Congratulations to our Winner Kelly Foster! Thanks everyone for your participation!
The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book Tiny House Decisions: Everything I Wish I Knew When I Built My Tiny House, by Ethan Waldman.
If you are looking into building your own tiny home, I highly recommend Ethan Waldman’s book. Ethan answers the questions you should be asking yourself from the start. He walks you through construction decisions and the infrastructure of where and how to place your home and much more. A must read.
We are giving away one complete digital edition of the book- be sure to read to the end to find out how to enter.
Is a tiny house right for you?
You may assume you’re past this question, but I think it’s an important one to cover before we go any farther. People who look at gorgeous, quaint tiny houses on Pinterest all day are not getting the full picture. Aside from all the space issues, living in a tiny house comes with its own set of challenges.The biggest one of these is that tiny houses are either explicitly illegal or fall in a legal grey area when you decide to live in one full time.
The laws in your individual municipality will be different than the laws in mine, but building a tiny house will likely mean building a structure that doesn’t fit so neatly within the letter of the law. Out of this very challenge, though, comes an opportunity: One of the big advantages to building on wheels is that your house will likely not be subject to building code, because the house is not considered a building. This is good because it allows you to build whatever you want, wherever you want, without any interference. However, when you turn around and decide to live in that same house, since it’s not considered a house by the building code, it will be subject to other rules. It’ll likely be considered a “temporary structure” or lumped into the same category as an RV or travel trailer. Do you see the paradox here? You can build the house any way you like because it’s not considered a legal “house,” but that very same rule will prevent you from living in it legally full time.
As far as I can tell, even in my rural town of Morrisville, Vermont, my tiny house falls in the same category as a “camper.” The code states that campers “shall not be used as living quarters for more than 30 days within a 12-month period.” So if you take a literal interpretation of the code, I am breaking the law. And it’s likely that your tiny house will be illegal in one way or another, too:
- It may be legal for you to build but illegal for you to live in all year round.
- It may be legal for you to park but illegal to hook up to utilities.
- The way you park it may be illegal; for example, it may need to be on a concrete slab or a certain distance from other structures.
- Your loft bedroom may be illegal due to lack of egress.
- It may be illegal for you to build a “house” without a flush toilet.
I could go on, but I think you see the point.
I’m not saying that these laws are fair or come from a system that’s designed to encourage small or sustainable building (it’s not), but this is the reality of the current legal landscape. And it’s something that you, as a potential tiny house owner, need to be aware of.
What the legal gray area means for my tiny house, at least, is that I am unwilling to purchase land for the house. Since I rent the land that the house is on, I could always move it if I got in trouble. If I were to purchase land and then get kicked off, I could be in a situation where I’ve spent a lot of money for land that I can’t live on in my tiny house. That would not be good. Rather, if I were to purchase land, I would work with the local municipality to get a pass to put my tiny house there before I ever started building.
However cute they are, keep in mind that tiny houses are still new and the establishment is still figuring out what to do with them. I have no doubt that the tiny house movement will wind up on the “good guy” side of history, but in the meantime, you may be limited by both where and how you can live. If you’re okay with this small level of legal ambiguity, then a tiny house may very well be right for you.
That is just one small taste of over 200 pages of tiny house decisions, explained in clear language with pros and cons for each choice. Tiny House Decisions is an excellent resource!
Ethan is providing one complete digital edition, featuring multimedia extras to one reader of the tiny house blog. This includes:
- Tiny House Decisions in PDF, Mobi, and ePub Formats
- 8 Audio/Video interviews with leading tiny house experts
- 12 video system tours from Ethan’s own tiny house build
Learn more about the book and all of the packages here.
Enter to Win the Complete Digital Edition
To enter the contest simply write in the Comment Section below and tell me how Tiny House Decisions will help you overcome the challenges of your dream tiny home. On Wednesday, September 17, 2014 I will announce the winner. The winner will be chosen using Randomizer where I will enter how many people entered and it will choose one randomly. I will then contact you and connect you with Ethan to to receive the book. Good luck and thank you for your continued support here at the Tiny House Blog.
Coupon Code for Tiny House Blog
Ethan is also offering a limited time launch discount to the readers of Tiny House Blog. Between now and midnight eastern time on Monday, September 22nd, you can get 15% off any of the Tiny House Decisions packages by entering the coupon code tinyhouseblog2014 at checkout!