Monday, February 22, 2021

The Time Has Come for Tiny Houses to Meet Standard Building Codes

For the longest time Tiny Houses, both on wheels and on-frame, were considered an anomaly in the housing market, allowed to be built with little or no safety or building codes.

But has the time come for them to fall under the IRC umbrella for building new homes.

Now tiny houses are being used as homes for the displaced people, immigrants, and others needing places to live that can’t find affordable housing. Entire communities of tiny houses are popping up everywhere from New England to the West Coast with no thought of safety, sustainability, or energy efficiency.

Storage sheds are being converted to homes and ADUs and NH is about to let them be placed in established residential neighborhoods without meeting local building codes.

What was once an anomaly is becoming a recognized housing alternative. That should make code officials in area jurisdiction in the US worried, 

We’ve all heard of tornadoes tearing entire communities apart, especially manufactured home villages. News crews love showing the damage and there is usually a minimum of deaths related to them. But can you imagine a tornado hitting a tiny home village built from garden sheds built on trailers from Home Depot?

Or what about heavy windstorms ripping through residential neighborhoods filled with tiny houses. Are you starting to see the need for more stringent building codes?

There are shed builders across the US telling customers their sheds can be adapted for “temporary” housing. This isn’t fair to the people that purchase them.

You also have to look at the life expectancy of these tiny homes. What will they look like in 5 years...10 years. Will they begin dragging down market values in residential neighborhoods?

I admire people that can live in 100 - 400 sq ft but now that tiny houses have begun showing up everywhere, why can’t they meet even the most minimal of standard building codes?

And yes, I know there is an IRC appendix for Tiny Houses but converted garden sheds and homemade houses on small cargo trailers don’t meet any codes. Let’s hope that having to live in one of these is never acceptable.

Gary Fleisher, the Modcoach, writes Modcoach News and Modular Home Coach blogs as well as the best site for off-site consultants, Modcoach Connects

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