Tiny House Appendix Q Adopted in New York State, Considered in New Hampshire and Connecticut

Great news for Tiny Houses in the Northeast!

  • Appendix Q, also known as the Tiny House Appendix, has been adopted in New York State and will become law in early 2020.  
  • New Hampshire and Connecticut are both considering adopting the Appendix into their state building codes.  
  • Maine and Massachusetts have already adopted Appendix Q into their building codes, as well as at least five other states not in the northeast. 

How can you support the adoption of the Tiny House Appendix in New Hampshire and Connecticut?

If you live in New Hampshire, please email the chair of the Tiny House Study Committee, State Rep Dave Testerman at dave@sanbornhall.net to express your support for the adoption of Appendix Q for tiny houses on foundations.

The public comment period for Connecticut residents is not open yet.  When it opens up, this post will be updated with the contact info.

The following information on Appendix Q is adapted from our previous blog post, written when Massachusetts adopted the Tiny House Appendix.

What is Appendix Q: Tiny Houses?

Appendix Q: Tiny Houses provides building safety standards for houses on foundations that are 400 sq. ft. and under.  The other building codes in existence for all other size dwellings still apply.  Appendix Q is was created to define safety standards for smaller spaces that wouldn’t necessarily fit into a tiny house, such as a full-size staircase.

The Appendix pertains to the following aspects of designing a small or tiny house:

  • Ceiling Height
  • Loft Minimum Area, Height and Dimensions
  • Loft Access:
    • Stairway width, headroom, treads and risers, landing platforms, handrails and guards
    • Ladder size, capacity, and incline
    • Alternating tread devices
    • Ship’s ladders
    • Loft guards
  • Emergency Escape and Rescue Openings

Read the entire text of Appendix Q: Tiny Houses here.

Does The Adoption of Appendix Q Mean I Can Build A Tiny House Wherever I Want In My State?

Not quite!  Every zone of every municipality in the state still has its own zoning bylaws.  Therefore, you’ll need to contact your municipality to see if they’ll allow your tiny-house-on-a-foundation project.  Here’s how.

Here’s what the Tiny House Appendix does mean for residents of states that have adopted Appendix Q: wherever a house that’s 400 sq. ft. or under is allowed, there are now rules in place for how to build it safely and effectively.  Before, small and tiny houses on foundations would have had to adhere to certain building codes that work well for large buildings but would have been impractical or impossible to follow in small spaces.

What’s the difference between zoning code and building code?

Building code provides a set of safety standards that new buildings must adhere to by law.  These standards ensure the safety of the people using the building.  There are separate building codes for residential buildings (like houses and apartment buildings) and all other buildings (like shops, factories, schools, and workplaces).  The Tiny House Appendix is set to become part of the state building code in NH and CT, which is based on the International Residential Code (IRC).  Most, but not all, states in the USA use the IRC as the basis for their state-wide building codes, and adapt each section as necessary.

Zoning code pertains to what types of buildings municipalities (cities and towns) allow, and where.  Often a city or town has several different zones, and each zone has different rules.  Zoning bylaws are decided by the zoning board of a city or town, and can be amended to better fit the needs of each city or town.  Zoning boards generally have regular meetings that are open to the public, where the public can share their concerns, get clarification on what is allowed to be built, and request a change to the zoning bylaws to improve their municipality.

How can the Tiny House Appendix influence local zoning officials? Appendix Q as part of a state’s building code serves to legitimize tiny and small dwelling spaces in the eyes of local building inspectors and zoning boards.  Municipalities that see there are ICC-approved codes to build tiny and small houses may be more inclined to adopt those types of homes into their zoning.

Green River Small House   kinderhook tiny house in snow park model

 

 

 

 

 

Left: Appendix Q applies to tiny houses on foundations that are 400 sq. ft. or under.

Right: Appendix Q does not apply to tiny houses on wheels. 

How Does The Tiny House Appendix Relate To Tiny Houses On Wheels?

Currently, the Tiny House Appendix, or Appendix Q, only regulates houses that are permanently-affixed.  It does not relate to tiny houses on wheels.  However, there is a movement to create a new version of Appendix Q for tiny houses on wheels as well.  Martin Hammer, Andrew Morrison, and Gabriella Morrison were instrumental in introducing Appendix Q to the International Building Code and then again to individual states.  See their website for more info on future plans for a tiny house on wheels appendix.

B&B Micro Manufacturing would like to give a shout-out to the Tiny Home Industry Association for its tireless research on tiny house laws across the nation and the American Tiny House Association for its influence on state policy! 

