where to park?

Where do you put a tiny house?

This is a very good question and one that almost put a quick end to our tiny house plans.  The short answer is that you can park a tiny house:

  1. On a friend or family’s land that you rent
  2. On your own land that you own
  3. In some RV or mobile home parks

The long answer is that tiny homes are most likely illegal, but check your local zoning codes.  Most zoning and building codes require homes to be a minimum square footage in order to be considered habitable.  This is often 1,400 SF.  (So, not 200 SF.)  Often codes will require even guest houses to be a minimum size that exceeds the footprint of a tiny home, but check with your local codes, there are some accessory dwelling codes that allow tiny houses as guest homes.

I think we all know that a house smaller than 1,400 SF is probably not inherently dangerous, and indeed the minimum square footage zoning codes seem to have originated from the input of realtors and bankers.  So, understanding that our codes are often based on profit rather than safety, we decided, after much deliberation, to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

Tiny houses are built on trailer platform foundations for mobility, but also because being mobile means they are exempt from building and zoning codes.  This is not to say that they aren’t built to code – they should be – and ours are built above and beyond building code requirements.  But you do not need a building permit to build on a trailer platform.

So, if you want to live within the laws, here are some things to check out with your local zoning codes:

  • Are there minimum square footage requirements for homes?  If not, you could possibly build a tiny house on a permanent foundation.
  • Are you allowed to park an RV on your property?  Without a main permanent dwelling?  And are you allowed to live in it full time?
  • If you are looking for a guest house, office or studio, does your zoning code allow for accessory dwellings?  And are there minimum square footage requirements?  Do they have to be on a permanent foundation?

I hope this information does not turn you off to the idea of tiny living, we decided to go through with building our tiny house even though we found ample discouraging info suggesting that they are illegal and you will be homeless (with your home in tow…)  Our experience has shown that we have been able to rent land from a landlord in a residential neighborhood in town with no problems.  We currently rent land from our family and live out on some rural property and have not had any troubles.

Family Portrait

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16 Comments

16 thoughts on “where to park?

  1. Don Parsons

    If you are looking for a place in Missouri, check out Rockwood Villiage Mobile Home Community, located north of Cameron, MO on EE Hwy. We feature 95 acres of wooded land, with two fishing lakes. Just minutes from shopping in the town of Cameron. 1 hour north of Kansas City and 30 mins East of St. Joseph, MO. Call 816-632-6325

  2. Are there any size (sq ft) restrictions imposed by city/county/state ordinances at RVMHC? That’s just south of us a few hours.
    That is usually where the problem lies. I know that many manufactured home communities also have architectural requirements to be met to place a home, but most tiny homes on wheels don’t have a problem with that. It’s almost always a size/living space limitation where there are any it seems.

  3. There are some sites offered on the tiny house community map: http://www.tinyhousecommunity.com/map/communities/
    And if you don’t find a place in your area, you can register on the map for people seeking places.

  4. vstanley

    mostly illegal,so go where there are no codes to restrict u.U better check before U leap.

  5. Elisa

    What about tiny homes NOT on wheels? Found a nice 383sq ft tiny home but it is not on wheels and currently on piers and beams? Is this treated as a guesthouse to a main dwelling? My family has some small property in a 700 population town in Wyoming, not exactly the place for someone in their 20’s but I’m also sick of paying $1000/month in rent in TX. Feel like I’m caught I between. Too big to be a tiny home on wheels but too small to be considered a home??

  6. Abby

    Hi,

    I am a soon too be coastguard wife, when my husband gets into the military this summer. I would like to purchase a tiny home and live in it for a few years. My concern is the moving accross the U.S. with the home. Then having to find land to park it on. I really want to do this because I will be alone a lot. Please tell me I wont have to lice in a tailor park!

    • Rosa

      Why is it that some people think that everyone that lives in a trailer park is trash!!! Thank god I own my mobile home !! I ‘am unemployed since 2011 and have been living in the same trailer park for over thirty years and we all get along great and have manners. Class is something you are born with!!

    • Lisa

      If you feel you’re too good to live in a trailer park you may want to reconsider tiny house living. While tiny houses can be and usually are quite nice it takes a certain kind of person to actually live in one. Trailer parks can be a good option for tiny house living if the owner will allow it as they have utility hook ups readily available and there are MANY very nice trailer parks across the country that will often let you rent month to month. If you are planning to buy a tiny house that has already been constructed you will likely find that it is difficult to find one that will fit all your “needs”. In my experience, people who are completely incapable of constructing their tiny house or at least having a hand in it usually lose interest in the way of life relatively quickly.

  7. Dara

    Hi Abby, This unfortunately is the biggest obstacle for many tiny house wannabe’s. I have been searching for quite some time, hoping to find a small parcel of land to rent for my own tiny house I’d like to buy and move into. I am a newly divorced mom with 2 kids in college, hoping to downsize and live a simpler life. This would also be ideal for you and finding a place to park is not any easy task. I am on my ipad daily hoping something will pop up in my area. If you give me an approximate area you’d like to settle in I can give you some places to check out. Areas that seem to be the most Tiny House friendly are Northern California, Oregon, Washington and North Carolina, but I know there are others.
    And No, you do not have to live in a trailer park-LOL!

    • Great reply Dara, thanks. We found our first rental piece of land by searching craigslist for RV sites to rent, or land for rent with RV hookups, people add these to their property as a way to generate extra income and they’re great for tiny houses. You could also post an ad saying you’re looking for an RV site to rent with water and sewer hookups and 30 amp power…. Check with family and friends too, that was our 2nd rental property – family.

  8. Lisa

    Hi all, Some state parks offer RV sites for rent and are beautiful locations. You have to watch though some only allow you to stay a short period of time, so ask lots of questions. Also I think it would be lovely for investors to buy up old run down mobile home parks and turn them into tiny house parks. I love tiny houses, but I love community as well. This way you could have the best of both worlds. I live in a mobile home park and I love it!

  9. Elle

    It’s a very bad thing that RE sales people, financial institutions, developers and fearful individuals have a choke hold on the zoning commissions nationwide. Their lobbies are extremely strong and they lobby continuously. That’s the issue–CHANGING/MODIFYING LAWS that were put into effect to maximize profits for the few, rather than serve the many. I’m not talking about safety, here. The reason we have a country full of 5000sf homes is that in the 70’s the building industry hit a wall. No longer could they make as much money as they were making before the decade. Consequently, the construction industry and the banks colluded. The result? Huge sf homes to effectively convince the public to pay more for a lesser version of the lovely little 1960’s homes. It’s all about profit. Now, our USA young people who want/deserve a nice home simply can’t afford it and are left out in the cold. Land, anywhere, is outrageously priced if near a population center, hence the lack of affordability begins and expands to the USA huge, wasteful house. The small home movement isn’t moving very far afield if laws are not changed to reflect the change in our attitudes about waste and replenishment of our environment.

  10. Bravo, Elle, well said!

  11. Jay

    Anyone know the restrictions on Long Island, NY by any chance? (I would imagine they are insane) still, Id like to know. Thank you.

  12. Duke

    Isn’t the point of owning a tiny house so that you dont have to pay rent? When it comes to finding a place to park it, youre charged just as much as if you were to get an apartment. Seems like a lousy idea to me

    • Yes, it would be insane if you were paying the same rent! We found our land rent and utilities in the tiny house was one third of costs in a regular house… $400 vs. $1200…

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