Living luxuriously in a mansion with a white picket fence was once the American Dream. That remains a goal for some, but the rising housing costs, student loan debts, and the high cost of living prompt many to seek affordable housing.
The appeal of tiny house living is undeniable. Many tiny house-friendly states, such as South Dakota, allow minimalist living.
Tiny home living saves you money on rent, maintenance, and expensive mortgages. It provides you with a clean, clutter-free living environment.
The problem is, not everyone can live in these homes. In most places in the United States, zoning laws restrict the size of houses you can build and where you can put them. Minimum Square Footage (MSF) codes and regulations vary from town to town and county to county.
So, before joining the tiny home movement, you must know the regulations and codes. These are location specific. Keep checking on tiny house laws in your area to see what has changed. You do not want to build a tiny home where it is illegal to have one.
To help you better understand if a tiny house is right for you, we’ve created this helpful guide on tiny house regulations in South Dakota. Read on to learn more!
A tiny house is a home under 400 square feet but no less than 120 square feet. It can be on a trailer or a permanent foundation.
Tiny homes on wheels are mobile homes built on trailers or with wheels. You can use transitional structures as permanent homes and move from place to place.
Tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) provide freedom and flexibility. You have the option of exploring and living in different locations.
The law has been particularly slow to catch up with them because none of the closest regulations has a strong legal framework. Neither tiny house laws on mobile homes nor permanent tiny homes.
States restrict year-round RV occupancy to RV parks. This tiny house law is inconvenient for tiny homes on wheels owners.
Others only allow permanent residence if you park the tiny house on wheels in exclusive RV parks.
Additionally, some campgrounds do not allow these structures. That's even though states view them as recreational vehicles.
Most building standards and zoning requirements demand building houses on permanent foundations.
Appendix Q (see more below) solely addresses homes with permanent foundations. So, many cities that welcome tiny homes do so only if they have solid foundations.
Despite the difficulties, several municipalities have devised novel ways to accept THOWs.
Beresford has designed zoning expressly for tiny homes on wheels. The tiny house laws allow tiny houses on wheels to stay as long as they are properly tied down.
A permanent tiny house is a small dwelling built on a foundation. It serves as the primary living space on your land where no other physical residence exists.
You can build a permanent tiny home on a foundation or move it to designated land and attach it to a foundation.
Yes, tiny homes are legal in South Dakota (SD), but regulations and codes vary from county to county. So, the legality of tiny homes depends on your location.
There are many advantages to living in a tiny house. For starters, it’s a fantastic way to save money. Your utility bills will be lower with a smaller living space, and you can even install solar and live off the grid.
Another reason to love tiny houses is that they are more environmentally friendly. They need less energy and resources to construct and maintain. They also have a smaller environmental footprint.
These houses are both attractive and simple to maintain. You can supplement your income by renting them out to vacationers. List them as Airbnbs or with a similar service.
Living in a tiny house also forces you to declutter and keep what is truly important to you. That can lead to a simpler and more fulfilling life.
Tinyhouse.com has a wealth of information to get you started if you are considering moving into a tiny house.
You can also become a member of a tiny house community, attend a workshop, or even build your own tiny house. You’ll love your new life in a tiny house, whatever path you take.
There are no statewide rules regulating tiny houses in South Dakota. Each municipality can set its guidelines.
In South Dakota, you must get a building permit for a tiny house of at least 190 square feet. For each new occupant, you must add 50 square feet. The tiny house must also meet the building code requirements and be located in permitted residential neighborhoods.
SD has made tremendous progress in regulating tiny houses. Beresford and Spearfish, for example, have established building codes that accommodate tiny homes.
Where the laws are ambiguous, there are general tiny house laws that guide tiny house owners in the US.
The US has general building code guidelines for tiny homes. Appendix Q outlines these building standards. All tiny homes must also follow the International Residential Code.
The amended 2015 International Residential Code requisite for tiny houses is that each room must be at least 120 square feet. It must also have a kitchen, one bathroom, and a washing/laundry room.
As per Appendix Q, a tiny house must be 400 square feet or less, excluding lofts. Each tiny home must have a ceiling 6 feet and 4 inches high. All other common areas of the tiny house should have ceilings at least 6 feet, 8 inches high.
