fbpx
Menu

So You Want a Tiny House?

Tiny House

By Chuck Braxton, REALTOR® GRI, Roche Realty Group, Inc.

People are choosing to downsize the space they live in.  The typical American home has over 2,000 square feet of living area, whereas as a tiny house has between 100 and about 400 square feet of living space.  Some people come to the conclusion that they want to downsize, but have to have a “small house” of 400 to 1,000 square feet to meet their needs.  This discussion applies to “small” as well as “tiny” houses.  In this article the term “tiny house” encompasses any dwelling under 1,000 sq. ft.

If you embrace this idea, key considerations for your project are what type of structure you want and where you intend to locate it.

For “What” the choices are (1) park model mobile homes on wheels, (2) tiny house kits on post-and-pier foundations, and (3) stick-built structures on concrete foundations.

Here are examples of each type of tiny house here in New Hampshire:

Tiny Home NH
Typical park model mobile home tiny house en route to site.
Tiny Home NH
Park model mobile home on post & pier foundation with addition on 6+ acres in Danbury. One room sleeping cottage separate. Composting toilet located in another building. Dug well 300 ft. down hill.
Tiny Home NH
Custom 480 sq. ft. tiny house on 10+ acres in Alexandria on full foundation with dug well and state-approved septic system. Dramatic circular window.
Tiny Home NH
Another view of the 480 sq. ft. tiny house in Alexandria

“Where” you want to build brings the following concerns: (1) Building Codes, (2) Zoning Ordinances, and (3) Restrictive Covenants.

Building Codes are defined at the state or federal level and may be adopted by towns as well.  Towns may amend codes through language in their zoning ordinance to address local conditions.

Here in New Hampshire, there is a state code and the local level is the city or town.  Most New Hampshire counties do not get involved with building codes.  The exception is Coos County where the Coos County Planning Board addresses zoning for the unincorporated towns.

Towns that adopt the state building code may not have a code enforcement officer, relying instead on either the town fire chief or a state fire marshal to inspect dwellings to the code.  Towns often require that the fire chief inspect any wood and fossil fuel burning installation such as stoves, fireplace inserts, water heaters, boilers and furnaces.

An important topic for tiny houses is anchoring—an issue that recent severe hurricanes underscores.  Mobile homes require anchoring to certifiable standards in order to qualify for financing under federal programs.  Lenders may require similar standards for tiny home kits on posts-and-piers.

Zoning Ordinances:  Outside of Coos County in the North Country, there are thirteen towns that do not have zoning (other than flood plain and telecommunication facilities) including:

  • Grafton County: Alexandria, Canaan, Ellsworth, Grafton, Haverhill, Orford, Rumney, Warren, Wentworth and Woodstock.
  • Carroll County: Chatham and Tamworth.
  • Sullivan County: Lempster.

Cities and towns that adopt a Zoning Ordinance generally have a code enforcement officer.  In rural towns this may be a part-time position.  However, rural towns may not issue a Certificate of Occupancy which can create an issue for financing of the initial construction or resale.

Zoning Ordinances may have requirements that affect various aspects of a tiny house project and this requires a deep dive into the town’s documents that you will often find on-line at the town’s website.  If you are considering a tiny house, you should have your plans clearly defined BEFORE contacting a code enforcement officer with your questions.

The state regulates waste water disposal so regardless of whether a town has zoning or not, any dwelling that has running water inside that is not connected to public sewer must have a state-approved waste water disposal system.  New installations of holding tanks (no return of water to the ground) are not authorized and outhouses, if allowed, are governed locally.

Restrictive Covenants are rules and limitations defined by the developer when a subdivision is created.  These covenants are referenced in each deed issued by the developer and then apply to all subsequent owners.  Restrictive Covenants may be a separate document with amendments or simply a list in the deeds.

Typical provisions in restrictive covenants address mobile homes (manufactured homes), unregistered vehicles, temporary structures, camping, minimum square footage, livestock, and non-residential activity.

Once the developer sells all of the lots in a subdivision, the covenants may be governed by a home owners’ association or a building committee.  However, in the absence of formal governance, each owner whose deed references the covenants has the right to enforce them individually or collectively with other property owners in the subdivision.

Under the legal doctrine of Laches any rule in the restrictive covenants that is not enforced may become unenforceable in the future.  If you come across a non-conforming use in a subdivision and want to use that as the basis for doing the same thing on your project, you should seek legal advice as to how to proceed.

Without a careful examination of the deed and chain of title it can be difficult to know whether a property is affected by restrictive covenants.  Do not rely upon the disclosures in on-line listings or sellers’ disclosures as the information may be incomplete.

