Tiny houses are one of the most popular types of homes. And it’s easy to see why. They’re economical, easy to clean, cheaper than a normal home, and just as comfortable as a normal home. However, finding land suitable for building a tiny home can be tough. So here are some of the best tips for buying land for a tiny house.
Tiny home living is legal in every state. But, there are some limits and restrictions when it comes to zoning. Double and triple-check the local regulations before purchasing any property.
Why should you listen to me? In 2020, I bought an off grid tiny home in the Southeast United States. I purchased the property online and made quite a few mistakes (including not double-checking the zoning restrictions)!
Top Six Tips When Buying Land For a Tiny House
1. Understand The Restrictions in Your Area
Location is the most crucial factor when purchasing land. Where you want to purchase land impacts the rules and requirements necessary to build a tiny home. These limitations and rules can occasionally make tiny home life completely impractical. For example, after buying my off-grid tiny house, I learned that you can only drill wells on properties larger than two acres. Since my tiny house was sitting on less than two acres, I had to find another solution to get running water.
Before buying any property, make sure you know the laws related to:
- Electric or Solar
- Garbage Disposal
2. What is The Property Zoned For?
Although it depends on the county and the type of tiny house you want to build, residential and mixed-use zonings are generally the best choice for tiny houses. Make sure to find out if the county where you live permits tiny dwellings by calling the building and development office. Beware that some landowners will try and sell a piece of property even though the zoning is incorrect. Make sure you double and triple-check that the zoning is correct!
Most properties with incorrect zoning are typically quite cheap, and the seller will often assert that you can easily change the property’s zoning after purchasing it. Avoid these “deals” since it is difficult and frequently impossible to change the zoning of a piece of land.
3. Access To Utilities
Having access to utilities is essential if you plan to construct a tiny house on an undeveloped piece of property. Although some counties permit the construction of tiny homes without access to utilities, this largely depends on local laws and ordinances. I recommend double-checking the legality of composting toilets as well. Some counties do not allow composting toilets.
Additionally, if a building permit is required for the tiny house and there is no access to the utilities, it is likely that the county will not give one.
A building permit is not a guarantee, even if the land is designated for residential or mixed use. This is because most counties do not give building licenses to properties without access to services and utilities. On the other hand, utilities are less likely to be an issue if you do not need a building permit to create a tiny house.
In my county, buildings under 500sq ft did not need a building permit.
4. Rural v.s. Urban Areas
There are two key distinctions between urban and rural property: the property’s price and any municipal laws governing tiny homes. Land will typically be more affordable and less constrained in rural places, making it possible for you to live in a tiny house. On the other hand, land in metropolitan areas is frequently more expensive and is subject to tougher regulations. However, this does not imply that living in a tiny house in an urban setting is impossible.
The cost of living in a tiny house in an urban setting will often be slightly higher, but you will enjoy the convenience of being close to more amenities.
5. What About Off Grid Living?
Although it is allowed to live off the grid in every state, this does not mean there aren’t any guidelines or limitations. If you keep the power you consume to a minimum; you will have a great time living off the grid in a tiny house. In light of this, you ought to pay close attention to properties that are being sold in locations where people live off the grid. In general, if people are living off the grid nearby, it should be easy to identify land that is good for both living off the grid and building a tiny house.
We’ve got a ton of articles on off grid living. Check them out here!
6. Should You Avoid HOAs?
Theoretically, HOAs are wonderful because they keep the price of properties high and keep the neighborhood looking neat and orderly. The issue with HOAs is that they can restrict what you can do on your own property. If you break these rules, they might even fine you!
Some HOAs are more strict than others, however, I recommend staying away from any property with an HOA.
Consult a real estate agent, as they will typically know if the land or property is under an HOA. Even if you purchase a piece of land in the middle of nowhere, that does not indicate that it is not a part of an HOA. Seriously, there are some HOAs in the middle of nowhere.
If an HOA owns the piece of property, you could try to speak with them. They may allow you to build a tiny home within their guidelines. I still recommend generally staying away from HOAs though.
Other Things To Consider
How Much Will It Cost To Build a Tiny House?
A standard home costs $150 per square foot on average across the country. Tiny homes are often less expensive to buy or build. A tiny house can cost as little as $8,000 or as much as $150,000, depending on the amenities you choose to include, but the typical price range is $30,000 to $60,000.
Don’t get too caught up in the savings, though. Building a tiny house is often less expensive than purchasing one that is already completed. If you decide to create something yourself, you could underestimate the work involved because even a tiny error might end up costing more time and money to rectify.
Other variables that will impact your overall cost besides whether to buy or build include the following:
- The house’s dimensions
- The kind of building materials utilized
- Costs of building permits in your location
- Utilities such as a well, electric, or solar
- The kind of amenities you decide on
You will have greater influence over controlling expenses when purchasing or building a tiny home than when purchasing or building a regular home because tiny dwellings are more adaptable.
Where Should You Look For Land?
There are a ton of websites and forums all dedicated to buying land. While you can probably use all of them, these are the ones I personally recommend.
I also recommend looking at forums such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. You need to be careful with these sites, as anyone can create an ad on these sites. However, sometimes some of the best land is added to these sites. In fact, I first saw my off-grid cabin on a Facebook Marketplace ad.
- Before deciding to purchase a piece of property, make sure to be aware of the regulations and rules that apply to tiny houses in your area.
- Most of the time, to build a tiny house, you will need access to utilities on the property. However, this will vary from county to county.
- Although living off the grid in a tiny house is permissible, you must still follow all applicable laws, ordinances, and guidelines in your area.
- Stay away from HOAs
Want to read more about tiny houses? Check out our library of free resources!