Category Archives: North Carolina

12/20 Tiny house rules loom large in Pitt County, NC

Pitt County commissioners in 2015.

Pitt County commissioners. (Photo from 2015, not this Monday’s hearing.)

Pitt County commissioners delayed action on amendments to the rules governing tiny houses and recreational vehicles after two people speaking at Monday night’s public hearing said the language was troublesome.

The commissioners directed Planning Director James Rhodes to meet with the speakers and explore ways to help them before a vote on changing text in the county’s zoning ordinance.

Stephen Brand said when he sought a permit three years ago to build a tiny house on 10 acres of land he owns on Dixon Road, the building inspector told him the project did not fall under his jurisdiction.
Brand said he and his father built the home to the standards available at the time. The county permitted a septic system and a solar panel array at his property, but he worries his home won’t be permitted under the proposed rules.

Sophie Szymeczek of Fountain said the new language doesn’t explain what a tiny house is. It defines it as a recreational vehicle, which they aren’t, and doesn’t accurately reflect what tiny homes are, she said.
Szymeczek also questioned if the rules would prevent someone from purchasing a tiny home from an out-state-builder and shipping it to Pitt County.

Rhodes said his office is requesting the text update to match definition provided by the state. The proposed changes define the difference between a tiny house and a recreational vehicle, he said.
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.

Read more – http://www.reflector.com/News/2016/12/20/Tiny-house-language-change-delayed.html

12/18 Beech Mountain, NC town planner proposes outlawing tiny houses

Beech Mountain Town Planner James Scott (right, standing) makes a presentation regarding “tiny houses” to the town council. Town attorney Stacy Eggers IV (left, seated) is listening to the presentation

Beech Mountain Town Planner James Scott (right, standing) makes a presentation regarding “tiny houses” to the town council. Town attorney Stacy Eggers IV (left, seated) is listening to the presentation. Photo by Thomas Sherrill.

Town Planner James Scott made three presentations to the council in which he asked for future public hearings on three items. The first request was for the town to amend its regulations regarding fire extinguishers to align with the state’s ordinances. The motion was approved.

The second was to explore a proposed ordinance regarding the minimum size for detached single family dwellings. Beech Mountain currently has no minimum size, so it falls in with the state’s policy, which Scott believes to be 200 square feet. [Note: this is not precisely correct, although practically a good estimate. NC law requires that homes meet the 2012 International Residential Code which requires a house have at least one room that is 120 sq ft or larger, so with a kitchen and bath, a tiny house meeting the 2012 code would likely be at least 200 sq ft.] After going over all of the detached single family dwellings in the town, Scott proposed a minimum size of 800 square feet, which aligns with the smallest known dwelling in town limits.

Read more – http://www.wataugademocrat.com/watauga/beech-mountain-council-discusses-water-project-tiny-houses/article_6447bafe-36b5-5ac2-a9d7-f31e0694dd25.html

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

10/01 Wilmington, NC Regulations and Minimum House Size

In brief, regulations for a house on a foundation in Wilmington, NC require at least one hundred fifty (150) square feet of floor space for the first occupant and at least one hundred (100) additional square feet of floor area for each additional occupant. More details are below.

Sec. 16-267. – Light; ventilation
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let or sublet to another for occupancy any dwelling unit designed or intended to be used for the purpose of living, sleeping, cooking and eating therein, nor shall any vacant dwelling be permitted to exist which does not comply with the following requirements:

(1) Habitable rooms—Light. Every habitable room shall have at least one (1) window or skylight facing directly to the outdoors. The minimum total window area, measured between stops, for every habitable room shall be eight (8) percent of the floor area of such room. Whenever the only window in a room is a skylight-type window in the top of such room, the total window area of such skylight shall equal at least fifteen (15) percent of the total area of such room.

(2) Same—Ventilation. Every habitable room shall have at least one (1) window or skylight which can be safely opened, or such other device as will adequately ventilate the room. The total of openable window area in every habitable room shall be equal to at least forty-five (45) percent of the minimum window area size or minimum skylight-type size, as required, or the room shall have other approved equivalent ventilation.

