Proposed Tiny House Code for the 2018 IRC

2015 IRC Code Book for proposed tiny house codeI am really excited (no seriously…REALLY EXCITED!!!) to announce that I recently finished writing, and have submitted to the International Code Council (ICC), a proposed tiny house code appendix for the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC). If approved, this would become a model code for all tiny houses used as a primary residence within the United States. The code would not impact those who build Tiny House RVs under RVIA standards as those are governed separately from the IRC.

Remember those old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books? The ones where you had to decide to “read on” or “skip to page xyz?” Well I’m going to use that approach here. If you want to read in detail about how this all came about, what is included in the proposed code change, and how you can help, please continue on… If, however, you just want to know how you can help, then please scroll down to the bottom of the page and look for the “Your Official Call to Action” header. We need your help, so please get involved whether you read this whole blog post or skip ahead. Okay, back to the action…

So how did this happen? The ICC held hearings for the dozens upon dozens of code proposals hoping for inclusion in the 2018 IRC this last April in Kentucky. A friend of mine from California who was at the hearings in support of a different proposal told me that there was a proposed tiny house code (actually written for “small houses”) that had been submitted and that I should try to watch the proceedings via live-stream online. Trouble was that there was no way to know what date (it’s a 7 day event) or time this particular proposal would be heard. What’s more, I was camping in the desert at the 20th anniversary of the California Straw Builders Association and so had no ability to watch. By chance, Gabriella logged in to their website and began watching literally minutes before the THOWs measure was up for review. Check out the video below to see what a big deal this ICC Hearing stuff is!

In great anticipation she watched and recorded the event. Much to our shock though, the person that had placed the proposal was not there, which angered the committee. Then a familiar face showed up on the screen, our friend Martin Hammer! He was there presenting changes to the straw bale code. Being interested in tiny houses he had shown up for this particular proposal. The original measure was unanimously denied (frankly it was terrible so we don’t blame them at all); however, the ICC board made a public statement that “the issue of small houses and apartments is important and the IRC needs to address them in some fashion.” We sent an email to Martin right after seeing him but were dejected when we realized that the next opportunity for a proposal submission was around 2019.

A few weeks ago, I became aware of an opportunity to submit a “public comment” related to the denied proposal. I also discovered that there is an option to “replace proposal as follows” within the ICC public comment process, and that’s exactly what I did. I hired my friend Martin as an advisor, being that he has successfully written code provisions in the past and is currently working on revising several others. He understands this very complex world of the ICC.

One thing I learned early on is that writing a proposed tiny house code appendix is no easy task. The language is very specific. The code referencing and cross-referencing has to be exact. Knowing what to say, what not to say, what to reference, and what not to reference is very complicated. Having a seasoned expert on board has been unbelievably valuable and may, in fact, be the tipping point towards success. To that end, I have assembled a team of “co-commenters” made up of licensed building professionals from designers and architects to engineers to help review the proposal and lend their name to it. I am really grateful for their input and support. Please raise your hands for a high five for Martin Hammer, Macy Miller, James Herndon, Chris Keefe, Tiffany Redding, Nabil Taha, Brandon Marshall, and of course, Gabriella Morrison. Your feedback and support has been and continues to be much appreciated!

We will know if the appendix is accepted in October when the follow-up round of hearings and public comment reviews takes place in Kansas City. The proposal will be accepted or denied on an all-or-nothing basis. In other words, if the proposed tiny house code appendix is accepted as written, it will be officially in the 2018 code; however, if it is not accepted, it will be fully denied with no time for edits for the 2018 code. If that happens, we will be out of luck for IRC approval until the next round of code hearings, slated for the 2021 code. That’s a long way off, so I am hopeful that the proposed tiny house code appendix will be accepted.

As you know, I am a firm believer in the need for codes when it comes to construction having been a building professional for over 20 years. Over the years, I have seen construction that is sub par (even WAY sub par in some cases). This is simply not an option for our tiny houses because they have the added stress of road forces such as wind, road rattle (potholes), deceleration, and more. It’s not just a simple house on a foundation anymore.

I am aware that not everyone believes in building codes. The reality is that areas that enforce building codes require any house within that area to meet those codes. If you don’t like codes, there is nothing wrong with building in areas that do not have them to enforce. If, however, you want to live in an area that does have code enforcement, this proposed tiny house code appendix (if approved) will allow you to legally build your tiny house to code and to receive a certificate of occupancy. Keep in mind that zoning may still be an issue in some areas, but that is outside of the scope of the IRC and must be addressed at the local level.

I had to make some last minute changes to the code to remove the word “movable” from my original proposed appendix entitled “Movable Tiny Houses.” Unfortunately, the head of the ICC code approval process said that he would not accept the proposal as written because he believed it was what they call in the industry a “hijack” of the original proposal. In other words, he believed the proposed appendix had too much reference to details not originally addressed and therefore would not accept it. After many conversations and emails with the official, I decided to amend the proposal so that he would allow it to move forward. So although slightly disappointed, I am still super excited about getting this baby in front of the full voting ICC members in Kansas City.

The proposal addresses ceiling heights, sleeping lofts, loft access, emergency escape and egress, and many other details. The one provision that the code official would not allow was a specific section related to trailers. I intend to continue to move forward with addressing the use of trailers in the tiny house community; however, their inclusion does not make them impossible to pass through the IRC, even today. By removing all of the other challenges (ceiling heights, egress, access, etc.) each owner can work with either their building department or an engineer to create a foundation system that meets the intent of the code and does not require the complete removal of the trailer tires. More on this another time. For now, let’s focus on the AMAZING OPPORTUNITY in front of us.

You can review the proposed tiny house code appendix and reason statement by clicking here. To be clear: THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL CODE AT THIS TIME. If approved, the proposal will become official code in the 2018 IRC, but we are not there yet. Do not attempt to use this code for construction purposes right now. Wait until there is an official acceptance by the ICC. Don’t worry, I will most definitely be posting updates as they occur and you will be among the first to know if the proposal is accepted.

*****YOUR OFFICIAL CALL TO ACTION*****

Help get the Proposed Tiny House Code Approved!

We need your help! There are many challenges still ahead of us in the approval process and we need your support to make this proposed tiny house code change a reality. Many of you have asked what you can do to help, and now I finally have an answer to that question. Please check out the list of things we need below and let me know ASAP if you can help.

    1. Read the proposed code change. Click here to read the full proposal, including the required “reason statement.” As I mentioned above, it focuses on all of the challenges of building an IRC compliant tiny house but does not specifically talk about tiny houses on wheels. That is by design because of the feedback I was given by the “official manager” of the code change department in the ICC. The good news is that there is still a path to approval within the IRC for THOWs regarding foundations and trailers. It will simply have to be handled on a case-by-case basis with local building departments until we can get the proper language in the code; something that is not an option this time around.
    2. More than anything, we need help with fundraising. To reach our crowdfunding campaign please click here: https://www.gofundme.com/TinyHouseCodes I hired a professional with multiple code change approvals under his belt to help with the drafting of this proposal and, although an amazing resource, he did charge for his time. We will also need to travel to Kansas City for several days to attend the hearings. We will also continue to travel and submit codes as things are either accepted (the proposal will need to be improved if it is accepted. For example, including the language specific to tiny houses on WHEELS.) or denied (we would need to resubmit a full proposal should this current version be rejected and then travel to the hearings to speak in support of the proposal). We are not charging for our time here. Nobody is receiving money for their efforts other than the man I hired to guide me through the process. Everything else is just to pay for the costs of travel, etc. Watch a short video from Andrew about how to donate.