If you plan to seek financing for your property be sure to engage local savings banks that serve the area where you want to locate early in the project.

The cost of site work is often underestimated in a tiny house project.  First of all, if a lot is inexpensive, it is usually cheap for a reason!!  That may result in higher total costs than a parcel 2-4 times more expensive.  Clearing a site and establishing a permitted driveway are only a start.  Anchoring requires a concrete pad to certain specifications and the site may require grading and fill in order to ensure proper drainage.  Finally, there is the matter of designing installing a septic system, providing a water supply and extending electric service and other utilities to the site.

 

Regulation Park Model Mobile Home Tiny House Kit
on Post & Piers
Stick-built Tiny House
on a foundation
Building Code Yes: anchoring Yes: anchoring Yes
Zoning Ordinance Maybe Maybe Yes
Restrictive Covenant Maybe: Manufactured Housing and Size Maybe: Size,  type of foundation Maybe: Size

 

By Chuck Braxton, REALTOR®, GRI, Roche Realty Group Inc.Chuck Braxton, Lakes Region NH Realtor

If you have questions about buying or selling real estate in NH, you can reach Chuck at:

(603) 677-2157 (cell) or (603) 279-7046 (office), or by email at: cbraxton@rocherealty.com

 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on google
Share on reddit
Share on pinterest

Lakes Region real estate activity for the first 8 months has been strong

Article by Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group.    Real Estate activity for the …

Read More →

Historic Homes: Buy with Your Head as Well as Your Heart

Historic Homes: Buy with Your Head as Well as Your Heart I’d like to recommend …

Read More →
Northeast Storage has purchased a commercial building located at 57 Reservoir Road.

Northeast Storage purchases unique Reservoir Road building in Meredith

MEREDITH — Northeast Storage has purchased a commercial building located at 57 Reservoir Road. Tom …

Read More →
111 Church Street, Laconia

Former Lakes Region mental health building listed and sold by Roche Realty Group

LACONIA — Rick Hagan of Roche Realty Group in Meredith, NH represented the seller, Lakes …

Read More →

Live where others dream of vacationing

https://youtu.be/7G5Z4QRBzzc Weirs Beach is a recreation destination with something for everyone, including beautiful lake and …

Read More →
Gilford, NH landmark former restaurant sold

Former well-known restaurant in Gilford recently sold

Gilford, NH – A local Gilford landmark built in 1975 and operated as a restaurant …

Read More →
Lakes Region NH

Tips for buying a home in the Lakes Region

New Hampshire’s Lakes Region is an amazing place to own a home, whether it’s your …

Read More →
South Down Shores, a gated community on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

Kevin Shaw of Roche Realty Group Inc. Produces Over $20 Million in Sales For 1st Half of 2019

Laconia- Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group Inc with offices in Meredith and Laconia, …

Read More →

Lakes Region full throttle during Motorcycle Week

You can already feel the area rumbling with visitors and activity this week as the …

Read More →

Is home ownership right for you?

There are advantages to both buying and renting, depending on your current lifestyle and financial …

Read More →

New Hampshire Ranked #2 Best State in the USA for 2019

The good news is out! New Hampshire as a state performed exceptionally well in a …

Read More →

Winnipesaukee Waterfront Sales Activity Spring 2019

The weather is getting warmer, the “Big Lake” is thawing out and the real estate …

Read More →
searching for homes on the internet

The homebuyer’s online search is like online dating

Searching for homes online can be a lot like trying to find love through online …

Read More →

The Importance of Getting Pre-Approved for Your Home Mortgage

If you want to be an attractive buyer in a competitive housing market, you’ll definitely …

Read More →
Lake Winnipesaukee, Moultonborough, NH

Moultonborough homes sold at highest prices, fastest pace ever

It’s a historical time to sell a single-family home in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. Data suggest …

Read More →
For sale by owner sign next to a house

For Sale By Owner? The facts about risk and reward

If you’re trying the “For Sale By Owner” (also known as FSBO/fizbo) approach to selling …

Read More →

What to do if your listing expires

Expired listings are a frustrating reality in real estate. If you want to change the …

Read More →
Meredith, New Hampshire

Window of opportunity open for Meredith home sellers

If you own a single family home in Meredith and have been waiting for a …

Read More →
Gilford, NH

It’s an unrivaled time to sell your single family home in Gilford

If you own a single-family home in Gilford, it’s an unequalled time to sell. It’s …

Read More →

Why it’s a great time to sell your home in Laconia

If you own a single-family home or condominium in Laconia, it might be a great …

Read More →
Own a piece of the playground!

Recess is better when you own a piece of the playground

When I was a kid my favorite part of the school day was recess, that …

Read More →
Hourglass and home

Has your home been on the market for too long?