(3) Bathroom. Every bathroom shall comply with the light and ventilation requirements for habitable rooms except that no window or skylight shall be required in adequately ventilated bathrooms equipped with an approved ventilation system.

(4) Electric lights and outlets. Every dwelling shall be adequately and safely wired for electric lights and convenience receptacles. Every habitable room and hallway shall have provisions for adequate lighting and other necessary electrical service.

(5) Light in public halls and stairways. Every public hall and stairway in every multiple dwelling containing five (5) or more dwelling units shall be adequately lighted at all times. Every public hall and stairway in structures devoted solely to dwelling occupancy and containing not more than four (4) dwelling units may be supplied with conveniently located light switches, controlling an adequate lighting system which may be turned on when needed, instead of full-time lighting.
(Code 1962, § 6-51)

Sec. 16-268. – Electrical systems
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let or sublet to another for occupancy any dwelling or dwelling unit designed or intended to be used for the purpose of living, sleeping, cooking or eating therein, nor shall any vacant dwelling be permitted to exist which does not comply with the following requirements:

(1) All fixtures, receptacles, equipment and wiring shall be maintained in a state of good repair, safe, capable of being used and installed and connected to the source of electric power in accordance with the adopted electrical code of the city.

(2) The minimum capacity of the service supply and the main disconnect switch shall be sufficient to adequately carry the total load required in accordance with the electrical code of the city.
(Code 1962, § 6-52)

Sec. 16-269. – Exterior and interior of structures generally.
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let or sublet to another for occupancy any dwelling or dwelling unit designed or intended to be used for the purpose of living, sleeping, cooking or eating therein, nor shall any vacant dwelling building be permitted to exist which does not comply with the following requirements:

(1) Foundation. The building foundation walls, piers or other elements shall be maintained in a safe manner and capable of supporting the load which normal use may cause to be placed thereon.

(2) Exterior walls. The exterior walls shall be substantially weathertight and watertight, and shall be made impervious to the adverse effects of weather and be maintained in sound condition and good repair.

(3) Roofs. Roofs shall be maintained in a safe manner and have no defects which might admit rain or cause dampness in the walls or interior portion of the building.

(4) Means of egress. Every dwelling unit shall have two (2) safe, unobstructed means of egress with minimum ceiling height of seven (7) feet leading to a safe and open space at ground level.

(5) Stairs. Every inside and outside stair shall be safe to use and capable of supporting the load that normal use may cause to be placed thereon; and shall be kept in sound condition and good repair.

(6) Porches and appurtenances. Every outside porch and any appurtenance thereto shall be safe to use and capable of supporting the load that normal use may cause to be placed thereon; and shall be kept in sound condition and good repair.

(7) Windows and doors generally. Every window, exterior door and basement or cellar door and hatchway shall be substantially weathertight, watertight and rodent proof; and shall be kept in sound working condition and good repair.

(8) Windows to be glazed. Window panes or an approved substitute shall be maintained without cracks or holes which allow passage of air.

(9) Window sash. Window sash shall be properly fitted and weathertight within the window frame.

(10) Hardware. Every exterior door shall be provided with proper hardware and maintained in good condition.

(11) Door frames. Every exterior door shall fit reasonably well within its frame so as to substantially exclude rain and wind from entering the dwelling building.

(12) Screens. Every door opening directly from a dwelling unit to outdoor space shall have screens and a self-closing device; and every window or other device with opening to outdoor space, used or intended to be used for ventilation, shall likewise have screens, tightfitting, free of holes and not nailed to the window frame or sash. Dwellings containing central heating furnaces and adequate cooling equipment for mechanically ventilating the building year around are not required to have screens on door or window openings.

(13) Accessory structures. Garages, storage buildings and other accessory structures shall be maintained and kept in good repair and sound structural condition.