  1. Lobby your voting ICC members. Please contact your local building departments and find out who is a voting member of the ICC. Ask them to support the proposal with their vote. I believe they can vote electronically without attending the hearings, so it should be easy for them. Let them know that this proposal provides safe solutions to the difficult question of what to do with tiny houses. The more votes of support we have from ICC members, the better!
  2. Speaking in support at the hearings in Kansas City (October 22, 23, and 24).  I am looking for several building professionals to speak and represent specific portions of the proposed code change. We get VERY few minutes to make our case. Each person who gets up there receives 2 minutes for initial comments and 1 minute for a rebuttal. If we gather 5-10 people on our team, we increase how much time we have to present the data dramatically. In full disclosure, I have to warn you that it is possible that the proposal won’t be heard at all. If there is not “adequate reason” to re-open the original proposal and revisit it, this may be all for naught for the 2018 IRC code book. This is highly unlikely though as the ICC board members themselves stated the need to address the tiny house movement.
  3. Physical numbers. If you are able to join us and be a body in support at the hearing that would be amazing. I have not personally been to an ICC hearing yet, so I don’t know exactly what to expect; however, I imagine that having a lot of people in support of a proposed code change would make a powerful statement to the ICC members. If you live locally or want to make a road trip to join us, let me know. The dates are October 22, 23, and 24th. There is no way to know which of those days our case will be heard because they roll through each proposal without any idea of how long each one will take. If you are able, plan on being there for all three days just in case.
  4. Input moving forward. There are many paths available to code approval beyond just the ICC and all options need to be explored. If you are experienced with building codes, are a building professional (builder, engineer, designer, architect, etc.), are versed in code language, and want to help me develop further code change proposals, then I would like to hear from you. It is very time consuming (I have spent two solid months working on this already) and there is no reward other than knowing that you have helped the tiny house movement. If that sounds like your cup of tea, I look forward to hearing from you.

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88 Responses to Proposed Tiny House Code for the 2018 IRC

  1. Shannon Schjolin September 5, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

    This is incredible. You are a rock star and the movement as a whole owes you a debt of gratitude for the work you’ve started here. A giant THANK YOU from Green Bay!

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 10:46 am #

      Thanks Shannon!

    • Marc Lee Winnig September 6, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

      What she said! TOTAL Rock Star!

    • pete December 6, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

      no offense but a rock star is a person who plays music

      • Andrew
        Andrew December 6, 2016 at 5:52 pm #

        Good news Pete. I play guitar, banjo, drums, djembe, congas, etc…and I sing too!

  2. Aimee Smallwood September 5, 2016 at 9:18 pm #

    Wow, just wow! Thank you, Andrew. We will do what we can from Tiny House Depot in Louisiana.

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 10:46 am #

      Thanks Aimee!!

  3. Susan Joslyn September 5, 2016 at 9:42 pm #

    Okay, Andrew, I’m putting the hearing dates on my calendar and you can count on me to be there all three days. 2) I know nothing about fundraising, but I’m very good at following orders, so if someone starts the fund raising, I’ll help out in any way I can. 3) I’m going to look into voting members of the ICC and see about contacting them for discussion on their vote. Thanks so much for your hard work on this and I’ll see you in October !!

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 10:47 am #

      Awesome Susan! Thanks so much and see you in KC!

  4. Paprika Clark September 5, 2016 at 9:54 pm #

    I’m thrilled to hear of this process, thank you all so much for all the hard work!

    I will contact permitting officials locally to find out who is a voting member and do anything possible to bring this to their attention and influence their vote.

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 10:47 am #

      Thanks for your help! I hope you get some folks to vote in our favor. 🙂

    • Andy October 10, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

      Paprika,

      How did you go about finding who the voting members are? I’m interested in contacting my local voting members (if any).

  5. Anthony Reyes September 5, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

    I am very excited to see this being done, my wife kids and I have recently purchased our tiny house and will be spreading the word . We have already talked with our city council about tiny houses and will partake in this push forward.

    – our tiny house journey

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 10:47 am #

      Thanks Anthony!

  6. Meg Stephens September 5, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

    Hi Andrew! I’m so grateful to hear that you have taken up the (very heavy and difficult) mantle of working to change the code. I will contact my local building officials to support this change. I also will try to be there all three days in Kansas City if I have enough airline points to swing it. I have a degree in Architecture, and I have sat on a committee at the city level in charge of aspects of working on the city master plan. I have also been a project manager and construction administration specialist. If you need people to speak on behalf of the code proposals I am willing to volunteer to do so. This is so exciting! Cheers, Meg

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 10:44 am #

      Thanks Meg. I appreciate your willingness to speak. Let’s talk more about this as we get closer. Let me know if you can make it to Kansas City and we will go from there. My email is Andrew@TinyHouseBuild.com. Cheers.

  7. Jeanette Inglis September 5, 2016 at 10:45 pm #

    Wow. You have made an amazing achievement on all of our tiny housers’ behalf. If this gets up in US then maybe this could be used as a benchmark in Australia, where I live! Well done Andrew 🙂

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 10:48 am #

      I hope it can be a model for tiny houses everywhere Jeanette. 🙂

  8. Madeline Nelson September 6, 2016 at 6:55 am #

    You can count on me in KC! I’m a structural engineer-in-training (< 5 years experience), so I am super pumped that tiny houses are following all the legal channels. It's so powerful to the message. We don't want to be vagrants! Code officials just need to tell us what to do.

    I'll keep an eye out for any GoFundMe campaigns and see you in October!

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 10:45 am #

      Thanks Madeline!

    • Marc Lee Winnig September 6, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

      I think a GoFundMe campaign is the best way to go.

      Andrew, do you think you can create it, or work with someone to do it? I think you are best positioned and it is appropriate for you to start and manage it. I think you will be amazed at the likely response you will receive and I for one will do everything I can to promote it.

  9. Andrew
    Andrew September 6, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    Thanks everyone for your support. Please spread the word as the hearings are quickly approaching! I look forward to seeing you in KC (those who can make it) and hearing from more of you as things develop.

  10. Chris September 6, 2016 at 1:11 pm #

    I think this is great. I would like to see code approvals for small houses also. They need changes in bedroom, staircase and other requirements altered to make them marketable.

    Please contact me. I may be able to be at the meeting and pitch a section of the proposed code.

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

      Thanks Chris. I sent you an email to discuss…

  11. Kim September 6, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

    Hello Andrew,

    This is AMAZING! You have worked really hard to put this code together. I have read the proposal and I think you have done a great job.

    I am a graphic designer and I have an MA/MBA in non-profit related field. If you would be interested, I would be happy to help you create a go-fund me or indie go-go campaign and see what we can come up with. Lets get connected.

    Together, we can create powerful, positive change.

    Kim

  12. Kate Bohn September 6, 2016 at 4:03 pm #

    Thank you for taking care of this. I donated and will urge others to do so as well.

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 4:09 pm #

      Thank you Kate!!!

