Do Tiny Houses Have to Be on Wheels?

Do Tiny Houses Have to Be on Wheels?

4 min read

When I first ventured into the tiny house segment of housing, I couldn’t tell apart a manufactured home from a tiny house. Then I came to learn that not only do tiny houses occupy their own niche, but there are also two types of these homes – RV tiny homes and those on fixed foundations.

A tiny house doesn’t need to be on wheels to be identified as so, although most tiny houses are wheeled for obvious reasons. The reason why most people prefer their tiny houses on wheels is due to the flexibility they offer – wheeled tiny homes allow you to get around government regulations and laws regarding minimum habitable dwelling size.

Of course, there are a few more things that should be aware of when deciding whether to put your tiny home on wheels or not:

 

Do you need a permit to put your tiny house on wheels?

In some cases, all depending on an array of factors including the location and size of your tiny house, building permits may not be needed.

If you plan to occupy the tiny house, though, in most jurisdictions that recognize tiny houses, the local building laws and code will apply. Building codes tend to impose specific construction and safety standards to ensure structures are up to standards and safe for occupation.

For example, most building codes set minimum required standards for the installation of common electrical components in your house to ensure the components are safe for use without risk of electrocution or fire. The concern about ensuring a home is safe for use remains in place even when the authorities are house with a tiny home.

Depending on the type and location of the tiny home, a unique safety standard may be applied. For example, if your tiny house is on wheels, the laws of your locality may require it to comply with the regular safety standards imposed on recreational vehicles.

Here’s a little more information on that: Do You Need a Permit for a Tiny House?

 

Is it better to have a tiny house on wheels?

If you like venturing into the woods or camping grounds for a weekend of fun, a tiny house is a larger and better alternative to a straight RV. However, if you prefer staying in one area with your tiny house, then you are more likely to go for a tiny home on a foundation (more on these later).

If you own a plot of land and would like your tiny house to be permanently built-in one locality where the regulations recognize it, you can go ahead and set it up. Such a tiny house doesn’t need to have wheels.

 

Can I put my tiny house on a foundation?

It is perfectly acceptable to put your tiny home on a foundation. Tiny houses fixed on a foundation offer more design flexibility. This means you have multiple designs to select from. You won’t be tied to a specific length, width, and height (when fitting the tiny house to a trailer) like in the case involving wheeled tiny houses.

Ultimately, you have far more control over the floor plan and such things as the doorsteps and position of the door. Of course, this will depend on your zoning laws.

Today, both tiny homes on wheels and those on a foundation are allowed within city limits where zoning rules recognize them.

 

Tiny houses on wheels vs foundation

Here are a few things that you should consider when building your tiny home:

 

Tiny houses on wheels

Pros

  • They are cheap to acquire because they are always on move and can be placed in a tiny home community or park, so you don’t need to buy a plot of land for them.
  • No mortgage is needed – over 68 percent of homeowners in the U.S. financed their wheeled tiny houses themselves.
  • You can skip zoning rules by moving your wheeled tiny house from where rules are hostile to more friendly states.

Cons

  • Subject to vehicle sizing limitations – In general, tiny houses can’t go past 13′ 6″ in height, 8′ 6″ in width, and 40′ in length (65′ including your tow vehicle, and a maximum of 53′ for the trailer). A tiny house must have these adhere to this before receiving a permit.
  • Financing can be hard if you don’t have savings – standard mortgage loans don’t work for tiny houses in most cases.
  • Utility hookups can be hard to find because the house is always on the move. For those parks that offer all the necessary utilities and amenities, a wheeled tiny house can be the best investment.
  • Design-wise, they are inflexible – most builders will be confined to a rectangular build.
  • Safety is not guaranteed as they can be involved in road accidents or get stolen.

 

Tiny houses on a foundation

Pros

  • You don’t need a mortgage as a financing avenue if you have enough money to buy land.
  • They guarantee greater safety because they are fixed in place.
  • Utility hookups are less of a headache if you buy land close to electricity and water supply.
  • Flexible design and less inhibiting sizing requirements – because it will be fixed on your own property, you will have more say on the sizing and design.

Cons

  • Can be expensive and hard to finance because you need to buy the land first before buying the tiny house.
  • Moving the house to another location is, for the most part, out of the question,

 

Why are tiny houses only legal in some states?

Some states discourage the ownership of tiny houses because of such issues as tax regulations and protecting the property value.

It is also difficult to regulate tiny houses compared to traditional full-size homes when it comes to safety and zoning laws. Without certain safety regulations and proper permits, some states are having difficulty in deeming tiny houses as publicly acceptable forms of residency.

 

Are wheeled tiny houses considered RVs?

A wheeled tiny house is legally considered to be an RV (recreational vehicle) and must be registered as such. It must follow local RV guidelines put in place for sizing and weight.

In comparison, a tiny house built on a foundation is legally regarded as an accessory living unit (ADU) in some states. Building ADU, however, is more intricate if you consider local zoning and building codes.

 

Final thoughts

While tiny houses do not need to be on wheels, a wheeled option can be an amazing choice. Wheeled tiny homes are great for travel and are not subject to harsh zoning regulations and penalties.

If you found this article useful, feel free to check out my other articles on tiny houses.

Victoria Miller

I'm the founder of NTT. I live in Miami, Florida, and enjoy learning everything there is to know about tiny spaces.