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Tiny Home Certifying Organizations

The first thing you need to know about a  tiny home that you are considering purchasing is whether it is certified or not. No tiny home lender or insurer will lend on or insure a tiny home that is not certified by one of the national certifying agencies. The two most common certifying agencies are the National Organization of Alternative Housing (NOAH) and the Recreational Vehicle Association (RVIA).

Uncertified tiny homes provide no guarantee that they were built safe or in a way that will last. Now, certainly, there are hobbyists/craftsmen out there who build quality tiny homes, but unless they had a 3rd party construction official inspecting their work along the way and verifying that they built their tiny home to proper building code, they will not be able to obtain one of the nationally recognized certifications. 

 

Without one of these certifications, it is not possible to obtain insurance or financing for a tiny home, the number of places that the tiny home can be legally located are also vastly reduced, and it makes the tiny home significantly more difficult to resell whenever that time comes.

All tiny homes from Tandem Tinies are fully certified through the National Organization of Alternative Housing (NOAH) and can be both financed and insured through all the standard banks and insurance companies that operate in the tiny home market.

Tiny Home Certification Types

A tiny home that is built on a permanent foundation (or a tiny home built on wheels and then placed on a permanent foundation ) in a way that fully complies with the International Residential Code (IRC) is legally classified as a single-family home dwelling. The entity that inspects and certifies single-family homes though is different in every county and municipality across the country.

The term "tiny home" is commonly used by people to describe: tiny homes on wheel, travel trailers, park model RVs, habitable sheds, container homes, backyard pods, cabins, yurts, and more. There are only 3 legally defined certification types that a tiny home can have though:

A tiny home that is "built in the controlled environment of a manufacturing plant and is transported in one or more sections on a permanent chassis" is the legal definition of the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a manufactured/mobile home. The manufactured/mobile home must be a minimum of 400 square feet in size and be built according to all manufactured housing regulations.
A tiny home that is "built and certified in accordance with either NFPA 1192 or ANSI A119.5; or, is a self-propelled vehicle " is legally classified by the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a recreational vehicle (RV). 

​At Tandem Tinies, we build all of our tiny homes "double-certified" to qualify as both a recreational vehicle(RV) and as a single-family home so that you have the greatest number of options possible to legally locate them.

1. Recreational Vehicle (RV)

2. Manufactured/Mobile Home

3. Single Family Home

1. Locate Your Tiny Home on Unzoned Land

In mose cases land that is unzoned or outside of the city limits has very limited restrictions and you can place whatever you like on it. This is different across all counties and municipalities though so you will need to check with your local jurisdiction as well as at any deed restrictions to ensure the land you are considering has no restrictions against tiny homes.

2. Locate Your Tiny Home at a RV Park

All of our tiny homes are legally certified as RVs and built to the same code as them. This means that you should be allowed by all the RV parks across the country to locate your "RV" in their park. Now, they may fight you on this because there are many types of tiny homes out there that are not certified as RVs.

Here are commone objections we here from RV parks and how to address them:

  • "We don't allow tiny homes because they are too big.

In our case, our tiny homes meet all the same height, width, and length restrictions of a standard travel trailer. They are most likely thinking of a 10' wide or larger tiny homes that other builders make.

  • "We don't allow tiny homes because they use too much electricity."

Our tiny homes are about 10X as efficient as a standard RV and as a result use about 1/10th of the energy of a typical RV so that's not a valid argument.

  • "We dont' allow tiny homes becasue they require larger electrical lines and plumbing lines."

Again, not true in our case. All of our tiny homes use standard 50 amp RV plugs for electricity, 5/8" garden hose connections for water, and 3" flex-line hoses for sewer. These are the exact same connections used by a traditional RV to connect up to the utilities in a RV park.

3. Locate Your Tiny Home on Single Family Zoned Land

This option will be different in every county and municipality across the country. You will have to talk with your local zoning jurisdiction to find out if this is possible. Here are some questions you should ask them.

  • "Are RVs legally allowed on this property?" In certain single family zoned properties RVs are allowed.

  • "Are accessory dwelling units (ADUs) allowed?" Some single family properties allow for a second house or "dwelling unit" to be added to the property. If they allow this, then you may be able to move a tiny home onto the property and have it permitted as an ADU. Some jurisdictions allow tiny homes on wheels as is and others require that you take the wheels off of the tiny home and place it on blocks or some other form of a permanent foundation. Some jurisdictions will only allow tiny homes that are built to International Residential Code (all of ours are). Some jurisdictions will allow tiny homes that were built to International Residential Code and certified by a 3rd party (the way ours are) and some will only allow for site built tiny homes where all the inspections through the construction process were done by the city/county building inspector.

There are 3 approaches you can take when looking for a place to put a tiny home:

Tiny Home Location Options

a) A tiny home that is site built on a permanent foundation and constructed according to the International Residential Code (IRC) is legally classified as a single-family home and will receive a Certificate of Occupancy from the local county or municipality.

b) A tiny home on wheels that was constructed off site according to International Residential Code (IRC) and then placed on a permanent foundation is also legally classified as a single-family home and will receive a Certificate of Occupancy from the local county or municipality.

*Not all counties and municipalities allow for tiny homes on wheels to be attached to a foundation. Check with your local building and development office.

3. Single Family Home

A tiny home that is "built in the controlled environment of a manufacturing plant and is transported in one or more sections on a permanent chassis" is the legal definition of the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a manufactured/mobile home. The manufactured/mobile home must also be a minimum of 400 square feet in size and be built according to all manufactured housing regulations.

2. Manufactured/Mobile 

Home

A tiny home that is "built and certified in accordance with either NFPA 1192 or ANSI A119.5; or, is a self-propelled vehicle " is legally classified by the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a recreational vehicle (RV). 

1. Recreational Vehicle (RV)

The term "tiny home" is commonly used by people to describe: tiny homes on wheels, travel trailers, park model RVs, habitable sheds, container homes, backyard pods, cabins, yurts, and more. There are only 3 legally defined certification types though that are recognized by counties and municipalities:

Certification Types

Tiny Home Certifying Organizations

The first thing you need to know about a  tiny home that you are considering purchasing is whether it is certified or not. No tiny home lender or insurer will lend on or insure a tiny home that is not certified by one of the national certifying agencies. The two most common certifying agencies are the National Organization of Alternative Housing (NOAH) and the Recreational Vehicle Association (RVIA).

Uncertified tiny homes provide no guarantee that they were built safe or in a way that will last. Now, certainly, there are hobbyists/craftsmen out there who build quality tiny homes, but unless they had a 3rd party construction official inspecting their work along the way and verifying that they built their tiny home to proper building code, they will not be able to obtain one of the nationally recognized certifications. 

 

Without one of these certifications, it is not possible to obtain insurance or financing for a tiny home, the number of places that the tiny home can be legally located are also vastly reduced, and it also makes the tiny home significantly more difficult to resell whenever that time comes.

All Tandem Tinies are fully certified through the National Organization of Alternative Housing (NOAH) and can be both financed and insured through all the standard banks and insurance companies that operate in the tiny home market.

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