Are you dreaming of a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle in the heart of the Midwest? If so, Missouri might be the perfect place for your tiny house dreams to take root.
However, before you start taking the step to make your tiny home dream a reality, you must understand the rules and regulations surrounding small homes in Missouri so that you don’t err on compliance.
Whether you’re a prospective tiny homeowner, an adventurer looking to rent one for a memorable getaway, or are intrigued by the small house movement, understanding the legal landscape in Missouri will guide you in finding the right path for your tiny living adventure.
In this post, we’ll cover the various aspects of Missouri tiny house laws, including how they differ across cities and counties, the types of tiny homes permitted, and the requirements for both tiny houses on foundations and tiny houses on wheels (THOWs).
The legality of tiny houses in Missouri is a multifaceted topic that varies depending on the specific location within the state.
Unlike some states with centralized regulations, Missouri's tiny house laws are primarily determined by individual cities, towns, and counties.
This decentralized approach means that the rules and regulations can differ significantly from one area to another.
In many rural parts of Missouri, with minimal or no zoning laws, and building codes, tiny-home living can be relatively easy.
These areas often allow for more flexibility and freedom in terms of building and living in tiny houses.
However, as you move closer to cities and more densely populated areas, the regulations tend to become stricter.
Each county in Missouri has its own set of laws, and within those counties, individual cities or towns may have additional regulations.
This patchwork of rules can make it challenging to navigate tiny house living, but with the proper knowledge, it's possible to find the right spot for your tiny dream home.
If you want to build a tiny house, we advise you first check the county laws to see if your land is unincorporated (not controlled as part of a municipality).
The types of tiny houses permitted in Missouri vary depending on the location and local regulations.
In general, many parts of the state allow for traditional tiny houses on foundations and tiny houses on wheels (THOWs).
However, it’s important to note that laws and restrictions differ between rural areas and more urbanized regions.
Missouri has fairly lax statewide building laws. Therefore, the legality of your tiny house on foundation will be determined by the size and type of residence permitted in your particular Missouri city or county of interest.
Suppose you want to build tiny houses on foundations in your area. In that case, it’s essential to check with your local representative to determine the precise regulations and requirements you need to meet before starting your build.
Tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) fall under the “travel trailers” classification in Missouri. While THOWs are not allowed in most cities and cannot be used inside city limits, they may be permitted in rural areas and outside city boundaries, especially in locations with more relaxed regulations.
If your THOW meets specific criteria, such as a living area of less than 320 square feet (excluding built-in equipment such as wardrobes, closets, kitchen units or appliances, and bath and toilet rooms) and being towed by a motor vehicle, it may not require a special highway permit.
Just ensure that before choosing a location for your tiny house on wheels, you thoroughly research the local laws and regulations to ensure that your tiny dream home is compliant and legal in the area where you plan to build or park it.
When building a tiny house in Missouri, it’s essential to understand the building codes and regulations that apply to different types of structures.
The requirements can vary depending on whether the tiny house is considered a permanent, temporary, or transitional dwelling.
For tiny houses intended to be permanent residences, they must adhere to the local building codes and zoning regulations in the area where they will be situated.
Some of the key considerations include:
All permanent tiny houses must comply with state-wide laws concerning wastewater disposal. This typically means connecting to the local sewage system or installing a septic tank.
The latter demands a permit and a registered installer. Compost toilets require a septic tank to dispose of waste, and outhouses are prohibited in any continuously occupied property with piped water supply.
If you plan to build your tiny house on a floodplain in Missouri, obtaining a permit is necessary, even if no other building codes or zoning regulations are in effect.
Another critical consideration to keep in mind when planning to build a permanent structure is drilling a well on your property. A permit is required, and you must utilize a licensed well driller following state regulations.
Given Missouri's varying weather conditions, such as tornadoes, it's crucial to use high-grade building materials and ensure secure windows and doors to protect against potential disasters.
Temporary tiny houses, such as those used for camping or recreational purposes, may have more lenient requirements.
In some cases, a special highway permit may not be required for tiny houses on wheels that meet specific criteria.
If you want to live in a tiny house on wheels full-time, you should keep the following restrictions in mind.
These statewide limits, however, are not followed by all autonomous counties and cities. Some Missouri cities and counties have enacted regulations more hospitable to tiny house dwellers.
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Transitional structures, such as those in tiny home communities or a temporary housing solution, can be attractive for those seeking flexibility and mobility.
These structures often require adherence to safety standards, such as those related to electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems.
Depending on the specific location and purpose of the transitional home, they may have guidelines and regulations set by the local authorities that must be adhered to.
To understand the rules and requirements for transitional structures, it is vital to consult with local authorities or zoning departments.
