Yes, your home is where the heart is, but sometimes not everything you want to live is recognized as a legal dwelling. Many states have adopted the IRC (International Residential Code) for a one or two family dwelling, but there are still local building and zoning codes that need to be followed. It’s always a good idea to do your research and talk to a real estate lawyer for any questions you might have before you find out your home is not legal.
Here’s a brief look at some alternative housing options and their legal status.
1. Mobile and manufactured homes
These are the first and most commonly known alternative forms of housing. These homes were developed after the Second World War in response to a new mobile workforce who needed affordable housing. Though these homes aren’t necessarily mobile as the name would suggest, they are still a popular choice.
An HUD-coded home has to display a Certification Label as well as a Data plate. The home must be at least 320 square feet with a permanent chassis to ensure the home is movable. Also, these homes may have to meet the health department’s standards and are subjected to electrical and plumbing inspections as a newly constructed home.
Contrary to popular belief, an RV is not an abbreviation for a motorhome. These are listed as recreational vehicles. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development have paid special attention to these types of dwellings in the past year. You don’t have to worry about learning that your RV home is not legal because they proposed a revision of the exemption for RVs from HUDs manufactured housing procedural and enforcement regulations.
This proposed change is more about vehicle classifications and construction standards. Originally, RVs are intended for families to use them as recreational, camping, and seasons accommodations. However, it makes you wonder what about year-round RV campgrounds? It all depends on what the laws say. This is where a real estate lawyer will help.
3. Tiny homes
There’s been a drastic increase in the tiny home movement. Tiny home advocates want to develop a legal classification for these tiny accommodations and make it a primary dwelling. However, most locations consider a tiny house on wheels an RV. A tiny house that is on a foundation is considered an ADU, an accessory dwelling unit. Without local regulations for parking, one of these tiny homes must follow RV rules.
However, because these homes are rising in popularity, many places have created specific rules for these small homes. For example, in some California counties, tiny houses that are on wheels are allowed as a caregiver dwelling in the backyard of someone who needs help. There are several specifically permitted eco-communities for tiny houses all over the country. Tiny houses that are on foundations received a legalizing boost in 2015 when the requirement of 120 square feet living space was replaced with a 70 square foot minimum.