With so much national exposure of tiny homes due to shows like Tiny House, Big Living on HGTV and tiny home communities popping up all over the country, some might believe tiny homes are quickly being embraced. While there has been significant progress, there is still a lot of resistance to what many have adopted as an affordable housing solution. This has left many tiny home owners feeling frustrated or resorting to building and living in their homes in secret, hoping no one finds out. Why is it so hard for communities to see tiny homes as a solution? Let’s break it down:
So what's the real issue here? The difficulty with approving regulations for tiny homes around the country comes from local governments not knowing how to classify them in the first place. Many tiny home designs also do not fit the minimum size required by communities. According to an article by Fast Coexist, some being a minimum of 70 square feet of floor space and 7 feet in height and width. If the tiny home is on wheels, they can sometimes be labeled as mobile homes, other times as RVs. Some are considered accessory dwelling units or ADUs. Most ADUs cannot be used as a living space unless it is located directly on an already owned property with a home that meets the requirements.
Why can’t a federal law be passed allowing tiny homes? The federal government does not control zoning and regulations. Instead, it varies state to state and locally. So regardless of rumors that the HUD has control over whether or not you have tiny homes, it’s simply not true. So start looking at zoning and housing rules in your community before investing and building your tiny life.
How can local regulations be amended? Other communities have classified them as accessory dwelling units or ADUs. As previously mentioned, if the tiny homes have wheels they could be considered a mobile home, but most of the time are considered RVs, therefore not suitable for daily living (most RVs are commercially made for recreational purposes). However, Oregon and Washington have allowed for people to obtain self-built RV certification for their mobile tiny homes. Fresno, California has allowed for permanent tiny homes in the community with a recent law that is meant to be a model for other cities. So investigate local regulations and bring success stories to the attention of your community and maybe your town will be the next to embrace (legal) tiny living.