With Georgia’s plans to promote affordable and inclusive housing, the state government is slowly welcoming the tiny house community. However, due to strict and confusing zoning codes, many tiny house owners struggle to find legal and suitable places to put their tiny houses.
First, you will have to identify the local jurisdictions in your state that allow tiny house living. Then depending on the type of tiny house you have, you can put up your tiny house in designated residential zones or tiny house communities. You can also park your tiny house in an RV park temporarily.
This blog will explain how local regulation affects sitting locations for tiny houses. It also highlights the cities with zoning or building codes that accommodate tiny houses under specific circumstances.
Tiny house regulations in Georgia
Like most US states, Georgia does not have statewide tiny house laws. Instead, the local governments are responsible for setting all the ordinances related to tiny houses. Therefore, you’ll need to know the tiny house regulations in your city or town to adhere to building and safety standards. This means each local government decides where to put a tiny home and if they are legal.
Types of tiny houses allowed in Georgia
The typical definition of a tiny house is a single-family home that is generally 400 square feet or less, excluding lofts. Additionally, tiny homes come in varying designs. Therefore, knowing which types of tiny homes are under the scope and application of local building codes is important. Georgia recognizes the following four types of tiny houses:
- Recreational vehicles(RVs): These are tiny houses built on a utility trailer chassis with wheels, also known as Tiny Homes on Wheels(THOWs). They do not fall within the scope of state building codes and should have a floor area of 400 square feet or less.
- Residential industrialized buildings(Modular): These are dwelling units designed and constructed according to the Georgia State Residential Code. These tiny houses are fixed on permanent foundations and comply with the same code requirements as site-built dwellings.
- Manufactured mobile homes are factory-built houses on a metal chassis that comply with the HUD federal code regulations. They should also meet the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards act. Building codes do not regulate manufactured homes.
- Site-built dwellings: These are residential buildings built on a permanent foundation. These tiny houses must comply with the current International Residential Code and be constructed by a state Licensed Contractor.
The regulations of these tiny homes will vary between cities and districts, but Georgia’s state building codes only apply to modular dwellings and site dwellings. Building codes do not regulate the RVs and manufactured homes, but they fall under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and other industry standards.
Where can I put a tiny home in Georgia?
Before finding out where to place your tiny home, you need to determine if the local government allows tiny homes in their jurisdiction. Although the Georgia government is fairly tiny home friendly, some municipalities are friendlier than others. The cities in Georgia that allow tiny houses include:
The local government of Calhoun city banned tiny homes, but several tiny house owners sued them in 2021 for this restriction. The lawsuit aims to challenge the ban on tiny homes because it violates the due Process Clause in the Georgia Constitution.
These cities have varying rules and building ordinances for tiny homes. Therefore, like traditional houses, tiny homes must comply with the local zoning and building code regulations which apply to all types of tiny homes, including recreational vehicles. Zoning codes determine where you should build or park your tiny house. While building codes inform you how to build your tiny house.
Zoning requirements for tiny houses in Georgia
Zoning codes are set and enforced by local governments, meaning they vary between towns and even communities. Once you’re in a city or town that allows tiny homes, you need to get permission from the local government to own a tiny home within their jurisdiction to avoid facing eviction or fines. The zoning codes will decide where to build or park your tiny house.
Tiny houses on a foundation
You have two options to put a tiny house on a foundation. First, you can buy land and buy or build your own tiny house on it. If you want a tiny home in a residential zone or backyard, you must classify it as an auxiliary dwelling unit(ADU) by law. You can build the accessory dwelling unit(ADU) in your backyard, next to a primary dwelling, or in a friend’s lot. However, ADUs are only legal in the R5 zoning districts.
For instance, you can build or park a tiny house in Atlanta’s R1 to R5 zoning districts. But, if the tiny house is a permanent residence, it’s referred to as an ADU and only allowed in R5 districts. Atlanta’s zoning laws also allow putting up a tiny house or ADU on the same lot as another existing home.
Tiny houses on wheels
Most local governments in Georgia do not allow full-time living in tiny houses with wheels in zones other than RV parks and tiny house communities. So if you want to stay in a tiny house on wheels full-time, you can pay to stay in an RV park or campground.
Some cities in Georgia may also allow you to park a tiny house on wheels as a full-time living space in a single-family home’s backyard.
Tiny house communities
This is a great option to park any type of tiny house. A tiny house community is an area where all residents live in tiny houses. They are usually outside city limits but ideal for setting up a home long-term or short-term.
The following are tiny house communities in Georgia:
- Riverside Escape
- Silver hill Escape
- Little river Escape
RV parks and resorts
RV parks and resorts are most suitable for tiny houses on wheels. Unfortunately, some RV parks are not open all year round and have a maximum time to park there. So, depending on the RV park rules, you will have to move after a few months or weeks.
RV parks and resorts in Georgia include:
- Pine mountain RV resort
- Safe haven RV park
Building codes for tiny houses in Georgia
All types of tiny homes on permanent foundations need to follow their local governments’ building codes and regulations. Most jurisdictions in Georgia follow the 2012 International Residential Codes regarding building codes.
The building codes dictate how the tiny house is built, such as; minimum ceiling height, plumbing, water and electricity requirements, stairs, room size and dimension, and emergency exit point requirements. You will also need approvals from the local land department before putting up a tiny home on your land.
Tiny houses on a foundation
Some local municipalities in Georgia require your tiny house to be on a solid foundation to be fit for full-time residence. A tiny house on a foundation in Georgia has to meet the following requirements:
- A minimum of 320 square feet of land
- Minimum size of 120 square feet
- At least one room containing an openable window and a closet
- Ceilings with a minimum height of 6’8″
- None-sleeping rooms should be at least 70 square feet
- Basic requirements for emergency exit, light, plumbing, ventilation, and carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
Tiny houses on wheels
Most towns in Georgia allow tiny houses on wheels. These tiny houses have different rules compared to other types of tiny houses. They include:
- A THOW has to look like a traditional living space.
- The floor area should be 400 square feet or less, excluding lofts.
- Tiny homes on wheels are licensed and regulated by the Georgia Department of Transportation and your local county vehicle licensing agency.
- They require basic facilities and spaces for sleeping, cooking, and maintaining hygiene and sanitation.
- The size of your THOW should meet the codes set by the Georgia Department of Transportation and Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.
- The bottom of your THOW must be skirted, including the wheels.
Unfortunately, most zoning ordinances have not clearly defined tiny houses on wheels, and it is illegal to rent out an ADU. This is because ADUs are not suitable for full-time living as they lack all the amenities.
Each jurisdiction has its size requirements for tiny homes. But most local governments require a tiny house have a minimum of 400 square footage or less, excluding lofts.
For instance, Decatur city adopted the Unified Development Ordinance that abolished the minimum square footage requirement for accessory dwelling units(ADU). However, most local governments adopt the International Residential Code standards.
Unfortunately, the tiny house movement is growing faster than local governments can change zoning regulations and building codes. For instance, in Brantley county, there is no requirement to place a tiny home on a permanent foundation, but they must meet electrical and plumbing requirements.
If you are in Georgia and are interested in tiny home living, you must first check if it’s legal in your jurisdiction. If it’s legal, check with the local planning offices on your area’s tiny house rules and regulations.
Check this too: Where Can I Put a Tiny House in Florida?
The tiny house ordinances dictate your options of tiny houses, size, ceiling heights, emergency escape egress, and most importantly, parking or setup location.
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