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Putting A Tiny House in A Backyard – 50 State Regulations

Tiny houses have rapidly gained popularity. The idea of a simplified life is becoming increasingly affordable for many people.

You can build a tiny house in your backyard. Many states, cities, and counties have different regulations and zoning codes that you must follow. It is best to contact your local building department to get useful information.

However, if the intention is to move into the tiny house, then local building regulations apply in most cases. The building regulations prescribe certain safety and building standards to ensure that the structures are safe to live in.

Do Tiny Houses Require Permits?

If you build a building below certain square footage you normally don’t need a building permit. As soon as you bring personal property into the building, your small house will be classified as a living space. This means that if you build a house that is intended for living in, you need a permit.

Is It Legal To Build A Tiny House In Your Backyard?

Some states in the USA are more friendly than others towards building tiny houses, but the other ones aren’t harsh either. Each state laws have different regulations on building codes and zoning regulations. Building codes dictate how big or small your house is built.

Building codes dictate that the minimum ceiling height must be 6 feet 8 inches. The ceiling for bathrooms must be a minimum of 6 feet and 4 inches. Building codes don’t regulate the number of windows you must-have, but your house must meet the number of emergency exits.

Tiny houses are required to have at least one separate bathroom with plumbing and they require stairs to reach the loft areas. Zoning regulations exist to stop you from building your tiny house anywhere. The local zoning department will tell you more information about the area you want to build on. But if you’re building a tiny house in your backyard, there shouldn’t be any problems.

As we said before, all states have different laws regarding small houses. Alabama is not highly acceptable for tiny houses, so building a tiny house in Alabama can be quite difficult. But some areas in Alabama, like Jefferson County, started accepting tiny houses as a way of living. You can find more about the regulations here.

Alaska is more flexible with regulations than Alabama when it comes to building tiny houses. Alaska doesn’t yet have specific building codes for tiny houses. Your tiny house must meet residential building codes and you need to get a permit. If you place the house near the city, you must be connected to the water and sewage system.

In Arizona, Pima County, you can legally build a house on a lot that is single-family detached and on a permanent foundation. Although Arizona does not have statewide building and zoning requirements, Pima County addressed regulations surrounding tiny houses.

Arkansas is very strict when it comes to tiny houses. Their regulations vary in every town, county, and city. Some counties even added restrictions to prevent building tiny houses. Walnut Ridge has a restriction that the minimal size for residential homes must be 600 square feet.

California happily welcomes tiny houses. Tiny houses are considered accessory dwelling units and those are permitted with some restrictions. After the destructive fire that hit Sonoma county, they allowed tiny houses to be built without building and zoning permits.

Many counties have taken the first steps into welcoming new houses in Colorado. Park County established that houses should be at least 220 square feet for one or two people and additional 100 square feet for every extra person. Also, a tiny home in Colorado must have all safety features, ventilation, and lighting.

In Connecticut, you will find the strictest restrictions regarding tiny homes. The state does not have any proposals for zoning laws, and there is no one to advocate for people wishing to live in tiny houses.

Delaware also doesn’t have any regulations for tiny houses, but it does have people advocating to change that. In Delaware, tiny houses that are greater than 400 square feet are classified as mobile homes. All houses that are less than 400 square feet classify as a trailer.

Almost every city and county in Florida embrace tiny homes. But if the house is on wheels, it must be registered as an RV. Orange County requires minimum square footage of 400 feet. St. Petersburg requires that the floor area is not less than 375 square feet and 750 square feet maximum.

Georgia has also accepted tiny homes, but their regulations vary from cities and counties. Most areas haven’t made the difference between homes on foundations and homes on wheels. In most counties, it is illegal to rent out an accessory dwelling unit.

Throughout Hawaii, it is permitted to buy land for living in a tiny house. Their house requirements and regulations cover the entire state. However, tiny houses are not allowed in areas governed by restrictive agreements.

Idaho established definitions for different types of small houses statewide. They established those definitions to serve as a base for future regulations. They defined site-built houses, which are built on the property where it will be used and it must stay there.

Illinois is also one of the states that have not accepted the tiny house movement. For example, tiny houses are not allowed in Chicago, and this is also common in many major cities across the country. However, the further one moves away from the cities, the more it becomes a grey area in terms of tiny houses.

In Indiana, the state explicitly transfers authority over the building regulations for tiny houses into the hands of the counties. The state’s housing regulations do not apply to tiny houses built by homeowners for their personal use. You will need to search by county to know which regulations there are.

In many areas of Iowa, the tiny house movement is meeting with extreme resistance. For many people, it may be necessary to search for land in rural or remote areas around the city where less strict zoning regulations apply.

Kansas has opted for tiny houses built on foundations, but the state accepts tiny homes on wheels less. Specific regulations are set at the county level, but some laws and regulations are prevalent in most or all of the state.

Many people chose to live in small houses in Louisville, Kentucky. Tiny houses are allowed throughout the metropolitan region, but there are still some specifications and rules. Tiny houses built on a foundation are permitted and are processed in the same way as all other housing applications.

The building regulations of Louisiana do not favor many tiny house designs. Tiny houses are not prohibited, but it is very difficult to design them according to the regulations.

Maine is one of the few states that have approved requirements for building tiny homes. The requirements begin with a definition of a tiny house as any house smaller than 400 square feet.

The state of Maryland has not officially defined what tiny houses are, nor has it created nationwide requirements and restrictions. In general, city-level laws classify tiny houses on wheels as RVs.

In Massachusetts, living in a tiny house that meets the requirements for an accessory dwelling unit is much easier than living in a tiny house on wheels. Most cities in this state allow additional housing units, but the construction requirements for these units vary.

