The State of Texas has yet to define laws regarding building tiny homes. It is up to local land-use codes and officials to decide whether they will allow such structures on their property, so you should check with them before beginning construction on any tiny home.
The regulations for tiny houses depend on the location where you plan to build. Still, it is typically easier to construct in rural areas because counties have more limited zoning laws than cities do.
Find out more from your local planning and zoning office; they may be able to guide how building codes apply to structures like these.
Cities can enforce zoning ordinances, which stipulate the development code in a city. Outside of cities but still within their jurisdiction, there are different rules—but special requirements apply to areas closest to urban centers (also known as “urban growth boundaries”).
Because Texas law supports the construction of tiny homes, people who want to live permanently in them should check with their county governments about legal requirements for minimum square footage.
In this post, you’ll learn about the regulations surrounding tiny houses. We’ll examine parking requirements for on-the-road homes and rules concerning where to build a permanent or temporary structure—and answer whether residents should pay property taxes when living in one of these tiny dwellings.
Counties in Texas That Permits Tiny Houses
These small-home friendly cities in Texas should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for an ideal place to live in a tiny home. There are no zoning or code restrictions that would hinder this lifestyle choice.
- Medina County(it has outside city limits)
- Ellis County
- Lake Dallas
- Brown County
- Baylor County. However, the city government of Seymour needs to be more friendly to those who want to live in tiny homes.
- The Hideaway-West Fort Worth
Some cities allow tiny homes but are subject to specific rules and regulations.
Houston has few formal zoning laws. However, all homeowners and builders must still adhere to some fundamental regulations—such as these:
- All rooms aside from the kitchen must have a floor area of at least 70 square feet.
- The living area must have at least 120 square feet of space.
- Ceilings must be 7 feet high in bathrooms, habitable rooms (living or dining areas), hallways, and corridors.
- All houses must have toilet facilities, running water, and a bathing room.
The International Residential Code (IRC), a set of codes for home construction, outlines the requirements you must meet when building a tiny house.
- Homeowners who want to build a tiny house must have at least 320 square feet of land available.
- The minimum floor space requirement is 150 square feet.
- Non-bedroom areas of less than 70 square feet must be combined with other rooms to make a space at least that large.
- The ceiling must be at least 7 feet high.
People in Lake Dallas who own tiny houses must construct them according to the standards set out by Appendix Q of the International Residential Code.
Spur, Texas—the first city in the United States to embrace tiny homes as an alternative housing trend—is a beautiful place for those who want to live small.
Austin is also friendly to tiny homeowners, and its laws treat small homes on wheels as recreational vehicles—meaning their inhabitants have the same rights.
Do Texas Permit You To Live In A Tiny House Permanently?
Yes, you can live in a tiny house. There are two limitations: the zoning code rules where you live and the foundation set up where your home will rest. Wheels are great for moving houses around and up hills. It’s not much fun when building on top of them.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an exhaustive list of tiny house types legalized in Texas. To determine which kinds you can build on your property, you’ll need to submit a site-specific inquiry with the local municipality or county planning commission.
The legality of tiny houses varies widely. When the home is on wheels and lacks plumbing or utilities, city officials may have concerns about zoning code violations related to overcrowding or too many people living in one place.
Although you must build it to code, you don’t need to connect tiny homes to utilities such as sewer or water systems.
How Small Can a House Be in Texas?
The size of a tiny home in Texas depends on the building code, the city requires, and where it is okay to build your type of house.
Typically, cities consider anything less than 400 square feet a tiny home (although some areas extend this area up by another 100 square feet).
Most cities and counties use the IRC’s guidelines to determine their property tax assessments.
Rules and Regulations for Tiny Houses On Wheels
You can find portable and permanent tiny-house building regulations here:
Permanent Rules for Structures
You must build a tiny house in Texas on a foundation, adhere to building safety standards, and comply with zoning laws. The home will be taxed the same way as the property it lies on—and its owner may face penalties if they fail to meet these regulations.
Local zoning ordinances often address utility requirements for a building, including plumbing and electrical systems.
It’s a good idea to check your location guidelines and permits before building or renovating new residential structures.
Rules for Structures That Are Not Permanent
Owners of temporary houses can have their structures validated by the American National Safety Institute (ANSI) to meet its quality standards.
They are exempt from personal property tax on their small units in exchange for certification. Certification will likely encourage owners to ensure that their THOWs meet at least minimum safety regulations.
Purchasing or building a Tiny Home on Wheels can be complex, and you should consult an accountant before doing so.
Regulations for Transitional Houses
Parking travel trailers can be challenging because of the size and weight restrictions for vehicles in many cities—though some may allow tiny houses on wheels.
Where to Build a Tiny House in Texas
The location you choose to build your tiny house will depend on where you live and the local zoning ordinances.
It’s possible to park a mobile home at some places, such as:
- Village Farm Tiny Home Community, located in Austin, Texas
- Royce City RV Park and Tiny Home Community is on the outskirts of Rockwall
- Indigo River Tiny Homes offers residences in Dallas
Are You Obligated to Pay Property Taxes on Your Tiny House?
The law doesn’t require paying property taxes on your tiny home. The levied tax on conventionally constructed homes does not apply to small dwellings such as trailers and mobile homes.
However, the city will tax a tiny home constructed on your property as real estate.
Additionally, the purchase of a tiny house on wheels is subject to Texas’s 6.25% annual motor vehicle property tax; this levy must be paid yearly by any owner who classifies their trailer or camper as an RV and lives in it full-time.
It is easier to find a place in Texas to build or live in a tiny home than in most states. The rural areas of many counties do not have any rules about building tiny houses, and some cities allow homeowners with zoning issues—so long as those homes comply with local building codes.