators we voted to do something for us.

  30. This person will not answer any question that could be answered in the book or else they would never sell the book ( I hope everyone really sees this) lol . This is more of a suck you in to buy the book than anything else . I’m with everyone on this page tiny house it up and let’s get a movement going to save money and live small .

    • I want you on my side whenever I get ready to downsize and quit paying all the expenses of owning a 2300 sq ft home. From high energy bills to high property taxes all in the great state of California. I keep looking for answers to my own problems and also probably A few hundred thousand other folks that don’t like the high living expenses. Especially for seniors on a fixed income. Starting to think about full time RV living in a campground or a trailer park.

    • THANK YOU! Finally someone said it. There might be rules but this was a scare tactic to sell a book. Building a storage shed requires a permit in many cases too but you don’t see the town trying to bulldoze your storage shed because you converted it to a man cave. This guy wants to sell a book while I violated all the rules and built my man cave and might as well say I live in it. Plumbing electric run by solar, and more. And it still looks like a shed. If you own land, and you want a tiny home, just get a permit. So what if you need a permit. It costs next to nothing and almost every state allows a person to build their own home. Just follow code. It’s not hard. If you can’t have a house trailer on your land, put it on a foundation and live in it. There is no rule that says you cannot build your home tiny. Build it big or small. WTF does it matter if it requires permits. If you have a house and want a tiny house too? Disguise it as a shed. Don’t buy into the fear pushed by this article. The person won’t even answer any questions because he just wanted to get as many people to pay $15 for nonsense that can be found by searching local building codes for the town

  31. What states allow for home built RV’s. Montana is one that I know of, hence I am building my tiny house here in MT. I moved here for that reason alone. The inspection process is easy here. Bring a weight certificate, axle loads are on each axle, and as long as the lights, safety chains, and brakes are functioning, and you are not over 14ft in height and 101″ wide you can get a license plate and register your tiny home as a home built RV. Many other states may not allow you to register it in their state but I have a P.O. box and just use it as my MT address.

  32. I have a solution: Build it yourself, ensure you own your land outright, free and clear of any debt. Place your Tiny Home there and move in. Simple as that! You see their claimed powers to act is based upon “Public Health and Safety.” Last time I read the definition of Terms (Websters Dictionary) There is a difference in the meanings of the words PUBLIC and PRIVATE. Ensure you have a fence that clearly marks your boundaries of your Lot… even if it is only ONE WIRE and there is a closed and Locked entry area. A Warrantless search requires a major crime in progress. So if the COde Enforcers failed to do the right thing, then you have legal grounds to press charges such as Deprivation of a Right under the Color of Law.. The Right is clearly identified in the 4th Amendment. Hold the government to the Constitution! If you design and build your Tiny Home, make it a “Research Project,” an “Educational Activity,” and/or an “ART FORM.” You do not need permission from the state to make a sculpture or paint a picture, or write a musical score.. or play a musical instrument, RIGHT! So stop complaining and start making them WORK for their money as well as teach them what the Constitution really is. Also remember number 9 (9th Amendment) “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” If you don’t stand belligerent and defend your rights, you have surrendered them from the onset.