Here’s How To Find Out If Your City or Town Allows Tiny Houses in 3 Steps

Here’s how to find out if your city or town allows tiny houses.

1. Look up zoning codes.

Zoning codes for many municipalities can be found on your town’s website or on ecode360.com.

Here are some helpful search terms:

If you’re hoping to put a tiny house on wheels either on its own property or on a property with other buildings:

  • Tiny House
  • RV, Recreational Vehicle, or Recreation Vehicle
  • Park Model (if your tiny house is greater than 8.5′ in width)

If you’re hoping to build a backyard cottage on a foundation:

  • ADU or Accessory Dwelling Unit
  • Detached ADU
  • Accessory Apartment

If you’re hoping to build a small house on a foundation on its own piece of land:

  • Minimum Square Footage, Minimum SF, Minimum Sq Ft, or Minimum Sq. Ft.
  • Frontage (some towns don’t have a minimum square footage but they have rules on how big the road-facing portion of the house is based on the percentage of road frontage the property has)

Appendix Q for tiny houses on foundations:

If you’re hoping for a tiny or small house on a foundation, look into whether your state has adopted Appendix Q for tiny houses into its building code.  Appendix Q is a set of safety standards for houses on foundations that are 400 sq. ft. and under, basically providing standards for how lofts and ladders are built.  More info on Appendix Q for Tiny Houses here.  If your state hasn’t adopted Appendix Q, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t build small: it just means you’ll have to follow your state’s existing building code for lofts and ladders, and the other details in the Tiny House Appendix.

On January 1, 2020, Massachusetts and California simultaneously will join Maine, Idaho, Oregon and Georgia as the first six states to adopt the Tiny House Appendix into their building code.  We know New Hampshire is also considering Appendix Q, and we’ve heard rumors that Connecticut is considering it as well.

Photo: Arcadia Tiny House on Wheels.  This tiny house can travel, and it’s certified as an RV.  It’s currently being used as a guest house at Woodlife Ranch; it isn’t someone’s permanent home.

2. In the (likely) event there are no tiny-house-specific zoning codes, shoot your town zoning board an email.

If you can’t find any info on tiny houses in the town’s zoning but would like to know whether a tiny house on wheels or on a foundation would be legal to live in full-time, send a quick email to your town’s building inspector or zoning board (you can find their contact info on your town’s website).

Be sure to include the following information:

  • What kind of tiny house you’re inquiring about (on a foundation or on wheels?)
  • What code the house would be built to (if it’s on a foundation, does it comply with Massachusetts residential building code? If it’s a tiny house on wheels, is it certified by the RVIA or another third-party inspector?)
  • A description of where you’d like to put it (in a backyard, on its own lot, or in a community) and the address so your zone can be confirmed.  If you don’t have an address in the town but would like to move there, let them know that as well.

They’ll be able to tell you whether tiny houses are legal.

Photo: Green River Small House.  This house was built on-site, piece by piece, and it is compliant with local zoning bylaws and state building code.  It’s being used as a permanent, year-round home.

3.  If there aren’t any tiny house zoning bylaws yet, you can request your town changes their standards (and you don’t have to be an expert to ask!)

If tiny houses are not currently included in the zoning bylaws, your zoning board will be able to advise you whether it’s worth pursuing a change to the zoning bylaws.  Generally this process takes a while, and the zoning board will guide you through it.  You don’t have to be an expert to request a zoning change, just an interested citizen!  Be prepared with knowledge of how having tiny houses would help your town or city. Here are some examples, which you can tailor to the specific needs of your municipality:

  • If your town center has historic buildings but downtown housing prices are excluding a large chunk of the population from living there, adding tiny houses (either on wheels or on foundations) to backyards as ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) can densify and diversify neighborhoods without destroying their architectural character.  Don’t tear down those beautiful old buildings to add more households: add backyard cottages instead!
  • Tiny houses on wheels can provide flexible temporary living spaces for those who may need a live-in caregiver for a few years.  This setup is great for those who are aging in place and need a caregiver close by, a disabled adult living in the ADU in the backyard of their family, or an ill person who cannot live on their own but needs the privacy of their own living space.  If necessary, tiny houses can be built wheelchair-friendly.
  • Tiny houses on wheels are also great for people in traveling professions, like military personnel, travel nurses, or agricultural workers.  However, these people need places to stay.  Allowing landowners to rent out a space for travelers helps them earn extra income while adding spaces for traveling workers to live that cause a low impact on the environment.
  • A pocket community of tiny houses on wheels or small homes on foundations can add much-needed housing stock (let’s be honest, there’s a housing shortage almost everywhere in the US) that is more affordable than the large homes that most developers are building now.

