Category Archives: Tennessee

11/13 Music City Tiny House Shut Down by Code Officials – Now for Sale

toddler stands in front of tiny house on wheels

The daughter of Sarah and John Murphy stands in front of their tiny house in their backyard in Nashville, TN

Honestly, I don’t know if I ever saw this day coming. When John and I designed and commissioned Music City Tiny House to be built, we envisioned many things, but selling it was not one of them. The tiny house is my happy place. I sit there on the couch and dream of the adventures we could have together, the views that could her windows deserve to behold and the people we would meet along the way.

Though, when we built her, I never envisioned renting her out to other people either.

John and I wanted what every tiny house dweller wants. A simpler lifestyle, financial freedom, less environmental impact, a lifestyle we knew we could afford even if one of us lost our jobs. We’ve taken some risks to get her and keep her, for sure. We cashed out my retirement (I hear the gasps. I know.) to buy her. We ended up buying a “big house” in a not-so-great area of Nashville so we had a place to park her since nobody would host us, and we decided not to hide her, but to openly host public open houses, charity events, tiny-house friendly politician fundraisers, and putting her all over Airbnb and the tiny house network. We did it because we believe in what tiny houses stand for, and who they can help. We did it because we wanted to increase awareness and, hopefully, legal acceptance of them.

We don’t regret a single thing about our tiny house journey, except for the fact that we never got the chance to live in her. We came to terms early on with the fact that OUR place in the tiny house movement was in the advocacy of tiny houses; in the facilitating of OTHER people to go tiny by hosting them, allowing them to “test drive the tiny life,” by answering the hundreds of inquiries we’ve received via email, and speaking at public events in front of large crowds who are intrigued and seeking additional info about tiny houses.

It has been an AMAZING few years!

Unfortunately, last week we were served with the papers we knew would someday arrive: Codes telling us to “shut ‘er down.”

We could fight it, we could go underground and just avoid Airbnb, which is how they likely found us. We could move her to another location, like an RV park, and host from there. We could do a lot of things. What we’re doing instead, is selling it.

Why? Because life has caught up to us. When we first started on this journey, it was to simplify our lives. The minute we started Airbnbing, hosting open houses, and advocating for tiny houses while each holding full-time professional positions and raising a toddler, things got more complicated, not less. Then, 5 months ago, we had another baby. Then my sister and HER newborn moved in with us. Then I started the ball rolling on a business venture that I am so excited about my heart wants to explode. Then we got served papers to stop hosting people in our tiny house. And while it makes me sad that this move to sell the tiny house means this chapter of our tiny house adventure is coming to a close, something needs to give or the complexity of our lives is going to IMPLODE our lives.

Read more – http://www.musiccitytinyhouse.com/blog/2016/11/13/music-city-tiny-house-if-for-sale

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/

08/04 Weaver Seeking Tiny House Zoning For Chattanooga

owners of the construction company, Wind River Tiny Homes

owners of the construction company, Wind River Tiny Homes

Jeremy Weaver, one of three owners of the successful Wind River Tiny Homes business, is set to go before the Planning Commission on Monday to make a plea for tiny homes zoning in Chattanooga…

Mr. Weaver says there is currently no minimum house size in Chattanooga as there are in many cities.

But he said many tiny homes are on wheels and that puts them in a different category.

Mr. Weaver, whose firm just completed a $105,000 tiny house that is going outside Boston, Mass., said the proposed zoning ordinance would require that the small houses be of the same character as the neighborhood and of the same quality.

He said more and more people are showing an interest in living in small homes that are of high quality.

His firm, which currently makes two tiny homes at a time, has orders backed up for six months.

Read more – http://www.chattanoogan.com/2016/8/4/329361/Weaver-Seeking-Tiny-House-Zoning-For.aspx

Etowah, Tennessee backlash against tiny houses, sets new minimum sq ft requirements

Main Street, Etowah, TN

Main Street, Etowah, TN

There will be no tiny houses built in Etowah after the city commissioners amended an ordinance to prevent their construction.

A current fad spreading throughout the United States includes people living in houses less than 500 square feet, often referred to as tiny houses.

As a result of this, the Etowah City Commission voted Monday to set a minimum area for houses of 800 square feet in Residential 1 zones and 600 square feet in Residential 2 and 3 zones.

The idea of amending Ordinance 790 came from Planning Commissioner Michael Vezzani after discussions he heard around town about the tiny house.

Vezzani noted that he was in Sloan’s Hardware in Etowah recently when the topic came up and he decided to bring it to his fellow planning commissioners to ask what they thought.
“I saw some issues,” he said, citing property values potentially decreasing when tiny houses are introduced to a neighborhood.

After the planning commissioners discussed the issue with Southeast Tennessee Development District (SETDD) Regional Planner Chad Reese, they decided to recommend the amendment to the City Commission.
“Chad Reese thought it was not in Etowah’s best interest to have 200 square foot housing on a lot that had two regular sized houses on either side,” Director of Community Development Chris Ingram noted at the city commission meeting.

The commissioners then unanimously passed the amendment to the ordinance, though Vezzani said his intent was not to ban tiny houses from Etowah forever.

“This doesn’t mean we will always be against tiny homes,” he said.

Ingram added that one person has expressed some level of interest in tiny homes, but there has been no movement to build any inside the city limits to this point.

Source – http://www.dailypostathenian.com/news/article_d7e77f60-443e-50a2-a6bb-a7eb4e047f1b.html

Dandridge, TN gives initial approval to tiny houses on foundations

Dandridge, TN City HallDandridge Council gave first reading approval to regulations for “tiny houses” doing their regular session last Tuesday.