  13. Seth September 6, 2016 at 4:15 pm #

    I glad to help with fundraising! Kindly check your email what you can 🙂

    • Seth September 6, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

      Terrible typos! Sorry!

      *I am glad to help with fundraising! Kindly check your email *when you can

  14. Amy September 6, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    Andrew

    We are a group of people in NW Arkansas just a few hours from Kansas City. We have a builder in our midst. I can ask him if he could join you in October. Also would it help to have our group come up in support? We could all carpool and join you to add to your voice. Many of us are either already living tiny or are planning to in the near future. Our group is Tiny House Living NWA on Facebook. You’re welcome to join us. We have posted your code and your Gofund me page. Thank you for being the person who gets this done!

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 9:23 pm #

      Thanks for the support Amy. I have never presented at the ICC hearings before, so I don’t know if it would be beneficial to have a group of supporters there. I say yes, but I could be wrong and you could drive all the way there for nothing. As such, I’ll leave it up to you guys. I don’t want to waste your time in case us all being there is no big deal! Would be great to talk to your builder to see what his thoughts are about speaking and what he would want to talk about. Thanks for connecting us. You can have him email me at Andrew@TinyHouseBuild.com.

      Thanks!!!

  15. Steve LeBard September 6, 2016 at 5:13 pm #

    I am a strong supporter of tiny houses but I think the code should be extremely limited. The whole tiny house movement fosters ingenuity, discovery, invention and creativity.
    This movement is still too young to place the burden of complex code and overly bureaucratic regulations concerned with procedure at the expense of efficiency and/or common sense. These regulations will drive up the cost of construction making what many see as affordable to becoming unattainable. Government agencies will use these regulation to assess escalating fees or as a stop to this movement altogether. Basic safety features that are built into many of the components already exist i.e., safety glass, hot water heaters, cook tops, propane regulators etc…

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 9:26 pm #

      Hi Steve. I hear what you are saying, but I don’t agree with you. Nothing in this proposal will drive up costs or create escalating fees. It’s the difference between being able to build with the same fees that anyone in the same neighborhood would have (i.e. building to code) or not being able to legally build at all (no codes to govern the build). That’s simply how the construction industry works: build to code or don’t build to code. There are repercussions for each choice. Providing an actual code to build to simply gives more people the option to build legally. That’s a good thing in my mind.

  16. Steve LeBard September 6, 2016 at 5:22 pm #

    Los Angeles Times story July 26, 2016
    How to solve California’s housing shortage? Build ‘granny flats’ in homeowners’ backyards.
    To help ease California’s housing crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers are turning to people’s backyards.

    Multiple bills with the endorsement of Brown are moving through the Legislature to make it easier for homeowners to build small units on their properties, whether in their garages, as additions to existing homes or as new, freestanding structures.

    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other supporters hope the relaxed rules will spur backyard home building to combat a housing shortage that, by one estimate, leaves the state annually more than 100,000 new units behind what’s needed to keep pace with soaring home prices.

    “These bills enhance homeowners’ ability to provide needed housing,” Garcetti and Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo wrote in a letter supporting measures from Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) and Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont)

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

      Seems to me that this is in opposition to your other point. This is an example of government providing opportunity for tiny house living. Having a building code that supports it will be even better.

      • Steve LeBard September 6, 2016 at 11:01 pm #

        I live in Santa Barbara County. One of the hardest places to build anything in the Country. Regulations are used here to delay and stop progress. I recently ran for California State Assembly. One of my goals was to introduce tiny house law that would keep tiny house construction reasonable both cost and time wise. Let’s face it these houses are not for everyone and they would fail most residential codes I.e., bedroom size, use of ladders, headroom, Etc. I believe that many of the inventions evolving from tiny homes will become mainstream. Let’s not ruin this by being keyholed into a one size fits all mentality.

  17. Mike September 6, 2016 at 7:44 pm #

    This seems pretty good, though the devil might be in all of the standing code that is NOT presented. This is a document primarily about the exceptions.

    There is one basic problem, however, in that so far as I can perceive, almost all Tiny Houses built to date, would fail to pass this code!!!!

    There is a fundamental need to address the basic fact that people have chosen to build spaces that work for them, sometimes being very innovative in the process. That most houses built would not pass this code, is the EXACT REASON WHY PEOPLE BUILT OUTSIDE OF CODE TO BEGIN WITH.

    Before this document is advanced further, a survey of tiny homes should be done that includes many of the dimensionality that is proposed, and other specifics, to see just what percentage of existing homes would pass. Then the language should be changed until most homes pass.

    Anything less is far too arbitrary, and misses the point of generating the code at all.

    Mike
    (Tiny designer/builder/owner)

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 6, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

      I actually spoke with a LOT of people about the size of their tiny homes before I wrote the code language. There will be some homes that don’t fit in this code, but the vast majority will. That said, homes that were built prior to the code are not affected by it anyway since the code officials are unlikely to accept previous structures into the coffers, unless the owners can show proof of construction detailing in video or photos, something many will not have. This code is more about the people building now or in the future. The movement is growing and the people coming in will benefit from this code.

      Further, this is a first step. There is other language I would like to have included but I was not allowed to (the ICC said no). There will most definitely be updates and changes as this moves forward. Consider it a foot in the door of the ICC. Believe, changing national codes is no easy task and any forward movement we can make is well worth the effort.

    • Alan Churchill September 6, 2016 at 9:46 pm #

      I agree with Mike here. Whilst I am extremely grateful for the work that has gone into this, I am a little concerned that by having an actual code in place is limiting and goes against the entire movement in someways.
      Then again safety is important in these matters and as such, I feel the code should be more about the physical structure than the head height and stair measurements and such.
      I think the way we construct the framing of tiny houses and attach them to the trailer should be the MAIN area of focus. All the petty and weird codes should be left out in order to leave space for creativity.

      Survey tiny homes as mike suggests….. make sure you’re not alienating and screwing over most of the existing tiny house community!

      • Andrew
        Andrew September 6, 2016 at 9:55 pm #

        To be clear Alan, there was no time to complete a massive survey of every tiny house in the US. This was a last minute opportunity that I jumped on and dedicated a couple months of my time to. I hear a lot about how codes go against the movement and I simply disagree. These homes are being built by people with little to no construction experience every day and there needs to be some type of guidance for them. It will not take too many examples of a THOW blowing up on a highway due to poor construction measures for the entire industry to be shut down and fast. We need to give people the ability to build their homes safely and with oversight. It will make the whole community stronger.

        If people don’t want to build to code, they don’t have to. After all, most people are skirting the codes right now, but why not give those of us who want to build legally the opportunity to do so? I say that NOT having a code is more limiting because it only allows people who want to build illegally the opportunity. Providing a code will open the community to many more people who are not willing to risk being “caught” and “red tagged” on their home.

        Finally, there is no way to pick and choose the parts of the code you want to comply with. You can’t say, just give me the structural oversight but allow me to decide my own stairway design and ceiling heights. It just doesn’t work that way. It’s all or nothing. Further, those rules are in the code for safety reasons. Ceiling heights, emergency egress, loft access, etc. are all included in the code so that the occupants are safe. Do I agree with all of it? No. Am I bound to follow the code if I want to receive a certificate of occupancy for a primary residence in the US (where construction is governed by codes)? Yes.

