The tiny house movement has a presence in Texas, but the presence is not as pervasive there as in other US states like North Carolina, Oregon, California, Maine, Vermont etc. In Texas, there is a growing interest in tiny living, there are also supportive communities that are into this sort of lifestyle. But there are roadblocks preventing the tiny house movement from broadening.

Let us discuss the roadblocks in the ensuing paragraphs, along with a few other important aspects associated with the tiny house movement. If you are from Texas, and planning to live in a tiny house in the future, read this article til the end to get invaluable pointers.

Is Texas A Tiny Home Friendly State?

Texas is believed to be one of the most tiny house friendly states in the US. Truth be told, there is no law at the state level that restricts or even governs tiny house living. However, such regulations may not exist at the state level, but they do exist at the city and county level, unlike some other states that have statewide policies. This patchwork approach creates a varied landscape of challenges as well as opportunities.

When I said roadblocks before, I meant these city and county-wise restrictive laws.

Texas Counties that Allow Tiny Houses

In Texas, some counties allow limited zoning while other counties have specific regulations. The situation might appear a bit cumbersome for a wannabe tiny home dweller, who is probably fond of the TV show called Tiny House Nation, and don’t understand all the nitty-gritties. That’s because Texas doesn’t have tiny house specific clauses at the state level. 

Here’s a county-wise breakdown of tiny house related clauses in Texas:

  • Counties with partial restrictions

     Ellis County and Brown County fall under this list. The two counties lack zoning ordinances that directly prohibit tiny homes. However, certain building clauses apply to tiny houses. Ellis County has specific building and engineering standards, drainage and setback requirements that tiny house builders must adhere to. Similar to Ellis County, Brown County has building codes and regulations regarding permits, inspections, and utilities. If you want to set up a tiny house in Brown County, you must know how to navigate through these regulations.

  • Counties with specific regulations

    :Baylor County falls under this category. While the county doesn’t have any specific restriction, the city of Seymour, which is located within this county has a number of specific conditions that tiny house builders must satisfy. The city defines tiny homes as having an area between 320 sq ft and 900 sq ft. Among many requirements, one is having two exits for fire safety purposes. Many tiny home builders find this requirement difficult to follow. The City of Seymour doesn’t allow THOWs, while Spur County only allows THOWs. Lake Dallas allows THOWs, but only if they follow International Residential Code (IRC).

Creating a list of Texas counties that allow tiny houses is difficult because as explained above, cities within counties can have different regulations. Zoning laws might differ for THOWs and permanent structures.

Can I Put a Tiny House on My Property in Texas?

Unfortunately, I cannot definitively answer “yes” or “no” to this question as whether it’s feasible or not depends on several factors. Some of these factors are below:

  • Location

    By location, I meant specific city and county. There are counties that allow tiny homes on paper, but require some specific guidelines to follow. Builders sometimes are not aware of such regulations. To avoid such confusion, it is best to get your information from trusted sources like the planning department of the city you live in.

  • Type of tiny house

    Standards and regulations may vary for the case of tiny houses on wheels (THOW) and permanent structures. I have already discussed it. Expect more such variations if you are serious about building a tiny house on your property.

  • Property zoning

     Zoning regulations determine in which areas you can build a certain structure. So, a thorough knowledge of your area’s zoning laws is a must.

There have been cases where seemingly “conducive” areas prohibited tiny houses for violating land-use restrictions. Hence, a thorough research is crucial before making any decision.

Do I Need a Permit to Build a Tiny House on My Property?

I reckon people who ask this question actually want to know whether they need any kind of special permit. The answer is no. In Texas, you don’t need any special permit. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need any permit. If your tiny house is on wheels, some counties may not allow that. 

That aside, there are general permit considerations you must be aware of. These include building permits, zoning permits, utility permits, septic system permits, etc. Building permits apply in any construction project, permanent or not, tiny house or not. They guarantee compliance with the Building Codes and Safety Standards. Zoning permits make sure your tiny house is acceptable by the zoning regulations in your city or county. Utility permit is required to get access to water, sewer, and electricity. To connect your tiny house to a municipal sewer system requires a permit of the septic system.

Multiple Tiny Homes on One Property

Whether you can have multiple tiny homes on one property in Texas primarily depends on the location, property type and zoning codes. Since regulations vary across cities and counties, the exact location where the house is supposed to be built is crucial. Some areas might have restrictions on the total number of structures allowed on a property, regardless of size. As for zoning codes, they dictate what can be built and how many structures are permitted in each property. Hence, do research on your property’s zoning designation carefully.

Lastly, if you are in doubt about something, contact the local planning department of your city or county. They have the latest information on specific regulations. 

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