- In the state of New York, temporary structures such as tiny houses are not permitted.
While you can register a tiny house on wheels in New York, it doesn’t mean you are able to live in one full-time. The further away from major cities you are, the more likely you are able to live in your tiny home under the radar.
New York State is a very complex state in regards to Tiny House and Shed Conversions. They can be very strict on zoning and permitting.
Land use ordinances in New York include development standards that guide development in each zone. Development standards often include requirements that relate to:
- minimum lot sizes
- height restrictions
- landscaping, and
Some of these standards can make the construction of a tiny house as a dwelling difficult. For instance, if your backyard is small, you may not be able to comply with setback requirements or lot coverage requirements. Similarly, if your lot is small, finding room for any required off-street parking might not be possible.
In Buffalo, for instance, ancillary dwellings are referred to as “carriage houses.” In many of Buffalo’s residential zones, carriage houses are lawful. Among other development standards, these structures must be built ten feet from the principal residence, be no more than two or three stories (depending on the zone), and be no more than 1,000 square feet. Buffalo UDO § 3.2.3.
The Town of Haverstraw will allow ADUs known as Carriage Houses built to code in Rockland County.
Private Restrictions May Also Apply to Tiny Houses
You should also review any private land use restrictions that may apply to your property. As an example, Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) control the development of property in many subdivisions or communities. It is common for subdivisions to have stricter development standards than local governments. If applicable, review any CC&Rs and other development restrictions carefully to see whether tiny houses are allowed in your community.
New York Building Codes Include Safety and Construction Standards
To ensure that buildings are safe for people to occupy, governments adopt and enforce building codes. Construction of a site-built tiny house will be subject to the applicable building code. The New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (“Building Code”) incorporates several different uniform building, fire, and safety codes. The Building Code’s specific standards apply to the construction of the foundation, walls, plumbing, electrical, and other major components of a tiny house.
Historically, building codes have created a significant hurdle to building a lawful tiny house. Building codes are slowly being updated to make it easier for tiny home builders to obtain the necessary permits. However, getting advice from a construction contractor familiar with tiny houses and the Building Code will help ensure that you design and construct a lawful tiny house.