  18. Peter September 6, 2016 at 11:46 pm #

    Andrew,
    Congratulations on a milestone: Submission of the proposed latest appendix (V as in the letter, not the number 5) to the IRC (International Residential Building Code) 2018 edition. I read it in its entirety. Appropriately brief (as it should be). A couple of observations, followed by questions for clarification.

    Primarily the appendix deals with issues surrounding the use of lofts as legitimate habitable space (primarily bedrooms). Local zoning aside, it’s quite possible for a tiny house to satisfy existing IRC requirements, sans lofts.

    My first comment related to that is as follows: Non habitable spaces like bathrooms, kitchens and hallways have long enjoyed an exception to the 7’ minimum ceiling height requirements to permit venting/ducting that is unique to bathrooms, kitchens, hallway raceways. Ceiling heights for those areas were lowered to 6’8” to basically give architects 4” to play around with for ducts/ 2X4s / sheeting etc… to satisfy those unique requirements. Your proposed further reduction to 6’4” preserves reasonable standing height for those areas, while yielding more space for lofts situated above those areas. While that benefits a design like hOMe (hey, it’s an easy poster child for this argument… I’m not creating straw men here) which puts bathroom and kitchen under lofts with a height of 6’4”, it leaves folks like Jake and Kiva of Tiny Nest Project out in the cold, as they’ve chosen to locate a cozy den / tv room under the loft in lieu of a kitchen / bathroom. Their plans do not permit 7’ of ceiling room for that habitable space. I would have encouraged you folks to push a little harder to get habitable spaces (living rooms, dens, offices, bedrooms) under that 6’4” exemption as well in an effort to encourage and allow more creativity in Tiny House layouts. Is that worth pursuing for a further amendment down the road? After all, I’m every bit as likely to bump my head when I burn my hand on the stove as I am jumping off the couch when the Chivas score a goal.

    Second comment relates to the stairs requirements you lay out. If airplanes that are required to evacuate many souls in 90 seconds are permitted to have 16” isle widths, then why can’t stairs in Tiny Houses be narrow too? True, anything less than 3’ makes it difficult for a soul to come down the steps to safety while a rescuer simultaneously rushes up the steps to retrieve the next soul. Point conceded. However, this is not a likely scenario in a tiny house, so kudos to you folks for pushing for that exemption. I personally would have thought 17” to 18” of clear space everywhere would suffice, as it’s ½ of 3’. There are some very clever use of guy wires to serve as handrails / fall protection that would not require an additional 3” beyond your proposed 17” clear width. In fact, although hOMe uses a 20” wide step (or maybe it’s even 24″), if clever guy wires were used, you’d get the same clear tread width out of an 18” step as you would a 20” step with traditional railings. . I would have sighted a clear 17” tread width period, let the banisters / railings be as wide or narrow as the builder wants outside of that. I know it’s nitpicking, but on trailer mounted builds with a nominal interior width of 7’8” to 7’10”, well 3” counts. Again, this requirement is stifling creativity a bit. That said, with 20” being carved in stone in so many of the other standards for devices that permit upward mobility, I understand why you didn’t challenge it.

    Third comment relates to the ceiling height from the top stair (which in your design is the clever landing height). First, let me congratulate you folks on what I always thought was an elegant solution to a common limited height loft problem: the transition from climbing to crawling. Seriously. Previous height of 6’2” is unobtainable in a tiny house. However, a landing platform yields about 18” of height situated below the loft floor height (assuming an average of 9” rise over run for two risers). At 4’6” required height that leaves about 3’ of height above the loft needed about 10” away from the wall (assuming your 20” tread width discussed above). This is easily achievable on hOMe (see poster child notes above) as you’ve gone with a shed style roof with the high end located on the stair side of the home. With center gable designs, that will have a reduced height where the walls meet the roof, it might be a bit of a challenge to achieve 3’ of loft height 10” from the wall. Again, creativity is limited. However, I’m going to side with you here because a landing platform encourages a bit of standing; so you need some height and even 4’6” isn’t a bunch. As long as we don’t propose any guidelines on ceiling height from top rung of a ladder, we will preserve the flexibility that tiny homes need. You appendix doesn’t open any cans of worms regarding ladders, so we are good there.

    Fourth comment relates to loft egress. Clever solution. I had always imagined a large window at the gable end with its big red handle as the only legal way to satisfy the size requirements for egress (thinking park model standards here). However, a large skylight should suffice. (Emphasis on large, as a tiny one that no one can fit through won’t provide a reasonable means of evacuation in an emergency)

    (I have nothing on loft guards, your proposal is great).

    One final comment. The emphasis is on adjustments to the code so that tiny houses can provide loft amenities while meeting strict height requirements for travel. However, if you never mention the reason for those height requirements (e.g. you are sitting on a trailer designed for travel on public roads, therefore, your total height must not exceed 13’6” in eastern states, 14’ in western states (sans Arizona), 14’6” in Nebraska and who knows what everywhere else (the International part of the “I”RC)), then they are artificial constraints. It would seem you have to call out Trailers and Hauling requirements to establish the source of those height constraints. It’s obvious to everyone why tiny houses are narrow and short, but if they are expected to be two stories (e.g. loft), why do they have to be so low? Cuz if I’m setting it on pylons in my second cousin’s back yard, who cares if it’s 20’ high? The trailer issue is bound to surface in some form. Will be cool to see how you guys acknowledge it.

    That said, kudos that you folks stayed away from defining Tiny Homes as strictly THOWs. Glad to see no reference to maximum widths of 8’6” (or more with accouterments), maximum lengths of 30’ (saw a group propose that once. why, when airstreams are commonly available at 36’ feet in bumper pull configurations), maximum heights of 13’6” (hey, I live in the west where 14’ is all good). You avoided electricity, water and sewer discussions too. Those are always so dependent on local requirements anyway. Limiting the definition to 400 sq ft (lofts not included) is a good idea as it keeps you away from HUD jurisdiction.

    I hope my comments aren’t viewed as critical. For me, as an interested party, this effort has come a bit out of left field; worked on in a vacuum. I appreciate there was a time crunch. However, there was this little event in Colorado called the Tiny House Jamboree with some 40,000 enthusiast, tradesmen, dwellers and voices about a month ago. I don’t recall any press about a Tiny House IRC standard proposal. Perhaps, I’m living under a rock? But, might have been an ideal time to seek community support (e.g. funds)? (Actually, the truth is, I’ve seen almost no press at all about the THJ2016, other than a few Turning Tiny book release advertisements… weird, but that’s another topic) This announcement here on THB is the first I’ve heard of the IRC 2018 Appendix V effort. Therefore, for me, it is the first opportunity I’ve had to ask questions and/or express an opinion.

    Andrew, thanks for spear heading the effort, sharing the details with us, and providing us the opportunity to comment, good and bad, here on your site.

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 7, 2016 at 9:19 am #

      Hi Peter. Thanks for your input. My responses are below, and many of them come back to the same point, ultimately.

      1. We did in fact lower the headroom for all habitable rooms to 6’8″. This is better than the 7’0″ requirement. As will be true for many of the following responses, we went with a number that is likely to pass. I could have asked for anything, but there needs to be a balance with what the ICC is likely to accept. We can always push for more once we have a base code in the IRC. Asking for too much up front could have spelled disaster for the entire proposal. Keep in mind that this is an all or nothing situation. They either say yes or no. There is no room for negotiation.

