Category Archives: Building Codes

12/05 Tiny house friendly changes in IRC 2018

We are one step closer to having more lenient requirements for ceiling heights, lofts, and stairs in tiny houses that are on foundations. Voters in the International Code Council (ICC) passed the proposed appendix written by Andrew Morrison. Results still need to be certified and confirmed, but as long as that happens, the appendix will be part of the IRC 2018. Local communities can then adopt it if & when they choose to. It won’t pertain to tiny house on wheels and it doesn’t mean that tiny houses are now legal (as some are saying) but it is a positive step.

Read more – https://tinyhousebuild.com/tiny-house-appendix-passes/

11/17 Pitt County, North Carolina Planning Board recommends changes in RV, tiny house rules

Pitt County emblemPitt County’s Planning Board sent the Board of Commissioners two proposals that would increase who receives mailed public hearing notices and further define recreational vehicles and tiny homes…

Staff recommended changing the zoning ordinance text on recreational vehicles and tiny houses because the state’s departments for insurance and public health recently provided some guidelines clarifying how certain types of RVs should be set up and occupied, planner Mark Nottingham said. The county also fielded a request earlier this year to build a structure that was not a site-built home but also did not meet structural guidelines for modular and manufactured homes, he said, so the county defined it as a recreational vehicle.

The proposed changes define the difference between a tiny house and a recreational vehicle. The new definition states a tiny house and its foundation must comply with the state’s residential building code. If it is built off-site and transported, it must be inspected and certified under the state’s modular construction program. If it is built through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s manufactured housing construction program, it will be permitted and inspected as a manufactured home.

If a tiny house does not comply with either set of rules and is built on a trailer frame with axles and wheels, it is considered a recreational vehicle and is not acceptable as a permanent dwelling.

The definition of an RV park also is changed. Currently, a site or tract of land has to have spaces for 15 or more RVs or campsites to fall into the RV category and its requirements, Nottingham said. The staff said the number should be reduced to three.

The proposed changes require recreational vehicles to meet setback requirements for single-family homes, meaning the lots must have 30 feet to 40 feet in the front of the property and 10 feet on the sides and rear.

Recreational vehicles cannot be permanent residences until they meet specific building codes. Nottingham said there was not a clear definition of temporary occupancy so the county adjusted the definition and lengthened the amount of time a person could temporarily live in a recreational vehicle from three months to 180 days in a consecutive 12-month period.

John Powers, owner of Whispering Oaks RV Resort on Sunnyside Road, said he supports the changes. His property has 12 sites, so it doesn’t fall under the county’s RV Park definition and will be grandfathered if commissioners adopt the changes.

“I feel like our facility is a valued resource for Pitt County, especially ECU on game day,” Powers said.

Planning board member R.J. Hemby asked how the county would enforce the 180-day limits on living in an RV. Nottingham said it would be difficult to enforce and likely would require neighbors reporting violations.

The changes will go in effect Jan. 1 if commissioners approve the request in December. The rules are only for unincorporated areas of Pitt County.

Read more – http://www.reflector.com/News/2016/11/17/Planning-board-recommends-changes-in-RV-tiny-house-rules.html

11/02 Tiny house living catches on in Central Florida: Homes on wheels built and inspected by local contractors

Michelle Mann in her tiny house built by Trekker Trailers

Michelle Mann in her tiny house built by Trekker Trailers

Robin Butler’s decades of building experience is going full circle from very large to extreme small or tiny as in tiny house.

Butler is leading a local project based in Apopka inspecting tiny house projects that average about the size of a 8×24 living room but have all the comforts of home.

“Once they’ve scaled their lives down they seem happier,” he told News 6.

Butler, a former building contractor is one of a team of professionals that offer digitized inspections anywhere in the country. (Think “Face time” with the inspector.)

“The inspector is looking at exactly what the builder’s smart device is looking at, he communicates with the builder he can freeze frame put notes and arrows and then pass inspection.

They call themselves the National Organization of Alternative Housing, NOAH.

The group was recently recognized by Foremost Insurance Company as the standard for tiny home inspections.

NOAHcertified.org inspects them and about 30 minutes away in Leesburg, Andrew Bennett, of Trekker Trailers, builds custom tiny homes.

