Proposed Changes To The 2015 International Residential Code
APPENDIX V TINY HOUSES
CHAPTER PART AV101— GENERAL
AV101.1 Scope. This appendix shall be applicable to tiny houses used as single dwelling units. Tiny houses shall comply
with this code except as otherwise stated in this appendix.
CHAPTER PART AV102— DEFINITIONS
AV102.1 General. The following words and terms shall, for the purposes of this appendix, have the meanings shown herein.
Refer to Chapter 2 of this code for general definitions.
EGRESS ROOF ACCESS WINDOW. A skylight or roof window designed and installed to satisfy the emergency escape and
rescue opening requirements in Section R310.2.
LANDING PLATFORM. A landing provided as the top step of a stairway accessing a loft.
LOFT. A floor level located more than 30 inches (762 mm) above the main floor and open to it on at least one side with a
ceiling height of less than 6 feet 8 inches (2032 mm), used as a living or sleeping space.
TINY HOUSE. A dwelling that is 400 square feet (37 m ) or less in floor area excluding lofts.
CHAPTER PART AV103— CEILING HEIGHT
AV103.1 Minimum ceiling height. Habitable space and hallways in tiny houses shall have a ceiling height of not less than
6 feet 8 inches (2032 mm). Bathrooms, toilet rooms, and kitchens shall have a ceiling height of not less than 6 feet 4 inches
(1930 mm). Obstructions shall not extend below these minimum ceiling heights including beams, girders, ducts, lighting
and other obstructions.
Exception: Ceiling heights in lofts are permitted to be less than 6 feet 8 inches (2032 mm).
CHAPTER PART AV104— LOFTS
AV104.1 Minimum loft area and dimensions. Lofts used as a sleeping or living space shall meet the minimum area and
dimension requirements of Sections AV104.1.1 through AV104.1.3.
AV104.1.1 Minimum area. Lofts shall have a floor area of not less than 35 square feet (3.25 m ).
AV104.1.2 Minimum dimensions. Lofts shall be not less than 5 feet (1524 mm) in any horizontal dimension.
AV104.1.3 Height effect on loft area. Portions of a loft with a sloping ceiling measuring less than 3 feet (914 mm) from the
finished floor to the finished ceiling shall not be considered as contributing to the minimum required area for the loft.
Exception: Under gable roofs with a minimum slope of 6:12, portions of a loft with a sloping ceiling measuring less than 16
inches (406 mm) from the finished floor to the finished ceiling shall not be considered as contributing to the minimum required
area for the loft.
AV104.2 Loft access. The access to and primary egress from lofts shall be any type described in Sections AV104.2.1
AV104.2.1 Stairways. Stairways accessing lofts shall comply with this code or with Sections AV126.96.36.199 through
AV188.8.131.52 Width. Stairways accessing a loft shall not be less than 17 inches (432 mm) in clear width at or above the
handrail. The minimum width below the handrail shall be not less than 20 inches (508 mm).
AV184.108.40.206 Headroom. The headroom in stairways accessing a loft shall be not less than 6 feet 2 inches (1880 mm), as
measured vertically, from a sloped line connecting the tread or landing platform nosings in the middle of their width.
AV220.127.116.11 Treads and risers. Risers for stairs accessing a loft shall be not less than 7 inches (178 mm) and not more
than 12 inches (305 mm) in height. Tread depth and riser height shall be calculated in accordance with one of the following
1. The tread depth shall be 20 inches (508 mm) minus 4/3 of the riser height, or
2. The riser height shall be 15 inches (381 mm) minus 3/4 of the tread depth.
AV18.104.22.168 Landing platforms. The top tread and riser of stairways accessing lofts shall be constructed as a landing
platform where the loft ceiling height is less than 6 feet 2 inches (1880 mm) where the stairway meets the loft. The landing
platform shall be 18 inches to 22 inches (457 to 559 mm) in depth measured from the nosing of the landing platform to the
edge of the loft, and 16 to 18 inches (406 to 457 mm) in height measured from the landing platform to the loft floor.
AV22.214.171.124 Handrails. Handrails shall comply with Section R311.7.8.
AV126.96.36.199 Stairway guards. Guards at open sides of stairways shall comply with Section R312.1.
AV104.2.2 Ladders. Ladders accessing lofts shall comply with Sections AV104.2.1 and AV104.2.2.
AV188.8.131.52 Size and capacity. Ladders accessing lofts shall have a rung width of not less than 12 inches (305
mm) and 10 inches (254 mm) to 14 inches (356 mm) spacing between rungs. Ladders shall be capable of supporting a 200
pound (75 kg) load on any rung. Rung spacing shall be uniform within 3/8-inch (9.5 mm).
AV184.108.40.206 Incline. Ladders shall be installed at 70 to 80 degrees from horizontal.