It’s best to do this before you have your tiny house built.  This way, you can be flexible in your design, making sure it conforms with the standards the town creates.

kinderhook tiny house in snow park model

Photo: Kinderhook Park Model Tiny House.  It’s a park model because it’s on wheels, but at 10′ wide, it’s too wide to go on the roads without an oversize load permit.  For this reason, these houses usually stay put after delivery. 
Bonus for MA residents:
We’re creating a list of each town in Massachusetts and whether it allows tiny houses.  If you’ve done this in Massachusetts, please let us know so we can add it to the list!

Small Spaces With Big Hearts: Tiny Yet Beautiful Room Ideas

This is a guest post by writer Ashley Lipman of Best Online Cabinets.  It has been edited for clarity and brevity. 


Small Spaces With Big Hearts

So you’ve got a tiny home: that doesn’t mean it needs to feel tiny. How big your home feels on the inside is to a certain extent a function of your imagination. The bigger your imagination, the greater the potential. We’ll explore simple yet effective ways of giving small rooms a “big room” feel.

Photo: The Lorraine Small House

Breaking Up Sight Lines: Mirrors, Pictures, Dividers, Paintings

Mirrors spread light, and make rooms seem more bright. Additionally, they double what’s visible, so a room feels a lot larger than it actually is. Sight lines are broken up in a minor way, because the corner of the eye sees movement and space, and the mind feels there’s more “over there”, if subconsciously.

Pictures additionally break up sight lines, and can give a tiny space a large “feel”; especially if the pictures themselves have many layers to them. It’s the same with paintings—the more robust or stark, the better.

Dividers also partition space. Think “cubicles”. You could turn a small room into four through partitions, and make each portion of the space dedicated to a given task. Hang pictures, paintings, and mirrors on the varying partitions, and a tiny room can feel like an endless maze of aesthetically comfortable décor. Think of a plus sign inside a square in three dimensions with mirrors everywhere. Suddenly four-hundred square feet feels like sixteen hundred square feet.

Arcadia Tiny House Sleeps 4

The mountain photo from HomeGoods creates the illusion of a long line of sight on an interior wall, serving the same purpose as a window.

Photo: The Arcadia Tiny House

Build Vertically To Maximize Space

Bunk beds and storage are the big considerations here. A bunk bed can also have a couch beneath, and storage under the couch, as well as drawers. Look into furniture of this kind. Put two together for a master bed with a comfortable tiny “theater” space beneath.

You can use the second couch elsewhere. With cabinets, go vertical and skinny. Do the same with drawers. If you’ve got the ability to design your own tiny home, building vertical can give the illusion of space with relatively humble square footage. Essentially, you can double the square footage of your tiny home with vertical design, if you’re clever.

Green River Small House

Building the sleeping loft over the kitchen and bathroom area kept the house’s footprint small.  Additional cabinets built into the interior wall, where there is no insulation needed, provide extra storage for pantry items.  

Photo: The Green River Small House

Design Conforming To Available Space

Owing to the “tiny home” revolution, many people today are making do with less space. Accordingly, the interior design market has shifted to match this trend. Be creative and look into available options that can be conformed to your specific needs in terms of design.

For example, you might have cabinets designed to sit high and leave free space beneath, allowing you to put chairs or other furniture in this area.

Kinderhook Tiny House Sleeping Loft with Storage

There are storage cabinets under the stairs and behind that half-wall in the loft. 

Photo: The Kinderhook Park Model Tiny House

Getting the Most Out Of Your Living Space

Whether you’re living in a tiny home, or you’ve got several tiny rooms that need a little “something” to help them feel livable, there are plenty of good ideas out there. Do a little searching. Surf the web for inspiration. Consider building vertically, and breaking sight lines expands the feel of a space. 


Ashley Lipman

Content marketing specialist

Ashley Lipman is an award-winning writer who discovered her passion for providing knowledge to readers worldwide on topics closest to her heart – all things digital. Since her first high school award in Creative Writing, she continues to deliver awesome content through various niches touching the digital sphere.

Tiny House Appendix Adopted in MA, Effective 1/1/2020

The Tiny House Appendix will become official in Massachusetts in January 2020.