The town’s planning commission developed the guidelines, which regulate houses in the 100 to 300 square foot range. The tiny house trend started on the West Coast and has become popular across the country. The structures are featured on a Home and Garden television channel show and are considered a way to cut back on consumerism and wastefulness.

The new ordinance, approved unanimously following motions from Council member Ken Thornhill and Vice Mayor Mike Nelson, restricts tiny houses to the R3 (multi-family, high density) zone. They must have permanent foundations, according to the ordinance.

Planners were concerned that a developer could group a large number of tiny houses on a small area. They also wanted to restrict their mobility. Many tiny houses are built on trailers and intended to be moved around.

In the R3 zone, lot sizes are 7,500 square feet.

Source: http://www.standardbanner.com/news/dandridge-gives-initial-approval-to-tiny-houses-regulations/article_c8776270-4d2b-11e6-8ea7-bb865d0b7210.html

05/11 Despite unsuccessful attempt to construct tiny house community, trend growing locally

tiny house

Wind River Tiny Homes is located in Apison. Co-owner Travis Pyke built this home a few years ago.

If someone were to explore “tiny house movement” on Google trends, they would see a graph that shows an exponential increase in searches that begins around 2009; Chattanooga is no exception to this increase in interest in the tiny house lifestyle.

Wind River Tiny Homes is seeing its company grow with this movement, and Chattanooga State Community College is also taking advantage of the trend to teach their students in new, hands-on ways.

But the trend also comes with challenges and some opposition, depending on how and where the tiny homes are planned. For example, on Monday, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission voted against a tiny home community planned for the Ooltewah area. The idea was to provide about 30 small homes at a low cost. Click here for more.

Wind River Tiny Homes
Travis Pyke and Jeremy Weaver launched Wind River Tiny Homes in 2014. And Caleb Knowles recently became the third owner of the company.

Wind River didn’t start building homes until 2015, and since this time, the company has seen large amounts of growth, especially starting in 2016.

Read more – http://nooga.com/173157/despite-unsuccessful-attempt-to-construct-tiny-house-community-trend-growing-locally/

03/03 A call for new tools to fix affordable housing

man at a crossroad
…The post-housing-crash world is very different from the housing world we had before the crash. We now have fewer grants to create affordable housing; HUD’s housing budget is constantly being cut; land is more expensive; and investors have great resources of capital to buy land and buildings, speculating that these values will continue to increase. Last summer an investor bought three acres 10 minutes from downtown for under $300,000. He now has it on the market for more than $1 million. The affordable housing that was on this property is gone, and the tremendously increased new price makes it difficult to impossible to build affordable housing on it.

But there are some positives in this post-recession environment. Specifically, we have two new factors working for us that were not there before the housing crash. First, the millennials have arrived. They are a wonderfully creative bunch who actively seek to reshape parts of our culture for the better. A surprising number of millennials hold a deep belief in and commitment to living sustainably and reducing their carbon footprint. They are looking for green, energy-efficient, smaller homes that are less costly to own and run than the big homes they grew up in.

The second positive post-recession change is the popularization of the smaller home. Tiny and micro homes work well for millennials, downsizing boomers, and singles and couples of all ages. Plus these smaller homes hold great potential to address the housing needs of Nashville’s lowest-income groups: our special-needs citizens and those living only on Social Security. Micro homes give these populations the independence they desire and need, and when built in a community they allow their social-service workers economies of scale. These homes can be used in a modified format to house the homeless and our lower-income elderly seeking to stay independent.

But guess what? We, like most cities in America, are not ready to release these tiny and micro homes in our residential neighborhoods. Like most cities, we have zoning laws from a former time when density was bad, land was much cheaper, and keeping the status quo was all-important. We are now in a new era. Since the crash, our world of real estate has become much more expensive, and more people than ever want to live in the city. We need to catch our land laws up to where society is today. If we make these legal changes and embrace these new popular housing types and new housing demands, we will be able to create needed new good, decent, safe, affordable housing options in Nashville.

Read more – http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/love-hate-mail/Content?oid=6445289

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

Park Model RV Regulations, State-by-State

The RVIA has provided a table showing regulations by state for park model RVs
http://www.rvia.org/UniPop.cfm?v=2&OID=3531&CC=7616

What is a park model? 

Below is a description from the RVIA:

On July 1, 2012, RVIA created a new membership category for manufacturers of park model RVs (PMRVs). A park model RV (also known as a recreational park trailer) is a trailer-type RV that is designed to provide temporary accommodation for recreation, camping or seasonal use. PMRVs are built on a single chassis, mounted on wheels and have a gross trailer area not exceeding 400 square feet in the set -up mode. They are certified by their manufacturers as complying with the ANSI A119.5 standard for recreational park trailers.

PMRVs are most often used in recreational vehicle campgrounds. They may be owned by the campground and rented to guests, or they may be brought in and used exclusively by their owners on a site rented or leased from the campground. They can also be placed by their owners on private property. These RVs are used for recreational purposes only. They are not meant to be permanently affixed to the property, they do not improve property values in any way, and they are neither designed nor intended by their manufacturers to be used as permanent residences.

Two different types of park model RVs are offered. One type is less than 8′ 6″ in width and is designed for frequent travel on the highways while the other and more popular type is wider than 8′ 6″ (usually 12′ in width), and must be transported with special movement permit. The 8′ 6″ unit typically is expandable when it reaches its destination utilizing slide-outs or tip-outs. The wider units, being less mobile, are usually sited in a resort or RV park location for an extended term, typically several years. Park model RVs are titled as vehicles by the various states. This is because PMRVs are built on permanent chassis such that they can be and are moved either within a campground or between campgrounds.