North Dakota does not have statewide requirements for tiny homes. Counties and cities regulate these tiny homes, so regulations differ from place to place. However, all homes must meet certain IRC minimum standards.
The adorable small dwellings called tiny homes are growing in popularity in the US because they offer simple and affordable living. North Dakota has affordable living costs and is ranked #1 in the US for quality of life.
So, tiny home living in North Dakota may be excellent for you when considering downsizing to a simpler lifestyle without sacrificing a good quality of life.
However, laws govern the construction of tiny homes in the state. Failure to consider these laws can make your tiny home illegal, which is the last thing you want.
This article will explain the North Dakota tiny home rules and regulations and help you navigate the North Dakota tiny home building process more effectively to enjoy a simpler lifestyle in The Peace Garden State.
Tiny homes are legal in North Dakota. However, North Dakota does not have statewide laws governing tiny homes. Instead, different cities and counties have the authority to regulate tiny houses through local zoning regulations.
Thus, tiny house laws in North Dakota vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction based on local building codes and zoning ordinances.
You may also like: 8 Things To Know Before Buying a Tiny House.
What kind of tiny houses are permitted in North Dakota?
The state of North Dakota permits different kinds of tiny houses, including tiny homes on foundations and mobile tiny homes.
However, the rules differ widely for each tiny house type in any particular place in the state.
For instance, local regulations may not allow tiny homes on wheels (THOW) in a particular location while allowing those on foundations.
North Dakota permits tiny houses on foundations. In fact, the state considers these tiny houses as permanent dwelling places.
Tiny houses on foundations in North Dakota are required to be built according to the State’s independent building code, which uses:
Tiny Homes on Wheels are permitted in many North Dakota cities as long as you follow relevant regulations, such as obtaining a building permit and hooking up with utilities (like water and electricity).
Know that tiny homes on wheels are classified as mobile homes and recreational vehicles (RVs). So, you’ll need to comply with all relevant regulations regarding RVs.
Your tiny house must meet certain requirements to comply with North Dakota’s building codes.
These requirements depend on whether your tiny house is classified as a permanent, temporary, or transitional structure.
However, because the state is in Tornado Alley, all tiny homes are required to be properly anchored to the ground.
Because of North Dakota’s brutal winters, tiny homes are also required to have proper insulation against cold weather conditions.
Tiny houses in North Dakota must meet the minimum standards set by the International Residential Code (IRC) for things like structural ability, fire safety, and energy efficiency.
Some requirements of the IRC that tiny homes on foundations must meet include:
Temporary tiny houses are tiny homes on wheels, and North Dakota primarily considers them mobile homes or RVs. So, temporary tiny houses need to comply with the regulations on RVs, including registering them.
There are no regulations about transitional structures. You should consult your local authorities to know whether you can build one and the specific safety standards you must meet.
While you may be permitted to build a transitional structure, specific regulations will depend on the structure’s intended use.
Some of the best counties for tiny living in North Dakota are:
Burleigh County is one of the most friendly counties in North Carolina for tiny homes. The county already has some tiny home regulations allowing the construction of these unique small dwellings in different places within its territory.
For example, the North Dakota Century Code and the Burleigh County Ordinance prohibit accessory dwelling units but do not prohibit tiny homes placed on a lot of 40+ acres.
However, the homes must have access to water, electricity, gas, and sewer. Also, local zoning codes allow tiny houses only on places zoned as agricultural land.
Bismarck is one of the friendliest cities in the county for tiny living. In addition to having several tiny homes, it boasts a few tiny home social groups where tiny homeowners can connect.
Another popular place for tiny living in North Dakota is Grand Forks, which is the county seat of Grand Forks County. The city is even in the process of officially providing specific regulations for tiny home construction.
In Cass County, Fargo is one of the most friendly cities in the state for tiny living. You’ll find tiny houses in many places in Fargo. The city also has its share of tiny house dealers (especially mobile tiny home dealers).