Once there was a man who loved traveling, but he had been around the world …

Read More →
letting go

Letting go can show more strength than hanging on

One day a philosophy professor walked into her classroom while holding a drinking glass filled …

Read More →
New home first time homebuyers

You Always Remember the First

There’s just something special, nostalgic and memorable about the first, whether it’s a first kiss, …

Read More →
CEO

Sell Your Home Like A Boss

Some home sellers act as though their job is finished the moment they engage the …

Read More →
Real Estate Closing issues

Closing Crashers

You know the scene. It’s been in dozens of movies. The bride and groom hold …

Read More →
Roche Realty Group Meredith Office

Roche Realty Group Inc. Reports Sales of $121.6 Million for 2018

Meredith NH – Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group, Inc. with offices in Meredith …

Read More →
Kevin Shaw Realtor

Kevin Shaw is Roche Realty Group, Inc.’s Top Producer for 2018

Laconia, NH—Roche Realty Group, Inc. with offices in Meredith and Laconia congratulates Realtor® Kevin Shaw …

Read More →
Sell your home in the winter

How to keep (your home) from getting stuck in a snowbank

Back when I was a teenager and knew everything (or at least far more than …

Read More →
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Highland Ridge in Tilton, NH

Ribbon Cutting at Highland Ridge – the Lakes Region’s Newest Community

Tilton – It was a bright sunny day at the ribbon cutting ceremony in Tilton …

Read More →
moving van

Moving in Your Senior Years? Here’s How to Do it Right

Guest post by Harry Cline.  Is there any task more dreaded than moving? While no …

Read More →

Why winter can be a hot time to sell your home

Winter can be a prime season to sell your home because the change of season …

Read More →
Samoset on Lake Winnipesaukee

What We’ve Learned from the “Go-Go 1980’s”

The 1980’s were dynamic and a lot of fun for many real estate professionals in …

Read More →

Consider listing now because what goes up must come down

If you’ve considered selling, it may be a great time to list your Lakes Region …

Read More →
Tower Hill Cottages - (Just Sold). Laconia NH

John Ganong of Roche Realty Group Sells Tower Hill Cottages

Laconia, NH- Tower Hill Cottages located at 220 Endicott Street North in Laconia NH has …

Read More →
The Village Store in Gilford NH

A New Era at the “Village Store” in Gilford!

Have you driven by the Village Store lately? The centerpiece of a small town’s culture …

Read More →
bungalow

The Bungalow-down

According to the New England Real Estate Network’s multiple listing service (MLS), 50 Lakes Region …

Read More →
Seller painting a house

Sell Your Home by Thinking like a Buyer

A Realtor’s® job is to sell properties for and to clients. But in some cases …

Read More →

Thoughts on acquiring a lake house in the Lakes Region

For many individuals the thought of owning a lake home is a dream. For others …

Read More →
Interest rates rising

Interest rates are rising – but there’s no need for alarm.

Interest rates are rising, but we are still in a low-interest rate environment. Here’s a …

Read More →
Real Estate Challenge? Set Big Goals

Overcoming seemingly impossible real estate challenges


Inspiration from a story about a single mother from Little Rock, Arkansas, on overcoming seemingly …

Read More →
Real estate appraisal

Deferred maintenance can postpone sales

Be honest… is your home in need of some repairs? Because if you ever want …

Read More →
56 Daniel Webster Hwy Meredith

56 Daniel Webster Highway: a great spot for catching attention and customers

A glimpse into the interesting history of the commercial real estate for sale at 56 …

Read More →
playing cards in a seller's real estate market

Buying smart in a seller’s market

Homebuyer beware: it’s a seller’s market in the Lake Region. You’ve got to shop smart …

Read More →
Rocks and Sand

Buying or selling, put first things first

For many of us, a home is the most expensive and valuable asset we will …

Read More →
Post and Beam Home

Post and Beam: A Homeowner’s Dream

Post and Beam 101—Post and beam construction is just what it sounds like: a heavy …

Read More →
accessible housing

House-Hunting Tips for Accessible Housing

House hunting is difficult at the best of times, but trying to find an accessible …

Read More →
Perfect time to buy a home

If you wait for the “perfect” time to buy a home…

I can’t say if right now is the right time for you to buy a …

Read More →
accessibility

Making Modifications to Add Accessibility

Guest post by Harry Cline. According to an AARP survey, 90 percent of people age …

Read More →
James Poole Poole Pressure Washing

With exterior cleaning, it pays to hire a professional

Spring is finally here in the Lakes Region, and all the home improvement and garden …

Read More →

Leave a Comment