      2. The stair design numbers are based specifically on the ANSI code, as that is an existing set of guidelines. By using a previously approved code for our proposal, we have feet to stand on and a better chance of success.

      3. In terms of the landing platform, that is not required. It is optional. The reality is that there is no easy way to use stairs to access a loft, especially when it is a low loft on a gable. There is no way to design a code to meet every option that people create. Instead, it provides guidelines for people to meet and then they can find their creativity within those parameters. For those who say it cuts down on creativity: I think they are right. That said, those who want to push the envelope of creativity can do so in non code covered areas, under RVIA standards, or under the radar. The purpose of the code is to allow those individuals who want to build a comfortable and safe home to be able to do so in an IRC compliant way.

      4. Roof access egress windows are actually a thing and their size is determined by code. Because they can be within 44″ of the floor, they work in this situation. of course, people can still use a wall window if the loft design fits one that meets the egress requirements.

      5. I totally agree about the need for language about the trailer. I was told by the ICC I could not include that in this proposal because of the rules of “public comment code changes.” I plan to include all of the language I had in my original proposal in a future update. For now, we need to get this approved so that we can adjust and improve it moving forward.

      I appreciate your feedback and support. In terms of the time limit, yes, it was a very fast turn around to even make this happen. We had about 30 days to write the whole thing, including the reason statement, and an additional 30 days (once it had been submitted and “locked” by the ICC) to fine tune it with their feedback and input. So there was not really time to reach out for public comment.

      In terms of the Jamboree, I spoke specifically about the IRC proposal in my presentation and again in a joint conversation on codes with Darin Zaruba. This was a huge piece of what I brought to the Jamboree and I spoke to it at every opportunity, so i guess you just missed out somehow. I have been talking about it on and off on Facebook for weeks and have made several public announcements on Tiny House People and other Facebook sites. For whatever reason, they did not intersect with you. Just don’t want anyone to think I have been working in a vacuum. 🙂

      I’m excited about where things stand now with the proposal and even more excited about fine tuning it AFTER it is approved. Right now the focus is on getting it approved. From there, we can address all of the details that people think are important and see what makes sense to add to the code.

      • Peter September 7, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

        Andrew,
        Thanks for taking a moment to respond. Apparently, I really have been under a rock. (technically, I’m in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico for this month… buying a small piece of land with a “tiny house” already on it.). I knew I’d be in Mexico in September, so Colorado was out for August. (but can I make Kansas in Nov? 😉 ) Missed all of the conversation in August on the various media outlets about the proposal. Glad I tuned in here (received an email from you folks.)

        I really like the landing platform and glad it found it’s way into the proposal! Not everyone will be able to incorporate it in their design, but definitely an element worthy of designing around for inclusion when possible!

        Regarding 7’0 to 6’8″: obviously my reading comprehension needs work as totally missed that reduction. Only caught the 6’8″ to 6’4″ reduction. Good work all around bringing both of those height requirements down by 4″.. now looking at a combo of 6’4″ and 6’8″, which is much more manageable than 7’0″ and 6’8″. Every bit helps. Fully understand the need to ask for gradual changes so that the proposal has a chance of floating. (did you adjust hOMe to have 6’8″ in the kitchen now, as that is considered habitable, different than the bathroom tucked under the other end loft?)

        For once the low roof heights up in the loft actually works in favor of tiny houses, by allowing the egress window in the roof. Very clever existing code interpretation. 😉

        Stair widths, yeah I knew my comments were absolutely pushing it too far. The 5′ diameter for circular staircases and 3′ width for standard, just can’t be accommodated in tiny houses. I guess the 20″ that’s already present in ANSI code will be a good compromise for this appendix. Precedence will help the appendix overall. There is also the ANSI 119.5 5-10.4.2.2 spiral staircase definition of 26″ diameter with 12″ treads that could be referenced for tiny houses with spiral stairs the next go round (2021).

        I see you guys avoided any discussion of hallways.. IRC 311.3 mentions 3′ minimum on hallways. Obviously hOME doesn’t use hallways, and honestly, I’m not in favor of them either (my own personal preference). But lots of tiny homes have them. I poured over the ANSI 119.5 standard for Park Model builds and they cleverly avoid all discussion related to hallways / passageways. RVIA uses NFPA 1192 Standard for RVs for exit requirements, but it avoids hallways too. So the next go around (2021) will you guys tackle hallway widths? Because, if you don’t then IRC dictates 3′, which is a non starter at 7’8 to 7’10” interior widths.

        Thanks again for your hard work. Really balanced submission. Later on, I look forward to see the trailer comments that couldn’t be included this go round.

  19. Meg September 7, 2016 at 5:48 am #

    Hey guys,
    I’m in KC and will put the days on my calender. Email me if you need any help with planning your visit or anything while you are here. Happy to have you in our city working on this awesome project. Ill check into who to call locally to promote the code. I own a landscape design studio and I work with alot of fantastic builders in the KC metro. Perhaps I could chat with a few of my good ones to see if anyone is interested and being there to speak with you? Shoot me an email

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 7, 2016 at 9:20 am #

      That’s awesome Meg. Thanks!

  20. Steve LeBard September 7, 2016 at 8:05 am #

    I just read Peter’s comments and pictured my local planning department trying to decipher code relating to tiny houses at $180 per hour. Then I though of Zyl Vardos at zylvardos.com submitting one of his masterpieces for approval to the Santa Barbara County planning and
    building department. One look at the roofs on his Zenia or MoonDragon house would generate meeting with every department you can think of -flood control, roads, architectural review, planning commission , fire department – driving up the costs $25,000.00 or more and delaying the project 6 months, 1 year, 2 years…. I say keep the code simple or the tiny house business will fail. The unions are already against this idea of people building their own homes – almost impossible in Santa Barbara County today.

  21. Jeff September 7, 2016 at 5:01 pm #

    I talked to you at the jamboree, I’m the guy that said if you need a warm body I’d like to be there. If I can get time off ill be there as I’m only a little over an hour away from kc. Thanks for all the work you have put into this and no mater the outcome it is greatly appreciated!!!

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 8, 2016 at 10:07 am #

      That’s awesome Jeff. Let me know as soon as you can. I want to get the team of speakers organized in the coming weeks so we can purchase plane tickets for those who need them and practice our approach. I want us to be a well oiled machine! 🙂

  22. Amy Turnbull September 7, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

    Thank you for all your hard work and the work of others in preparing the appendix. I’ve been very curious about the best route to take when it comes to standards–all have pitfalls for inclusion of THOWS. My concern is to take the RV designation out of the mix and I was wracking my brain how best to do this.Therefore, I am curious how you see this going down. You said, “The good news is that there is still a path to approval within the IRC for THOWs regarding foundations and trailers.” I would love to hear more on how you see that happening.

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 8, 2016 at 10:13 am #

      Hi Amy. Thanks for your message. Assuming the IRC proposal passes, there will not be an impact on those homes built to RV standards. Those could still be built and certified under RVIA as they are today (assuming RVIA continues to certify tiny houses). The IRC code will only effect those people who want to build their homes to code for a primary residence.

