Many Counties and Municipalities in Tennessee have opted out of the Building Codes and Zoning . This means that those areas do not require you to obtain a Building Permit to build a home or have Zoning Regulations. Refer to the LIST for the Cities and Counties In Tennessee that have not Opted out.
You are still required by State Law to obtain an Electrical and Septic Permit from the State unless local jurisdictions have their own Building Inspections and Permitting.
Health Departments without their own Permitting or Regulations require you to seek State Approval for Septic or waste disposal through the TN Department of Environment and Conservation. The Septic Permit will cost you $500.00 which you can apply online. $400.00 is for the Permit and the additional $100.00 is for the percolation test by the Inspector. Your Septic Tank Construction Permit ( above) is valid for three (3) years from the date of receipt of the permit. You will also not be issued an Electrical Permit until you present a Septic Tank Completion Permit from the State Inspectors. Septic Tanks in Tennessee must be installed by a Licensed Contractor who has been licensed by the State of Tennessee to install Septic Systems. Tennessee also does not allow you to dump Grey Water on the ground.
Nashville – Davidson County Metro Does allow Tiny Houses, however they are very strict due to Zoning and Codes. We have listed the Zoning Codes in the link below.
The City of Knoxville does allow Tiny Houses within the City, however, they have very strict guidelines and regulations to do so. Refer to the above link for the specific Guidelines.
Nashville Davidson DADU Ordinance 2014 ( They do Allow DADUs- Detached Accessory Dwelling Units behind an existing structure)
Cocke County, Tennessee is one of the Opted Out Counties as mentioned above. There is a Tiny House Community planned near the Bilbee Area of the County, however, due to the State Ready Removables Law they are not permitted when Grid Tied. All of the sites will be Off-Grid according the County Mayors Office. Due to the County Opting Out of Building Codes, any Permitting is referred to the State.
Rutherford County, Tennessee ( Murfreesboro) Tiny Houses on Wheels are NOT Permitted anywhere In the County.
If you are planning to Convert a Shed to a House in the State Of Tennessee refer to the Tennessee State Law on Ready Removables . In Simple terms, you will not be able to even with a Foundation. Under Tennessee law, you cannot have electric ( except to operate tools or machinery) in a Shed and you are also not permitted to sleep in them.
If you are planning to go “Off Grid” without the need for electrical or septic, the Ready Removable Law does not apply.
If you would like to review regulations for another state, click here