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  • State Specific Resources?

    I’m wondering if there are state specific resources for pursuing a tiny house dream. It’s my understanding that there is a huge array of property types and ordinances that vary by state and also specific location within each state. Is there a centralized database for this info?

    (I’m in Maine)

  • #2
    There used to be some decent info on the American Tiny House Association's website, sorted by different states. However, it seems they've changed their website since I visited a few months ago and I can't find a link to that page anymore. But they're still a great resource and would highly recommend reaching out to them if they're available to you locally!

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    • #3
      Hi Sondic. I have a tiny house in Maine (Oxford County). Although, its generally referred to as a camp there. Are you doing a THOW? Or a foundation?

      I spoke with our building inspector and he said buildings are only covered by the building code requirements if they are smaller than 450 sq ft. If you have the property, you can build tiny without approvals. Just check with your building dept.

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      • #4
        Because Tiny Houses are only just making it into local government meetings; there exists little and most likely nothing about how they work in your area (or desired area). Here's the interesting part. Don't let that discourage you. Know this: in the big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, etc. you will find the rules about everything are very clearly defined because they don't have any more space and they are trying to keep what is there under control (with excellent reasons). But once you go outside city limits things get interesting. If you walk into a town hall and ask "Are tiny houses legal here?' you basically just destroyed your chances of taking with an open-minded person about the possibilities of something new happening in that town. You have to approach this like a business transaction. Don't show your hand either. You can find out about minimum building size requirements for residential dwellings. You can find out about whether land needs a septic or does it need a well and how many people are good for that set up? There's a lot of questions you ask long before you start talking about tiny houses! You eventually get all the answers you need, and if it looks like your tiny house doesn't break any of their individual requirements, then you find out about zoning. Remember that codes and zoning are totally different.
        So then if you really want to buy land you will need to find out about zoning requirements. IF you ask a real estate agent to help you find a track of land for your tiny house, I promise, they will never call you back. Seriously. You need to do some homework and find out about land that is mixed-use, like farmland (I wouldn't go after industrial), etc. You see where we are going here.... then you put all the pieces together. Eventually, you find yourself in front of the city council and you nicely explain what your plans are and how they do not violate any of the codes, ordinances or zoning for that particular area. You show them how pretty your house is/will be and how it will beautify the area. You show them that you are smart and industrious and trying to do the right thing and they will be forced to do something they almost never do... They will have to think about something totally NEW, never done before! Some will find it exciting and others will say, 'we don't do that here!' But you get them talking! You would be very surprised to find out how many locals will look at your goals as noble and worth giving a try. I speak from experience. It was a long, one year process. But it had a really amazing, surprising and great outcome. Be smart. Don't be lazy and rely on what other people say. Do your homework. Research stuff. And come into that meeting with moxy and all your papers and sell yourself and your wonderful idea!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ckriena View Post
          Hi Sondic. I have a tiny house in Maine (Oxford County). Although, its generally referred to as a camp there. Are you doing a THOW? Or a foundation?

          I spoke with our building inspector and he said buildings are only covered by the building code requirements if they are smaller than 450 sq ft. If you have the property, you can build tiny without approvals. Just check with your building dept.
          Because of our zoning, we are unable to build another structure on our current property. We have five acres and I looked into this when my parents were deciding where to retire. We would need to either buy something on wheels or sell our property and purchase property elsewhere that could be built on or where a slab could be laid that we could tie down to in a storm.

          I really like the idea of a tiny house on wheels but I think that I would still like the property to have a septic system and we’ll to connect to. I also wonder how hard it would be to put a basement underground as a sort of shelter and long term food storage. Back in the day, it was common to have a dug unfinished basement for long term food storage to get people through the winter. I’m imagining the kind of thing ‘preppers’ set up. You know where there is like a trapdoor in the ground connected to a small staircase that leads to a hollowed out hole in the ground filled with shelves of canned goods. It stays cool in the summer. (Probably would freeze in the winter though which would be less than ideal. Hmmm). Like a bomb shelter without the concrete. Do people even still build set ups like this?

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          • #6
            Hi Sondic, yes people still build them and they are not necessarily preppers, but lots of family farms have them, the Amish use them. They are Root Cellars/Summer-Winter Kitchens - at least that's what my grandparents called theirs. My grandmother did a lot of canning throughout the year because they had fruit trees, and she had a huge garden. My grandfather raised chickens, ducks and rabbits. This was all in Akron, Ohio, and it's what got them through the Depression in the 30s and they never had a problem with freezing or it getting too hot. It allowed my grandparents to survive the food rationing during WWII also because they had fruit, vegetables, eggs, ducks and rabbits. It's a great thing to have, whether you go and have a separate root cellar or just use a portion of a basement.

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            • #7
              I think if you dig down deep enough (depending on your location), the ground acts as a temperature regulator to keep things a pretty steady temperature throughout the year regardless of what the weather is like above ground. It's one of the benefits of dugout homes as well!

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              • #8
                They are pretty amazing. We had them in our homes in New York. They are very consistent for air temp but not for humidity (just a factor in what stores well). For example, someone put a bunch of books down there and that was bad. Root veggies = good. And your water table is another factor (obviously).

                I really wanted this crazy looking thing you drop in the ground, for our little spot here in Texas, because I'm super scared of tornados. Turns out I couldn't find it anywhere nearby. I wanted it so bad I could taste it, because it is of course white, and because it would keep all of the creepy crawlies out: Groundfridge. So unless I paid a bunch to have it shipped from the Netherlands I was out of luck.

                But you know how clever people are... somebody made a similar design out of a pre-cast septic tank! Or you could use one of those big water catchment thingys (sorry about all of the technical jargon): Precast septic tank root cellar.
                If I was buying land, I think I would definitely do this. ESPECIALLY if I lived in an area prone to extreme weather.
                Sounds like a new forum topic: global warming (just kidding)

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