Tiny House Building Codes – Busting all the Myths!

It’s very challenging to get code approval for tiny homes in the US. Coding questions usually come up when you plan to build your own tiny home. If your tiny home doesn’t follow building codes and other permit laws, then as a homeowner, you can be subjected to fines and get an order for teardown, meaning you might need to defend yourself in the court of law. Tiny homes have many regulations, and knowing all the laws and codes can confuse the general homeowner. There are so many complicated and contradictory laws about tiny homes that finding an accurate answer is a real challenge. However, at TinyHouseMe, you connect with different tiny home builders under one platform to build a home that meets the building codes and can easily obtain permits from the governing bodies.

Tiny Home Advocates 

The ATHA (American Tiny House Association) is at the forefront of the battle for establishing tiny houses and embracing tiny home committees. This organization works tirelessly to persuade local and state governing bodies to establish regulations and codes to support small-scale houses so that more people can access low-budget home ownership. 


Busting the myths

If you have been following the tiny home movement closely all these years, then blindly conducting online research won’t do. Either you contact a certified builder to build your own tiny home without breaking the laws or talk to several established home builders under one platform. TinyHouseMe connects you with hundreds of tiny home builders who will help you build the perfect tiny abode of your dreams. First, however, here we get you the most common misconceptions related to zoning laws, building codes, and small cabin conversions that spell doom for any tiny home project.

Myth #1

Tiny homes on wheels do not require any building codes or zoning regulations

This is the biggest myth perpetuated by builders who want to make quick bucks by selling their tiny homes. A house on wheels does not make the structure completely free from zoning laws and building codes. A house on wheels will help you slip through certain regulations, but the moment you move your belongings and start living in the home on wheels, it legally becomes your home and is subject to the local home ordinances. Dealing with the local authorities can be confusing, so you need to talk with a certified tiny home builder to examine the county’s local codes and zoning ordinances and leverage them to your advantage. Check out the minimum requirements that make the tiny home complaint and use them to build your own tiny home.

Myth #2

It’s my property, so no one can stop me from building a shed or a tiny home

Many believe they can build a tiny home on personal property without care, but when building inspectors decide to visit your property, things can go wrong. Building inspectors uphold laws related to building codes and can work with you to achieve your tiny home dream. However, sometimes they are not flexible, and not complying with the building codes can get you in serious trouble. If the building inspector finds out that the shed violates the area’s building codes, then you can be forced to get compliance or start with the condemnation proceedings. 

Myth #3

Tiny houses below 300 square feet do not need a building permit

Once you have personal property in the form of a tiny home and begin to reside there, the structure is a livable unit. There might be exceptions, but livable dwellings are subject to permit laws regardless of size. Building codes are implemented for safety, and must comply with them to ensure the houses are structurally sound and not prone to electrical fires and other mishaps. For example, realistically, a small living space needs better safety precautions than a larger house. A fire in a 300 sq. feet tiny home is more dangerous than that of a 3000 sq. feet house that has more windows and doors to help the occupants escape. Therefore, safety standards must be followed even if the area has relaxed building codes and does not require a permit.

Note: This myth might be true, but there lies a catch! Any structure in the form of a permanent dwelling will require a permit. A liveable space does need a permit.

Myth #4

Living in a mobile home/camper/RV means tiny home codes and regulations are not applicable

This myth is divided into 2 parts. One pertains to the structure of the tiny home, be it an RV, camper, or mobile home. The other pertains to how the location is zoned for the particular structure. 

For legalized occupancy, the camper, RV, or mobile home needs to be built by a certified manufacturer with a displayed relevant ‘seal of approval.’ Only a certified builder can offer the seal of approval to affirm that the structure meets with the building and safety codes.

Any RV, camper, or mobile home that is not built as per certification standards is considered unlawful and out of compliance to occupy right from the onset. Therefore, it’s certainly a myth that codes don’t apply to such dwellings. Even if the structure gets certified, you might run into zoning problems. Many communities have restricted on-site parking of campers and RVs to 60-90 days to stop anyone from converting the campground into a perpetual home. If you plan to live in these structures long-term, it’s important to check the local and state laws or RV park and campground rules before you build your own tiny house.


Myth #5

If anyone complains or gets caught in a tiny home on wheels, say, “‘i am camping” to get saved

As discussed above, the zoning restrictions restrict the duration and location of camping activities, and these apply to tiny homes on wheels. While zoning regulations dictate that RVs are not permanent residencies, municipalities may apply the same restrictions since tiny homes on wheels resemble RVs. Although, again, you can get away with the camping excuse for a while, it’s better to seek proper approvals and variances, in the long run, to allow your tiny house to be ‘your home.’

Myth Busting 

Instead of going for a DIY tiny home, build your own tiny house with the help of a trusted builder acquainted with the local, state, and federal laws. Building a tiny home without breaking the law ensures that the tiny house dream doesn’t turn into a real nightmare. At TinyHouseMe, we connect you with multiple tiny home builders. We also help in planning and financing your tiny home. To book an appointment with your matched builder, join TinyHouseMe now!