Tiny House Regulations in Alabama

Last updated on June 11th, 2022 at 09:09 am

ALABAMA

  • Tiny house regulations and codes may vary by city, town, or county.
  • Although tiny houses are not specifically addressed; Jefferson County permits accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in certain districts that are no more than 200 square feet.

According to Alabama Tiny Homes, tiny houses are still in the process of becoming widely accepted. Hopefully counties that allow ADUs will eventually include tiny houses under a similar definition.

The State of Alabama regulates Manufactured Housing ( which are Mobile or Modular Homes constructed in a factory setting and licensed by the State of Alabama and certified. The Manufactured Housing code is listed below:

http://alabamaadministrativecode.state.al.us/docs/mfch/535-X-11.pdf 

Alabama does not have a statewide building code. The Building Code implementation and compliance are both regulated and enforced on a local or jurisdictional level.

The Residential Energy Code for Alabama (RECA 2004) is based on the 2000 Version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). RECA meets or exceeds the 2000 version of the IECC except for the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) for glass.

RECA 2004 is a voluntary code that allows builders, architects, home designers and code inspectors a simplified method to determine how much insulation to put into the attic, walls and floor, windows and doors and their maximum allowed areas, as well as the minimum energy efficiency rating of heating, cooling, and water heating equipment to install.

RECA 2004 can be found in the link below:

http://http://www.adeca.alabama.gov/C0/Building%20Energy%20Codes/default.aspx

We would strongly suggest that you decide the location in Alabama that you may be interested in living small. Then contact that local government or visit their website  and ask what, if any, code requirements exist.

In many areas it seems if you build away from moderate or high population areas, you shouldn’t incur any problems. The State hasn’t passed much legislation, if any, dealing with Tiny Houses or small homes.  As in anything it’s always best to check and make sure nothing has changed.

To date ( June 1, 2022) is a list of Communities who are viewed as Tiny House friendly with existing permitting and zoning.

Places you CAN have a tiny house in Alabama:

  • Your own property
  • Someone else’s yard (with permission)
  • An Alabama RV Park
  • A tiny house community (with permits)
  • Neighborhood or city lots (with permits)

For other property types, refer to your local government to decide if your tiny home is legal in the state of Alabama.

Tiny House Laws in Key Alabama Counties:

Each county can amend the building laws in order to accommodate the needs of their specific area. Several of the 67 counties in Alabama have acted on the chance to amend tiny house laws. Let’s look at what they’ve done.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, ALABAMA

Jefferson County has adopted its own building ordinance (Read the PDF here) that specifically permits accessory dwelling units in certain districts as long as they are no bigger than 200 square feet. There are many counties throughout that indirectly prohibit ADUs based on the general building codes, so Jefferson County stands out in this way.

BALDWIN COUNTY, ALABAMA

Baldwin County’s acceptance of tiny homes is a win for the tiny community. The County abides by the 2018 version of the International Residential Code. This version of the IRC includes Appendix Q, which specifically addresses tiny houses and includes accommodations that make living in a tiny home easier.

Appendix Q legalizes lofts, lowers the minimum ceiling height for traditional dwellings, creates egress requirements specifically for lofts, and allows the building of stairs and ladders in small spaces. It applies to tiny houses used as single dwelling units.

Here are some of the regulations worth noting:

  • Habitable space and hallways in tiny houses shall have a ceiling height of not less than 6 feet, 8 inches.
  • Bathrooms, toilet rooms, and kitchens shall have a ceiling height of not less than 6 feet, 4 inches.
  • Obstructions such as beams, girders, ducts, and lighting shall not extend below the minimum ceiling heights mentioned above.
  • Lofts may have ceiling heights less than 6 feet, 8 inches.
  • Lofts shall have a floor area of not less than 35 square feet and shall not be less than 5 feet in any horizontal dimension.
  • The loft guards shall be located along the open side of the lofts.
  • Loft guards shall not be less than 36 inches in height or one-half of the clear height to the ceiling, whichever is less.
  • Tiny houses shall meet the requirements of Section R310 in the One-and-Two-Family Dwelling Building Code for Emergency Escape and Rescue Openings. (Read the PDF here)
  • In lofts used as sleeping rooms, egress roof access windows shall be deemed to meet the requirements of Section R310. (Read the PDF here)
  • Windows shall be installed such that the bottom of the opening is not more than 44 inches above the loft floor, provided the egress roof access window complies with the minimum opening area requirements of Section R310.2.1. (Read the PDF here
MADISON COUNTY, ALABAMA

Just like Baldwin County, Madison County recognizes the 2018 version of the International Building Code. This means that Madison County is particularly accommodating to tiny living. It also adopted Appendix Q, which legalizes all of the elements listed above.

Tiny House Building Codes In Key Cities Of Alabama

Some cities in Alabama have their own set of building laws that are separate from their individual county. Let’s look at the building legality and dimension in key cities in Alabama.

VALLEY, ALABAMA

The city of Valley has its own set of building codes that follow the 2006 Edition of the International Residential Code. Most tiny houses are smaller than 400 square feet, which are prohibited under this version of the International Residential Code. This unfortunately makes it difficult to live tiny in Valley, Alabama.

ALEXANDER CITY, ALABAMA

Alexander City adopts the 2015 version of the International Residential Code as its city-wide building law. This means that Alexander City is not specifically accommodating to tiny homes, as its building code prohibits dwelling units smaller than 500 square feet and does not allow lofts and other features that tiny homes often include.

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

Just like Alexander City, Birmingham uses the 2015 version of the International Residential Code as its city-wide building law. This means that the same restrictions placed on those in Alexander City apply to the citizens of Birmingham.

TINY HOUSE BUILDING CODES IN ALABAMA:

At a later date we will add a list of Community Groups and contact information for existing groups in Alabama involved in the Tiny House trend in Alabama. We also plan to add a list of Contractors.  We want to perform our due diligence to be sure these groups and companies do exist before we post them.

If you would like to review regulations for another state, click here.