The newest complete edition of the MA Building Code will be released in 2021.  However, effective 1/1/2020, Appendix Q, also known as the Tiny House Appendix, is anticipated to be adopted into the current Massachusetts state building code.

From a letter by John Nunnari, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Institute of Architects:

“The BBRS… voted to bundle a package of previous approved amendments intended for incorporation into the current 9th edition of the state building code.

It is anticipated that these amendments will become effective on January 1, 2020, and they include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Adoption of 2018 IECC with MA amendments – including updates to the stretch energy code, new lighting power density requirements and incorporation of new EV- charging requirements for commercial project;
  • Revisions to Chapter 110.R3 manufactured building program;
  • Adoption of ICC’s 2018 base residential code Appendix Q pertaining to Tiny Houses;
  • New language outlining code requirements for the creation of micro-housing dwelling units within apartment and condominium buildings

What is Appendix Q: Tiny Houses?

Appendix Q: Tiny Houses provides building safety standards for houses on foundations that are 400 sq. ft. and under.  The Appendix pertains to the following aspects of designing a small or tiny house:

  • Ceiling Height
  • Loft Minimum Area, Height and Dimensions
  • Loft Access:
    • Stairway width, headroom, treads and risers, landing platforms, handrails and guards
    • Ladder size, capacity, and incline
    • Alternating tread devices
    • Ship’s ladders
    • Loft guards
  • Emergency Escape and Rescue Openings

Read the entire text of Appendix Q: Tiny Houses here. 

Timeline of the Advancement of Appendix Q

It’s been a long road in Massachusetts, full of starts, stops and quite a few government delays. But the hardest part is over and now other states should find it easier to adopt the Tiny House Appendix.  On January 1, 2020, Massachusetts and California simultaneously will join Maine, Idaho, Oregon and Georgia as the first six states to adopt the Tiny House Appendix into their building code.

Update 8/21/09: Virginia will also be adding the appendix to their 2021 code.

Here’s how it happened:

August 2016: Andrew Morrison submitted a proposed tiny house appendix to the International Code Council (ICC).

January 31, 2016: The Tiny House Appendix was officially adopted into the International Residential Code (IRC) by the ICC.  Now, it is up to each state to decide to adopt it into their own building code.

September 2017: Gabriella Morrison and Andrew Morrison traveled to Boston to present The Tiny House Appendix, then known as Appendix V, to the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards.  Jason at B&B Tiny Houses also testified to the BBRS.  Letters of support came from the American Tiny House Association and many, many tiny house enthusiasts in Massachusetts.

May 14, 2018: Tiny House Appendix Q Is Being Considered For Massachusetts’ State Building Code: Here’s How You Can Help Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS), at its regular monthly meeting, addressed Proposal Number 5-2-2018: “Consider adopting Appendix Q of the International Residential Code pertaining to Tiny Houses.”

July 12, 2018: Massachusetts BBRS Approves Tiny House Appendix: Here’s What’s Next After the BBRS approved the Appendix, it had to move through many state offices and be approved by each one.

September 5, 2018: Appendix Q “Tiny House Appendix” Advances in Massachusetts, August 2018. The Appendix was still moving though state offices, which was a good sign.  However, by the winter of 2018 we hadn’t seen any forward movement in Massachusetts and we couldn’t get an answer from the BBRS about whether the Appendix would be propagated.  In addition, there was a 35 day long government shutdown which we suspected may have hindered the progress of the Appendix.

January 22, 2019: Katie at B&B Tiny Houses worked with Massachusetts Senator Adam Hinds, Danielle Allard, Esq., the director of Budget & Policy for Sen. Hinds’ office, and the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance to find a solution.  Together, we filed SD.1636, An Act relative to Tiny Homes to encourage the state of Massachusetts to adopt Appendix Q: Tiny Houses.  Read the bill here.

June 11, 2019: The Massachusetts BBRS and Governor Baker’s administration vote to officially adopt the Tiny House Appendix into the Massachusetts Building Code.

January 1, 2020: Appendix Q will be in effect in Massachusetts.

Does The Adoption of Appendix Q Mean I Can Build A Tiny House Wherever I Want In Massachusetts?

Not quite!  Every zone of every municipality in the state still has its own zoning bylaws.  Therefore, you’ll need to contact your municipality to see if they’ll allow your tiny-house-on-a-foundation project.  Here’s how.

We’re compiling a list of every municipality in Massachusetts’ attitude toward tiny houses on wheels and on foundations.  It’ll always be a work in progress as we research more municipalities and as zoning rules change over time.  If you have info to add to the list, please let us know!

