Simple, minimalistic, and sustainable. These features of tiny homes make them an attractive and popular option for people who want affordable housing.
However, not all states allow tiny homes as permanent dwellings. A few states enabling tiny houses include Arizona, Colorado, California, North Carolina, and Idaho. They have flexible rules and laws regarding tiny homes as building dwellings.
Idaho is becoming a tiny home-friendly state in the United States. They follow the International Residential Code for the rules and regulations owners of tiny homes must follow. However, different counties and cities in Idaho have other laws for tiny houses.
Knowing exactly what rules you need to follow when buying or building a tiny home can spare you from the hassle and legal complications.
This post will delve into the rules and regulations for tiny homes in Idaho. You will also learn about the counties that allow tiny homes, where you can build and park them, the minimum required dimensions, and tax details.
Let's jump in!
Idaho is one of the most tiny home-friendly states in the U.S., so tiny houses are legal in this state. Idaho is the first state to adopt the Appendix Q of the International Residential Code in setting standards for tiny homes.
However, if you plan to live in a tiny house in Idaho, the structure must be on a permanent foundation and meet the standards and requirements for building one. If it is on wheels, the state classifies it as a recreational vehicle, and you may have difficulty getting the planning and zoning approval.
Living in a tiny house on wheels is still debated across many states, including Idaho. This means that tiny houses on wheels, whether a recreational vehicle (RV) or a built home, cannot be set up in a residential zone. They can only be used for residential purposes in an RV park.
Nonetheless, you do not have to worry because the rules and regulations in Idaho vary by county or city. Some independent counties and cities are more flexible to homeowners of a tiny house on wheels.
Across Idaho, there are different variations on the building laws because each county has the freedom to amend the existing state building laws to accommodate the specific needs of the area.
Gem county is an accommodating county to owners of tiny homes on wheels. They have created ordinances for people wanting to live permanently on wheels that Idaho state regulations have limited.
Similarly, Ada county proposed a program to combat the restriction due to state laws, making tiny living more accessible and possible for permanent living.
Aside from these Idaho counties, independent cities in the state have issued their own laws and addendums or amendments to the statewide laws. Moscow, Boise, and Garden cities are such examples.
Moscow, for instance, removed the six-month restriction on recreational vehicles. Boise has set building codes and guidelines for the legality of your tiny house. Meanwhile, Garden city strives to make tiny living more environment-friendly.
Yes, you can permanently live in a tiny house in Idaho. But it depends on the type of tiny house you will use for dwelling because the state has zoning restrictions, building codes, and other regulations.
The Division of Building Safety laid out the classification of dwelling structures, including tiny houses, and their building requirements. The classification includes Site Built, Modular Building, Manufactured Home, and Recreational Vehicle.
Tiny homes under the site-built, modular building, and manufactured home categories can be permanent homes in Idaho as long as you meet the building requirements.
On the other hand, tiny homes on wheels or with no permanent foundation are called recreational vehicles (RV). Living in a tiny home on wheels is legal, but many restrictions exist. They consider it as a temporary home.
For instance, Jerome county lets you live in an RV for 60 days. After 60 days, you must get a residence permit each day.
In Boise, tiny houses on wheels and other recreational vehicles are temporary only for camping or seasonal use. This kind of house is not allowed as a year-round adobe.
Generally, a tiny house in Idaho state is under 400 square feet in floor area, following the Appendix Q of the International Residential Code. The smallest house in the state can have a minimum of 150 square feet in floor area for a tiny house.
Most counties in Idaho do not have minimum house sizes, but they set minimum lot sizes.
Idaho follows the Appendix Q of the International Residential Code as standard and rules for tiny houses. However, there are amendments to the rules and regulations to fit the residences in each county.
Here are the rules for a tiny house for permanent structures:
Tiny houses on wheels are considered recreational vehicles. According to the Division of Building Safety, recreational vehicles can be motor homes, fifth-wheel trailers, travel trailers, park model recreational vehicles, and folding camping trailers or truck campers. These are all designed for camping, recreational, or seasonal use.
Specifically, a park model recreational vehicle is built on a single chassis. It also has at most 400 square feet in area or less.
Here are the rules for tiny temporary houses:
Tiny homes are the solution for homelessness and the housing crisis in some counties in Idaho. Although there are transitional projects in the state, there are no existing rules for transitional structures for tiny houses.
In 2018, there was a proposed transitional housing project in Rathdrum, Idaho, modeled after Seattle's transitional housing projects.
Proposed by a non-profit organization in North Idaho, the program aimed to build tiny homes as options for veterans, single moms, people recovering from addictions, and anyone else who needed a home.
However, the transitional housing project did not push through because it received criticism from the people. They fought against the project because they thought it would lead to an increase in crime.
You can build a tiny house in the residential zones of Idaho. However, you need to comply to local requirements, depending on the county or city.
When you put a tiny home on private property, the home must have at least one acre of land. Jefferson county usually permits one home per acre in R1 zones. In R5 zones, only one home is allowed per five acres.
If your tiny home is the only dwelling on the property, it will be treated like a modular home. So, you have to check the requirements for a modular home and hook up your tiny home to existing infrastructure.
Unlike traditional houses, you do not have to pay property taxes if you own a tiny house. However, tiny houses on wheels are considered recreational vehicles in Idaho. You will have to pay for the property tax imposed on motor vehicles, depending on your county or city.
In Idaho, a tiny home on wheels must be parked in an RV park for it to be legal. It is not allowed to be set it up in a residential zone.
However, Gem county has amended the statewide laws to let people stay in tiny homes on wheels. These are some of its provisions :
Additionally, the state lets you temporarily stay in tiny homes on wheels for less than a year. The good news is that Moscow removed the six-month restriction on tiny homes on wheels. Owners of tiny houses on wheels are now allowed in mobile home parks for year-round hookups.
Idaho has different tiny home communities where you can park your tiny home. If you aren't ready yet for tiny living, you can rent out tiny houses as a starter.
Idaho's common tiny home communities are Valley Village and River Landing Tiny Home Resort. These villages offer RV parking spots and tiny homes to rent out during your next vacation. This is a perfect place to experience tiny living and engage with tiny living enthusiasts.
Considering a tiny house for a tiny living needs thorough research and careful planning. Equipping yourself with knowledge about tiny houses and the place's rules and regulations can prepare you for tiny living. It also saves you from unnecessary hassles and problems due to potential violations.
We have comprehensively tackled the rules and regulations for building tiny houses in Idaho state. This information can give you a general idea of what to expect, prepare, and consider in building or moving into a tiny house.
Find answers — straight from the author — for the most common questions about this article.