What's Wrong With the Tiny Home Movement?

This tiny beauty is in Toronto. It boasts 300 square feet of living space with a tiny back patio. If small living is your thing, this might be your next house!

The listing includes this information:

* Completely re-done top-to-bottom, front-to-back!

* Tumbled stone entrance walk

* Renovated Bath

* Renovated Kitchen with newer stove, new cabinets and new stacked washer/dryer

* Bedroom with Murphy Bed + ‘Built-Ins’ … (doubles as a den)!

* Walk-out to fenced patio

* 100 Amp service

* 2 Satellite Dishes and Receiver

* Window Air Conditioner Available

In most towns, a building permit isn't required for a structure of 120 square feet or less. However, these small structures are considered sheds or workshops. Full-time living in a tiny building is generally not allowed. Some people live successfully "under the radar" but it's risky. A grumpy neighbor or diligent official could make your tiny life untenable.

To be a legal residence, a structure must be built in accordance with local building codes. Most states have adopted the International Residential Code for One- and Two- Family Dwellings. However, there is great diversity in the specific versions. Scroll down to see the US map. In addition to the IRC, a state, county or city may have additional codes that must be followed. Rare exceptions do exist. Thie book, No Building Codes, written in 2010 by Terry Herb, provides information on areas where building codes are absent or rarely enforced.

Zoning regulations pose more of a challenge than building codes. Many cities and counties have minimum size requirements of 1,000 square feet or more for construction of a new home on its own land. The specific minimum will be determined by your zone. For example, in Manatee County, Florida, new houses in zone R1 must be at least 1500 square feet, but in zones R2 & R3 only 800 square feet. In contrast, in Sarasota County, Florida, there is no minimum house size. Call your local Zoning or Planning Department to find out what the minimum is for your land.

So what can I do?!?

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

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