Here’s what the Tiny House Appendix does mean for Massachusetts residents: wherever a house that’s 400 sq. ft. or under is allowed, there are now rules in place for how to build it safely and effectively.  Before, small and tiny houses on foundations would have had to adhere to certain building codes that work well for large buildings but would have been impractical or impossible to follow in small spaces.

What’s the difference between zoning code and building code?

Building code provides a set of safety standards that new buildings must adhere to by law.  These standards ensure the safety of the people using the building.  There are separate building codes for residential buildings (like houses and apartment buildings) and all other buildings (like shops, factories, schools, and workplaces).  The Tiny House Appendix is set to become part of the Massachusetts state building code, which is based on the International Residential Code.

Zoning code pertains to what types of buildings municipalities (cities and towns) allow, and where.  Often a city or town has several different zones, and each zone has different rules.  Zoning bylaws are decided by the zoning board of a city or town, and can be amended to better fit the needs of each city or town.  Zoning boards generally have regular meetings that are open to the public, where the public can share their concerns, get clarification on what is allowed to be built, and request a change to the zoning bylaws to improve their municipality.

Appendix Q is part of the Massachusetts building code, and serves to legitimize tiny and small dwelling spaces in the eyes of local building inspectors and zoning boards.  Municipalities that see there are ICC-approved codes to build tiny and small houses may be more inclined to adopt those types of homes into their zoning.

Green River Small House   kinderhook tiny house in snow park model

Left: Appendix Q applies to tiny houses on foundations that are 400 sq. ft. or under.

Right: Appendix Q does not apply to tiny houses on wheels. 

How Does The Tiny House Appendix Relate To Tiny Houses On Wheels?

Currently, the Tiny House Appendix, or Appendix Q, only regulates houses that are permanently-affixed.  It does not relate to tiny houses on wheels.  However, there is a movement to create a new version of Appendix Q for tiny houses on wheels as well.  Martin Hammer, Andrew Morrison, and Gabriella Morrison were instrumental in introducing Appendix Q to the International Building Code and then again to individual states including Massachusetts.  See their website for more info on future plans for a tiny house on wheels appendix.

 

Office Space for Rent in North Berkshire County, Massachusetts

As we move into a bigger building to better accommodate our tiny houses and modular houses, we’re moving into a beautiful building with more office space than we need!

The former Brown Packaging Company on Curran Memorial Highway in Adams, MA will be our new home.  We will be offering a variety of different spaces to rent, from single desks (similar to what you’d find in coworking spaces) to an enclosed office for a small business with space for up to 20 people.

All spaces in the building include access to a break room, gym and locker rooms.

Click the button to see the details:

Where In Massachusetts Are Tiny Houses Legal?

Where Can You Put A Tiny House in Massachusetts?

With your help, we’re compiling a list of every city and town in Massachusetts and its attitude toward tiny houses on wheels and on foundations.  This is part of a larger initiative by the American Tiny House Association to gather tiny house information for every state in the US.  (Katie at B&B Tiny Houses is also ATHA’s northeast regional director.)

As you’ll see in the chart, most cities and towns don’t already have a policy on tiny houses, whether on foundations or on wheels, so their stance on tiny houses is currently unknown.  Municipalities probably won’t consider whether to allow tiny houses unless someone brings it up with them!  As we’ve seen in Nantucket and Auburn, all it takes is one person to ask.

What Does Tiny House Appendix Q Mean For Tiny Houses On Foundations?

Tiny House Appendix Q has been adopted in Massachusetts, effective January 1, 2020. Appendix Q: Tiny Houses provides building safety standards for houses on foundations that are 400 sq. ft. and under.  However, the appendix doesn’t mean you can build a tiny house on a foundation wherever you want in Massachusetts: you’ll still have to adhere to your municipality’s zoning code.  Here’s more info on the Tiny House Appendix.

Please add to the list:

If you have spoken with your municipality’s government (zoning board, building inspector, or someone else) about tiny houses on wheels or on foundations, we would love to add your info to the list.  There’s even a column for rumors, if you’ve heard a town might be amenable to tiny house living but haven’t spoken with them directly yourself. 

How to find out if your city or town allows tiny houses:

Zoning codes for many municipalities can be found on your town’s website or on ecode360.com. 

If you haven’t spoken with anyone in your city or town government yet but would like to know whether a tiny house on wheels or on a foundation would be legal, send a quick email to your town’s zoning board (you can find their contact info on your town’s website).  