“We can do wood grains and metals and things like that …base price about $49,000 with all the appliances included,” Bennet told WKMGH News 6.

Read more and watch the video: http://www.clickorlando.com/news/investigators/tiny-house-living-catching-on-in-central-florida

10/14 Coconino County, Arizona invites the public to discuss draft of tiny house zoning & coding rules

Coconino County, AZ community development logoCoconino County Community Development is hosting an open house on the draft permitting process for tiny houses on Tuesday, Oct. 18. The event is open to the public to learn about the draft policy and to provide feedback before it is finalized later this month.

The open house will be at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, 703 E. Sawmill Road from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Source for the event: http://azdailysun.com/news/local/coconino-county-hosts-open-house-on-tiny-home-rules/article_9653d1dd-d2a5-521b-9ad9-86fa43641278.html

Here is the draft (note: these rules have not been yet adopted):

Permitting Regulations for Tiny Houses in Coconino County
Draft- August 19, 2016

Definition: Coconino County Community Development defines a Tiny House as a house smaller than 400 square feet; it can be site-built, partially site-built, or on an approved trailer. Houses shall not be smaller than 200 square feet.

Zoning Code Requirements for Tiny Houses:

  • Site built tiny houses built on an approved foundation system shall be permitted in zones
    allowing detached single family dwellings; must meet Community Development regulations for Tiny Houses
  • Tiny houses built on trailers, where the suspension/axle components have been removed and the chassis permanently attached on an approved foundation shall be permitted in zones allowing detached single family dwellings; must meet Community Development regulations for Tiny Houses
  • Tiny houses on mobile chassis where the suspension/axle components remain are considered semi-permanent and the chassis shall be attached on an approved foundation system, and shall be permitted in zones allowing for manufactured and mobile homes; must meet Community Development regulations for Tiny Houses
  • Tiny houses licensed as Travel Vehicles by the State of Arizona are non-permanent housing and must be self-contained, these shall be permitted for uses similar to recreation vehicles; these homes fall under ADOT jurisdiction
  • Site built tiny houses or tiny houses on trailers where the suspension/axle components have
    been removed and the chassis permanently attached on an approved foundation, and meeting all other multifamily zoning and Community Development Tiny House requirements, shall be permitted in multifamily zoning
  • Site built tiny houses, or tiny houses on trailers where the suspension/axle components have been removed and the chassis permanently attached on an approved foundation, and meeting all other Accessory Dwelling Unit zoning and Community Development Tiny House
    requirements, shall be permitted in zones allowing for Accessory Dwelling Units.

Building Code Requirements for Tiny Houses:

  • Tiny houses shall be built and inspected in accordance with the Coconino County adopted
    building code and ordinance.
  • The house can be partially or entirely built on-site or off-site. If built off-site, it needs to have been inspected and approved by a recognized agency approved by the Building Official. All Tiny Houses on Wheels (THOWs) that are built off-site and brought to Coconino County as a dwelling unit will require a plan review and special inspection by Coconino County Community Development to ensure the structural and life safety aspects of the THOW. The County can request additional remodel permits, inspections and engineering of off-site THOWs that have not been inspected and certified by another jurisdiction or third party agency-on a case by case bases.
  • The County has made the following building code adjustments to accommodate tiny houses:
    1. Minimum room dimension is 6’6” with no room smaller than 65 square feet, excluding
      storage areas and bathrooms
    2. Ceiling height is 6’4” in open livable areas, creating a non-obstructed path for egress and
      ingress
    3. Egress and ingress must be provided in sleeping and living areas
    4. Lofts built as storage shall not be permitted as bedrooms, unless meeting ceiling height and egress/ingress requirements
    5. Bathroom and kitchen required, clearance in the front of the toilet needs to be no less than 15” from center of toilet to wall or cabinets
    6. Ladders/lapiers may replace stairways to loft areas (must have uniform run and rises,
      provide stair or ladder detail on plans)
    7. Loft areas used for storage may have reduced fall protection
    8. Number of electrical circuits may be reduced to reflect loads
    9. A minimum of 60 amp electric panel required
    10. Energy Code Concessions: R-15 minimum in framed floors, ceiling insulation and wall
      insulation.
  • Tiny houses built on trailers will need to a have Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO), or a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO), or be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV). Documentation must show the load capacity for the trailer. Before a Certificate of Occupancy can be issued, documentation must be provided to Coconino County Community Development verifying the load of the tiny house is within the load capacity of the trailer.
  • A Certificate of Occupancy will only be issued for tiny houses set on permanent foundations. If the home is removed, the Certificate of Occupancy is no longer valid for the mobile tiny home on wheels. If the tiny home is re-set on a permanent foundation within Coconino County, a foundation permit and special inspection of the tiny house shall be required to obtain a new Certificate of Occupancy.

