Because of cost-efficiency and their ability to simplify people’s lives, tiny homes are a huge trend right now in the United States. Recent popularity on HGTV shows and in magazine articles have caused a boom in the tiny home industry.
Tiny homes are meant to be an alternative and affordable lifestyle, stressing simplicity. However, current zoning laws and building codes are complicating the process of building and living in these simple homes.
While Colorado is known as one of the states with more flexible building codes and zoning regulations, they still have their share of tiny home issues because Colorado law does not currently define a “tiny house.”
Colorado Zoning Regulations
Officials in most Colorado counties are in a quandary over tiny homes. County governments have zoning regulations saying recreational vehicles (RVs) can only be used as temporary housing. Many tiny homes are considered to be RVs, also called THOWs, or Tiny Houses On Wheels.
There are less problems with zoning if you plan to travel with your tiny home, but having a tiny home on a foundation (considered an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU), or permanently living in a THOW, is more complicated.
Tiny homes do not fit in with most current land-use codes and zoning regulations. Therefore, placing tiny homes in legislation is a problem. Full-time residential use of a THOW is illegal in most Colorado towns, but there are a few exceptions I will mention later.
Colorado Building Codes
Along with building a tiny home in a legal location, the way a tiny home is built is also a major concern.
Most local building codes in the U.S. are adopted from the International Residential Code (IRC). These codes contain size specifications for room size, ceiling height, etc. Tiny homes don’t adhere to many of these codes, which is where the problem arises.
Unique Tiny Home Areas in Colorado
One answer to circumventing the existing rules is Peak View Park, located in Woodland Park. The former mobile home park outdates the existing county regulations. That community hosts over 40 trailer-mounted units that are less than 400 square feet in size.
Another Colorado town open to tiny house amendments is Walsenburg, which allows tiny houses between 120 and 600 square feet. Durango, a mountain town, has allowed tiny homes in the East Animas City neighborhood since 2014.
Whether you want to purchase a tiny home on a foundation or one on wheels, be sure to check out zoning laws and building codes in the area you wish to reside. With many groups advocating for tiny house legislation, laws that accommodate tiny home owners will hopefully be put into effect sooner rather than later.