Be sure to include the following information:

  • What kind of tiny house you’re inquiring about (on a foundation or on wheels?)
  • What code the house would be built to (if it’s on a foundation, does it comply with Massachusetts residential building code? If it’s a tiny house on wheels, is it certified by the RVIA or another third-party inspector?)
  • A description of where you’d like to put it (in a backyard, on its own lot, or in a community) and the address so your zone can be confirmed.  If you don’t have an address in the town but would like to move there, let them know that as well.

They’ll be able to tell you right away whether tiny houses are legal.  If they’re not currently in the zoning, they’ll be able to advise you whether it’s worth pursuing a change in the zoning bylaws.  

If you have info on a specific municipality, please email info@bbtinyhouses.com and we’ll get your info added to the list.

Here are some tips to use the spreadsheet effectively:

  • The spreadsheet retains its formatting if you’re on a computer rather than on a mobile . If you’re on a mobile you won’t be able to sort columns.
  • To sort a column, right-click the letter at the top of the column and select “Sort A-Z”. For example, if you want to see all the towns in Hampden County, right-click “B” at the top of the second column (or click the small triangle next to “B”) and select “Sort A-Z”. Then scroll down to where the Hampden County section starts. If you only want to see towns with information added about tiny houses on foundations, you may select that column, which is “D”, and sort. Scroll to where the info starts.
  • To see all the information in a cell, click the cell.  The full text will show up in the bar above the sheet.

 

How Dominique Kerins of Auburn, MA Convinced Her Town’s Zoning & Building Inspector To Approve Tiny Houses

Dominique Kerins and her husband wanted to put an accessible tiny house in the yard of their regular-sized home in Auburn, MA for her aging grandmother, so she inquired whether that would be possible at her Town Hall.

Fast forward a couple months, and Auburn’s Annual Town Meeting was last night.  Tiny Houses were the last item on the warrant to discussed, and it passed!

So how did she do it?  Dominique was gracious enough to get a sitter for her kids in order to grant us an interview.

Auburn’s Town Meeting Warrant can be read here.  The tiny house articles are #33 and #34; you’ll read more about the distinction between the two articles in the interview.  The approval process isn’t over yet: next, it’ll be sent to the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (who visited the B&B Tiny Houses workshop last year) to be signed into law for the town of Auburn.

We are so grateful to Dominique for pitching the idea of tiny houses to her town, and in doing so, paving the way for others to do the same in their own municipalities.


First, what’s the background story?  What originally led you to ask your town for permission to put a tiny house in your yard?

  • My husband and I were looking to make changes to the Auburn zoning bylaws so that our family could build a Tiny Home on our property for our aging Grandmother, who currently pays 9K/month for senior housing in Medfield. Our intention was to keep down costs for her, and for us, and to prioritize multigenerational living. We opted for a THOW [Tiny House On Wheels] in our side yard, not only because they’re awesome but because they offer many strengths in creating a solution specific to our unique situation. THOWs offer strengths like affordability, accessibility and adaptability. All other alternatives considered or tried (like senior housing, and building on to our current single-family home) are unaffordable, and are not ideal for the long-term!) THOWs on the other hand can be easily re-purposed, sold or simply relocated. It happens to be a BONUS that THOWs promote healthier living and green initiatives.

Did you originally intend to get permission solely for tiny houses meant for caregiving, or was that restriction suggested by the planning board or another entity?

  • We certainly wanted to keep as many options open to the public as humanly possible, maintaining that people should be able to do what they see fit on their own parcels of land. Unfortunately, after a lot of planning board meetings and emails, we were forced to accept the negotiated terms if we were to gain any traction with the town. Nevertheless, we came to realize that the narrowed (senior and disabled) audience had most to gain, especially given that Auburn has the HIGHEST population of elders in their 60’s and 70’s across the state. All other audiences (college students, for instance), or persons looking to save money, may have a bit more time than the elders for the bylaws to be altered and tweaked down the road!

What was the process?  How long has this process taken so far?  What are the next steps for Article 33 to come to fruition?

