Friday, October 19, 2018

Tiny House Owner Seeks Our Industry’s Help

This article appeared in a Facebook Group I have contributed to over the years. Even though Emily Koechel Gerde asked these questions they are certainly universal. If anyone can help her get answers, please comment. I have hit a wall with legalizing tiny homes and don’t know the next step to take.
Emily Koechel Gerde
1. What makes a tiny house a tiny house...aka what makes it different enough from the park models, mobile homes, RVs that they deserve their own building codes/certifications? 2. Cities and counties want standardization aka code/accreditation to feel good about putting tiny house communities and “parking” spots in their area. Do we move away from the RV code because we are full time dwellings? Do we go IRC? Or do we use a combo of IRC, ANSI and RVIA to make a unique tiny house code? 3. Most tiny house communities popping up are built by developers because they already have the skills and networking to get projects approved. I haven’t been able to get any personally to share their info as far as how they got it done so others can follow the example and make it there own. Do you know of anyone tiny house friendly developers, council members or dwellers who got their own land approved in your local committee? 4. Is there a more effective way of approaching the cities and counties than one at a time (as developers, builders and dwellers are currently doing)? Is there a way to untie and come together as a community? Or perhaps a combo of both? 5. Is collecting data to present to these municipalities a useful use of time? (Example: demographics, number of current dwellers, etc) Would it be useful to share the results with the public to use in their presentations to the city? Thank you for your help! I look forward to a time where we come together to educate municipalities on the benefits of tiny homes, create a building standard that is safe for builders and diyers that still allows for creativity.


Tom Hardiman said...

For question #1, I think we have to distinguish between a tiny home on wheels or one intended to be permanently affixed to a specific site. If its intended to be mobile, it will be more like a park home/RV in terms of regulations.

If its intended to be "permanent" on one site, its more likely an IRC compliance issue. And while it may not need its own set of codes, there are provisions in that IRC that make it challenging if not impossible for a tiny home to comply with (room size, stair geometry, loft space for example).

That said, the appendix that was recently approved for the 2018 IRC is a good starting point. Find out which states are about to adopt the 2018 IRC and participate in the code development process (not all will adopt the appendix).

Bigger picture/longer term - work to get the appendix moved into the main body of the IRC increasing the likelihood of wider scale adoption.

Bill Hart said...
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Anonymous said...

Its all based what the "unit" is certified to meet. Unless you have an RVIA label is it not an RV. Unless it has a red HUD label it is not a manufactured home. Unless it has a state certification label or IBC label it is not a modular home. These are the only recognized factory housing "codes" that most states adopt therefore are accepted for their intended use. Tiny Homes are not certified by any recognized affiliation or industry, therefore they cannot be legally used for "homes" as they imply.