School District in Vail, Arizona Builds a Tiny House Community for Teachers

With local home prices out of reach, and no apartments available within a normal commuting distance, many of the teachers in Vail, Arizona were forced to live in Tucson, and drive 25 miles one way, to get to work. So the school district set out to create a community of tiny houses, on five acres of district-owned land, located near the town center. The homes will be available both to rent or to own, and the mortgage on a customized tiny home with a 30-year fixed rate loan, will be about $700 a month.

Because you have to be an employee of the district to live in the tiny home community, if you decide to leave the district—or if you are asked to leave—you also would have to leave your home. Although Carruth says that teachers will have the option to take their tiny homes with them if they move on, moving these structures, particularly if installed on a foundation, can be a costly endeavor. Tiny homes typically don’t retain value like traditional homes do, in large part because they aren’t attached to land ownership.

https://www.citylab.com/design/2018/07/a-tiny-fix-for-a-big-problem-affordable-teacher-housing/566033/

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How Big is a Tiny House?

You may have heard that a tiny house is under 500 square feet–or 1000 square feet. Real Estate agents routinely refer to any house under 2000 square feet as tiny. And for some, anything over 200 square feet isn’t what they consider tiny, and definitely not a proper tiny house.

So what is the official definition of a tiny house? How many square feet can it be, and still qualify as tiny? For many years there was no official definition of a tiny house–so everyone was free to make up their own definition! But recently things have changed.

As of August 2017, when the International Code Council (ICC) approved Appendix Q we got model code with an official definition of a tiny house. The 2018 International Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings (IRC) defines a tiny house as…

TINY HOUSE. A dwelling that is 400 square feet (37m2) or less in floor area excluding lofts.

That’s the entire definition. There’s nothing more to it! The thing that defines a tiny house officially, is that it’s under 400 square feet.

Of course Appendix Q only applies to tiny houses on a foundation, and not moveable tiny homes–so what about tiny houses on wheels? How big can a tiny house on wheels be? That depends on where you live, but in any state that defines a tiny house on wheels as an RV, then the maximum size for a tiny house RV is 400 square feet, according to the NFPA 1192 Standard for RVs. If you’ve ever seen a park model RV, they are often around 12′ wide and 33′ long, just under the 400 square feet maximum.

So with the IRC now defining a tiny house on a foundation as under 400 square feet. And with the ANSI Standard for RVs also allowing for a maximum of 400 square feet for tiny house RVs, it seems we now have an answer to the question of how big is a tiny home. Any home that is under 400 square feet in area, excluding lofts, whether it is on a permanent foundation or on wheels, fits the definition of a tiny house!

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Rockledge Tiny House Community

A group on Facebook is in the planning stages for a tiny house pocket community in the City of Rockledge, Florida, where it will be possible to own your own lot, and build a tiny house on a foundation, or in some cases place a tiny house on wheels. The houses will range from 170 to 700 square feet, and the community will feature “a common greenspace to encourage interaction.”

Pocket neighborhoods are clustered groups of neighboring houses or apartments gathered around a shared open space — a garden courtyard, a pedestrian street, a series of joined backyards, or a reclaimed alley — all of which have a clear sense of territory and shared stewardship. They can be in urban, suburban or rural areas. pocket-neighborhoods.net

And from the Rockledge Tiny House Community Facebook Group… “The site plan that has been submitted to the City of Rockledge for approval has 12 tiny foundation house lots and 3 THOW lots. Only 25% of the houses can be THOWS per the ordinance.”

To join the Rockledge Tiny House Community Facebook Group, go to: https://www.facebook.com/groups/909633985742545/

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City Council approves changes to ADU regulations in San Jose, California

On June 19, 2018, the City Council in San Jose, California, approved changes to ADU regulations that make it easer to build an ADU within the city. ADUs, or accessory dwelling units, are defined by the city as “small living units, including a kitchen and bathroom, on a property that has a single-family home.”

The city claims the the new policy will lead to multiple benefits, including increasing the amount of affordable housing in the community, providing homeowners with an income opportunity, encouraging public transportation, and providing a way for extended families or families with members who are disabled, to live closer together.

Some of the changes to the existing regulations include changing the minimum lot size necessary from 5,445 sf to 3000 sf, allowing an ADU in a second story, and allowing two bedrooms rather than just studio or one bedroom units.

http://sanjoseca.gov/adus

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Tiny Houses as Temporary Housing for Homeless People in San Jose, California

The City Council in San Jose, California, is expected to vote on a pilot program that would bring a tiny house village to the area. Intended to provide temporary housing for homeless people, the 40 planned tiny houses would be classified as sleeping cabins, and bathrooms and other living space would be shared. Each house is expected to cost between $18,000 to $20,000.

The proposal has “sparked a wave of criticism from residents who don’t want the homes in their neighborhoods and say they are worried about everything from safety to property values.” They’ve staged several protests and collected 2,000 signatures from people who are against the idea of using tiny houses as temporary housing.

Two possibly locations for the houses are currently undergoing an environmental review, and if the proposal is approved by the City Council, the tiny houses should be in place by the end of the year.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/04/25/new-details-on-san-jose-tiny-homes-emerge/

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Appendix Q: Tiny Houses

Earlier this month the International Code Council (ICC) approved new building code specifically addressing tiny houses on a foundation.