  • We went to the Town Hall, in February of this year, thinking that the Zoning Enforcement (Building Inspector) would have most insight on the feasibility of building tiny in Auburn. He did provide insight, and some healthy skepticism that led us to be more prepared for questions presented by the Planning Board, roughly 1 month later.
  • The Building Inspector directed us to speak with the Town Planner, who had more information about the collaborative efforts of the Planning Board and the creators of the town’s Master Plan (which I read prior, and understood to give priority to the seniors in Auburn).
  • The Town Planner encouraged us to do 2 things:
    • Create a citizen’s petition, requiring signatures from the town’s (voting-age) residents in support of our idea.
    • Solicit recommendation and support from the town’s Planning Board and Selectmen in order to compose more detailed language to present to the Town Hall.
  • The first item was easy. The second required attending many Planning Board meetings, and a bit of bickering and emailing.
  • Realizing that the Town backed their own detailed bylaw (and not our original language), we felt it best to work with them; I made phone calls to voters in our precinct to ask for their support, and mailed a letter to all voters to do the same, instructing them to support Article #33 at Town Hall.
  • At Town Hall, we sat as members of the audience, quietly, biting our fingernails, as we watched the Town Planner present the Bylaw proposal. After time (and confusion at the Town Meeting), the Bylaw was approved by a 2/3 vote.
  • Next, the bylaw gets sent to Atty. General for approval! In the meantime, I have written Representative Frost (who is an Auburn resident) to ask for his support in expediting the approval process.

I understand you and your husband are builders and plan to build your own tiny house.  Did the town of Auburn ask you to build it (or prove that it has been built) to a particular set of standards or code?

  • …We have done a lot of building in the past. My husband is a concrete mason and is gifted as a handy man.  We have completed a lot of renovation projects, mainly in basements, (in our particular home, the renovated basement wouldn’t suffice for our elderly grandmother, for obvious reasons). The town… asked that we ensure that it is built to the town’s standards as well as those specified by the state and the federal government (and HUD). IRC – the international residential building code, will inform the building standards. Thankfully, my husband is well versed in the language of building codes!
  • I should also shout out to the awesome Design & Build school, Yestermorrow, in Vermont, for having providing so much valuable insight on the ins and outs of Tiny Home construction!!!! The class was invaluable to preparing us for the questions presented by the Town.

Before now, have you ever been involved in a political or government process?  Did you reach out to others for help or guidance along the way?  Are there any other Auburn residents you know of who are interested in having their own tiny houses?

  • Besides my exposure to college-level or professional procedural hearings, I had not been involved in politics. Reaching out to neighbors was very helpful, as was the opportunity to read Katie Jackson’s updates [Ed. Note: hey, thanks for the shoutout!] and other bloggers on tiny living. Just knowing that others are going through similar situations has been extremely insightful and comforting.

What advice would you have for others looking to ask for permission to have a tiny house in their own municipality?

  • Look at the town’s bylaws. Pay attention to the wording, formalities and procedural recommendations.
  • Network – not only at Town Hall (knowing your Selectmen, Town Planner, Zoning enforcement officials, Planning Board and Clerks) but also the Fire Chief, Police, and regular folk too!
  • Have details READY (blueprints, preexisting example images, placement plans, building plans etc.) The town asks A LOT OF QUESTIONS!!!
  • Consider taking a class (as above mentioned, Yestermorrow was really helpful for DIY building advice!)
  • Be prepared for lots of questioning, answering and follow-up, and try your best to stay positive

Finally, do you have images you’d like to share?  

  • This is our own mock-up, that I’ve created using a program, Home Designer Pro. The wheel wells are “hidden” by a “skirt” in the picture. SketchUp was also helpful in rendering templates with trailers. They have a 30 day free trial, which is nice.

Dominique’s Self-Designed Tiny House For Her Grandmother


Rendering: Dominique’s Self-Designed Tiny House Next To Her Home

 

 

Great Barrington, MA Will Vote On Backyard Tiny Houses May 6

The planning & zoning board of the town of Great Barrington, MA is considering allowing tiny houses on wheels, or movable tiny houses, as Accessory Dwelling Units in the back yards of existing houses.

The tiny house amendment has gone through all the previous stages of approval: registered voters in Great Barrington will vote on whether to allow them at the annual town meeting on May 6.

Background Info:

Katie Jackson of B&B Tiny Houses was asked to do a presentation at a planning board meeting on what tiny houses are, how they work, and how other cities have written them into their zoning code.  Katie is also the Northeast Regional Director of the American Tiny House Association, which is hosting the open house on May 5.

Here’s our previous update on Great Barrington’s consideration of allowing tiny houses on wheels.

Here’s an article on Great Barrington’s Town Meeting from the Berkshire Edge. 