Wastewater Requirements:

  • Tiny houses set on a permanent foundation will be required to have a wastewater system sized to accommodate the occupancy and fixture count.
  • Tiny houses used as RVs and sited at an RV park must be fully self-contained
  • Compost toilets need to meet ADEQ approved list
  • Graywater needs to be approved for permanently sited tiny houses, to ensure no issues with wastewater system function, as well as environmental considerations like high ground water, wells, and permeability of soils.
  • Tiny Houses on Wheels (THOWs) can include plumbing for graywater-but if permanently sited, the THOWs must go through an approval process

Engineering Division Requirements:

  • Permanently sited Tiny Homes need to meet all Engineering requirements, including drainage, road encroachments, floodplain and roads.

Source for draft code: http://www.coconino.az.gov/DocumentCenter/View/12940

Draft code document: Draft-Coconino County Permitting Regulations for Tiny Houses.pdf

10/08 San Jose waives state building codes for tiny houses for the homeless

A newly signed law will allow San Jose to become the first California city to create tiny homes for the homeless by bypassing the state’s confining building codes.

City housing officials and advocates for the homeless call the new legislation a “game-changer” in the fight to solve one of the Silicon Valley’s most intractable problems.

The law, authored by Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, as Assembly Bill 2176 and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 27, 2016 goes into effect in January 2017 and sunsets in five years. It allows the city to temporarily suspend state building, safety and health codes for the purpose of building “unconventional” housing structures — everything from wood-framed sheds to tiny homes. The city will adopt its own regulations, the law says, based on some minimum standards.

“It was huge for the governor to sign this because it’s outside-the-box and no one else has done it,” Campos said. “Other big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles will be looking at what we do here. We had to do something because what we were doing wasn’t working.”

The law requires the city to first declare a “shelter crisis” — which it did last December — and to use city-owned or city-leased land for the tiny homes. The homes must be insulated, have weather-proof roofing, lighting and electrical outlets, according to the bill.

It’s unclear how many homeless people will benefit from the homes, which must be at least 70 square-feet for individuals and 120 square-feet for couples. A half-acre piece of land, according to city documents, could house up to 25 people inside 20 units.

But no matter the size of the homes, San Jose resident Monica Fuentes says anything is better than life on the streets. The former accountant ended up outdoors after a divorce and brain tumor — and now she moves from one downtown park to another, transporting her belongings in a small plastic cart.

“You can’t live your life out here without having your stuff stolen,” said Fuentes, 47, who’s been homeless for three years.

Ray Bramson, San Jose’s homeless response manager, said the state’s regulatory barriers were the biggest challenge in building creative housing units for some 4,000 homeless residents.

Bramson said the homes are a “temporary stopping point” until San Jose builds more than 500 new affordable housing apartments in the next five years. The temporary homes would include on-site supportive services.

“This law really is the first of its kind,” Bramson said. “It will allow us to create bridge housing opportunities — a stable place people can live and stay while they’re waiting to be placed in a permanent home.”

The next step is figuring out where to put the homes. And then deciding what they’ll look like.

