State of Massachusetts Moves to Adopt Appendix Q
You may remember that Gabriella and I traveled to Boston last September and met with the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) to encourage them to adopt Appendix Q into the state regulations and building codes. That meeting went really well and we not only have great support in the state, but also received a unanimous approval to move forward with the process. You can read all about that meeting here if you’re interested to learn more.
Jumping forward a few months, the BBRS board met again on May 12th to discuss the process and to make recommendations for Appendix Q approval. That meeting also went really well and we once again received a green light to keep moving forward. Before we go any farther, I want to give a shout out to those who attended that meeting. I was not able to go and I truly appreciate that there are always those who seem willing and eager to help out when needed. So, thank you everyone.
Public Comment Period: We Need Your Help
We are now in the public comment period in which the BBRS will gather comments in both support and opposition of adopting Appendix Q. This is where YOU can help out the tiny house community, no matter where you live, but especially if you live in Massachusetts. It’s so important to get as many letters in support as possible as this could literally be a tipping point for the state’s approval. The more letters of support, the better.
I know that some of you are huge supporters of Appendix Q and really want to see it adopted in Massachusetts (and other states as well). I imagine that some of you may have no idea what to write that best aids the process and moves us toward success. As such, I have laid out simple talking points that you can use. I encourage you to make them your own and to add your own flavor. The outline is just to let you know “why” there is a need for Appendix Q adoption. On a side note, I know that some of you do not support the idea of a tiny house specific building code. A minority of folks that I communicate with have mentioned their concerns and I respect that; however, the vast majority of people in the tiny house community with which I have had conversations (and that is a LOT of people over the last couple of years) do indeed want LEGAL tiny houses and the only way to achieve that is through code compliance inspections.
Public Comment Sample Talking Points
- Health and Safety. First and foremost, this is the main reason that Martin Hammer and I wrote Appendix Q. There is not currently oversight on the construction of these homes in most places, and that has lead to some poor construction quality and risky approaches. The appendix creates a safe parameter for builders to use in the construction of their home and allows building departments the opportunity and jurisdiction to inspect those structures.
- Legitimate Construction Option. Many inspectors, as well as “average Americans” don’t see tiny houses as a real housing option. They see them as cheap boxes that will quickly create shanti-towns and lower housing values. This is clearly a case of misunderstanding. Having a nationally recognized building code for tiny houses (Appendix Q) adopted in your state (in this case Massachusetts) puts tiny houses on the map as legitimate housing. If the ICC sees value in them, so too should the local building departments.
- Quality Control. Oversight leads to better quality builds. There are many builders out there who are capable of building amazing homes without oversight, but cutting corners to save costs has too often been the “MO” for some builders. They’re able to cut corners because there isn’t anyone there to catch them. I’d rather make the assumption that all builders would build to top quality levels, but that simply isn’t reality. Those builders who are just out to make a quick buck will risk the quality of the home unless someone is there to “catch them.”
- State and Local Revenue. Building permits are one way to add money to the coffers of a city or county. Right now, all of the fees associated with building permits are left unclaimed with tiny houses because they aren’t recognized in most local codes and are thus built without building department input. Bringing tiny houses into the fold by adopting Appendix Q will increase both state and city revenue, without over burdening the home owner )be sure to work with local code departments to make sure that the fees associated with permits are within reason for tiny houses).
Public Comment Address
When you write your letter of support, please be sure to mail it to the following. It’s crucial that you send it “attention Rob Anderson”. Please send your letter right away; certainly no later than May 31st as the board will meet again in June (see below) and those letters will be needed in hand before that meeting. You can also email your comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Ashburton Pl # 1301
Boston, MA 02108
Attention: Rob Anderson
What’s Next for Appendix Q in Massachusetts
I received the following information from the head building inspector in Massachusetts and the man who invited me to Boston to speak in support of Appendix Q last September. He is a great advocate for tiny houses and has continued to praise the appendix from the moment he voted “YES” at the International Code Council (ICC) Public Hearings in October of 2016. For more on that incredible event which paved the way for legal tiny houses in the United States, please click HERE. So, here’s what the process looks like moving forward.