  33. Isa, I have gone through this before by pulling the PUBLIC v PRIVATE status of the land. It is assumed to be public because of Other People entering and leaving your property, but they conveniently forget that those entering and leaving your property do so with your permission, not the permission of the local government. The 9th Amendment is usually the one I pull at the onset of the confrontation and for the most part that stops them cold. But then I found that if you put a wire around your property and have a gate for entry/leaving. The MUST get a valid Warrant, and that warrant must have a Witness that knows a specific crime is either in commission or has been committed, and specifically identify the nature of the Crime and the location in which committed. Best of all you have the right to confront that Witness.. . Specifically how the Witness gained access through the property. It is a great way to put people with bad hearts in their place. They normally leave you alone after teh first confrontation. Does this work in all situations? Don’t know but so far it has worked for me. In fact I am illegally living in my own home because I do not have permission to occupy my Home. But, even their city attorney is hesitant to push the issue. I put a Rock in their porridge pot because I laid claim to my Ancestry of being Native American from a recognized Tribe that was never defeated by the USA.. it was an Ally of the Colonial government during the Revolutionary war. Well, to follow the law, If you are a member of an Indian tribe when the 14th Amendment was ratified, you were excluded from being a Citizen of the USA. Then in 1924 an Indian Citizenship Act was made to be Law that made all Indians not previously made to be citizens to now BE citizens of the USA… with a provision : “Provided That the granting of such citizenship shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of any Indian to tribal or other property.” Yes you did read it right! “OR OTHER PROPERTY.” that has been my battle cry to the government over-reach. Ok now, the tribe of my ancestors on both sides of my family is the Nottoway (Cheroenhaka) Tribe… It was not federally recognized by the USBIA but was by the Department of Defense. SO when the Town Attorney said I was a citizen and subject to the local laws as well as federal and state, I said, The SUpreme Court Ruled that you “follow the condition of your mother for the purpose of jurisdiction.” Can of worms opened. Then I was told I had to PROVE I was Indian, since I have Blond hair, Blue Eyes and speak English. I said to him in a public forum I will if he proves he is WHITE, Otherwise he will be sued for discrimination and deprivation of my rights under the color of Law. That stopped everything regarding if I have a right to Occupy my own home which the lender required that I must fully Occupy the house or I would be in breach of the Mortgage. So now I occupy the House, am NOT a legal Resident of the city or the state, and I can keep my PERMANENT Licensed plates on my vehcles, as well as being exempt from Personal Property Tax, and because I am a Disabled Veteran, I can attend their schools and colleges at the same fees as a Permanent Resident of the State. Ignorance of the Law is no excuse.. All I did is to prove their ignorance. In the racial issue, he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t in the activity of requiring me to Prove my status. You see the burden of proof is not on me but the Attorney. The outcome of this is that you have to stand your ground and take it one step at a time to whittle away their “assumed Powers.”

  34. Thanks, Norbert. I’m putting up the gate! They’ve already trespassed when I wasn’t there, even with several No Trespassing signs in plain view. I know this to be the case from my recent RE tax doc where the building values are itemized, though it’s incorrect. Example: they arbitrarily added 10 feet to the width of a shed [yes, a storage shed, not house] whose permit was issued by the town a couple years ago – stated as such on the other side of the evaluation doc – so they KNOW how big it is. Are they trying to get me to react to this obvious blunder so I’ll have to let them look inside my tiny buildings or what?! I just want to be there in peace; with the birds, the rest of the flora and fauna and my little projects with my new toys (carpentry tools). 🙂 We might build tiny houses on wheels somewhere but not this town!

  35. hello. I am just starting out on this adventure with tiny houses. I have been interested in going this way with housing for along time and am fast approaching it happening. But then I read this and I am concerned now. Not stopping but learning this unexpected. so thank you. And I will continue reading. If any one has any info on the Wisconsin area to throw my way I would very much appreciate it.

    Thanks so much.


    • Hi Lisa,
      I’m also from Wisconsin and am interested in the tiny houses. I’d love to connect and compare notes.

  36. Most rural areas in the south do not have building codes nor inspections. Just drive around the backroads and see for yourself. How many house trailer/ permanent structure combos do you see? How many half built structures do you see? Plenty. Property sold as recreational land is pretty much restriction free and you can do most anything you want to do on it, camp, hunt etc. This guy is doing a bit of fear mongering to sell his book. Most cities have the restrictions he is speaking of, but out in the country it is mostly wide open. But you must do your due diligence to ensure that a piece of property has NO RESTRICTIONS. Most of the time these people have agenda’s and this person’s agenda is selling books. He is either a real estate agent or sour puss who couldnt put his tiny house on a lot in town. Lots of people hate the tiny house movement for whatever reason.

  37. I’m trying to live part time in Louisville Kentucky, my son-in-law has 10 acres in Jefferson County anyone know how to get around the coding or permit issues or how to comply and get through it. I just don’t want to live under my son-in-law’s roof and his rules I’d rather live in the backyard LOL.