If the tiny house has a loft, you’ll need to put in a ladder where the loft’s purpose is storage. If it is a living area, you must include stairs.
Your loft must have a floor area of at least 35 square feet, and it can be a living or sleeping area. Stairway handrails must follow sections R311.7.8 and R312.1.
Each tiny home must have at least one window designated as an emergency exit, aside from acting as a window. The roof window should follow R310 standards on emergency exits and rescue openings.
Spearfish permits permanent tiny houses on foundations in all residential zoning districts. That is, if they are building code compliant.
The external width of the tiny house in Beresford cannot be less than 8.5 feet or greater than 20 feet. The minimum size is 187 square feet, with no less than 50 square feet added for each extra occupant.
All tiny houses built on foundations must follow Appendix Q of 2018. They must also follow International Residential Code guidelines.
Appendix Q, an addition to IRC, outlines specific guidelines for constructing tiny houses. Enacted in 2018 and lobbied by the tiny house movement, these rules give direction to many tiny house enthusiasts. Tiny house laws previously were not this specific.
A tiny temporary house is an accessory dwelling unit. It is a tiny house attached to or on the same ground as an existing family home.
The US states generally see them as tiny houses, but you can call them accessory dwelling units or granny cottages.
In some areas, tiny house laws that govern tiny homes stipulate that you can only put on these structures on land that already has an existing home.
In Beresford, for instance, you must build temporal structures that are not mobile. They should be on a foundation.
Accessory dwelling units can be guest houses. Extended family members or young adults can use them. You can also rent them out.
There are a few things to remember when planning to live in a tiny house in South Dakota temporarily. First, you will need to get a permit from the local authorities to live in your tiny house on a specific property for a set period.
Next, follow all the rules and regulations in South Dakota. That includes ensuring your tiny house is up to building codes and meets all the safety requirements.
You must register mobile houses with the motor vehicle department. Most US states treat transitional structures as recreational vehicles.
Each city or town in South Dakota has varying rules for transitional structures. Still, SD governs Tiny Houses on Wheels (THOWs) under the South Dakota Recreational Vehicle Act.
That means you must build your tiny portable house to RV standards to be legally registered and licensed in South Dakota.
You must build your tiny house on wheels on a single chassis. The tiny mobile house must be no more than 8.5 feet wide and 13.5 feet tall.
It should have all the necessary amenities, including a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area.
You should be able to tow your tiny house on wheels with a licensed and insured vehicle. You will also need a special trip permit from the South Dakota Department of Transportation to tow your tiny house on public roads.
Remember, Appendix Q should not be your legal guide on transitional structures, as it doesn’t apply to mobile homes on wheels. Instead, you should be aware of local laws on transitional structures.
Owners of transitional structures in Spearfish can have full residency. That is if they park in designated commercial campgrounds.
In Beresford, you must firmly fasten a tiny house on wheels to a licensed trailer. It must also be carefully anchored to the ground when parked to endure bad weather.
You will need a building permit for permanent tiny houses. State laws generally classify tiny houses on wheels as RVs, so these don’t need a building permit.
South Dakota does not have an outright ‘building permit’ for tiny houses. Several laws govern tiny houses, which are temporary structures.
These include zoning requirements, building codes, and fire safety guidelines. You can meet the requirements necessary to get a permit by extensively researching beforehand. It is best to consult with your local government before beginning any construction. Always be sure to follow all applicable laws and regulations when it comes to building your tiny house in South Dakota.
You may also need a ‘certificate of occupancy’ if you plan to rent your tiny house to others. You can get this one through the same channels as the building permit.
There are quite a few South Dakota counties that allow tiny houses.
Some cities like Beresford, Union County, and Spearfish, Lawrence County are tiny house friendly. They have specific regulations to allow for tiny houses’ construction and occupancy.
Places like Custer, SD, have tiny house hotels like the Tiny Home in the Black Hills for all your vacation needs. It may not be a famous tiny house hotel like Live Oak Lake in Texas, but it is a tiny house with a lux feeling. What’s more, it is close enough to Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park-half an hour’s drive or less.
Here is a list of tiny house-friendly counties.
