How to tell if your tiny house isn’t a tiny house

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When is a small house not a small house?

It sounds like a joke, but turns out to be a real question stemming from a regulatory maelstrom.

A Tiny House, especially a Tiny House on Wheels (Thow), can sometimes be considered a vehicle. But even then, it could also be seen as a building.

Fran Huelsmeyer of Ruru Homes in one of the company's smaller (single storey) houses.

Martin De Ruyter / Tips

Fran Huelsmeyer of Ruru Homes in one of the company’s smaller (single storey) houses.

The MBIE (Ministry of Enterprise, Innovation and Employment) has published a new guide, hoping to clarify once and for all when a tiny house is a vehicle and when it is a building, and what rules therefore apply.

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It clarifies three relevant pieces of legislation: the Building Act (which includes the Building Code), the Resource Management Act and the Land Transport Act.

The advice is designed to help small homeowners, as well as builders, as well as boards and other planning authorities who can advise them.

This small 30 square meter house in North Auckland was built by HouseMe.

Provided

This small 30 square meter house in North Auckland was built by HouseMe.

He acknowledges that people choose tiny homes “for a number of reasons, such as the affordability of standard homes in the housing market.”

Sharla May, Director of Tiny House Expo, participated in the working group formed by MBIE to create the directive.

She said the document was needed because it was difficult to have three laws applying to mini-houses. “It becomes difficult for people to navigate. It’s also confusing for council staff, ”she said.

The Auckland Tiny House Expo 2021 has been postponed to March 2022 due to blockages.

Tiny House Expo / Tips

The Auckland Tiny House Expo 2021 has been postponed to March 2022 due to blockages.

May said that through her business, Tiny House Hub, she plans to release a free resource in early December for people who want their tiny home classified as a vehicle.

“Someone like me, for example. I am in my thirties. I sold my three bedroom house and built a tiny house. My goal was to be debt free. She now lives in a converted school bus.

Because she was renting land, she did not want to go down the path of finding a building permit.

“I want to be able to pack my bags and move. “

A small house from Ruru Homes is loaded onto a barge in Marahau, before being transported to Awaroa in Abel Tasman National Park.

Martin De Ruyter / Tips

A small house from Ruru Homes is loaded onto a barge in Marahau, before being transported to Awaroa in Abel Tasman National Park.

Small home builders welcome the advice, although some warn that gray areas still exist.

Bryce Glover, national sales and marketing director for HouseMe, said the advice was confirmation from MBIE that small homes need a building permit.

According to the guidelines, if a house is “immovable and occupied by people on a permanent or long-term basis” then it is considered a building (and the Building Act applies).

“Basically nothing has changed. It’s just a document to describe the current legislation under which we already operate, ”said Glover.

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He said he was targeting “downright dubious operators who are trying to flout the law.”

“Any unit ordered from HouseMe will leave the factory with a unit-specific Certificate of Conformity (CCC) as a result of successful construction consent – fully legitimate.

“A lot of companies offer units on wheels to blatantly bend the rules. HouseMe stands out from this.

Jamie Cameron said his NZ Tiny Homes business was “business as usual” after the MBIE guidelines were released.

Christel Yardley / Tips

Jamie Cameron said his NZ Tiny Homes business was “business as usual” after the MBIE guidelines were released.

NZ Tiny Homes director Jamie Cameron agreed that this was “business as normal” for his company, which operates in the North and South Islands.

“Our homes are classified as permanent relocatable homes with a full building code of compliance.

“This is how we operate anyway. “

Daniel and Fran Huelsmeyer of Ruru Homes plan to build 30 houses in a small family village in Motueka, Tasman.

Martin De Ruyter / Tips

Daniel and Fran Huelsmeyer of Ruru Homes plan to build 30 houses in a small family village in Motueka, Tasman.

Fran Huelsmeyer, of Ruru Homes in Motueka, Tasman, said his company built either buildings or vehicles depending on the customer’s needs.

The company was working with its local Tasman District Council on requirements for fully licensed buildings.

“We always say that just because it’s a small house, it doesn’t need to lack the convenience, comfort or sanitary standards compared to new homes.”

She said she always recommends that clients speak to their city council, as even a building with a certificate of code compliance may still need resource consent, which was an expensive process.

“We rejected sales to people who we knew would have problems. “

This little Ark house in Rangataua, Ruapehu, has amazing views.

Provided

This little Ark house in Rangataua, Ruapehu, has amazing views.

Gina Stevens, Director of Build Tiny at Katikati, Bay of Plenty, said she was pleased to have a “clear and concise resource to direct our customers to.”

“Will I need the building’s consent or the resources is our most frequently asked question,” she said.

It also clarified a concern his company had about whether oversized small houses on wheels (over 2.55 meters wide) could still be considered a vehicle.

“Previously, we had taken a conservative approach, advocating for legal mini-houses on the road measuring no more than 2.55m,” she said.

“But it does clarify that oversized small houses on wheels would be considered a ‘load’ under the Land Transport Act and yet simultaneously be considered a vehicle under the Construction Act.

“This is a great result – it means we can confidently meet the demand for oversized mini-homes and start working on a new line of larger smaller homes that would more adequately meet the needs of small families. “

TASMAN BAY MEDIA / PROVIDED

Fran Huelsmeyer of Ruru Homes describes the growth of the mini-house industry.

Some highlights

  • The Building Act and the Building Code apply to any mini-house considered to be a building (rather than a vehicle). The objective of the Building Act is to ensure that buildings are “safe, healthy and sustainable” for all who will live there.
  • However, even if the tiny house is a vehicle (as defined by the Land Transport Act), it could still be considered a building if it is both “immovable and occupied by people permanently or for a long time.” term ”.
  • The Resource Management Act allows territorial authorities such as councils to administer their district plans.
  • “Whether a small house is a building for the purposes of the Resource Management Act will depend on the particular provisions and definitions of the district plan of the relevant council, which may differ from council to council in Nova Scotia. Zealand. “
  • A Tiny House must comply with the relevant district plan. If not, the consent of the resource should be requested.

SOURCE: Tiny House Guidance, Ministry of Enterprise, Innovation and Employment


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