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New Mexico Tiny Home Rules & Regulations

Updated on:
August 25, 2023
New Mexico Tiny Home Rules & Regulations

Tiny houses are legal in New Mexico. New Mexico has approved Appendix Q in the 2018 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC), joining many other American states in formally embracing the tiny home movement.

Want to downsize to a simpler lifestyle in a breathtakingly beautiful natural setting? Tiny home living in New Mexico may be your best option.

However, you must consider many things before joining the New Mexico tiny home movement.

It will be easier to comply with the law and prevent fines if you know the relevant tiny home legislation in New Mexico.

In this article, we'll examine New Mexico’s tiny house laws. After reading this article, you will be knowledgeable about living in a tiny house in New Mexico and benefiting from a simpler way of life.

Are tiny houses legal in New Mexico?

Tiny houses are legal in New Mexico. The state has approved Appendix Q in the 2018 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC), joining many other American states in formally embracing the tiny home movement.

Appendix Q officially defines a tiny home, and some IRC restrictions that had previously barred their construction are relaxed. It loosens several general code standards for homes 400 square feet or smaller. 

However, Particular building regulations for tiny dwellings are in place in places like Albuquerque. 

Therefore, the construction and location of tiny dwellings must adhere to certain municipal building and zoning regulations.

You may also like: 8 Things To Know Before Buying a Tiny Home.

What kind of tiny houses are permitted in New Mexico?

Tiny houses in New Mexico
View the Express, a tiny house on wheels

New Mexico permits different types of tiny houses. However, local laws and ordinances, particularly zoning laws, determine what kind of tiny house you can build in a certain location in the state.

Are Tiny Houses On Wheels permitted In New Mexico?

Depending on your city or county, you can live in your tiny house on wheels full-time. Some localities authorize tiny homes on wheels; some states designate THOWs as recreational vehicles; and some communities do not permit THOWs at all.

Contacting your local government by phone or email is the best way to learn about the regulations for tiny houses on wheels in your city or county. 

Your elected officials ought to be able to inform you of the precise regulations that apply to compact mobile homes in the city or county where you reside.

Read also: The Essential Guide to Your Tiny Home Improvement.

Are Tiny Houses On Foundation permitted In New Mexico?

With effect from January 15, 2018, the whole state of New Mexico started utilizing Appendix Q. It refers to Appendix Q of the 2018 International Residential Code regarding tiny homes on foundations. 

Appendix Q also covers tiny houses that are single-family homes. The appendix relaxes several general code standards about 400 square feet or smaller homes.

What requirements must a tiny house meet to comply with New Mexico's building codes?

New Mexico's tiny house
View the draper, a unique tiny house on wheels.

Different requirements apply to tiny homes depending on how the property is categorized. The following are general criteria for tiny dwellings that abide by New Mexico building and construction codes:

Rules for permanent structures

A tiny house built on a permanent foundation should comply with the New Mexico Building Residential Code, including Appendix Q (Tiny Houses).

Some of the laws worth highlighting are as follows:

  • The ceiling height of a tiny house's living area and hallways must be at least 6 feet 8 inches.
  • Each tiny home must have a bathroom with a toilet, sink, shower, or bath. There needs to be hot and cold water in the bathroom and kitchen sink.
  • Ceilings in bathrooms, commode rooms, and kitchens must be at least 6 feet 4 inches high. Beams, girders, ducts, and lighting cannot exceed the minimum ceiling height.
  • A loft's ceiling height may be less than 6 feet 8 inches.
  • The floor area of a loft must be at least 35 square feet, and no horizontal dimension may be less than 5 feet.
  • The open side of the lofts must have loft guards.
  • Loft guards must be at least 36 inches tall or half the clear height from the floor to the ceiling, whichever is less.
  • When it comes to emergency escape and rescue openings, tiny homes must adhere to Section R310 of the One-and-Two-Family Dwelling Building Code.
  • Lofts used as bedrooms must have egress roof access windows that meet the requirements of Section R310.
  • If the egress roof access window meets the minimum opening area criteria of Section R310, windows must be built so that the bottom of the opening does not extend more than 44 inches above the loft floor.

To search for all extra rules relevant to your tiny home, refer to Appendix Q.

Rules for temporary tiny houses

Generally, tiny homes constructed in New Mexico or constructed outside of New Mexico and brought into New Mexico must comply with the New Mexico Residential Code requirements for domestic or international production of dwelling units. Appendix Q of the New Mexico Residential Code is a part of this. 

As long as the axle is present, tiny homes built on a chassis with a permanent axle are regarded as recreational vehicles and must adhere to regulations and obtain a license as such. 

The unit must adhere to code requirements for tiny dwellings put on permanent foundations if you remove the axles and place the unit on a foundation. 

Rules for transitional structures

Transitional buildings are not subject to any state-wide restrictions in New Mexico. Local governments are free to establish rules governing their construction.

