Permitting Process for tiny homes & tiny home communities

Jake

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2023
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Have you ever considered living in a tiny home? Maybe within a tiny home community? Or, maybe you want to establish your very own tiny home community? If any of this is of interest to you, you will need to know the requirements & permitting process for all of the above.

First, where do you plan to set up your tiny home? Rules & regulations will be different depending on where you live, whether it be planting your tiny home on your own property or on new land. Establishing a tiny home community on the other hand, will likely require some more work to achieve, so we’ll discuss that a bit later.

Secondly, let's discuss where you could put your new tiny home. This article discusses some of the best cities for tiny house living in the US.. The options include:

  • Fresno, California
  • Durango, Colorado
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Rockledge, Florida

(Each having their own rules & regulations including permit requirements.)

The best thing you can do is research your local laws, rules and regulations wherever you decide to put your new tiny home, as each location the rules & regulations will vary. In this article we’ll discuss the rules and regulations for establishing a tiny home in California as an example of what you may be expected to do.

Rules in California​


California is one of the most popular states in the US for tiny home living, but not every city or county is open to tiny homes. These are the cities currently allowing tiny homes California, they are;

  • Los Angeles - Allows tiny homes as accessory dwelling units (ADU) - AKA second dwelling
  • San Diego - Allows (ADU), Tiny homes on wheels allowed in all zoning districts. Must meet California Building Code.
  • Fresno County - Allows (ADU), Must meet the strict size limits.
  • California City - Allows (ADU), Must meet the strict size limits.
  • San Luis Obispo County - Allows (ADU), Must meet specific size requirements.
  • Santa Cruz - Tiny homes on wheels allowed in every zoning district, must meet California Building Code.
  • Santa Barbara County - Tiny homes on wheels allowed in every zoning district. Must meet the California Building Code.
  • Other locations in California - Reach out to the planning department of the county or city you want to live in to see if tiny homes are permitted in your area.

The rules & regulations for putting up a tiny home in California is that the ceiling must be at least 7 feet 6 inches, one room must be the gross floor area of 120 square feet, and the net floor area must be at least 70 sq. ft for all living spaces.

Once you have a location picked out, your next step is to go through the permitting process. In California it’s pretty simple, you will likely need to obtain a special use permit for the tiny home itself, as it would qualify as a structure. To obtain a special use permit, you have to fill out a simple application, and you might need to go through a public hearing, but as long as you have followed the restrictions and building requirements, and are up to code, all should go well in the process.

Another option if you don’t want to go through the permitting process, is to connect your tiny home to an RV park or trailer park. This is another legal way to live in a tiny home in California.

Your tiny home will also be required to have proper lighting, ventilation, an emergency exit, water & plumbing. You will also need smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed. You likely will have to get a permit to set up water, sewer, electricity, and more.

Tiny Home communities​

It’s not as easy to establish a tiny home community. You first need to find suitable land to put said homes on, and that is easier said than done as you have to follow ordinances and guidelines set in your area. This new tiny home community will be subject to zoning and building code requirements as well.

Once you have some land in mind, the permitting process for each tiny home begins. You will likely need a permit for every house you put on your land, including permits for construction, installation (water/sewer/pipes/etc) and more. It of course differs in every location, but your best move is to research the rules and laws in your area before deciding on anything.

In Conclusion​

Tiny homes are becoming more popular than ever and it’s good to know the rules and regulations you need to follow in order to own one. We hope this article has shed some light on exactly what is required.

Happy living!


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Sources:
https://tinyhouseme.com/tiny-home-rules-and-regulations-in-california/
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/accessory-dwelling-unit-adu.asp
https://tinyhousesinside.com/blog/life/how-to-start-a-tiny-house-community/
https://www.tinyheirloom.com/where-to-put-a-tiny-house/
https://livability.com/topics/where-to-live-now/the-best-cities-for-tiny-house-living/
 
Location
California, United States
Thanks for sharing! I've been hearing a lot about tiny homes, but the permitting process I always thought would be a pain to deal with. But, seems it's not anything out of the ordinary or crazy. I can see California being the perfect location, especially since the cost of living over there is really high. But if these tiny homes and communities become popular there, I can see it expanding out to other areas across the US.
 
Thanks for sharing! I've been hearing a lot about tiny homes, but the permitting process I always thought would be a pain to deal with. But, seems it's not anything out of the ordinary or crazy. I can see California being the perfect location, especially since the cost of living over there is really high. But if these tiny homes and communities become popular there, I can see it expanding out to other areas across the US.
Thanks! It's something I am very interested in. I've been thinking for a long time about getting my own tiny home. Even considered starting my own community of them. But I imagine that would be costly.

If I had the money, I'd park a few tiny homes in a small area and rent them out. Could be a great way to make money as well.
 
Thanks @Jake, this is a great overview for anyone considering building a tiny home. I live in California and at one point was considering building an ADU on my in-laws property because housing is so expensive out here. I think my in-laws are still considering the possibility but I know permitting/construction costs, even for a tiny home, can be substantial.

I would think there'd also be tax benefits for Californians building an ADU on someone else's (e.g., a parent's) property, since under CA's Prop 13 each property is taxed based on its original assessed value. If I were house hunting in the expensive market we have today, and building an ADU on a parent's property was an option, I'd definitely factor avoided property taxes into my decision-making.
 
As the tiny home movement gains momentum, understanding these nuances becomes essential. very nice and easy to understand article.
Happy living indeed! :)
 
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