Brookings county allows for the construction of tiny houses on permanent foundations. That is, as long as they meet all the requirements of a regular home.
These requirements include minimum square footage, proper wiring and plumbing, and so forth.
Minnehaha County requires you to build your tiny house on a permanent foundation and meet all the requirements of a regular home.
The county allows the building of tiny houses in agricultural or forestry zones as long as they are not the primary dwelling on the property.
Pennington County requires you to build your tiny houses on a permanent foundation and meet all the requirements of a regular home.
The list below has locations that are tiny house friendly. The first two locations specifically address tiny houses in their local regulations and codes, which is a plus for tiny house owners.
Yes, you can permanently live in a tiny house in South Dakota, provided you meet the local zoning regulations and building codes. There are even tiny house communities you can join in some counties.
However, below are a few things to remember if you’re planning to switch to tiny home living.
You’ll need to find a place to put your tiny house. That may seem challenging, but several communities in South Dakota welcome tiny houses (see more below). Here you can park your tiny house on wheels.
Do research to find a community that feels like a good fit for you. Then reach out to the community leaders to find out if there are any available spots.
If you are building, you should know that the average cost of building a tiny house in the US is $300 per square foot in 2022. That’s double compared to the average traditional home of $150 per square foot. Yet, tiny houses, typically between 100 and 400 square feet, are less expensive to construct. The median cost for these tiny houses is $45,000. It can be as low as $30,000 and as high as $60,000.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need to prepare for the cold winters in South Dakota. That means insulating your tiny house well and installing an excellent heating system. If you’re not used to the cold, it may take some time to acclimatize.
How tiny a house can be in South Dakota depends on the local tiny house laws and if the area adheres to IRC standards. IRC’s minimum square footage requirement is 400 square feet for a tiny house. The tiny home must also have a kitchen or cooking facilities and a bathroom.
If you build in Beresford, the city requirements for a tiny house are as follows. A tiny house’s external measurements must be no less than 8.5 feet and not less than 20 feet. The minimum house size for a tiny house is 187 square feet.
There are several places in South Dakota where you can build a tiny house, but it depends on the city’s and county’s regulations and codes.
You can build a tiny house in your backyard or on permitted grounds where no physical residential properties exist. Some towns allow tiny houses built on foundations. They allow them in zones that permit detached single-family dwellings.
You can also build one in tiny house communities for a tiny house on wheels. Also, check out RV parks and campgrounds.
Before you start building your tiny house, be sure to do your research and ensure that you are following all the local regulations. That will help you avoid any problems down the road.
You can build a tiny home in the following areas.
The city of Beresford, for example, has established a residential area for tiny homes.
The designated district allows tiny homes and support facilities in high-density residential areas.
Also, check out a few companies that specialize in building tiny houses.
Still, the best bet is to check with your local planning and zoning department to see if there are any restrictions in your area.
Zoning laws limit what you can build and where you can build. They stipulate the minimum square footage and exist for everyone’s peace of mind. They are there for proper urban and rural planning.
A nightclub’s excessive noise would be a nuisance in a residential area. A strip club’s proximity to a school would be unacceptable.
So, you can’t build your tiny house anywhere or park your tiny house on wheels on any land. You will break the law if you build your tiny house on space allocated to schools or residential structures with specific square footage.
Some cities and counties have minimum square footage requirements higher than your average tiny house. These zonal restrictions limit the building of tiny houses.
States earmark many parcels of land for primary use. Allocations are for hospitals and medical institutions, housing, retail, and other purposes.
You need to check your local zoning regulations before constructing a tiny house on your property. Contacting a local authority agency to alter a zoning order is possible, albeit the procedure may be challenging in some regions. There are also some zoning regulations decided at the federal level.
You may or may not pay property taxes for your tiny house. That depends on the zoning regulations where your tiny house sits. It also depends on whether your area views your tiny house as a permanent structure.
If your tiny house is on wheels and considered a recreational vehicle, you will likely not have to pay property taxes. If your tiny house is on a foundation and the zone administrator considers it a primary residence, you will likely have to pay property taxes. Check with your local zoning office to find out for sure.