These regulations specify the locations where transitional construction can be built and the safety requirements (for their plumbing and electrical systems). 

Consult your local authorities to find out the precise rules governing transitional structures. 

What New Mexico counties allow tiny houses? 

New Mexico tiny houses
Check out the Vista Boho, a tiny house constructed by the reputed construction firm Escape Tiny Homes.

There is a lot of room for variation in the building laws among the counties in New Mexico. Here are some examples:

Bernalillo County

In Bernalillo County, New Mexico, turning a tiny house on wheels into a registered residence with an occupancy permit is possible. You will need a permit to secure the tiny house to a foundation. 

But you must construct your tiny home per the ANSI regulations for RVs and the residential code standards to be permitted to be a tiny home on wheels in Bernalillo County.

Hidalgo County

Rodeo, a city in Hidalgo County, New Mexico, just legalized tiny dwellings. The city of Rodeo is rumored to be building a town of tiny homes.

Can you permanently live in a tiny house in New Mexico?

If your tiny home complies with all applicable zoning and construction code standards, you can reside there permanently in New Mexico.

You can reside permanently in these tiny homes in different states because permanent structures have fewer geographical constraints. 

How tiny can a house be in New Mexico?

Tiny can a house be in New Mexico
View The Model 480, a stunning tiny home with a spacious modular studio or primary bedroom experience.

A tiny home is a residential structure that is 400 square feet or less in size (excluding lofts), according to the International Residential Code's Appendix Q, which New Mexico adopted.

To qualify as a tiny house, a home can only be 400 square feet. Local tiny home legislation determines the minimum size requirements, with a maximum size of 400 square feet.

Where can I build a tiny house in New Mexico?

The legal classification of the tiny house and the local zoning/land use laws determine where you can build a tiny house in New Mexico.

Tiny homes with permanent foundations are often allowed under the law. In most cities, you can construct these tiny homes in zoning areas that permit detached single-family homes.

Therefore, you can construct tiny homes as SDUs on your property in many residential areas. 

You can also erect these structures on authorized community lots and in tiny house communities.

You may also like: How to Build a Tiny House.

Do I have to pay property taxes for my tiny house?

The categorization of the house and the local tax rules play a significant role in determining whether you have to pay property taxes for your tiny house in New Mexico.

Your tiny house will be subject to property taxes just like other residential residences if constructed on a fixed, permanent foundation.

You might not be required to pay property taxes if you put your tiny house on a chassis and get it categorized as a recreational vehicle. 

However, if you put the tiny house on wheels on your property, you might need to pay property taxes.

Note that different locations have different tax regulations. Contact your local tax authorities and assessors to learn more about the precise property tax laws that apply to your tiny home.

Can I build and put a tiny house in my backyard in New Mexico?

In most locations in New Mexico, you cannot build a tiny house in your backyard. This is a result of the state adopting IRC Appendix Q. 

It pertains to tiny homes utilized as single dwelling units with all the necessary amenities for one or more people to live independently, including a permanent structure with spaces for cooking, dining, sleeping, and bathroom use.

Where can I park a tiny house on wheels in New Mexico?

Depending on local laws, you can park your mobile tiny home in several places in New Mexico. 

Tiny homeowners often park THOWs on their properties, in RV parks, campgrounds, authorized neighborhood lots, and tiny house communities.

How much does it cost to build a Tiny House in New Mexico?

You should prepare to spend between $164 and $447 per square foot for a tiny house offered for sale in New Mexico by companies based outside the state. 

The cost of the tiny home model plus the minimal site preparation (clearing a space, laying out a flat gravel pad, and establishing utility connections).

Read also: Tiny Home Living Made Easy: How Self Storage Can Maximize Your Space and Simplify Your Life.

Are there tiny home communities in New Mexico?

Tiny house enthusiasts can benefit from several tiny home communities in New Mexico.

These neighborhoods give tiny homeowners affordable and sustainable living camaraderie with like-minded individuals.

Additionally, residents of tiny home communities can access common resources they otherwise would not have had.

In New Mexico, there are a few tiny home communities. They include:

  • River Edge Tiny Home Village in Rio Communities
  • Valverde Commons in Taos
  • Tiny Home Village in Albuquerque

Takeaway: Learn the key tiny house rules in New Mexico before moving into one

New Mexico has adopted IRC Appendix Q, allowing tiny homes on foundations with a floor area of 400 sq. ft. or less.

However, local zoning laws and construction standards may limit the type of tiny house you can erect and where you can do it.

Some of the most tiny home-friendly cities in the state are Carlsbad, Farmington, Edgewood, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and Albuquerque.


Therefore, when joining the tiny house movement in New Mexico, it's essential to understand the local tiny house building guidelines.

Want to learn more about tiny homes? Check out this article for more insights: Embracing A Nomadic Lifestyle With Tiny House On Wheels.

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