    Linda Cole

  38. Some places are more restrictive and others are far more accommodating. Everyone has to choose what they think will work best for them, but one option to consider is moving to another city/town/state that isn’t as much of a problem. Rural areas – even when just a few miles outside of a city/town are usually more accommodating too.

    Even then it may make sense to find out what the minimum home size and requirements actually are, then as you can afford it build a small house to meet legal requirements. Your tiny home can afford you the time and the money to be able to do so. Then you can continue to use it as you want in your own backyard far easier than you would be able to do in most other locations people typically try.

    You may alternatively be able to find and buy a home that is in significant disrepair for a price most people would never believe (Under $25,000) for the house and one to two acres of land with it! Do the repairs yourself get it up to a level where it can be legally occupied. It can be done for a total cost less than most people would ever believe possible – and yes you can do your own work. If you can read, follow plans and instructions and can nail two boards together then you can probably do it too!

    Of course, how well this works varies greatly by what part of the country (or world) you are in – but – if you are in such an area and if you get just a few miles outside the cities and look around you may be surprised at what you can find.

    Just another option.

  39. Live in a county with no building codes and use a composting toilet. There, problem solved.

  40. Worked for my uncle when he went off grid. But we live in Tennessee, not sure how it translates to other states.

  41. There are issues for some people like seniors and disabled who can’t live in the middle of nowhere. It’s pretty simple… Need to be near things and people for safety and resources? Option 1: Get an FHA mortgage loan with down payment assistance and buy an existing small home even if your credit isn’t great. There are affordable homes out there. If you’re in a lot of debt, pick another option.

    Option 2: Build it on wheels and park it wherever you can. You’re classified as an RV that way and will have to constantly worry about finding a spot to lease. Isn’t not having to pay rent part of why we want this?

    Option 3: Speak with a mortgage adviser, talk to code enforcement of the county you think you want to live in, look for vacant land and get a loan. Nearly every city and county derive their codes from IBC. If you don’t know what those are, back up and start over. Down the road, when you sell it you’ll get much more for something built to code. If you rent your tiny home out you can avoid heavy fines.

    If you pick #3 like I did, then understand and protect your investment. Property taxes are a reality (left unpaid the county can sell your property off!), lawn equipment and care (keep it neat and cleared and it will net you more when you do sell), most counties require you to legally have certain utilities connected. You are free to use your composting toilet but you’ll still be required to pay for water and sewer. “WHY?” one anonymous poster screamed on the net recently. Public health and safety. This isn’t the 17th century.

  42. I live in a 1969 rv its been remodeled and rebuilt inside its a mini moble now all rv stuff has been removed has straiht hookup power water and sewer new wireing plumming everything iv been liveing in it in a rv park rhat alowes permanent residents havent had no problems yet been here 4 years

  43. This was some really great information about tiny home zoning… TY

  44. in the area of texas i live in we only had to pull permits on my mothers actual house when we put in a septic field no inspections on anything else so there are places that dont care what you live in lol

  45. Am a widow and am living on less than $1500.00 a month. I’m planning on putting a 14’x40’’ storage building on my daughters property in sc. I know that there’s going to be a septic, electric, and well water run to this building. This will be in Lauren’s County. Is there anyway you give me any insight as to whether or not I will have to apply for a permit? I have done some research myself but there’s no clear answer. Thank you, Lynda

    • It is more likely than not that you will require a Permit because the sq footage ranges from 120 sq ft to 380 sq ft in almost every district in the US with a large majority limiting it to only 120 sq foot and over. Your building appears to be 560 sq ft. You also must ensure you comply with the setback requirements if you are in a City, Town, Village. I have been able to argue my point in rural areas and be successful in bypassing a lot of regulations because I have kept tiny home confined to a Travel Trailer/RV frame that has been previously titled and plated What I have done is to comply with the height, width, and length requirements for the road to keep it road worthy as well as compliant for safety reasons. Then also I look into the surrounding area to see if others have RVs on their property.