AV104.2.3 Alternating tread devices. Alternating tread devices accessing lofts shall comply with Sections R3220.127.116.11
and R318.104.22.168. The clear width at and below the handrails shall be not less than 20 inches (508 mm).
AV104.2.4 Ships ladders. Ships ladders accessing lofts shall comply with Sections R322.214.171.124 and R3126.96.36.199. The
clear width at and below handrails shall be not less than 20 inches (508 mm).
AV104.2.5 Loft Guards. Loft guards shall be located along the open side of lofts. Loft guards shall not be less than
36 inches (914 mm) in height or one-half of the clear height to the ceiling, whichever is less.
CHAPTER PART AV105— EMERGENCY ESCAPE AND RESCUE OPENINGS
AV105.1 General. Tiny houses shall meet the requirements of Section R310 for emergency escape and rescue openings.
Exception: Egress roof access windows in lofts used as sleeping rooms shall be deemed to meet thre requirements of
Section R310 where installed such that the bottom of the opening is not more than 44 inches (1118 mm) above the
loft floor, provided the egress roof access window complies with the minimum opening area requirements of Section
Commenter's Reason: During the Committee Action Hearings in Kentucky, IRC Committee members explained their disapproval of RB168-16, but
also their support for addressing the issue of small houses. In the published reasons the Committee stated "The issue of small houses and apartments
is important," and that "The IRC needs to address them in some fashion." They encouraged further development of the proposal, stating "There needs
to be a more comprehensive approach", and that "The concept of smaller houses may be more suited for an appendix."
This Public Comment follow s the Committee's advice by replacing the original piecemeal proposal w ith a proposed appendix that takes a "more
comprehensive approach". It also reduces the 500 square foot threshold for "small houses" in the original proposal to the w idely accepted threshold
of 400 square feet for "tiny houses". At that smaller size there is increased difficulty in meeting certain dimensional requirements of the IRC; how ever,
through years of practice by tiny house advocates and years of extensive use of comparably sized "recreational park vehicles" governed by ANSI
A119.5, safe alternative dimensions and other requirements have been established that are included in the proposed appendix.
In the published reasons the Committee finally noted that "Small houses are a grow ing concern, [and] the demand for them is increasing." The reasons
for that grow ing demand are both environmental and financial in nature. Below are statistics illustrating problematic housing trends, the environmental
impacts of construction, the cost of home ow nership, and how tiny houses can be a part of the solution. That is follow ed by specific reasons for the
code language in the proposed appendix.
The average home size in the U.S. increased 61% since 1973 to over 2600 square feet. In that time period the average household size
decreased, leading to a 91% increase in home square footage per inhabitant (1000 SF per person) (source: US Census Bureau).
The average house in the U.S. uses approximately 17,300 board feet of lumber and 16,000 square feet of other w ood products. A 200
square foot tiny house uses only 1,400 board feet of lumber and 1,275 square feet of additional w ood products. The lifetime conditioning
costs can be as low as 7% of a conventionally sized home.
United States Green Building Council (USGBC), the California Energy Commission (CEC), and other entities are w orking hard to increase
energy efficiency in the construction industry. This is a great start, how ever a reduction in home size is the easiest w ay to low er energy
National home ow nership fell to 63.7% in 2015, the low est level in tw o decades. Increased housing cost is cited as the main reason for low
ow nership rate. (source: Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University)
The average home in the United States costs approximately $358,000 to build, an increase of roughly $200,000 since 1998, w hereas the
average annual income in the United States has remained unchanged for the last several years, lingering near $52,000. (source: US Census
The average American spends roughly 27% of their annual income on housing (nearly 11 hours of every 40-hour w ork w eek). 48% of
households making less than $30,000 annually pay more than half of their income on housing, leaving these households less than $15,000 a year to purchase food, health care, education, clothing, and anything else. (source: JCHS)
The cost of new construction for a 200 square foot tiny house can be as low as $35,000. A typical dow n payment on an average-sized
house is $72,000, more than tw ice the full cost of a tiny house.
Cities benefit from tiny house ordinances. With significant need for affordable housing, cities are hard-pressed to find solutions that quickly expand their low -income housing stock w ithout burdening an already burdened system. Tiny houses can be quickly installed in municipalities and set up at little or no cost to the cities.
Although not addressed in the proposed code language of this public comment, it is important to recognize the need for codes pertaining specifically to movable tiny houses. For some people, homeownership is heavily impacted by the cost of land and even the construction of a fixed tiny house becomes unattainable. For those individuals, the presence of movable tiny houses in the building code may create their only path to home ownership. The flexibility of a movable tiny house allow s individuals to locate their homes in areas of community living or on ancillary home sites, without the burdensome cost of a single-family lot. It also allow s them to take their home with them should they need to relocate, thus eliminating many typical costs of moving.
