Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

The Legalities of Small House Construction

Expand Messages
  • Gregory Johnson
    The following is a thoughtful inquiry from Scott Baxla who poses some good questions... From: Scott Baxla Date: June 1, 2006 10:10:32 AM
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 1, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      The following is a thoughtful inquiry from Scott Baxla who poses some
      good questions...


      From: Scott Baxla <scottbaxla@...>
      Date: June 1, 2006 10:10:32 AM CDT
      To: shs@...
      Subject: Tiny houses

      It's nice to see people starting to organize!

      I'm a builder, and advocate for tiny houses. In the realm of tiny
      houses, I mostly just talk about them. (I have lived in one for over
      10 years now, but its not a "legal" residence.) Its what I would like
      to build - full time, but there are serious hurdles - they are not
      legal.

      I'm guessing that Jay has built a few tumbleweeds by now and surely
      he has been confronted by authorities in some manner?

      That I know of, residential structures / approved "dwelling units"
      fall under the following categories:
      1) Stick Framed homes
      2) Modular homes
      3) On Frame Modular homes
      4) Mobile Homes
      5) Park Models
      6) RV's

      Each of these categories has its own inspection process. The one I'm
      familiar with is stick built, and for a "one at a time" - not mass
      produced - product it seems to be the most cost effective, but the
      stick built rules are the most strict. I'd like to build small homes
      in a shop and move them to a site.

      I'm curious to know if you have insites about getting around the laws:

      1) Housing Authority rules require a minimum of 260 square feet?

      2) International Building Code requires a minimum of 120 sf in at
      least one habitable room in a house, and at least 70 sf for every
      other habitable room (except Kit & bath).

      3) Second Floors (habitable) are require to be accessed by 3' wide
      stairways with minimum rise and run. (Ships ladders, A.K.A.
      alternating tread stairways are a good way to access loft space in
      tiny structures - but not legal. They take a little more room than a
      ladder, but not near as much as a "legal" set of stairs.

      4) Big questions about Egress - second Floor sleeping & Stairways
      required.

      Katrina houses? How are they legal? Because they are "temporary".
      Some of these models have lofts.

      The next step of course is to take the tiny houses off the grid.
      Because of their size, there is a very small electrical load
      requirement. The downside of
      this part of the equation is that it will dramatically increase the
      cost of an already high dollar/SF structure. They seem ideal for
      composting toilets, but these are not legal in residential buildings
      either.

      Any information would be appreciated.

      Scott Baxla
    • shay salomon
      Hi Scott, I m really interested in this issue. I ve studied and, as a builder, dealt with for a while, and I don t think the building code tends to restrict
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 1, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        Hi Scott,

        I'm really interested in this issue. I've studied
        and, as a builder, dealt with for a while, and I
        don't think the building code tends to restrict
        size as much as other factors.

        But I think, like you say, it's pretty hard
        anywhere in the US to get away with a primary
        structure that is smaller than about 300.
        Typically, Jay's houses, and others who build
        similar structures are considered accessory
        dwelling units. Build one 500 sq ft main house,
        say a common house, and you can build a mini
        community of tiny houses around the main one. As
        I'm sure you know, many municipalities won't
        require permitting for anything under 120,
        sometimes 200 sq ft.

        I think CC&R's and zoning restrict building more
        than the code, though. Developers control a
        majority of buildable land, and they place
        restrictions on house size on the deed.

        Has anyone out there actually been cited by the
        building code officials for living in a tiny
        house?

        >The following is a thoughtful inquiry from Scott Baxla who poses some
        >good questions...
        >
        >
        >From: Scott Baxla <scottbaxla@...>
        >Date: June 1, 2006 10:10:32 AM CDT
        >To: shs@...
        >Subject: Tiny houses
        >
        >It's nice to see people starting to organize!
        >
        >I'm a builder, and advocate for tiny houses. In the realm of tiny
        >houses, I mostly just talk about them. (I have lived in one for over
        >10 years now, but its not a "legal" residence.) Its what I would like
        >to build - full time, but there are serious hurdles - they are not
        >legal.
        >
        >I'm guessing that Jay has built a few tumbleweeds by now and surely
        >he has been confronted by authorities in some manner?
        >
        >That I know of, residential structures / approved "dwelling units"
        >fall under the following categories:
        >1) Stick Framed homes
        >2) Modular homes
        >3) On Frame Modular homes
        >4) Mobile Homes
        >5) Park Models
        >6) RV's
        >
        >Each of these categories has its own inspection process. The one I'm
        >familiar with is stick built, and for a "one at a time" - not mass
        >produced - product it seems to be the most cost effective, but the
        >stick built rules are the most strict. I'd like to build small homes
        >in a shop and move them to a site.
        >
        >I'm curious to know if you have insites about getting around the laws:
        >
        >1) Housing Authority rules require a minimum of 260 square feet?
        >
        >2) International Building Code requires a minimum of 120 sf in at
        >least one habitable room in a house, and at least 70 sf for every
        >other habitable room (except Kit & bath).
        >
        >3) Second Floors (habitable) are require to be accessed by 3' wide
        >stairways with minimum rise and run. (Ships ladders, A.K.A.
        >alternating tread stairways are a good way to access loft space in
        >tiny structures - but not legal. They take a little more room than a
        >ladder, but not near as much as a "legal" set of stairs.
        >
        >4) Big questions about Egress - second Floor sleeping & Stairways
        >required.
        >
        >Katrina houses? How are they legal? Because they are "temporary".
        >Some of these models have lofts.
        >
        >The next step of course is to take the tiny houses off the grid.
        >Because of their size, there is a very small electrical load
        >requirement. The downside of
        >this part of the equation is that it will dramatically increase the
        >cost of an already high dollar/SF structure. They seem ideal for
        >composting toilets, but these are not legal in residential buildings
        >either.
        >
        >Any information would be appreciated.
        >
        >Scott Baxla
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >


        --
        Shay Salomon
        smallhouse@...
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.