Read more – http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/10/07/san-jose-new-law-would-make-city-first-to-allow-tiny-homes-for-homeless/

Walsenburg, Colorado modifies building code to be tiny house friendly

Walsenburg, Colorado passed amendments to the 2015 IRC to be more tiny house friendly for homes on foundations. They waived minimum room areas and stairway regulations and reduced the requirement for exit door width: Walsenburg Colorado Ordinance No. 1092

Zoning regulations were made tiny house friendly in 2014: http://americantinyhouseassociation.org/tiny-houses-on-foundations-allowed-with-a-variance-in-walensburg-co/

08/17 State Official Warns Converting Shed to Tiny House is Illegal

shed with caption "Beware when buying a tiny house."The tiny house trend is booming across the country, but the illegal conversion of ready-removable shed structures into living spaces could mean big headaches for buyers. In an effort to protect consumers, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office is urging Tennesseans to be aware of state laws governing ready-removable structures and not fall victim to persons trying to make big profits by selling these small structures as legal living spaces.

“Don’t get duped by a seller who promotes or promises a ready-removable as an affordable living space,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “Ready-removable structures are not built with the intention of being used as living spaces.”

What’s a ready-removable? The term “ready-removable” refers to a structure without any foundation, footings, or other support mechanisms that allow a structure to be easily relocated, but which may include electrical wiring. According to Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-126-303, ready-removable structures include, but are not limited to, stadium press boxes, guard shelters, or structures that contain only electrical, electronic, or mechanical equipment that are solely occupied for service or maintenance of such equipment.

Ensure your tiny house meets building codes.

It is against state law to modify ready-removable structures for use as residential, recreational, or emergency housing in Tennessee.

“Building codes are necessary life-safety measures, and ready–removable structures do not pass the code for sleeping spaces,” said Commerce & Insurance Deputy Commissioner Gary West. “The State Fire Marshal’s Office cannot issue certificates for electrical power to ready-removables that are used as housing.”

Ready-removables with electrical wiring can be used for work spaces or storage, but must still meet applicable state and local electrical permitting requirements, local building permitting requirements, and have hardwired smoke alarms installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Ready-removables cannot have plumbing systems.

If you want to report a violation of the state’s ready-removable law, call (615) 741-7192 or email modular.buildings@state.tn.us.

Source: http://www.seviernewsmessenger.com/2016/08/17/converting-shed-tiny-house-illegal/

City of Albuquerque, NM provides Tiny House Construction Guidelines

example of a tiny house on a foundation

example of a tiny house on a foundation

The tiny home trend is taking Albuquerque by storm as an option for affordable and sustainable living. But before you take steps to build your itty-bitty abode, it’s important to know that there are certain building codes and regulations that you need to follow to ensure safety and that you’re in compliance with the law.

The Planning Department’s Building Safety Division has put together some informative guidelines for anyone considering constructing a tiny home. These guidelines will help ensure you build a tiny home that’s affordable, sustainable and up to code.

Here are the guidelines, issued in August 2016. The 2009 sub-title refers to the fact that the city adheres to the 2009 version of the International Residential Building Code:
http://documents.cabq.gov/planning/BuildingSafety/BuildSafety-TinyHomeGuidelines-2016.pdf

Document: Albuquerque Tiny House Guidelines

Suggested changes to Virginia’s Uniform Statewide Building Code for tiny houses on foundations

Here are changes suggested by Thom Stanton to accommodate tiny houses on foundations in Virginia:

Suggested Changes to the IRC

by Thom Stanton, American Tiny House Association’s Virginia State Chapter Leader

Thom defines a small house as being not more than 500 sq ft. and suggests these changes:

Section R327, Small Houses

  1. Access to the basements, underfloor areas and lofts shall be by means of alternating tread devices, ladders, or any means that complies with Section R311.
  2. The minimum floor areas of Section R304 shall not apply.
  3. The minimum ceiling height requirements of Section R305 shall not apply.
  4. Lofts used as sleeping areas shall not be required to comply with Section R310 provided that the loft opens to a floor containing an emergency escape and rescue opening.
  5. Basements and underfloor areas shall not be required to comply with Section R310 provided that the
  6. basement or underfloor area does not contain sleeping rooms.
  7. The minimum door sizes of Section R311.2 shall not apply.
  8. The hallway width requirements of Section R311.6 shall not apply.
  9. The guard requirements of Section R312 shall not apply to lofts.
  10. The automatic fire sprinkler requirements of Section R313 shall not apply.

Source:
VUSBC-2016_Tiny-House_Draft-01.pdf