(14) Interior floors, walls, partitions, ceilings. Every floor, wall, partition and interior ceiling shall be substantially rodent proof, shall be kept in sound condition and good repair and shall be safe to use and capable of supporting the load which normal use may cause to be placed thereon.

(15) Structural supports. Every structural element of the dwelling shall be structurally sound and show no evidence of deterioration which would render it incapable of carrying loads which normal use may cause to be placed thereon.

(16) Protective railings. Protective railings shall be required on any unenclosed structure over thirty (30) inches above adjacent finish grade or on any steps exceeding four (4) risers. Interior stairs and stairwells more than four (4) risers high shall have handrails located in accordance with requirements of the building code. Handrails or protective railings shall be capable of bearing normally imposed loads and shall be maintained in good condition.
(Code 1962, § 6-53)

Sec. 16-270. – Space and use.
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let or sublet to another for occupancy any dwelling or dwelling unit designed or intended to be used for the purpose of living, sleeping, cooking or eating therein, nor shall any vacant dwelling building be permitted to exist which does not comply with the following requirements:

(1) Space in dwelling unit. Every dwelling unit shall contain at least one hundred fifty (150) square feet of floor space for the first occupant thereof and at least one hundred (100) additional square feet of floor area per each additional occupant.

(2) Space in sleeping rooms. In every dwelling unit of two (2) or more rooms, every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant shall contain at least seventy (70) square feet of floor space, and every room occupied for sleeping purposes by more than one occupant shall contain at least fifty (50) square feet of floor space for each occupant thereof.

(3) Minimum ceiling height. At least one-half of the floor area of every habitable room, foyer, hall or corridor shall have a ceiling height of at least seven (7) feet; and the floor area of that part of any room where the ceiling height is less than seven (7) feet shall not be considered as part of the floor area in computing the total floor area of the room for the purpose of determining the maximum permissible occupancy.

(4) Occupancy of dwelling unit below grade. No basement or cellar space shall be used as a habitable room or dwelling unit unless meeting all specifications for habitable rooms.
(Code 1962, § 6-54)

Source: https://www.municode.com/library/nc/wilmington/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTIIITECO_CH16BUBURE_ARTVMIHOCO_DIV4MISTEQFA_S16-269EXINSTGE

Winston-Salem inches forward on tiny house rules

John Williams of Winston-Salem made a tiny house from this containerized freight module.

John Williams of Winston-Salem made a tiny house from this containerized freight module. Photo by David Rolfe

Regulations that could determine where people might have tiny houses or other secondary dwellings on single-family lots appear certain to get a lot more discussion as members of the Winston-Salem City Council found themselves poles apart on the issue in committee on Tuesday.

City officials say the regulations now on the books are unenforceable because of recent court decisions, but that doesn’t make it clear what should take their place.

The rules were discussed in Tuesday’s meeting of the Winston-Salem City Council’s committee on community development, housing and general government.

Two widely diverging viewpoints emerged in Tuesday’s discussion: That secondary dwellings could ruin the character of neighborhoods with single-family dwellings; and that such secondary housing is needed in an era of more people getting older or being attracted to a high-density urban lifestyle.
The city has allowed secondary dwellings on single-family lots as long as they were occupied by relatives, caretakers and the like, but Council Member Jeff MacIntosh said the rules are widely flouted because the city doesn’t carry out inspections to make sure the rules are followed.

City planning staffers say that the courts have ruled that occupancy rules can’t be based on the status of the person living in a dwelling. That kicks the props out from under the city’s current rules.

Read more – http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/winston-salem-inches-forward-on-tiny-house-rules/article_a85f326a-9820-56b0-90b3-5bcc4f8f43d6.html

Jackson County shares North Carolina state Tiny House Regulations

Jackson, NC details building & zoning requirements here: http://www.jacksonnc.org/code-enforcement.html.