Missouri has diverse regulations and building codes that can vary significantly from one county to another.
While many rural areas in Missouri have minimal or no zoning laws, some counties have taken steps to accommodate tiny houses.
Here are a few counties in Missouri that allow tiny houses, subject to certain conditions:
Franklin County permits tiny houses used as backyard accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as long as they are on a foundation and the lots are a minimum of 1 acre.
In addition, ADUs must be no larger than 500 square feet or half the size of major residential structures, whichever is less.
Lawrence County, Missouri, has no zoning restrictions, building codes, or regulations, making it relatively friendly for tiny house living.
If you desire a minimalist life and want to build a tiny home for yourself, consider this location, as you dont even need a building permit for your tiny home unless you want your own septic system.
Warren County’s planning and zoning board has been considering adding tiny homes to their building codes, signaling a potential regulation change to accommodate tiny living. So you should keep Warren in mind.
Whether you can permanently live in a tiny house in Missouri depends on the location and the type of tiny house. In some counties and municipalities, tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) are not allowed as permanent residences within city limits, as they are classified as travel trailers.
However, some counties and cities in Missouri, such as St. Louis, have adopted regulations or codes to accommodate tiny houses on foundations.
In these areas, tiny houses on a permanent foundation may be allowed as long as they meet the local building codes and zoning requirements.
Before choosing a particular city, research the specific laws and regulations of each county or city where you intend to build or park your tiny house.
Consulting with local zoning offices and officials can clarify whether permanent tiny house living is allowed in your desired location.
In Missouri, there is no statewide standard for the minimum size of a tiny house. Hence, the size of a tiny house may vary depending on the specific city, county, or municipality.
In some areas, Appendix Q of the International Residential Code has been adopted, which defines tiny houses as homes that are 400 square feet or less (excluding lofts). However, not all jurisdictions in Missouri have adopted this code.
In rural areas or locations with minimal zoning laws, the minimum size requirement for a dwelling might be more relaxed, allowing for smaller structures.
On the other hand, in more densely populated areas or places with stricter building codes, there might be a minimum square footage requirement for residential dwellings.
To determine the minimum size allowed for a tiny house in a specific area of Missouri, it is essential to check the local zoning laws and building codes in that particular city, town, or county.
The location where you can build a tiny house in Missouri depends on local zoning laws, building codes, and land use regulations.
In rural areas with minimal or no zoning laws, building a tiny home on privately owned land is relatively easier and may not require building permits.
However, if you plan to build your tiny house within city limits or in areas with stricter regulations, you'll need to check the local zoning laws and building codes.
That said, some cities and towns may have specific zoning districts where tiny houses are allowed including:
The Activate Jefferson City 2040 plan includes provisions for tiny homes and accessory dwelling units. This concept was born when community members lobbied for tiny dwellings in the city’s codes.
Kansas City has adopted Appendix Q of the IRC and has supported tiny home developments, including tiny home villages, for transitional housing.
Although the city accommodates tiny homes on foundations, parking a tiny house on wheels in a public space is still prohibited.
St. Louis has its own ordinances around tiny homes, specifying that they must be on a permanent foundation to be considered a dwelling unit.
On the other hand, if your tiny house is on a permanent chassis with wheels and has been certified by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), it can be placed in a mobile home park.
Other than that, any other sort of mobile home or tiny house on wheels can only be used for recreation.
Branson demonstrates that Appendix Q of the IRC is part of its building code, implying that it is more open to the concept of smaller dwellings.
The city is also home to the Elevate Community, a tiny home village for low-income residents that began with 48 dwellings and is steadily expanding.
Springfield zoning regulation permits tiny home communities in “planned development districts and manufactured home community districts.”
They also allow permanent foundations for little dwellings. Appendix Q has been incorporated into the Code; consult the rules for precise footing requirements.
Other tiny houses-friendly cities include:
In Missouri, if you own a tiny house and place it on land you own, you will likely be subject to property taxes. Property taxes are typically based on the land’s assessed value and any structures on the property, including tiny houses.
The local county assessor’s office conducts the property tax assessment, which determines the value of the land and any improvements (such as buildings) on the property.
The assessed value is then used to calculate the property tax amount you owe.
It’s important to note that property tax rates and assessment methods can vary by county and municipality.
Property taxes are used to fund various local services and government functions, such as schools, public safety, infrastructure, and other community services.
If you plan to live in a tiny house on wheels and travel frequently, you may also need to consider vehicle registration fees and other taxes related to your mobile dwelling.
It’s advisable to consult with local tax authorities or a tax professional to understand the specific property tax obligations for your tiny house in Missouri.