      In terms of the path to legal construction of a THOW in the current IRC, it is possible, yet not easy. It is hard to do now because of all the issues that arise: ceiling heights, use of sleeping lofts, emergency egress and escape, loft access, the trailer, etc. If, however, you remove all of the issues except for the trailer, then you are only dealing with one issue and one that can be addressed within the code or with an engineer’s stamp. The key is that the trailer would have to be anchored to the ground in order to satisfy code. There are plenty of examples of how to do this for manufactured homes in the IRC appendix E. Implementing those standards should not be that hard. In addition, as long as the system used meets the intent of the code (ground anchoring and load transfer), then any system can be accepted by the building official. It is up to them. An engineer’s stamp goes even farther and removes any liability from the building department and assumes responsibility for the design. That will pass with ease.

      Until we are able to address trailer directly within the code (I plan for that in the next hearing cycle) we will push to get the current proposal approved so that all of the other hurdles can be removed sooner rather than later.

  23. Cheryl Coates September 9, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

    Andrew,

    I would like to use your information here in Colorado. I am meeting with a few of the local Zoning Departments not only about tiny house on foundations but they want any ideas to incorporate “on wheels”. I have plenty to share since my husband and I have been pulling building permits locally for 25 years as a licensed general contractor.

    I will make sure I share the siting information:).

    Thank you for all the hard work!
    Cheryl Coates

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 10, 2016 at 11:36 am #

      That’s awesome Cheryl. Good luck!!

  24. Pat Dunham September 9, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

    Looking for a way to contribute to your crowd funding to help you with all your hard work Andrew. Thanks for your efforts and happy to help.

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 10, 2016 at 11:37 am #

      Looks like you found the link. Thanks for your donation Pat! For those who are wondering how to get involved with helping the speakers travel to Kansas City for the hearings, here is the link: https://www.gofundme.com/TinyHouseCodes

  25. Steve September 10, 2016 at 7:15 am #

    Andrew,

    The public is very much aware (and rightly so) that the tiny homes you speak about are nothing more than RVs and as such, they don’t need to conform to any current IBC / IRC codes. I have no problem with the tiny home movement but I wish that they would just call their “living environment on wheels” what it truly is…an RV.

    That said, the proper use of the term “Tiny Home” is designated for homes that are built on permanent foundations. Anything built on a trailer base is not a “Tiny Home”. Again, it is an RV.

    There is no mention of a waste disposal system or zoning for multiple dwellings on a single-family dwelling parcel. I understand the concept of people wanting the freedom to design their own homes (with a licensed Architect) but the most critical issue at hand is the protection of the public’s health, safety and welfare. Codes are developed to cover people of all sizes, shapes and abilities. You can’t propose code changes to suit the needs of portion of the population that says: I don’t care about having handrails on my loft steps, climbing a vertical ladder to access my only “habitable space” or I don’t mind occasionally banging my head on the ceiling when I try to get into or out of my bed. That notion of a “home” is ludicrous.

    The IBC / IRC already addresses all the items you mentioned in your proposal. You’re just looking for a way to break those code issues for your own benefit. It’s known as a self-imposed hardship.

    The challenge for licensed Architects (the only individuals who are licensed to design homes of any size…especially tiny homes) is to design a home that is safe for the owners within the limitations of the applicable codes. The same is true for Tiny Homes. There is already a place for Tiny Homes when working within the framework of the current codes.

    A final note: even if your proposal passes (which it won’t), there are many municipalities that will never adopt it. Sedona Arizona, for example, is still working with the 2006 IBC / IRC.

    If anyone is interested in learning about what I am doing here in Arizona with legitimate Tiny Homes (which are built on foundations), give me a call.

    Regards,
    Steve Judge, Architect / Real Estate Developer / Tiny Home Architect

    Steve Judge Architect, pllc
    Site Specific, Lifestyle Driven Architecture
    New Home Designs | Additions | Renovations
    15319 North 91st Way
    Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
    M: 480 216 7413
    E: stevejudgearchitect@gmail.com
    W: FB.com/stevejudgearchitect

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 10, 2016 at 9:47 am #

      There are a lot of non-fact-based judgments in this comment Steve, so I will do my best to respond without the same approach. I see you are an architect, so I know that you have some knowledge about codes and homes; however, some of what you state in your comment as “fact” is, indeed, not factual at all. I’ll start at the top.

      Just because a home is built on a trailer does not make it an RV. Manufactured homes are built on a chassis (permanent or non permanent) and are classified as homes as soon as they are set to meet IRC foundation requirements. Nothing different here for those of us who want to live in our tiny houses. I wonder if you have ever lived in an RV or in a tiny house. If you have, you would know the obvious differences between the two. Tiny Houses on Wheels (THOWs), although small and on a trailer, are most definitely not in the same class as RVs.

      There is no such thing a a “proper use of the term tiny house” and it is most certainly not designated to tiny houses on foundations. That is a statement you are making up; however, it is not recognized by the industry. Fact: homes with very small square footage have been known as “small homes” within the construction industry for a very long time. The term “tiny house” was first used in relation to Jay Shafer’s tiny house on wheels. So, in fact, if there were to be a designated use of the term tiny house (which there is not) it would be for homes on trailers based on industry standards.

      If you had read my proposal closely you would know that the appendix only addresses the specifics contained therein and that all other provisions of the IRC shall be met by the structure. Therefore, there is no need to discuss sanitation as that is covered in the IRC without need for adjustment. Those individuals who want to use composting toilets are allowed to do that within the code as long as their local jurisdiction approves of the use. Section R306.2 Sewage disposal states: “Plumbing fixtures shall be attached to a sanitary sewer or to an approved private sewage disposal system.”

      You note that there is no mention of zoning for multiple dwellings in my proposal. My proposal is for a code change to the IRC. The IRC does not manage zoning issues, which are covered by local ordinances. Therefore, there would not be room in the proposal for topics of zoning. The IRC is a minimum guideline for construction standards.

      The IRC (the code we are proposing a change to, not the IBC) is full of exceptions that allow for relaxation of standards to fit the needs of specific details within the construction industry. What we are doing here is no different. We are still working to provide a code that offers health and safety to all shapes and sizes of people, we are simply asking for a relief of standards to make the code scaled to the projects. This is a standard approach to code changes, nothing new and exciting. Keep in mind that the code allows for all kinds of alternative methods of construction as long as the proponent can show that the health and safety of the occupants are protected. There is even a provision in the code that specifically allows for “Alternative Materials, Design, and Methods of Construction and Equipment” This is precisely because one size and one approach does NOT fit all.

      Yes, the IBC/IRC already address the topics discussed in this proposal. That is why I address them directly as we are looking for relief from those standards the same way any exception to the standards is approached, which, by the way, is something that happens across the code in every code review cycle. This is not something I “made up” for tiny houses without precedent.

      You are not correct about licensed architects being the “the only individuals who are licensed to design homes of any size…especially tiny homes”. Architects and engineers are both licensed to design homes of any size. Further, designers who are not licensed as architects design homes of all shapes and sizes everyday and those designs are accepted by building departments across the US. If there is a need for specific engineering, they can work with an engineer to provide that. Finally, owners can design their own homes as well. Should there be a need for engineering, they can hire that out. Please don’t make blanket statements to serve your position that are not true. There are a lot of people who read this blog who do not know the truth of these situations and your statements could cause them undue stress as they begin their journey.

