Zoning And Your Tiny House

Zoning And Your Tiny House

I’ve been learning and thinking about zoning for years, as the project manager and soon-to-be resident of a new ecovillage in the hills of SW Wisconsin. Zoning entered into the criteria for our property search, and figured largely in our members’ decision to locate outside of the city limits. Thanks to a progressive state building code and the absence of zoning in our township, there is no minimum size for houses at Stone’s Throw Ecovillage.

It’s an exciting time for us, just like planning to build or buy your first tiny house. That’s why I want to share what we’ve learned about zoning. The question, “Where can I park my tiny house?” is just as important as “Where will I get my building materials?” and it’s a good one to ask early on.

WHAT IS ZONING?

First off, zoning is separate from building codes. Cities, townships, and counties can all have different zoning regulations.They can have different building codes also, but that’s a different subject and they don’t vary as widely.

Building codes specify the minimum standards for the construction of any house, or how a house should be built. Zoning is different. Zoning covers where your tiny house can be occupied. And there are a wealth of reasons including health, safety, and financial as to why zoning controls where you can locate your tiny house.

Zoning can require minimums for emergency vehicle access, sewer or septic connections, rainwater runoff control, municipal water or well water hookups, minimums for lot size, square footage of houses, and restrictions on how many residences can occupy a lot or given area. I’m not giving a comprehensive list, these are just examples of the types of regulations included in zoning.