The state of Colorado does not have a specific set of rules and regulations for tiny houses. Tiny homes fall under the category of recreational vans or dwellings in most of Colorado, and tiny house owners must follow local building code regulations.
Most Americans spend half or one-third of their monthly income to keep a roof over their heads. The expenses make up for rent, mortgage, down payments, interest, taxes, insurance, and maintenance charges.
The insane price hikes have now made owning a regular house a dream for most Americans. On average, homeowners spend fifteen years paying or saving for a home.
So is there a way out of this excessively high-cost living? The tiny home movement was born due to homeowners living paycheque to paycheque most of their lives to build a home for themselves. The minimalistic and straightforward living approach has one aim: affordable housing.
If you are interested in owning a tiny house for financial or recreational purposes, Colorado is one of the best places. But there are specific rules and regulations you will need to follow if you plan on getting one.
This article aims to educate you on the local laws governing tiny homes in Colorado and how you can use them to your benefit.
El Paso County, Walensburg town, and Salida are some of the best places to own a tiny house. The rules there are relaxed and better suited to downsized living.
Colorado may be one of America’s best states to own a tiny house. The mountains, cliffs, and picturesque views make it ideal to live a simple and secluded life with mother nature.
However, like most other states, Colorado does not have a separate set of rules for tiny homes. These homes are categorized as structures they look like, for instance, RVs or dwellings.
Hence, not all cities and counties allow living permanently in a tiny house. Here is a list of cities and counties where you can own a tiny home and spend some time in it:
According to the law, in most of Colorado, tiny homes come under the category of recreational vans or dwellings. It is illegal to live in both permanently. However, the rules vary in different cities, and there is a lot of a grey area you could use to your benefit.
Tiny homes are a relatively new idea, and most states in America are yet to recognize them. Therefore, there are no specific laws about them.
Whether or not you can live permanently in a tiny home in Colorado depends mainly on the foundation you build your house on and the local laws in your area.
If your tiny home is built on wheels, it will most likely be classified as an RV, which you should only use for camping or other recreational use. Living permanently in them is usually forbidden.
On the other hand, if you build a permanent foundation beneath your tiny home, you may not be mobile, but the rules can be flexible regarding living in them full-time. However, you will have to comply with the county’s laws for the minimum covered area, ceiling height, and grid water and sewerage lines.
Colorado defines tiny houses based on their standard square footage: 100 to 400 square feet.
While most other states comply with minimum square footage for tiny homes, Colorado follows their basic definition.
According to the rules of Colorado, a tiny home can have somewhere between 100 to 400 square feet. However, any house smaller than 1,000 square feet also falls under the tiny home category in Colorado.
So it is always a good idea to determine the exact size before moving to Colorado.
Like most states in the US, Colorado does not have any specific rules regulating tiny homes. They typically fall under existing structures such as RVs or dwellings and share the laws governing them.
However, different zoning committees have variable flexibility in these rules. You should always check with a building official in your local municipality.
The type of foundation you build your tiny home on considerably changes the jurisdiction it falls under. Now, there are three types of tiny houses you can have as per their foundations:
If you decide to build a permanent foundation for your tiny home, you will have to compromise on its mobility. On the other hand, a permanent foundation will earn your house higher than RV in zoning regulations.
According to Colorado law, a tiny home with a permanent foundation is considered a dwelling. A dwelling built on someone's property, say backyard, is an accessory dwelling unit.
A challenge you will face while building a tiny permanent home is that the law abides you to follow all local building codes. These include minimum covered areas for rooms, number of windows, stairs measurements, and bathroom dimensions.
Also, some counties do not permit living off-grid. You will need to hook up your home with the grid electricity and plumbing for water and sewage. It won’t let you be as independent as you’d like but being totally off-grid is not as comfortable as it may look.
A tiny temporary house has wheels in place of a foundation. These mobile houses are a popular choice among homeowners who like to move. They are cheaper than permanent houses and do not require you to own a piece of land.
Also, no specific structural codes apply to them, so you can build them however you want.
But there is a flip side to the story. The jurisdiction for these tiny temporary houses is not as easy to go through. There are a few problems regarding living in a foundationless mobile structure:
First, most Colorado states deem them as recreational vehicles or RVs, and you are not allowed to live around the year in them. According to the law, you cannot camp an RV or mobile home for more than two weeks per year in the same place.
Next, a tiny temporary homeowner will have to obtain certification from RVIA and conform to the American National Safety Institute standards 119.2. This will include inspection and proper documentation.
Lastly, most RV parks do not allow tiny houses, so it is an excellent idea to research your options beforehand.
Anything that falls between a mobile and a permanent structure is termed transitional. These are tiny homes with foundations that can be dismantled and carried over a trailer if you want to travel.
These structures lie in the grey area of law since there isn’t much information about their legal position. You can check with your building officials at the local municipality to clear legal matters before jumping on the bandwagon.
One huge difference in the law governing such structures is the purpose you use them for. While a transitional home may not be legal for permanent living, it can easily be your art studio or office.
While a few counties and cities allow tiny houses, some, in particular, are better suited to the downsized living. Here are the best places to get yourself a tiny house in Colorado:
El Paso County: it is one of the counties in Colorado that have changed their laws and regulations regarding RVs. You can permanently live in your tiny house on wheels in El Paso County as long as it passes safety inspection and is parked in an allocated space.
Walsenburg: it is a small town located in the south of Colorado. Walsenburg laws changed in 2014 to allow people to build tiny homes in residential areas. Also, according to the regulations, these homes should have a permanent foundation and be connected with the town’s water and sewage lines.
Salida: it is a small house development in the middle of Colorado. Salida is a community of tiny houses in the heart of the Rockies that include facilities such as a community kitchen, storage space, exercise units, and a team to oversee management issues. Also, the area is nearby some of the best rafting and skiing locations and is an ideal place for post-retirement living.
You do not have to pay property taxes for your tiny home since they do not fall under the classification of a conventional house.
Since dwellings and RVs do not comply with the standards of a conventional house, a tiny homeowner does not have to pay property tax. It makes affording a tiny house even more accessible.
However, if you own a tiny house on wheels, you will have to pay motor vehicle taxes depending on where you live.
Tiny living is an excellent way to break free of the cultural norms that require you to spend a lifetime saving to buy yourself an average home. It saves you a lot of your sweat-driven earnings for a less materialistic experience, like traveling.
We are seeing more and more people converting to this humbled style of living now. Therefore, it is necessary to learn about the different rules and regulations that run the tiny houses in Colorado.
While the laws governing these homes are still unclear, it is still not safe to overlook them entirely. You are more likely to make educated choices and opt for risk-free living with proper knowledge and planning.