Clayton Blog

Building and Zoning Tiny Homes

Building codes set minimum requirements for how different types of buildings should be constructed. These regulations are set in place for the safety of the people that may occupy or use a building.

 Low Country LivingThe new Low Country model 


When it comes to tiny homes designed for permanent occupancy though, there is no such thing as a specific uniform “tiny home building code,” so naturally, there are a few challenges that come into play when building tiny homes.


What are Building Codes

Building codes specify minimum requirements for the way buildings must be constructed. For example, the HUD Code describes the building requirements that manufactured homes must follow in order to be safe and durable.


Building codes generally have guidelines regarding:

  • Minimum square footage
  • Minimum room size
  • Minimum ceiling height
  • Sanitation systems
  • Toilet, bath and shower spaces
  • Electrical wiring


Many states and local communities have adopted the International Residential Code (IRC) as their building code for permanent dwellings.


Some states, however, have adopted additional requirements or even different versions of the IRC. This means that when it comes to tiny homes, state regulators have the freedom to designate the requirements as far as tiny home construction standards and tiny home placement.


Building Codes and Designer Series Tiny Homes

ClaytonTinyHome_JeffreyDunganCollection_TheLowCountry_046.jpgThe Low Country model


Most states and localities require the construction of tiny homes to follow basic IRC building code requirements because this building code establishes minimum safety standards. Following IRC became easier for tiny homes when in 2014 the IRC removed a mandate requiring at least one room in a home be at least 120 square feet. However, based on which version of the IRC your state has adopted, your state’s building code may still include a minimum room size requirement.


At Clayton, we face tiny home building challenges head on by building our Designer Series tiny homes as small modular homes.


This means we build tiny homes to comply with all applicable state and local building requirements based on where the home will be placed. Whatever requirements a state or local government has in its building code, Clayton complies with those requirements during our construction process.


Mark Ezzo, Clayton’s Vice President of Engineering, explains how we build our Designer Series tiny homes to comply with varying requirements across the country.


“We engineer and build each tiny home as a modular home,” Ezzo says. “This means each home follows applicable building codes for the home’s destination and is built with quality materials. Clayton already keeps track of state building codes and code updates, so we can easily make sure tiny homes also meet varying building requirements across the country. Additionally, every single home’s floor plan must be approved by the state, local jurisdiction, or state-authorized third party before we can build that home.”

 Clayton Designer Tiny Home Living Room & Front Door


For example, a new Designer Series tiny home may be built in Alabama, but if the home is supposed to be placed in Florida, we evaluate the local and state building codes of the placement site in Florida to ensure the tiny home meets building requirements there. 


By building with quality materials and following applicable state and local building requirements, we make sure that homes are safe for homeowners while still having a beautiful, space efficient design.


Zoning Regulations

Zoning regulations determine what type of buildings are allowed within designated locations. Zoning is how a government determines where residential, recreational or commercial development can take place.


For instance, certain cities and counties may have a minimum size requirement of 1,000 square feet for new residential homes in a certain area of that city or county. The minimum home size can vary by zone classification even within the same county or city.


Zoning ordinances also determine things like alley sizes, how far apart homes must be placed, how large your property must be for a home to be built on that property, height limits and many other requirements.


Zoning and Tiny HomesTiny home Master Bedroom Interior


Just as we ensure that our Designer Series tiny homes are built to all applicable state and local building requirements, we also follow zoning requirements in our building process. If a city has minimum size requirements, we consider how we can adjust the home’s floor plan to meet those specific local zoning ordinances.


A problem that many tiny homeowners face is determining what the home is classified as. Most zoning ordinances have rules for where and how RVs, manufactured homes and site built homes can be placed. However, many communities don’t know how zoning ordinances should apply to tiny homes, especially minimum dwelling size requirements.


We tackle this problem by showing local governments the quality of our tiny homes and their design as permanent, affordable modular dwellings for families. We show them that our tiny homes meet all applicable state and local building requirements and have gone through multiple internal inspections.


View Clayton Tiny Homes


Clayton understands that communities have questions about the tiny home movement and the quality of construction. That is why we are committed to helping homeowners and local governments walk through this process as zoning regulations continue to change and shift. By evaluating and following applicable local requirements, we can build beautiful tiny homes that let you enjoy life more every day.


Thinking of purchasing a Clayton Designer Series tiny home to call your own? Take the quiz to find out your perfect tiny home destination! Every beautiful home deserves a beautiful location and you deserve a great location that fits your personality. 



Topics Tiny Homes