Mobile homes and manufactured homes affixed to real estate you own are subject to real estate taxes.
Mobile homes mean tiny homes on wheels, while manufactured homes refer to tiny homes on a foundation.
Where this does not apply, you must pay annual license fees and the mobile home tax. Your mobile home is only exempt from property taxes when it’s still in the dealer’s stock.
The building and zoning ordinances define a mobile home as a structure you can tow or haul to a location using a licensed trailer. It should be on a frame and wheels.
Moreover, you must connect it to utilities to live in it all year.
On the other hand, a manufactured home is a structure that you can move about in one or more sections. It is at least 8 feet wide or 40 feet long when moving.
It may also have a foundation if it is set up on a site and must have all the utilities required for habitation. These are plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and electrical systems.
You can park on private property, commercial campgrounds, or residential properties.
There are a few options for parking a tiny home in South Dakota. One option is to park on private property with the owner’s permission.
Another option is to park in an RV park or campground. Tiny Town is a commercial campground in Spearfish where you can park your tiny home on wheels and access utilities all year round.
Some cities also allow you to park tiny homes on residential property, but there may be restrictions on how long they can stay. Check if the campground allows you to pack your RV because some don’t.
Yes, you can, but you must register and title the tiny house with the state of South Dakota. It must also be HUD-manufactured home construction and IRC compliant.
If it is a tiny house on wheels, ensure it also adheres to the regulations of transient homes.
That means it must be at least 8 inches wide or 40 inches long. It must be 320 square feet when erected and designed for residential purposes.
Sometimes one family member wants to live independently, and an accessory dwelling unit in the form of a tiny home is a good option.
There are two well-known tiny house communities in South Dakota, but they are less common than in other states. These are Tiny Town and Veterans Community Project.
The most well-known tiny home community in South Dakota is Tiny Town at 4325 E Colorado Blvd, Spearfish.
There are also a few other small communities of tiny homes in South Dakota, but they are less organized and less known than Tiny Town.
The Tiny Town community is around 10 miles outside Deadwood, in the Black Hills Spearfish.
It is a campground offering extended stay and monthly camping options to tiny house owners with mobile homes.
The camping grounds have year-round, full hook-up services for RVs and tiny houses.
In the 26 full-service campsites, you’ll get the following amenities in all seasons, including winter.
It is one of the tiny house initiatives by people who’ve served America in the military.
The goal is to provide a haven for many homeless veterans and empower them. VCP, aside from providing free shelter, offers education and training.
VCP engages social workers and has psychosocial support systems such as battle buddies. There are also medical and dental care services.
Each tiny house has free appliances, housewares, bedding, furniture, and utilities. Tiny homes in this community are all under 400 square feet.
The staff at VCP takes great satisfaction in working with their clients to discover and solve the root causes of their homelessness. They do this while providing veterans with secure tiny houses.
Community living means living in a close-knit community. You share common places like laundry services, outdoor gardens, gyms, and play areas.
It is much more intimate than traditional community living. Everyone knows each other, and there’s a strong sense of community.
Since the houses are close together, you will most likely enjoy conversations with like-minded people often. You're likely to share meals and engage more in outdoor activities. After all, the houses are tiny, so much of your life will be outside.
Barbequing and nature walks will become a major part of your life. Some good tiny home communities also have a spare room for hosting visitors, so you don't have to worry when your folks come over.
Before deciding on a site for your tiny house, you should find out about the availability of utilities like water, power, and sewage. If you work from home, it will be even more important to have internet access.
Also, inquire whether the neighborhood accepts pets so that you know the situation if you have dogs or cats.
South Dakota counties adopt IRC and Appendix Q guidelines on top of local-specific zonal regulations and codes. Check with your local zoning office, as these tiny house laws vary.
The minimum tiny house requirement stipulates that a tiny house must be at least 190 square feet for one occupant. For each new occupant, you must add another 50 square feet.
Ultimately, consider these key factors
If you have decided to build a tiny home in South Dakota, Tiny House is a rich resource. You’ll find information on everything tiny home living, including various custom-made homes.
Book a consultation with the tiny house experts who’ll hold your hand as you make the switch.
Find answers — straight from the author — for the most common questions about this article.