Tiny House Regulations in Tennessee

Last updated on March 5th, 2022 at 08:15 am

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.  Keep in mind that many properties in Tennessee, even without Zoning Regulations may have restrictions or covenants in place. Always perform due diligence on  property you may be interested in purchasing to learn any restrictions that may exist.

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.

Tiny Houses in Tennessee-  Tiny Houses on Wheels are allowed in some areas of the state but not all due to local restrictions. Effective since July 2021 the State Fire Marshals Office has issued an opinion that Tiny Houses on Wheels – to be approved – must comply with the Tennessee Modular Home Standards and Fire Safety Standards.  Any Tiny Home must also have affixed a Modular Home Decal attached to it indicating the inspection of these structures will be similar to the inspections of a site-built home without the requirement of building plans and approval and will have a decal to reflect compliance with adopted statewide building and electrical codes. 

The Standard also requires that the Tiny Home Manufacturer must be licensed as a Modular Home Manufacturer in the state.   The official Public Notice is listed HERE 

Cities and Counties List: Building Permits Required

Tennessee Exempt Cities and Counties

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.

City of Jackson Tennessee ( between Memphis and Nashville) approved first reading to Allow Tiny Houses On Wheels  June 2021

Media Release for Jackson TN

City of Jamestown Tennessee Discussed Approval of Allowing Tiny Houses in City Limits with Conditions/ May 2021   (Not approved to date.

City Of Knoxville Tennessee Tiny House Guidelines

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 Metro Zoning Codes 

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.

Roane County Tennessee

Rutherford County, Tennessee ( Murfreesboro)  Tiny Houses on Wheels are NOT Permitted anywhere In the County.

Rutherford County, Tennessee Zoning Ordinance

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.

Sumner County Tennessee  May 2017   Requirements HERE 


Tennessee Law on Ready Removables

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