      You say that the proposal won’t pass with such certainty yet you may not realize that the ICC board itself publicly asked for a proposal, in the form of an appendix, to handle the tiny house question. They recognize that it is a market that needs to be addressed. Whether this provision in its current state will pass is yet to be seen, but I am clear that a tiny house appendix within the IRC is something that is most definitely on the near horizon. I have a lot of confidence in our proposal as we have addressed each aspect of the code that needs to be adjusted (read exception) that we were authorized to address by the ICC. Further, many of the code provisions provided in the proposal are taken directly from the ANSI code, which is in place to provide health and safety for the occupants of structures as well. Not that crazy to assume that the IRC could make exceptions for previously established standards and rules.

      Finally, I believe that any architect, engineer, designer, or home owner who works with tiny houses on wheels could take offense to your closing statement that only tiny houses on foundations are “legitimate.” Once again, that is your judgment, not an industry accepted standard.

      • Jody September 11, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

        Andrew you are awesome!! Very well put. You are very knoweledgable with all things tiny. I will do what I can on this end (SLC) and I commend you on what you are doing and what you have done for the tiny house community! I enjoyed hearing what you had to say at the Jamboree too. Thank you thank you thank you!

        • Andrew
          Andrew September 12, 2016 at 11:31 am #

          Thanks so much Jody!

  26. Cheryl Coates September 12, 2016 at 10:34 am #

    Andrew,

    I was asked to share specifically about ideas on how to make tiny houses on wheels meet requirements the city wants.

    If any one out there has suggestions as to places I may have not researched I am open to any guidance. I will be looking for every opportunity to spread the information. May I put a link on my website to this article? I want as many as possible to know about this.

    Thank you,
    Cheryl

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 12, 2016 at 11:16 am #

      Hi Cheryl. You are welcome to link to the article. The more folks who see it, the better. 🙂

      At this point, the biggest issues with most cities as they relate to THOWs are covered in the proposal, minus the trailer. If all of that can be handled within the code, the only item to discuss is the trailer anchorage to the ground. That can be handled within the code (permanent wood foundations, slabs on grade with anchor points, or using the Alternative materials, design, methods of construction and equipment” clause within the code). Hope that helps.

  27. Justin Rohde September 14, 2016 at 6:45 pm #

    Hello Andrew –

    i like this version of the code proposal significantly more than the initial submittal. Thank you for focusing on the “right” issues. I started Eco-Huts in 2009 focused on homes in the 200 sf range (www.eco-huts.com). I knew eventually there would be some rendezvous with the code council and i think this is a good first stab at it.
    As code language issues/inclusions/exclusions arise, please keep me informed if you have a mailing list, etc as this will directly affect me and I may have helpful input/feedback as well.

    Thank you,

    – Justin Rohde, PE
    http://www.eco-huts.com

    • Andrew
      Andrew September 15, 2016 at 9:19 am #

      Thanks Justin. Much appreciated. I will post updates to this site and our social media outlets as well. Worry not!

  28. Viki S September 18, 2016 at 11:31 am #

    Hi, I started designing a staircase based on the riser and tread formulas borrowed from ANSI. I don’t get them. First, they imply there is a fixed ratio of tread depth (although in the 2009 edition of ANSI they mistakenly refer to it as width in the formula) to riser height. Secondly, why would the formula be the taller the riser, the smaller the tread depth? I must be missing something or no longer able to do basic maths. The way I calculate it is that for a 12″ riser the formula gives a tread depth of 4″; for a 9″ riser, the depth would be 8″. Can someone explain? Thanks.

    • Andrew
      Andrew October 5, 2016 at 9:23 pm #

      I completely agree with you. The way the math works out, the stairs get crazy steep; however, that is indeed the equation. Weird right?

  29. Michael Doles October 1, 2016 at 7:23 am #

    Andrew,

    I have been in the building inspections profession for many years. I currently hold numerous ICC certifications including Master Code Professional. My Building Department Administrator has asked me to put a short presentation together on the Tiny House Movement.
    In my research your articles have been very informative. I know the ICC code review and adoption process can be a challenge.
    Your proposals look very promising.
    There are some avenues in the code that I believe should be considered that are not getting a lot of attention.
    Would you be available to address the South Carolina Building Officials Association annual conference in May of 2017?
    What are the latest updates on the proposals being considered in KC this year?

  30. Ray Bangs October 11, 2016 at 11:11 am #

    Hey Andrew and Gabriella, Great work on the proposal and addressing the other questions. I am still a little confused on the ICC requirements you propose, especially regarding the loft.

    1) I’m in the super rainy Oregon coast mountains, and not really a fan of skylights or any other roof ports. Kinda sounds like that roof egress is required in the proposal, but maybe that’s only when there’s no wall window… So with your proposal, kinda reads like the loft egress window required to be on the roof, or would a wall window that meets the 5.7 sq-ft opening with minimum h/w dimensions still work? As per existing code, it seems an escape ladder from this egress is required too?

    2) My current THOW sleeping loft platform is only 4′ off the floor with drawers/closet/storage underneath. I do not need or even have a ladder or stairs. It’s just one easy step up/down using the bench seat, or I can simply boost myself up or slide off the bed without using the seat. Would this loft design not be legal per the new code, or perhaps it would not be considered a loft? (It’s only about 4.5′ tall inside the loft.)

    3) My current THOW loft/bed is just over 4′ wide, and entire “loft” is less than 35 sq-ft. It’s a bit cozy, but works great for us. Why the 5′ minimum dimension (width) and minimum sq-ft requirements on a loft/bed? I see how this is based on previous code or RV code, but IMO, this requirement seems it could be improved or omitted.

    4) Loft guards work well (and are very needed) with some loft designs, but the loft guards are certainly wasteful, unnecessary, and even dangerous in other designs. Again, IMO, this requirement needs improvement or deletion.

    5) Have you looked at what Oregon, Washington, and Idaho are doing for residential tiny homes? These states are already allowing residential living and full-time use of tiny houses that meet specs. The main issue after some minimum dimensions, is insulation. RV construction only requires R-5, however it seems the only way to meet the residential code for wall insulation R-21 value in Oregon (and many/most other states) for 2×4 walls is filling cavity with 3.5 inches of spray foam. Any ideas or suggestions how we can meet this requirement in a less toxic way?

    I’d appreciate any clarification you might be able to offer on these questions. Thanks for the work on the proposal. Good luck in Kansas City. I realize this is a very big step for tiny houses. Let’s hope it’s in the right direction.

    • Ray Bangs October 11, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

      Regarding my question if a wall window as egress being ok, I just noticed your answer deep in one of your comment responses above. — And I probably wasn’t understanding the code about egress window ladders, and are not required in tiny house loft, though probably still a good idea… thanks again.

    • Andrew
      Andrew November 17, 2016 at 7:31 pm #

      Hi Ray. My responses are below.

      1.The code can be met as is or with the addition of a roof access emergency window if the wall window does not fit.

      2.The loft access as noted would not meet code as is or in the proposal because you are talking about 2′ tall steps. those are outside of the code either way and would require something to break up those tall risers.

      3.We have to start somewhere. If it is not directly specified in the code, it’s open to interpretation, which code officials HATE. We came up with the best parameters we could in order to get the proposal approved. We can always make improvements moving forward.