They have provided a Tiny House Brochure summary state regulations and definitions.
You can download it here http://www.jacksonnc.org/_literature_231471/2016_Tiny_House_Brochure
or here: TinyHouseBrochure2016

NC tiny house brochure page 1

NC tiny house brochure page 1

NC tiny house brochure page 2

NC tiny house brochure page 2

06/10 Triad family’s tiny house has trouble fitting in

Joe and April Marzullo in front of their tiny house

Joe and April Marzullo in front of their tiny house

When Joe and April Marzullo moved their 340-square-foot house on wheels from Minnesota to the Triad, they weren’t expecting to have to move again. That was before a zoning investigation found their so-called “tiny house” violates Guilford County’s development ordinance.

Now, they will have to find a new place to park it by July 1 or be fined.

The Marzullos’ house is part of a nationwide trend that has seen a growing number of people building homes of between 100 and 400 square feet, often on wheels, in order to economize and simplify their lifestyles. (An average U.S. home is 2,679 square feet, per the Census Bureau.)

The problem is, as the Marzullos found out the hard way, local zoning regulations are often incompatible with the tiny house movement.

Read more – http://www.bizjournals.com/triad/news/2016/06/10/triad-family-s-tiny-house-has-trouble-fitting-in.html

05/28 Tiny houses raise big questions for regulators in Winston-Salem

John Williams in front of a container house

John Williams in front of a container house. Photos by David Rolfe/Journal

A tiny house might be in your future if you’re looking to radically downsize, but it’s debatable whether the city will ever allow you to have one here.

For now, the answer seems to be no if you’re talking about the kind of tiny house that’s mounted on wheels so you can tow your home around from place to place.

But local tiny house advocate John Williams thinks that tiny houses can be made to look just as good as a stick-built home and should be treated that way, with the right safeguards: “With the proper tie-down you could have a cute little cottage in your backyard

City leaders are wrestling with how to handle tiny houses as they look at the larger question of regulating so-called accessory dwellings: in-law apartments, garage apartments and other dwellings that may sit behind a conventional house that faces the street.

The city needs to change its regulations to bring them in line with court rulings that invalidate certain current city requirements — rules that specify that an accessory dwelling can only be occupied by a relative of the main householder, or someone who is older, handicapped or a servant.

Courts are telling local governments they can’t dictate those kinds of requirements, city officials said.

Read more – http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/tiny-houses-raise-big-questions-for-regulators-in-winston-salem/article_c6a846bb-a3bb-5095-b3d8-21e3257c5013.html

09/23 Tiny houses in NoDa? Well, almost

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 7.11.35 AM

McBroom and Pate, longtime NoDa* landlords and former owners of the Neighborhood Theatre, [are now building] small homes after years of renovating more traditional single-family homes, including many former mill houses.

They built the smaller, all-plywood houses on the same lot with existing rental homes during the past three years as a way to add more affordable housing in NoDa while also boosting their property values.

The city of Charlotte calls this couple’s smaller homes “accessory dwellings,” permissible under a zoning amendment adopted by City Council in 2012 to help build the inventory of affordable housing…

Charlotte limits the maximum size of accessory dwellings such as McBroom’s to half the size of the main house. That means accessory homes may not work well in neighborhoods with smaller homes, although those neighborhoods are often more affordable.

These accessory dwellings probably won’t help address the city’s most urgent need for affordable housing, either. The greatest need is among families, and one-bedroom units most often would not be adequate, said Floyd Davis, president and CEO of Community Link, which helps individuals and families find affordable housing. The price for the NoDa rentals also would make them out of reach for many people, Davis said.

“When you look at $800 a month, that is not very affordable for a person working at a job that pays less than $14 an hour,” Davis said. “That represents around 40 percent of our workforce.”

*NoDa is a popular arts district located in the North Charlotte (North Carolina) neighborhood on and around North Davidson Street and 36th Street.

Read more http://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/homegarden/article36283785.html

Building code map

Handy map of the US. Just click on your state (in the link, not on the picture) to see which building codes are in effect: http://www.iccsafe.org/about-icc/overview/international-code-adoptions/

International Code Council Map

International Code Council map