Best Practices for Building a Tiny House Community

Funny how a short article can illustrate so many way points along the road to success for a tiny house community. Read this article, then return here for our thoughts on how to build a tiny house village!

News Brief: Tiny Home Community in Muncie, Indiana

While this isn't the ideal for many hoping to build tiny houses on wheels (THOW) and live in a community, let's suffice it to say...

This may be the fastest, easiest, and most affordable way to build a community of tiny houses under today's code-based regulations and legal limitations.

Building within Code (on the cheap)

Note how these "tiny homes" for the homeless are simply empty shells. Due to their simplicity they could be built by IRC standards for a simple structure (2x4 walls, rafters centered over studs, 70+ square feet). Having these basics in place before delivery leaves everything open for inspection, which inspectors require in advance.

This simplifies the issues associated with off-site building outside the municipality in which the tiny houses will be used, leaving it clearly within the purview of local building officials and other AHJs (Authorities Having Jurisdiction). This should keep those able to shut it down included in the process (and the press) as stakeholders, and less likely to shut 'em down!

No Trailer -- No Park!

Since these little homes are the same as small garden sheds, they were delivered via a rollback trailer and placed on level pads. As the structures exclude a chassis -- which would constitute them as either an RV (which shall not be used as a domicile in most jurisdictions) or an out-of-compliance manufactured home (due to their being less than 400 sf and not built by an authorized MH manufacturer) -- they more easily comply with existing regulations.

Rather than fight the Big G, they worked within their system. Not for all, but really got these folks going!

Breaking the Rule of Three

From a "master plan" standpoint, the group plans to add a centralized bathing/lavatory and kitchen/dining facilities, so they're really just setting up private rest and sleeping quarters for their residents.

This breaks the rule of three used by most municipalities which define a domicile as a single structure having:

  1. Kitchen
  2. Bedding
  3. Lavatory

In our tiny house seminars this is what I call "Eat, Sleep, & Go Potty" as having all three in one building constitutes a dwelling and opens the door for fussy planning and permitting issues, as well as potential zoning conflicts.

Small Symbols of Success

While not ideal for those seeking a truly "mobile home," these are smart moves on the part of the community, and probably the best way to address the development within existing guidelines for building (planning, permits, approvals, and COs) with approval for siting via a variance for zoning (land use).

Kudos and best to all involved. Tiny house residents in Muncie... Here's to your success!

Live Large -- Go Tiny!