      If your local code allows RV to be parked in the back yard then it becomes harder for the CIty/COunty to justify removal if the unit is Licenced and Plated with current tags. However, it seems that in your case, you are placing a “Granny Home for the sake of Retirement in affordable housing. I would check to see if Granny House can be placed on a property.. It is a reasonable action to seek out that regulation prior to forcing the issue. Also ensure the manufacturer of the building meets with the County Building Code: https://laurenscounty.us/building-codes/ Chapter 8. Buildings Code https://library.municode.com/sc/laurens_county/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=COOR_CH8BUCOREAC Article 5 Manufactured Housing https://library.municode.com/sc/laurens_county/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=COOR_CH8BUCOREAC_ARTVMAHOOR

      If you are in the City of Laurens, then look at this before you place the unit: https://www.cityoflaurenssc.com/buildingzoning Again what I have accomplished in placing a Tiny Home is based on knowing what the regulations are as well as the Authority to act. In all cases their authority is gained from Public Health and Safety. I start with the fact that it is PRIVATE and not public property. Once it is placed on a foundation it becomes REAL PROPERTY and in that effect you only HOLD the property and the legal status is with the state. That is why, again, I focus on the RV Trailer as the foundation and with that note I leave you with this. A Tiny Home on wheels that is Registered Titled and currently plated is OWNED as Private Property and not property that is only HELD by you. UNless your home is in an Allodial State, you never really own it… you only HOLD IT. That is the big lie that the Real estate fail to clarify to you. In Missouri Court decisions ” …the term estate in itself connotes a holding of land and for this reason it is not applied to personal property which is owned and not held. So, fee simple must refer to the character of a tenancy and not to the extent of real ownership.”

      So… consider your options before you invest, and ensure you have the Constitution in your favor… both the state and the federal. If you are up to fighting a good fight… then do it with knowledge and not just opinion. Also take advantage of the “conditional Use Permit process.”

  46. Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative.
    I am going to watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future.
    Numerous people will be benefited from your writing.

  47. Has anyone considered a park model rv? Check the web for the advantages of a park model over a tiny home. Of course living in a park model would require living in a park with like minded fellow rv people, but it eliminates all the legal problems. However if living off by your self away from others the park model might not be for you.

    • My sister found a Park Model RV and tried to get a permit to set it on her property in Klamath County Oregon. They said no as it was considered a Mobile Home and it did not meet the minimal standards of sq footage for “Mobile Homes.” Words have meanings and they will twist everything to get it to fit their understanding of what IS is… I think the issue was the fact it was an RV which is titled and licensed which means it is not a permanent structure. Not all Tiny Houses are RV, titled and license plated… If it is separated from the Trailer and connected directly to the sewer/water/ electricity and or gas, I don’t think there would be any issue because the requirement of a foundation would have been met and the Tiny House would be Taxable to the local community It is all about the Money as your property is an Asset of the local community funding cycle.

  48. if a contractor might not be reputable? You may not want to do business with someone who: knocks on your door for business, just happens to have materials left over from a previous job, pressures you for an immediate decision, only accepts cash, asks you to pay everything up-front, or asks you to get the required building permits.

  49. Can we start a minimalist/van worshiping religion and get around a lot of red-tape by throwing religious exemptions in front of judges?

    • If you declare your Van to be a Motor Home, in Oregon, AND, state it is your Primary Residence… You will most likely get favorable status as it being a legitimate HOME.. If you drive that home to work and back to your permanent residence spot, then you can probably justify to any court of reasonable intelligence that you are legitimate in your belief that it is your home as you are a Minimalist in your religious beliefs and ultimately tied to the belief that you hold true. You don’t have to justify your religion to a court as to do so is Discriminatory in practice as well as a prejudicial mindset. Instead you offer as part of your defense, something like this: https://www.theminimalists.com/religion/ Therefore the foundation is already set… Just VAN-UP and Live FREE!

  50. Anyone else in NE PA interested in looking for some laRnd to create out own HOA? Just thinking…

Leave a Reply