Texas has no laws clearly stating it is illegal to build a tiny home. Specific building code requirements govern each site and land, and you must check before beginning construction.
Tiny house regulations largely depend on where you choose to live. Still, it is relatively easier to build in rural areas because governing counties are limited in zoning regulations. Cities have far greater control and zoning powers. Find out more from your local planning and zoning office.
Cities can enact and enforce zoning laws stipulated in a “zoning ordinance,” often known as a ‘’development code.’’ Outside city bounds, there are different rules, but there are special requirements for areas closest to cities.
While tiny home aficionados in Texas can rest easy knowing that the state’s regulations support their endeavors, they should know which counties are friendly to small homes, the laws on tiny permanent homes, and the square feet befitting a tiny house.
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This post will cover these and delve into different small homes’ regulations. It will outline parking of tiny homes on wheels and rules concerning where to build a permanent or temporary small house. Additionally, it will answer whether you should pay property taxes when living in a tiny house.
Texas counties that allow tiny houses
These tiny home-friendly jurisdictions should top your list of ideal places to live in a small home in Texas. There are no hindering codes or zoning rules.
- Medina County(it has outside city limits)
- Ellis County
- Lake Dallas
- Brown County
- Baylor County. The City of Seymour, though, is not friendly to tiny homeowners.
- The Hideaway-West Fort Worth
Some cities allow tiny home minimalist living but with some restrictions.
Unlike most cities, Houston has lax formal zoning laws. Still, there are some requirements for all homeowners and builders. Some of them are:
- The floor area of all rooms aside from the kitchen must be 70 feet or more.
- The living area's floor area must meet the 120 sq. feet requirement.
- Bathrooms, habitable rooms, hallways, and corridors ceilings must be 7 feet high and above.
- Each tiny house must have a toilet, water closet, tub, or shower.
A tiny house in San Antonio must meet the IRC (International Residence Code) guidelines. IRC guidelines are:
- Homeowners must build a tiny home on at least 320 square feet of land.
- It must have at least 150 square feet of floor area.
- Rooms that are not bedroom areas must be at least 70 sq. feet.
- The height of the ceiling must be a minimum of 6'8".
Tiny homeowners in Lake Dallas must build small homes on wheels in line with IRC Appendix Q.
Spur, Texas, is also an ideal place for tiny house living. It was the first city in the United States to embrace the movement of tiny homes.
Austin is also friendly to tiny homeowners, and city rules classify tiny homes on wheels as RVs, requiring THOWs (Tiny Home on Wheels) to follow the same rules as RVs.
Can you permanently live in a tiny house in Texas?
Yes, you can live in a tiny permanent house. Nevertheless, there are two limitations: the zoning code rules of where you live and the foundation you decide to build your small home on, wheels or a permanent structure.
Unfortunately, there isn't a complete list of small house types legalized in Texas. To figure out which kind of house you can build, you'll have to make a site-specific inquiry.
As a general rule, though, tiny homes built on permanent foundations, such as Accessory Dwelling Units( ADUs), standalone cottages, and so on, are more likely to be legal inside city limits than a tiny house on wheels. They must, however, be built to code and connected to utilities such as sewer systems for safety purposes.
Most areas prohibit living in tiny homes on wheels permanently. Tiny houses have to be built on a foundation even in Spur, Texas, “America's first ‘tiny’ house friendly town.”
If you build a tiny house on wheels, it is a “recreational vehicle” and not a home. For the most part, RVs are only allowed to be parked permanently at RV or mobile home parks in single-family residential areas.
Conversely, Houston’s regulations for tiny homes differ. As a rule, travel trailers, the name for a tiny home on wheels in Houston, must be built on a permanent chassis and be small enough to be hauled away behind a vehicle and used as a temporary home.
How tiny can a house be in Texas?
How tiny a house can be in Texas depends on building code requirements for tiny homes and where it is okay to build your type of house. Typically, anything less than 400 square feet is a tiny home, although some areas extend the area of a tiny home to 600 square feet.
Most cities and counties abide by the IRC guidelines.
