Thoughts on regulations and safety
I have had the privilege of living in communities where 500-700 sf houses are not uncommon. Mine rental is 600. There’s one across the street that is approximately 700. One up the street that is around 600. One in the alley up one block that is closer to 500. There is one nearer to work that is closer to 400… though the layout there stinks.
Here, it would not be difficult to build-completely legally and approved, a 320-500 sf house. No, not 100. Not off grid in the city. Not under the radar and not on wheels. I wish I could find one for sale with a decent structure and foundation!
I went to a tiny house workshop within weeks of discovering some fire safety hazards with a house I was considering purchasing. Firemen couldn’t get up the stairs to the sleeping area or through a few of the interior doors… or even the back door. The balloon framing with no fire blocks would vent any fire straight to the roof. Windows didn’t allow egress. Hearing about a 2′ wide front door or a one and a half foot wide hall way right after discovering these things sent chills up my spine… and gave me a rather restless night or two.
The person who taught the seminar turns her heater off at night. She can see her breath in the morning. But the heater isn’t safe enough for her to feel comfortable when she is asleep. At least one other small house person has lost their house before it was built. No insurance. There are discomforts and there are risks to building tiny.
I love the small house concept, but I want my small house to be safe and comfortable. In my area that means it must:
be firmly attached to the ground, preferably bolted to concrete (think Wizard of Oz)
have real closet space
have an incinerating or low flush toilet
have running water
have a continuous heat source through the winter
be well insulated
include two exit doors, plus an egress window in the bedroom
have at least 30″ doorways (preferably 36″)
have stairs-not a ladder-to any upper or lower livable space
be properly-professionally-wired, whether for solar, wind or on grid electric.
Is building small possible? Sure. Can it be annoying to follow regulations? Sure. But when it is, around here it’s either because someone knows something I haven’t figured out yet, or because I need to explain or plan a bit better. I’m ok with that.