Tiny home communities are popping up across the country, giving tiny home owners a place to put down roots among like-minded people. But parking a tiny home comes with added complications, primarily because it’s illegal to park tiny homes in some states. But if you’re considering the move, then it might be well worth the time and money spent. Here are five things to know before renting in a tiny house community.
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Your house may have to be a certified tiny home or meet local building codes
Many tiny home communities will want to know that your home meets the building standards of organizations like the National Organization for Alternative Housing, said Jilan Wise of Far Out Tiny Homes building company.
For two years, Wise and her family lived in a less than 600-square-foot home, The Blue Baloo. She lived in a tiny house community and currently runs Far Out Tiny Homes.
“They are looking for some baseline as far as how your home was built and who it was built by,” she said in a video about tiny house communities.
If you’re having your home built, she recommends asking your builder how your home will be certified before starting, since this will make moving into a community much easier.
Some state and local governments may also require homes to meet regular-sized home standards. Such was the case for empty nesters, Karen and Phil Ashford who live in Agape House, their 374-square-foot tiny home. They built their home in Maryland and was featured on Tiny House Nation. When they tried to find parking for their home, they learned that it was too small to meet International Construction Code standards at the time.
“Even if we put it on a foundation and removed the wheels, it would be smaller than allowed,” they said. “In addition, there would've been a requirement for an environmental impact study costing tens of thousands of dollars.”
After unsuccessfully looking for a place to park in Maryland, they moved to Florida, where they could legally park their tiny home at Circle Pond tiny home community.
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The tiny house community might also be an RV or trailer park
Because tiny homes are still new to many states and municipalities, most homes on wheels must be registered as RVs to be considered legal dwellings. States, like Tennessee, require homes on wheels to be registered as Class D motorhomes. Such is the case of skoolies, van conversions and homes carried on trailers. This can be the difference between parking legally or illegally. It can also impact your ability to move into a tiny home community, since several are RV or trailer parks that moonlight as tiny home communities.
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Every tiny house community has its own culture
After her experience living in a tiny house community, Wise advises people to consider who they’ll be living around before they move to the area.
“Do you think you will groove with the people that live there?” She said. “You will want good neighbors surrounding you and a nice space to hang outside.”
Some tiny home communities are built around a common lifestyle or interest, such as permaculture or spirituality, and residents are expected to participate. Such was the case for the Wildwoods Permaculture Farm, where residents connected over their passion for permaculture and sustainable living.
“Some communities are insular and others are inclusive and involvement in community activities is expected,” the Ashfords said. Decide what makes the most sense for your lifestyle.
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Communities have varying requirements for electrical, sewage and plumbing
Some communities may ask you to hard plumb your tiny house if it isn’t already. That basically means that the community managers may require you to have a black pipe sewage setup in your tiny house before you can move into the community. Wise said this is a relatively simple setup. But if your current sewage setup primarily consists of a composting system, then it’s something to consider.
When it comes to electricity, most communities offer a 30 or 50 AMP service, Wise said. But it’s also good to know if you can simply “plug and play” or if you need to hard wire your home. You’ll also want to know about the plumbing setup and if your existing system is permissible.
“These costs add up quickly, and you want to make sure that you understand what it’s going to take to legally hook that tiny home up in the community,” she said.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Each community offers different amenities
Knowing what amenities you get access to in your rent payment is important to know before moving into your tiny home community. Parking, laundry service, even lot sizes are all important to consider before moving in.
For Wise and her family, they spent a lot of time outdoors, so having a fence in their community was key. If that’s important to you, too, she recommends asking if you’ll be responsible for putting up the fence or the property managers.
The Ashfords recommend paying attention to how much “elbow room” you get between houses. Some communities even offer plot options at different price points, like Incredible Tiny Homes in Tennessee.
“Treat the tour and time with the property manager as an interview,” Wise said. “Understand how they will take care of issues. Know what will be expected of you within the community. Get to know the rules and ask lots of questions. Make sure you understand how your home can be placed within your lot.”