UPDATE: Uniform Tiny House Construction Initiative

The tiny house industry continues to grow, and a collaborative effort is underway to develop a uniform set of standards for the construction of Tiny Houses. Here's where we stand today in this unified effort!

Tiny House Definition

The newly adopted Tiny House Appendix will be released as part of IRC 2018, and offers a little relief from the big house standards suitable for larger homes than the 98-400 square foot Tiny House on Wheels (THOW) popularized the past decade. Slimmer stairways, lower ceilings, and allowance of a loft as sleeping quarters are among the big wins ushered in with the Tiny House Appendix. 

While the definition of a Tiny House in IRC 2018 provides a means for its permissible construction, such construction typically applies only to a dwelling unit built on a permanent foundation, which leaves the Tiny House on Wheels we've come to know and love in a state of limbo somewhere along the roadside.

Thankfully, a solution is in the works for proposal of a set of Movable Tiny House (MTH) standards which could be available as early as the release of IRC 2021. But what do we do in the meantime?

Consensus on Construction

The Uniform Tiny House Construction Initiative (UTHCI) is a workgroup of tiny house design and construction professionals, leading tiny house inspection and certification representatives, and others interested in fostering the intentional growth and development of the tiny house industry. Our goals are to:

  • Develop a uniform set of standards for tiny house construction that aligns with residential requirements
  • While paralleling the residential construction and inspection process as closely as possible
  • So that DIY and Pro built tiny houses may receive a Statement of Origin and/or Certificate of Compliance
  • That assures conformance to a series of referential standards that exist in recognized prescriptive codes
  • To uphold the intent of the International Residential Code and its most critical applicable standards
  • For occupant health and safety, as well as general public welfare.

Ours is a proactive solution for "future proofing" tiny houses as permanent residences, and the resources we produce will be designed to complement other existing efforts. 

Reference of Core Standards

It is a shared belief that our development and adoption of a uniform set of standards will remove ambiguity surrounding the construction of tiny houses. The ingredients are readily available, so its just a matter of defining the recipe for a code compliant Portable Dwelling Unit. 

The standards we define will uphold the baseline of residential standards that proactively meet state and municipal housing requirements. To keep costs down and help foster the continuance of the construction of safe, efficient, and affordable Portable Dwelling Units, the use of the systems and standards we propose will not greatly impact existing protocols, methods, materials, and labor use.

Current Events

At this time, we have entered into the planning phase for this effort, which seeks to refer to existing construction codes rather than write new codes. At first blush, we believe the bulk of our code references will be IRC based, borrowing from HUD’s Manufactured Housing code for residential compliance of chassis-based floor/foundation system, as well as prescriptive codes for Park Model RVs where additional accommodations may provide equitable solutions for designing and constructing small habitable spaces.

Ours is an inclusive process in which we will work in a deliberate fashion to provide a high degree of consensus on the initial direction, ongoing dialog, and eventual production of resources that come from this effort. Unilateral inclusion of representatives from the Tiny House Industry will ensure the output of this group remains aligned with the needs of DIY homeowner/builders, professional custom builders, turnkey tiny house manufacturers, and providers of component parts that make up tiny houses.

Our goal is to open the door more widely for the acceptance of tiny houses as a means for providing affordable and attainable housing, support of community development initiatives, availability of tiny house financing and cost-effective insurance, incorporation of and use by inspection/certification agencies, allowance of citation by referenced code bodies, and (of course) acceptance by government representatives, state-level housing administrators, and municipal building/zoning officials.

Stay Tuned!

We want to ensure that a Movable Tiny House may be used as an official residence, and this collaborative effort seems the most likely next step.

We will provide updates on the furtherance of the Uniform Tiny House Construction Initiative, and welcome your feedback throughout our efforts.

Live Large -- Go Tiny!