Appendix Q is now part of the 2018 International Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings (IRC), which is the model code upon which states and communities base their own building codes. In other words, the IRC is not effective, until it is adopted by a local jurisdiction–which can take months or years to happen–and the local jurisdiction can make changes to the code, before adoption. So there is no guarantee that Appendix Q will be adopted as is in all 50 states, but the fact that it’s now part of the IRC code makes it a lot more likely that tiny houses will soon be addressed in the building codes across the United States.

Appendix Q relaxes various requirements in the body of the code as they apply to houses that are 400 square feet in area or less. Attention is specifically paid to features such as compact stairs, including stair handrails and headroom, ladders, reduced ceiling heights in lofts and guard and emergency escape and rescue opening requirements at lofts. codes.iccsafe.org

The IRC is also used as model code in Abu Dhabi, the Caribbean Community, Colombia, Georgia, Honduras, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia–so tiny houses may be addressed soon in those countries as well.

To see the full text of Appendix Q, go to https://codes.iccsafe.org/public/document/IRC2018/appendix-q-tiny-houses

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Tiny House Insurance

Jenna from Tiny House Giant Journey addresses one of the biggest issues self-built tiny house on wheels owners struggle with–insurance!

“Here’s the deal: insuring a self-built tiny house is challenging. I’ve struggled. Others have struggled. Insurance companies don’t know how to categorize our strange, rolling homes, let alone insure them for damage and theft. Luckily, with the popularity of the movement growing, it is becoming easier to find tiny house insurance.”

http://tinyhousegiantjourney.com/2016/10/19/tiny-house-insurance/

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California DMV Registration Requirements for Home Made, Specially Constructed, or Kit Vehicles

A “home-made, specially constructed, or kit vehicle” is a vehicle that is built for private use, not for resale, and is not constructed by a licensed manufacturer or remanufacturer. These vehicles may be built from a kit, new or used parts, a combination of new and used parts, or a vehicle reported for dismantling (junked) that, when reconstructed, does not resemble the original make of the vehicle that was dismantled.”

The Registration Requirements are:

  • A completed Application for Title or Registration (REG 343).
  • A vehicle verification done by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). You must start your application process with the DMV prior to contacting the CHP for a vehicle verification. DMV verifies trailers with an unladen weight of 6,000 pounds or less.
  • A completed Statement of Construction (REG 5036).
  • Proof of ownership, such as invoices, receipts, manufacturers’ certificates of origin, bills of sale, or junk receipts for the major component parts (engine, frame, transmission, and body).
    NOTE: A motor vehicle bond is required when proof of ownership cannot be obtained for parts valued a $5,000 or more.
  • Official brake and light adjustment certificates. When an official brake and light station that inspects specific vehicles such as motorcycles and large commercial vehicles is not located within a reasonable distance, DMV will accept a Statement of Facts (REG 256) from a repair shop attesting that the brakes and lights are in proper working order. Brake and light certificates are not required for off-highway vehicles or trailers weighing less than 3,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.
  • A weight certificate for commercial vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less.
  • An emission control inspection (smog check) by a Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) Referee Station. Click here for information on SPCNS Certificates of Sequence . To make an appointment at a BAR Referee Station, call 1-800-622-7733.
  • All fees due.
  • Visit your local DMV to begin the application process, make an Appointment(s) for faster service.

https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/vr/spcnsreg

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California Clarifies the Legality of Tiny Houses

On February 4th, 2016 the state of California released a document meant to “clarify the legality of use, design and construction approval of any residential structure that may be commonly referred to as a tiny home.”

The Information Bulletin doesn’t change any existing law, but instead simply clarifies the existing law, making it easier for those interested in a tiny house in the state of California to know what is legal to occupy.

The document describes when a tiny home fits into one of four definitions–which are all legal to occupy. The basic classifications are recreational vehicles (including park trailers), manufactured homes, factory-built housing, or a site-constructed California Building Standards Code dwelling.

The summary…

A tiny home sold, rented, leased or occupied within California may be legal if used on an approved location, complies with all applicable laws, and is either:

• Built on a chassis with axles; contains 400 square feet or less of gross floor area (excluding loft area space); is considered an RV, CC or PT; is not under HCD’s jurisdiction for the design and construction of the unit; and its construction and occupancy is enforced by local enforcement agencies with appropriate jurisdiction; or

• Not constructed on a chassis with axles; is placed on a foundation or otherwise permanently affixed to real property; and complies with CBSC or FBH standards; and may be enforced by local enforcement agencies having appropriate jurisdiction.

The document is only four pages long, easy to read, and is a huge help to anyone looking to buy, build, or live in a tiny house on wheels or on a foundation, in California.
http://files.ctctcdn.com/4d29178d401/ddccfe12-c56f-48cf-8ed9-8bbec86bb521.pdf

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New Tiny House Community in Walsenburg, Colorado

In July of 2015, the city counsel of Walsenburg, Colorado approved an ordinance changing the zoning of a parcel of land purchased by Sprout Tiny Homes, allowing a proposed 28 unit tiny home development. Waldenburg is located about 90 miles south of Colorado Springs.

The parcel of land is located behind the Walsenburg library.

Sprout Tiny Homes manufactures tiny homes on wheels up to 290 sq. ft. and homes that are secured to traditional foundations with up to 760 sq ft of living space, and are located in La Junta, Colorado.

For more information on the tiny house community, see http://sprouttinyhomes.com/latest-news/778-2/ and http://sprouttinyhomes.com/salida-community/

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