Rules and regulations for tiny houses
Building codes and zoning regulations for portable and permanent tiny homes are as follows:
Rules for permanent structures
A tiny house in Texas is subject to direct or indirect zoning laws. It must be built on a foundation and adhere to building safety standards. The home will be taxed the same way as the property it lies on, and the homeowner must comply.
Additional utility requirements might include plumbing fixtures, room sizes, and electrical components. It is always good to check with the local zoning and planning office.
At times, new residential buildings have a building checklist. So, it is a good idea to check your location guidelines and permits.
Rules for tiny temporary houses
Homeowners of temporary houses should have their structures validated by the American National Safety Institute (ANSI) to satisfy their quality standards. Exempting their small units from personal property tax in exchange for the certification motivates owners to ensure that their THOWs are, at the very least, compliant with ANSI safety regulations.
You can always consult a tax professional before purchasing or constructing a Tiny Home on Wheels.
Rules for transitional structures
Owners of tiny homes on wheels can park travel trailers (the official name for tiny houses on wheels in some cities) in specific areas away from the view of the road, including other requirements depending on zoning regulations.
Transitional structures must remove axles.
Where can I place or build a tiny house in Texas?
Where you build a tiny house largely depends on where you live or choose to live. As stated before, zonal ordinances are area specific. So are building codes. However, rural land is best because zoning regulations of counties are limited, and the laws on tiny houses are unclear.
Still, indirect building codes govern transportation, utilities, and so forth, and a local planning office will guide you.
In some counties, it is permissible to park a THOW in an RV park, state park, or campsite. However, there will likely be restrictions on how long you can stay before being required to find another place to park your vehicle.
You can park your mobile home at the following locations:
Village Farm Tiny Home Community in Austin, Texas
It is the first of these communities. Perfect for those who want to live off the grid and in harmony with mother nature.
Tiny House Community in the vicinity of Rockwall, Texas
It takes around 30 minutes to drive from stunning beaches to this tiny home neighborhood at the foot of beautiful mountains. This community is just for people who are interested in tiny houses. Anyone under 18 is not permitted to participate in this tiny home neighborhood near Rockwall, Texas.
Royce City RV Park and Tiny Home Community
You can join if you are above 18 years. It is a 5-hour drive from Dallas.
Indigo River Tiny Homes in Dallas, Texas
Indigo River is one of Texas’ largest tiny house communities, with almost 2,000 homes. It comprises the tiny do-it-yourself homeowners, tiny house accessories manufacturers, and house builders specializing in small homes.
HGTV Dream Home communities in Dallas, Texas, US
Tiny homes here are ideal because of their proximity to the city center. It is only a ten-minute drive from downtown Dallas, and the neighborhood members are a youthful mature lot (30-45).
Do I have to pay property taxes for my tiny house?
No. You do not have to pay property taxes for your tiny home on wheels. Small dwellings are exempt from the property tax levied on conventionally constructed homes.
However, tiny homes constructed on your property attract a real estate tax.
Additionally, small houses on wheels are classified as recreational vehicles (RVs) in Texas and are subject to a 6.25% tax on the purchase value yearly. That means that you must pay the motor vehicle property tax.
Texas is a good area to settle down in your tiny home since rural lands in most counties are ambiguous on regulations concerning tiny houses. Also, some cities allow small homeowners to construct homes, provided they adhere to zoning laws and building codes.
Most housing and planning offices consider any home less than 400 square feet a tiny home, and city regulations follow the IRC building guidelines.
Texas regulations favor tiny homes built on foundations, and permanent residence in them is allowed. However, tiny houses on wheels could also serve as permanent homes, axles off.
You cannot park your tiny house on wheels just about anywhere. There are specific parking places for the RVs.
Additionally, tiny homes built on personal property have a property tax attached. Small homes on wheels do not have any property tax attached but are subject to annual motor vehicle tax based on the purchase value.
If you need assistance understanding zoning codes, building regulations, and more, TinyHouse is a good place to start. You’ll find everything tiny house-related, from consultation services to decor ideas and even a community of tiny home lovers.