Throughout Michigan, zoning restrictions and building codes have been adapted to accommodate the unique limitations of tiny homes. Some advocates have been active in encouraging the approval of additional housing units in all residential areas throughout the state.

Minnesota defines tiny houses for zoning purposes in two specific ways. A tiny house on wheels is defined as an RV. Permanently built tiny houses that are built on-site are accessory dwelling units. Accessory dwelling units must be built on a foundation in Minnesota.

Mississippi has not officially recognized tiny homes by setting building codes or zoning rules for them. In areas where tiny houses are accepted, the typical size is between 100 square feet and 900 square feet. You can find more regulations here.

In many areas of Missouri, a tiny house on wheels is classified as a travel trailer, which places restrictions on parking. Some cities have explicitly allowed the construction of tiny houses on foundations, but they have individual zoning restrictions and building regulations.

Throughout Montana, local jurisdictions have not recognized tiny houses, although the state urgently needs affordable housing solutions. With this in mind, those who want to build or park a tiny house in Montana may need to thoroughly research the laws in certain towns and counties.

Nebraska explained that specific building requirements and zoning restrictions for each of these types of housing fall on the shoulders of cities. The state has also formally created definitions for various types of tiny homes. You can access these definitions through this link.

In Nevada, tiny houses are becoming increasingly popular, but laws and regulations have not been enacted by the state. Local regulations in cities are generally accommodating. In Clark County, for example, building permits are required for sheds larger than 200 square feet.

New Hampshire has a favorable general acceptance for tiny homes. The law states that these units do not have to be occupied by the landowner, but the landowner must live on the same property.

Many New Jersey residents are interested in the lifestyle of living in tiny homes because it offers an affordable housing solution. However, some communities have specifically discouraged the construction of tiny homes. In other areas, laws have been passed that allow limited use of tiny homes.

New Mexico has benign guidelines for tiny houses, and these make it pretty easy to live in a tiny house in that area. The main room must be at least 70 square feet, and it must be over 7 feet in both length and width. You can find more specifications here.

In New York, a tiny house is considered a temporary shelter, and these are not allowed. Tiny houses on wheels are mobile homes and should be registered with the state.

North Carolina tiny homes are subject to local housing regulations. Tiny house rules and codes may vary by city, town, or district. Find out more about different county regulations.

In Burleigh County, North Dakota, tiny houses can be built or erected on agricultural land throughout the county. All housing structures must comply with local building and zoning codes.

A classification system for tiny houses is not yet developed in Ohio. Local regulations have not been defined to take into account the smaller size of the tiny houses and their unique construction requirements.

In Oklahoma, there are no nationwide regulations and definitions for tiny houses. Many people who want to live in a tiny house choose to live in a rural area that is not governed by strict zoning regulations.

Oregon also has established housing and zoning requirements for small homes. However, it is not allowed to live in tiny houses on wheels. But you will still find some cities that are friendly to tiny houses.

Pennsylvania generally welcomes tiny homes, and some communities are more welcoming and hospitable than others. In Philadelphia, tiny houses do not have to meet a minimum house size requirement. You can find everything about tiny homes in Pennsylvania on this link.

Rhode Island currently does not recognize tiny houses through zoning and building regulations, but recently passed a law that allows the construction of additional housing units if the owner of the main house is occupied.

In South Carolina, tiny houses are increasingly popular. In Greenville County, permanently tiny houses of less than 400 square feet are allowed. On the other hand, Rock Hill has set the minimum square footage of homes at 850 square feet. Here you can find everything about tiny houses in South Carolina.

Many smaller and larger communities in South Dakota have issued ordinances that provide guidelines for tiny homes in the area. Their regulations vary in cities and counties, and you can find information here.

Tiny houses are openly welcomed in Tennessee. They have also decided against Building Codes and zoning. That means you do not need a permit to build a tiny house.

Texas has introduced regulations that are favorable to owners of tiny houses. But the rules and codes are determined by local jurisdictions. Tiny houses on wheels are classified as RVs recreational vehicles and must comply with the rules and codes for RVs.

Utah is slowly approaching the acceptance of small houses. Numerous small house builders are serving residents, but local laws and regulations in many areas have not yet caught up with the demand for these affordable accommodations.

There are strict restrictions in Vermont’s major cities that do not encourage the construction or parking of a tiny house within the city limits. In some areas, you can build an accessory dwelling unit on your property. Some residents circumvent the regulations by keeping a low profile in a tiny house on wheels.

The demand for tiny homes in Virginia is growing, but strict regulations and zoning in some areas are not conducive. Tiny houses must meet the same housing regulations as other homes. In Staunton County, tiny houses with at least 200 square feet of living space are allowed.

A tiny house in Washington must be built according to the Washington State Building Code. Tiny houses on wheels are classified as RVs and to build a tiny house on the property where it is to be lived in and used, the local building authority must be contacted.

The trend towards tiny houses has not quite gained popularity in West Virginia, and they are usually used as temporary accommodation in emergencies. The house rules and building regulations are not adapted for tiny houses.

In most parts of Wisconsin, jurisdictions classify tiny homes as accessory dwelling units, so they must comply with local ADU regulations. Madison defines tiny houses on wheels that are no larger than 150 square feet as portable accommodations.

In Wyoming, many of the tiny houses are used as rental properties. The specific regulations vary considerably depending on the county. Tiny houses on foundations are defined as efficient dwelling units and require a living room of no less than 220 square feet of floor space.

While tiny homes are becoming increasingly popular in varying degrees across the country, some local and state governments have not kept up with the popularity. In some areas, residents refuse to have tiny houses come into the area, but in other areas, tiny houses are openly embraced.