You can live in a tiny house in North Dakota permanently. However, you’ll find it easier to live full-time in tiny houses on foundations as many cities and counties have many restrictions that make it challenging to live full-time in tiny houses on wheels.
There is no statewide minimum size requirement for tiny houses in North Dakota.
North Dakota is not among the American States that have adopted Appendix Q of the IRC (which defines tiny houses as residential dwellings that are 400 square feet or less).
In North Dakota, the different jurisdictions regulate tiny house construction, including specifying minimum size requirements. As such, how tiny a tiny house can be in North Dakota depends on the local laws.
Therefore, when considering building a tiny house in North Dakota, you should contact local officials to determine specific building code requirements you must comply with.
Zoning laws apply to buildings in all states, so where you can build a tiny house in North Dakota depends on local zoning restrictions. If local zoning ordinances allow, some places to build your tiny house include:
In many North Dakota counties, zoning rules divide lands into the following districts:
Depending on the county and city, you may be able to build a tiny house in agricultural, residential, mobile home, manufactured home, and rural zoning districts.
Agricultural lots and rural zoning districts are the most permissive for complete off-grid living.
Tiny homes on foundations are considered permanent structures and attract property taxes like other residential dwellings.
Tiny homes on wheels are generally not subject to property taxes. But when you place THOWs on your land, you may have to pay property tax on the land.
Thus, whether your tiny house is subject to property tax in North Dakota depends on the house’s classification.
However, North Dakota is one of the most tax-friendly states. So, when it's tax time, you won’t have to dig too deep into your pockets.
Whether you can build a tiny house in your backyard in North Dakota depends on local regulations. If you want to put a tiny house in your backyard, you need to get approval from your city or county.
Some places may permit you, while others will not. For example, Burleigh County does allow accessory dwelling units (ADU), meaning you cannot put a tiny house in your backyard anywhere in the county.
However, the city of Asheville allows one ADU on each lot that contains or will contain a single-family home. So, you may be able to put a tiny house in your backyard in the city.
Each city and county in North Dakota has the authority to stipulate where people can park tiny homes on wheels and how long they can live in them. Thus, where you can park your tiny house on wheels in North Dakota also depends on local zoning laws.
If zoning ordinances permit, some places to park a tiny house on wheels include:
Read also: Top Benefits of Living in an RV.
The cost of building a tiny house in North Dakota depends on several factors. It can be as low as $20,000 - $40,000 in some areas or even more than $200,000.
The factors determining the cost of tiny homes in North Dakota include the size of the house, materials used, amenities included, access to utilities, council permit costs, and the builder.
One well-known tiny home community in North Dakota is St. Mary Village. It is an excellent summer vacation accommodation.
The village is just a few steps from the east entrance of Glacier National Park, making the community perfect for anyone with an adventurous spirit.
It has ten highly functional tiny houses where guests can stay for months.
Each tiny house sleeps up to four people. It also has a private luxury bathhouse and a sliding barn-style door separating a sleeping area from a cozy living area.
You may also like: Why Tiny Homes Make Great Vacation Rentals.
Fargo, Bismarck, and Grand Forks are some cities in North Dakota that are very welcoming of tiny houses.
Note that North Dakota does not have statewide regulations governing tiny homes. However, tiny homes are legal in the state, with local jurisdictions having the authority to regulate their construction.
For this reason, tiny home regulations differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. So, when considering building a tiny house anywhere in North Dakota, you should check with local authorities to avoid being on the wrong side of the law.
TinyHome.com can help you navigate the murky waters, ensuring you build a safe and compliant tiny house. We offer consulting services that help you avoid mistakes, a tiny home directory where you’ll find some of the best tiny homes in the market, and more.
Our tiny home blog is the ultimate plug for learning about tiny home rules in the different US states and the best practices to build or improve these tiny dwellings.
For valuable insight into effectively insulating your tiny house and making it more comfortable, see A Quick Start Guide to Tiny House Insulation.
Find answers — straight from the author — for the most common questions about this article.