      4.Same response as #3. Without them, we would never get this appendix passed. I should mention that there was no editing or making changes. the entire proposal is being voted on an up or down vote: yes or no.

      5. I don’t agree that these states are allowing tiny house living. I live in Oregon and my house is NOT deemed legal by my building department. There may be some areas where there have been some changes made, but the state codes do not recognize tiny houses yet. At this point, the only way to meet the insulation requirements is to use spray foam, certain types of rigid foam, or to thicken the walls to 2×6.

      Thanks for your questions and well wishes. We are now waiting for the final vote to conclude. Waiting with high hopes!!

  31. Cindy Voripaieff October 12, 2016 at 10:24 am #

    Thank you so much for your, and everyone’s dedication and hard work. How amazing this will be once it becomes a reality!

    • Gabriella
      Gabriella October 12, 2016 at 9:34 pm #

      Thanks for your support Cindy! We really appreciate it!

  32. David Ludwig October 17, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

    Hi Andrew,

    I am a residential architect working with Tiny House builders to help them understand detailing and codes. I met you at a Tiny House presentation in Ashland. I have reviewed your proposals for the ICC appendix and I had some detailed questions. Is this the best place to ask or shall I try a different forum? Examples:

    RAILINGS: Your reference to “guards” does not really address the detail of the3 basic elements of railing design in the code, Guard Rails, Hand Rails and Ballusters. I’m curious about this simplification. Were you trying to avoid the detail requirements altogether?

    PLUMBING FIXTURE CLEARANCES: What about space required for plumbing fixture for clearance at toilets and sinks. Shouldn’t that be addressed” 15″ to the side from the centerline of toilets and sinks and 24″ clear in front?

    TOILET OPTIONS: conventional or composting?

    GREY WATER: Nearby in Sonoma County, we have a 24 hour limit in storing grey water, then it becomes black water. Do we want to address this issue?

    LIGHTING: In California we have a lot of energy conservation requirements about light source efficiency and switching, occupancy/motion sensors, etc

    ENERGY: Insulation requirements and the related issues of ventilation, vapor barriers and breath sourced moisture damage to wall systems in small sealed environments.

    MINIMUM WINDOW SIZES: for egress, light and ventilation.

    CONVERTABILITY FROM WHEELS TO FOUNDATIONS: Do we want to assume THOWs are made legal in your opening description, or do we want to address conversion from wheels to foundations using modular housing hardware? What about required skirting the converted tinies?

    FIRE SPRINKLERS: Here in northern California, all new homes must be sprinkled. Do we want to address this issue

    RV DESIGNATION: and control of Tiny House Communities by the RV department of HCD in California? Are you hoping / intending that your new legal description of Tiny Houses as “permanent” housing would remove them from RV status?

    Thanks for all your work on this code change. I would be glad to share ideas and help in any way I can.

    • Andrew
      Andrew November 13, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

      Hi David. Sorry for the delay. As you can imagine, it’s been a busy time! I didn’t address the vast majority of the topics you raised in the proposed appendix for two main reasons.

      First, we we told, in no uncertain terms, that we had to stay in line with the original proposal that was submitted in April. We could not add information not included in that proposal.

      Secondly, we wrote the code to default to the existing code for the areas where a TH could already meet the requirements. For example, if fire sprinklers are required in a house, they would be required in a TH. Our goal is to make tiny houses permanent housing and as such, they would be subject to the same requirements as regular houses. As long as those requirements can be met, there’s no need to address them in the appendix.

      We do intend for tiny houses to be treated as homes and not RVs. That’s the main purpose of the appendix to be sure. We have not addressed the wheels/trailer aspect in the proposal because it wasn’t in the original proposal. We tried to include a whole section on “movable tiny houses” but we were forced to remove it. That will come in the next code cycle: an additional proposal for movable tiny houses.

  33. Megan McKenzie October 18, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

    Found this after sparring with Coconino County Arizona Communitity Development about Tiny House permitting regulations.
    I read through your proposed code amendments and am not clear if you are suggesting a size minimum (given that the max limit is 400 SF).
    We are looking at something about 160 SF plus loft areas and wonder if that would be permit table based on these proposed amendments?

    • Andrew
      Andrew November 13, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

      Hi Megan. A home your size would fit into the requirements as laid out by the proposed appendix. It uses the minimum size currently in the 2015 IRC, which is 70 SF plus the bathroom area.

  34. Arli October 27, 2016 at 10:49 am #

    Kansas City, MO is currently developing a tiny house compound for homeless veterans, located near 89th st.
    It features a single fixed dwelling with all of the electric, plumbing, paint, furnishings, dishes, etc ready to move in. Cost is estimated at $10,000 per house. There is going to be a main building with showers, kitchen area, laundry, community area added when donated funds are available. Planned for about 40 to 50 tiny homes. One home has already been completed on the 4 acre plot.

  35. Jennie November 26, 2016 at 11:19 am #

    I am looking for an update on this proposal. Was it accepted? Is there more work to do. Any info would be helpful. Thank you.

    • Andrew
      Andrew November 26, 2016 at 11:43 am #

      Hi Jennie. They extended the voting period until November 27th. We were originally supposed to hear the results of the vote on December 6th. I imagine those results may be pushed back a week by the extension as well. There is no date posted at this time, so that’s an assumption.

      There is always more work to be done. That’s true even if we win the 2/3 majority and the comment passes. We will need to work to get it adopted by every jurisdiction. We will need to work towards the next code cycle (3 years out) to make sure we have updates and improvements to this appendix and that we can also propose a separate appendix specific to movable tiny houses. In other words, yes, we will need help. 🙂

      Cheers and stay tuned. I promise to post the results as soon as I hear them.

  36. Todd December 3, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    Did this pass?

    • Andrew
      Andrew December 3, 2016 at 11:58 am #

      H iTodd. We won’t hear the results of the final vote until December 6th (at the earliest). Fingers and toes are crossed.

  37. Randi H. December 6, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

    Congratulations on all the hard work! This is amazing. I love love the tiny house movement and as Realtor, love giving clients and customers options, such a more land less house. This is great news. GO TINY!

  38. Caitlin December 8, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

    Thank you kindly Andrew! The fruits of your labour will provide the entire Tiny Movement tremendous traction going forward, 2017 is a TINY year! Greetz from the Tiny House Network in Silicon Valley!

  39. Rich December 31, 2016 at 9:45 am #

    So it looks like it’s past time to ask again – what is the disposition of this proposal? Has the result of the vote been announced?

  40. steve April 19, 2017 at 10:53 am #

    You really would benefit this article by putting in a bullet point list of what the proposal would state. I gave up reading after the fourth paragraph, sorry – really want to see the “practicle” bullet points.

    For example:
    -change requirements for electric outlet height to accomodate micro room sizes
    -change reqirements for ___(fill in with specific)___ to accomodate micro kitchens

    • Andrew
      Andrew April 22, 2017 at 1:38 pm #

      Hi Steve. Thanks for the feedback. There are a lot of points to bullet and so I attached the code language itself for people to read. That is the best way to see it.

  41. Ruth Taylor May 13, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

    From a 68 y.o. woman who has dreamed of building my own very small home (out of two sheds!) for many years, this is all very exciting! Thank you for doing so much for this movement. Who knows? Maybe this dream shall become my reality, yet!!

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