There’s plenty of good news in the tiny house world as we head into a new decade. Many states and local governments have adopted supportive Tiny House Regulations in the past few years, and the positive forward momentum shows no signs of slowing. As the popularity of tiny houses grows, so does the public’s push for favorable allowances for these dwellings. While there is still a long way to go in gaining acceptance of tiny houses across the board, we’re happy to report on the progress that’s been made in our tiny house regulations update for 2020.
Tiny houses gained formal recognition with Appendix Q, which as adopted into the International Residential Codes (IRC) in 2018. You can learn more and read an excerpt from Appendix Q in our article Tiny House Building Code Myths.
Although state and local governments still have to approve tiny house construction and placement within their jurisdictions, Appendix Q provides the building codes when they do.
Simply by adopting building codes that address the unique requirements of tiny houses, however, the IRC lent validity to the entire tiny house movement and its anticipated longevity.
The Tiny House Movement Is Growing
Thanks to the perseverance of tiny house dwellers and dreamers, the movement to make them acceptable and accessible continues to grow. The American Tiny House Association continues to advocate and educate. Builders specializing in tiny house construction are popping up across the country. And a new generation seeking alternatives to over-sized homes and stifling mortgage debt are leading the march.
To follow are some of the more notable recent developments in tiny house, cottage, and accessory dwelling unit regulations that support the advancement of small-space living.
Tiny House Regulations Update for 2020
The State of California updated the State Building Code and adopted Appendix Q (the Tiny House Building Standards) into the International Building Codes effective January 1, 2020.
Since 2016, the following counties have adopted codes allowing Accessory Dwelling Units ( ADUs) as caregiver dwelling: Alameda, Contra Costa, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Sacramento, and Sonoma. A Caregiver Dwelling is an authorized additional dwelling on property with an existing home already in place.
The City of Ojai allows backyard cottages under the Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance effective November 30, 2016.
In the City of Los Angeles, an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance was approved by the LA City Council and became effective on December 11, 2019. This ordinance makes Movable Tiny Houses (Tiny Houses on Wheels) permissible as permanently-habitable Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU). (Note that this is a city ordinance that does not include Los Angeles County.)
In the past few years, the areas surrounding Denver and Colorado Springs have begun to allow Tiny Houses and Accessory Dwelling Units, however there are some restrictions and minimum square footage requirements that apply.
The city of Lyons, Colorado seems to be the most tiny house friendly in the state. It passed ordinances effective January 7, 2019 allowing them inside the city.
A lot of tiny house progress has been made in Florida in the past few years.
Early in 2018, the Florida Legislature introduced legislation that would allow Tiny Houses to be added to the State Building Codes. The Legislation is still in committees, but we hope this progressive change will soon be mandated.
The City of Rockledge passed an ordinance allowing Tiny Houses in Planned Developments.
In 2018, the County of Brevard adopted ordinances allowing Tiny Houses on Wheels within the county. Other areas, such as Cross Creek Village in Leesburg, Florida cities and counties have begun following Brevard County’s lead.
A number of cities and counties in Florida have passed ordinances pertaining to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). ADUs may also be referred to as Mother-In-Law Suites or Guest Houses, and most must be constructed in backyards of already-existing homes. Individual locations each specify their own rules and regulations. For example:
- The city of St. Petersburg requires the floor area of any accessory dwelling unit to be no less than 375 square feet and not exceeding 750 square feet.
- In Orange County (Orlando area), the minimum square footage of an ADU is 400 feet.
Sarasota County requires a Tiny House on Wheels that stays in an RV park for more than 45 days to have a foundation.
The city of Blackfoot, Idaho passed ordinances allowing Tiny Houses effective February 1, 2019.
Although Maine has not adopted Appendix Q, dwellings of less than 400 square feet with “proper sleeping arrangements for each occupant” are allowed.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Adopted Appendix Q to the State Building Codes effective January 1, 2020.
Somerville, Massachusetts also now allows for ADUs in its recent Zoning updates.
Nantucket, Massachusetts also allows Accessory Dwelling Units with some restrictions. They must be a minimum of 500 square feet, placed on a permanent foundation, and connected to municipal electric, water, and sewer services.
Michigan has adopted many zoning regulations to be more tiny house-friendly, but state law still requires houses to be no less than 500 square feet minimum and build to code.
There is some movement in Michigan towards allowing ADUs in residential areas, but nothing has been legalized as yet.
The State of Montana adopted Appendix Q into its statewide Building Codes effective December 7, 2019.
Missoula, however, is the only city so far to adopt Appendix Q and allow Tiny Houses in its jurisdiction.
The state of New Hampshire adopted Appendix Q into their State Housing Codes effective March 6, 2019. Most townships, cities, and counties have yet to incorporate them, however.
In 2018 Oregon passed sweeping laws statewide known as Oregon Reach that allow Tiny Houses and Accessory Dwelling Units.
South Dakota allows Tiny Houses, but they must be a minimum of 190 square feet for one occupant. Another 50 square feet is required for each additional occupant, and building permits are required.
Tiny House Regulations By State
While there is still a long way to go in the acceptance and legalization of Tiny Houses, we are encouraged by the advancements made in recent years. We will continue to stay abreast of changing ordinances and report them to our readers as we become aware of them.
We invite you to visit our Tiny House Regulations By State page at any time for the latest news.