The most asked question that we receive from tiny home buyers is, “Can I legally have a tiny home in the backyard?” This question is fuelled by the need for families to have an additional living unit for other members or visitors who decide to stay overnight. Technically, tiny homes are legal in the USA, but the laws differ from one state to another. The Tiny Home Industry Association (THIA) works with communities and states to help legalize having a tiny home for backyard on your property. THIA are great advocates for tiny home dwellers across the USA and have worked hard to alter the laws as and when needed to give people access to the affordable tiny lifestyle.
Is it legal to have a tiny home in the backyard?
You can legally build a tiny home for your backyard, but many states, counties, and cities have different rules and regulations that must be followed. Therefore, before moving into your new tiny home, you need to contact the local building department to learn more about the building regulations for ensuring safety. Most states in the USA are tiny home friendly, but every state has different laws and regulations that dictate how small or big the house must be. For example, building codes dictate the height of the tiny home and the number of emergency exits, but they can’t regulate the number of windows in your tiny home. If you plan to live in a tiny home in your backyard, then building codes do apply, but zoning regulations don’t.
Do you need a permit for the tiny home for the backyard?
If you build a tiny home for a backyard below certain square footage, you might not need a building permit. However, if you start living inside the tiny home and bring in personal belongings, then this space is considered a living place, and if the structure is intended for living, you do require a permit.
Tiny house laws in different states
Alabama: Building a tiny home in Alabama is quite challenging, but some areas like Jefferson County have now started accepting ADU.
Alaska: Here, the regulations are more flexible than in Alabama, yet there are specific building codes that you need to know before building a tiny home. The tiny house must meet the residential building codes and have a permit. Moreover, a house near the city should be connected to water and sewage.
Arizona: In Pima County, one can legally have a tiny home for backyard. Although Arizona has no state-wide zoning or building requirements, Pima County has addressed regulations encompassing tiny homes.
Arkansas: The tiny home regulations are very strict and vary in every county, city, and town. Some counties even restrict building a tiny home.
California: Tiny backyard homes are considered ADUs and permitted with certain restrictions.
Colorado: Many counties have welcomed tiny houses in Colorado. The houses should meet safety measurements, ventilation, and lighting parameters.
Delaware: In this state, tiny houses don’t have any regulations, but homes over 400 square feet are classified as mobile homes. The homes lesser than 400 square feet are classified as trailers.
Florida: Every city and county in Florida allows tiny homes, and houses on wheels need to be registered as an RV.
Hawaii: Tiny houses are not allowed in places governed by restrictive agreements; even if allowed, the houses must adhere to building regulations.
Illinois: Tiny homes are not allowed here.
Kansas: The state has accepted tiny homes on foundations but not those on wheels. At the county level, the regulations are more specific.
Kentucky: Tiny homes are allowed throughout the metropolitan region, although you still might have to maintain certain rules and regulations. Tiny homes on a foundation are permitted and processed just like any other housing application.
Minnesota: Tiny homes on the foundation are classified as accessory dwelling units built on a foundation. At the same time, homes on wheels are defined as RVs.
Mississippi: Officially, tiny homes are not recognized as these structures have no specific building codes or zoning rules. However, in some areas where tiny homes are acceptable, the size ranges from 100 to 900 square feet.
Missouri: Tiny houses on the foundation are allowed in this state but have individual building regulations and zoning restrictions.
Nebraska: This state allows tiny homes but has specific building requirements. The homes built on a foundation must meet the IRC foundation requirement and local building ordinances.
New Hampshire: The state is more welcoming to tiny homes, but the law states that the structures don’t need to be occupied by the landowner, but the owner should live on the same property.
New Mexico: The state has a set of rules and regulations for tiny homes, and it’s pretty simple to live in such a small dwelling in this area.
New York: Tiny houses are considered temporary shelters, and such structures are prohibited here.
North Carolina: The tiny homes are subjected to local housing regulations, and the rules and codes vary by town, city, and district.
North Dakota: Tiny homes can be built on agricultural land and needs to comply with the local building and zoning ordinances.
Oklahoma: There are no specific local laws and regulations for tiny homes. Many people choose to live in tiny houses in rural areas as it’s not governed by zoning ordinances.
Pennsylvania: This state welcomes tiny homes, and the minimum size requirement doesn’t need to be met in many places like Philadelphia.
South Carolina: Tiny homes are very popular in this state, but the size requirements vary depending on the counties.
Tennessee: The state is extremely tiny home friendly and has decided to build these structures against building codes and zoning regulations. You do not need a permit for tiny homes here.
Texas: The state has plenty of favorable laws and regulations for tiny homeowners.
Utah: This state is slowly accepting tiny houses, but the local laws must be modified further.
Vermont: In some areas, you can have an ADU on your property, but there are stringent restrictions, and you need to go low-key with a house on wheels.
Virginia: The demand for tiny houses is growing, but the laws must change.
Washington: Your tiny home for the backyard must be built as per Washington State Building Code.
West Virginia: Tiny homes are yet to gain popularity in this state.
Wisconsin: Tiny homes are classified as ADUs and must comply with local regulations.
Wyoming: Tiny homes are rental properties, but regulations vary by county. Tiny homes on the foundation are defined as ADUs and need a living room of no less than 220 square feet of floor space.
If you are looking for a tiny home for a backyard, then get connected with trusted builders via TinyHouseMe. We help you connect with 100s of builders across the US and Canada. To learn more, sign up now and connect with our experts for help and advice on planning and financing the tiny home.