Tiny houses on wheels can serve as temporary living quarters in Missouri. Parking a tiny house on wheels in Missouri can be challenging due to the classification of tiny houses as travel trailers in much of the state. As travel trailers, they are subject to certain restrictions on where they can be parked.
Nevertheless, consider the list below when looking for a parking lot for your own tiny house on wheels in Missouri:
The ability to build and place a tiny house in your backyard in Missouri depends on the specific regulations of your city or county.
You may have more flexibility in some areas with minimal zoning laws and building codes.
However, in other places, there might be more stringent regulations if your property is within city limits or a municipality.
Counties like Franklin County permit accessory dwelling units (ADUs), including tiny houses, under certain conditions.
These conditions could involve size limitations, permitting processes, setbacks from property lines, and adherence to local building codes.
We advise you to consult with local authorities before starting your tiny home project.
On average, building a tiny house in Missouri can range from $30,000 to $70,000. This cost is based on size, materials used, labor costs, location, and additional features or customizations.
As the tiny house movement gains popularity, more communities are being developed to cater to tiny homeowners and enthusiasts. These communities offer a unique living experience, fostering a sense of community and shared values among like-minded individuals.
Living in a tiny home community can also provide access to shared amenities, social events, and a supportive network of neighbors.
Some of the tiny home communities in Missouri include:
Located in Springfield, Eden Village is a tiny home community specifically designed to provide housing for people who are disabled and experiencing homelessness.
It aims to offer a safe and supportive environment for its residents.
This tiny home village in Branson is focused on providing affordable housing for low-income individuals.
Multiple microbusinesses, career training options, and mentorship relationships are housed in the Elevate community to provide a helpful living environment for friends and neighbors.
The village comprises forty-eight 400-square-foot permanent prefabricated residences with an open kitchen, dining and living area, a small bedroom, one bath, and a front porch.
Community support and donations have kept it growing.
The Tiny House Adventures resort consists of various tiny homes and tiny cottages that can be rented for a family holiday, a guy's weekend, or a female group getaway.
The property is located on Lake Tiny Town, surrounded by 11 tiny dwellings, each with its design and style.
Kansas City's Veterans Community Project built a tiny home community to provide transitional housing for unhoused veterans. This community offers a supportive and empowering environment for its residents.
Lake Ozark approved a zoning change for a tiny house community with eight homes under 400 square feet. This community aims to provide affordable housing for the local workforce.
What's not to love about tiny houses? The fad offers everything from permanent residences tied to a foundation to park models and even transportable models on wheels, providing unrivaled versatility. Sizes range from 100 to nearly 1,000 square feet.
According to supporters of the tiny home movement, there are numerous advantages to living in one. Among the most popular are:
One of the most significant benefits of tiny homes and park model homes is their affordability. Traditional homes can be expensive to build, maintain, and heat or cool.
In contrast, tiny homes offer a more cost-effective option, allowing residents to save money on construction, utilities, and huge property taxes.
Tiny homes and park model homes have a smaller ecological footprint than conventional houses. Their reduced size results in lower energy consumption and less waste generation, making them a more environmentally friendly housing option.
Tiny houses encourage a simpler and more minimalist way of life. With limited space, people frequently choose what genuinely matters to them, emphasizing experiences and meaningful relationships rather than material belongings.
Tiny houses encourage a simpler and more minimalist way of life. With limited space, people frequently choose what genuinely matters to them, resulting in an emphasis on experiences and meaningful relationships rather than material belongings.
Small homes provide the opportunity to create a unique and functional living environment, from space-saving storage solutions to individualized interior design.
Living in a tiny home can provide financial freedom for residents. With lower mortgage or rental costs and reduced utility bills, individuals may have more disposable income to pursue their passions, travel, or invest in experiences that enrich their lives.
Many Missouri residents are becoming more environmentally conscious and seeking ways to live sustainably. Tiny homes and park model homes align with this goal by using fewer resources and promoting a greener lifestyle.
There is no statewide law for tiny homes in Missouri. Individual cities, towns, and counties primarily determine the tiny house regulations.
Hence, before embarking on the exciting journey of living in a tiny house in Missouri, you must familiarize yourself with the fundamental rules and regulations that apply to your desired location.
Remember that while many rural areas in Missouri have minimal zoning laws and building codes, cities and towns may have more stringent regulations.
Lastly, research the counties and cities mentioned in this piece that are welcoming to tiny homes. They are your best bet when choosing a suitable location to locate a tiny house.
To ensure a smooth transition into your tiny home lifestyle, feel free to talk with others in our Tiny House Community. By interacting with others with similar interests, you'll gain more understanding and confidence in making this exciting change.
Find answers — straight from the author — for the most common questions about this article.