The Tiny house Blog

Can I Put a Tiny House in My Backyard?

Updated on:
February 16, 2024
Tiny House in My Backyard

Image Source: Canva

The idea of placing a tiny house on your property may be appealing to you, offering an attractive living arrangement with cost saving advantages. However, you might be wondering, "Can I put a tiny house on my property?" The answer, in short, is yes.

But it's not as simple as just installing the tiny house; several factors come into play such as local regulations on property structures, local codes, fire restrictions, your construction skills, and of course, your budget.

Where you live will determine the specific rules and regulations that govern tiny houses. For example, some areas permit small, auxiliary structures on a primary property, while others strictly regulate this. 

Fire restrictions may also limit your ability to position a tiny home on your lot, especially in areas prone to wildfires. The construction of a tiny home can be a DIY project; however, you might need professional assistance if you aren't handy with tools, which could impact costs.

In this article, we’re diving deep into the permits, building codes and which states are tiny house friendly. 

Do You Need A Permit to Build A Tiny House?

The answer to the question, "Do I need a permit to build a tiny house on my property?" largely depends on the size of the tiny house and the location. 

For tiny houses intended for living, you'll likely need a building permit. But for those built for non habitable purposes, like as a home office or art studio, you may not need one.

Keep in mind that these regulations can change depending on your city, county, and state regulations. It's always a good idea to check with your local permitting office to understand precisely what's needed.

Tiny House Building Codes, Zoning Regulations, And Legal Considerations

Let's break down what you need to know before downsizing your home.

The International Code Council (ICC) provides a comprehensive guide to tiny house standards in Appendix Q of the IRC 2018. For those looking into the specifics, the details can be found on their website.

Size Requirements

According to the ICC, a dwelling is considered "tiny" if it is 400 sqft or less, excluding lofts. This size limit sets the standard for what qualifies as a tiny house.


Tiny houses can be categorized into two types: movable (on wheels) and stationary (on a foundation).

With wheels - These portable homes are regulated under the recreational vehicle code, offering flexibility but making it difficult to achieve residential status later on.

On foundations - These fixed homes adhere to the same building codes as traditional residential homes. Certain states mandate that tiny homes have a permanent foundation and be connected to public utilities.

Must Haves to Be Up to Code

  • Plumbing: A tiny house must include at least one separate bathroom, adhering to basic living standards.
  • Stairs: Stairs, including ladders and alternative designs, are permitted to access loft spaces, provided they meet safety standards.
  • Minimum Ceiling Height: Living spaces require a minimum ceiling height of 6 feet 8 inches, while bathrooms and kitchens can have a slightly lower height of 6 feet 4 inches.
  • Windows: There's no minimum number for windows, but they must comply with emergency exit requirements.


Tiny houses are classified as accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and must be registered accordingly. An ADU is a secondary housing unit on the same property as a main residence.

Image Source: Canva

States with Friendly vs. Restrictive Tiny House Codes And Regulations

State specific guidelines can greatly influence your decision on where to place a tiny house. 

The acceptance of tiny houses varies significantly across states, with some showing strong support and others imposing strict regulations.

Friendly States

  • California: Generally supports tiny houses, though Los Angeles has restrictions against tiny house communities.
  • Florida: Welcomes tiny houses, with provisions for tiny hotels and RV parks. Houses on wheels must be registered as RVs.
  • Oregon: Known for its support of ADUs, especially in Portland.
  • Pennsylvania: Requires at least one room to be a minimum of 120 square feet. Philadelphia is more lenient with tiny house regulations.
  • Texas: Spur claims to be the tiny house capital of the U.S., with a requirement for tiny homes to be on concrete foundations due to tornado risks.

Restrictive States

  • Iowa: Zoning districts set minimum square footage requirements, making tiny living challenging.
  • Montana: Local ordinances largely do not recognize tiny houses, creating legal hurdles.
  • Missouri: Tiny houses are classified as travel trailers, facing restrictions for permanent living.
  • New York: Zoning rules are strict, with tiny houses considered temporary shelters and not allowed.
  • Utah: The state is slowly adapting to tiny houses, but local laws need further adjustments.

Why Living In A Tiny House Might Be Illegal In Some States?

Although tiny home living isn't technically illegal in America, some states aren't as open to the idea due to their laws that make it difficult to build a tiny house. 

Numerous towns and municipalities maintain regulations that tiny houses do not meet, primarily due to the size of the house and the fact that it might be on wheels. 

These areas have zoning laws and building codes that specify a minimum square footage for residential dwellings.

The Possibility of Permanent Tiny House Living

Regarding the possibility of permanent living in a tiny house; yes, it's possible as long as you acquire the necessary permits. Keep in mind that each locality is subject to its own building codes, zoning laws, and permits. Conduct thorough research before deciding on placement and building your tiny house.


In conclusion, you certainly can put a tiny house in your backyard or property, but it does require careful planning, due diligence, and potentially, some significant preparation. 

Always remember to check your local regulations before making the leap into the tiny house lifestyle. Tiny house lifestyle might be the downsizing solution you've been searching for, combine affordability, simplicity, and eco friendliness in a neat, tiny package.

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