  • Who buys tiny houses?
Most of B&B Tiny Houses’ non-commercial customers have their tiny house in the backyard of a family member or friend, in a campground, or on rural land with permissible zoning.  Some people live in their tiny houses full time, while others use them as guest houses, vacation houses, housing for personal care givers, or as wheelchair-accessible additions so someone can live at home while recovering from a spinal cord injury or in-home hospice care.
  • Why do people want tiny houses?
Although tiny houses are on wheels, very few people travel with them like RVers.  Most people who want tiny houses are drawn to the very low cost of living and the low carbon footprint.  Others want tiny houses on wheels because they might move once every couple of years, like traveling nurses or those with academic professions.  Many who live in tiny houses find themselves spending less time at home and more time in their communities and the outdoors.
  • Why don’t more people have tiny houses?
The biggest barrier to those wanting to own a tiny house is the difficulty of finding a legal spot to live in their house.  Since tiny houses are a relatively new phenomenon, most municipalities don’t already have laws allowing tiny houses on wheels as residences.

Backyard tiny houses will add density without having to change the infrastructure of the town; it’s the quickest, easiest solution (and one of many) that will address the housing crisis.


Here’s Great Barrington’s proposed zoning language pertaining to tiny houses: 

Acronym Key:

MTH: Movable Tiny House

THOW: Tiny House on Wheels

ADU: Accessory Dwelling Unit


There will be two tiny house events in Great Barrington:

-Tiny House Open House in the backyard of 65 Anderson Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230. Sunday, May 5, 10am-4pm.

Sunday’s tiny house open house is in advance of Monday’s Great Barrington Annual Meeting, where a proposed zoning amendment allowing Movable Tiny Houses as accessory dwelling units will be voted upon, among other topics. The open house is hosted by Amy Turnbull who is on the leadership team of the American Tiny House Association, with a movable tiny house built by Tony Indino of East Granby, Connecticut (this house is shown in the event flyer). This open house will give a glimpse into what backyard tiny houses might look like in Great Barrington if the Movable Tiny House Amendment passes.

-Great Barrington Annual Meeting & Vote at Monument Mountain High School Auditorium, 600 Stockbridge Rd, Great Barrington, MA 01230. Monday, May 6, 6:00pm.

Please attend the Annual Meeting on Monday in support of allowing movable tiny houses in Great Barrington backyards. The proposed amendment language is posted in the comments. All those who are registered to vote in Great Barrington may vote on the amendments.

Under Construction: The Green River Small Home by B&B Quality Construction

The Green River Small Home

  • Built by B&B Quality Construction, a division of B&B Micro Manufacturing, Inc.

  • Built on-site on a foundation (not on wheels)

  • Small footprint at 16′ x 20′ plus a porch

  • Kitchen, bathroom and living room downstairs

  • Stairs up to sleeping loft

B&B Quality Construction builds homes and other buildings on-site with traditional construction techniques.  They are available for projects within reasonable distance of North Adams, Massachusetts.

The Green River Small Home is currently under construction.  Click to enlarge the construction photos below.

Green River Small Home Floor Plan Tiny House B&B Quality Construction

 

EDIT: Construction is now finished!  Click here to see the finished photos and a video tour of the Green River Small House. 

Interested in a small, permanently-affixed house like this near North Adams, MA?  Contact us!

Planning Board Meeting Recap: Backyard Cottages in Williamstown, MA?

Williamstown, MA had its planning board meeting last night, discussing whether to allow backyard cottages and second apartments to homes in certain zones of town. It was a full house, with others who couldn’t get seats standing in the hallway.

In the photo, Amy Jeschawitz, Chair of the Planning Board, sits under the town flag, depicting Williamstown’s beloved 1753 House. The 1753 House was originally called a “Regulation House” by the early European settlers, who, in order to be considered land owners, had to build a house that was at least 15’ x 18’ and 7’ tall. At 270 sq ft, this would certainly be considered a “tiny house” by today’s standards!

The size of the detached ADUs (backyard cottages) in the current proposed bylaw would be limited to between 900 and 1200 square feet, determined by the size of the existing home and its lot.

Also addressed was allowing a second unit to an existing single family home, either within or added on to the existing building. These two bylaws would mean that a single unit property within certain zones could ostensibly turn into a three-unit property.
The planning board voted 3-1 in favor of recommending the proposed bylaws, with the additional restriction of a five year wait between adding a second unit to a property and adding a third.

The bylaws will now be taken to Town Meeting.

Read more on the meeting from iBerkshires: https://www.iberkshires.com/story/59488/Williamstown-Planners-Recommend-Dwelling-Bylaw-Amendments.html