Tiny houses can play an important role in minimizing the environmental impacts of housing while providing safe and healthy homes at affordable prices. Pride of ownership improves neighborhoods and community morale. Tiny houses enable more people to become homeow ners and contribute
to their communities.
REASONS FOR DEFINITIONS:
EGRESS ROOF ACCESS WINDOW. Most manufacturers use this term for their skylights and roof w indow s that are designed to satisfy the
dimensional requirements of emergency escape and rescue openings in U.S. building codes.
LANDING PLATFORM: Landing platforms have been demonstrated in practice to allow for the safe transition between stairways and lofts. (See
LOFT. This definition is a modified version of the definition of loft area in Section 1-3 of ANSI A119.5 Recreational Park Trailer Standard.
TINY HOUSE. This definition is based on the w idely accepted maximum square footage for tiny houses in the construction industry.
REASONS PER SECTION:
AV103. CEILING HEIGHT: The minimum ceiling height for non-loft habitable spaces in this proposed appendix is 6 feet 8 inches. Though low er than
the 7 foot minimum for habitable spaces in the IRC, it is higher than the minimum of 6 feet 6 inches in Section 5-3.5.4 of ANSI A119.5 Recreational Park
Trailer Standard, that has proven to provide safe and adequate head room during the extended occupancy of recreational park trailers.
AV104 LOFT: Tiny houses have considerably smaller footprints and building height than conventional houses. As such, lofts are essential to
maximize the use of space in tiny houses and make them viable shelter for many individuals and families.
It is common know ledge to many building inspectors that spaces labeled "non-habitable storage" in dw ellings of all sizes are sometimes used for
sleeping or other habitable purposes once the final inspection is complete. Rather than being unable to enforce a falsely stated use, building
departments could regulate the health and safety of those spaces for their intended use w ith the proposed appendix, ensuring health and safety w ith
minimum loft dimensions, requirements for access and egress, and proper emergency escape and rescue openings.
MINIMUM AREA and MINIMUM DIMENSIONS: Lofts in tiny houses are small by necessity; how ever, minimum dimensions are required for lofts used
as a living or sleeping space, so as to not impose a risk to occupant health and safety.
HEIGHT EFFECT ON LOFT AREA: For most roof designs in tiny houses, a minimum ceiling height of 3 feet has proven adequate in sleeping lofts for
consideration of their required floor area. For gable roofs w ith moderate to high slopes, the slope has an aggressive impact on the loss of ceiling
height but makes up for it w ith higher areas under the ridge. Thus lofts under gable roofs w ith a minimum 6:12 slope have a lesser minimum ceiling
height w hen calculating their required floor area.
STAIRWAY WIDTH: These dimensional requirements are identical to those in Section 5-10.4.1.1 of ASNI A119.5. This provision is considered and
proven safe for extended occupancy of recreational park trailers.
STAIRWAY HEADROOM: Because tiny houses are limited in square footage and height, IRC compliant head heights for stairs serving lofts are often
not achievable. Therefore the stair headroom requirement has been reasonably reduced to 6 feet 2 inches.
STAIRWAY TREAD/RISER: This is identical to the requirements for treads/risers in Section 5-10.4.1.1 of ANSI A119.5. This provision is considered
and proven safe for extended occupancy of recreational park trailers.
LANDING PLATFORMS: Landing platforms have been demonstrated in practice to allow for the safe transition between stairways and lofts. The
required range of dimensions allow for a simple transition betw een standing and kneeling w hen entering or exiting the loft. (See photos)
LADDERS: This is identical to the requirements for ladders in Section 5-10.5 of ANSI A119.5. This provision is considered and proven safe for
extended occupancy of recreational park trailers.
ALTERNATING TREAD DEVICES: Alternating tread devices as described in the IRC, are allow ed to provide access to and egress from lofts.
SHIPS LADDERS: Ships ladders as described in the IRC, are allow ed to provide access to and egress from lofts.
LOFT GUARDS: The height requirement for loft guards is identical to that for guardrails in Section 5-10.7 of ANSI A119.5.
AV105 EMERGENCY ESCAPE AND RESCUE: Due to the considerably smaller footprints of tiny houses, ceiling heights in sleeping lofts therein are often necessarily low er than minimum ceiling heights required by the IRC for sleeping rooms in larger houses. Egress roof access windows (which are specifically designed to meet the dimensional requirements of emergency escape and rescue openings) can be installed with their openings within 44 inches.
GEORGIA ADOBE HOMES™
The Next Big Thing !
Either way you decide is right for you, Georgia Adobe™ would be pleased to try to assist you, in accomplishing your goals !
Contact Us to move forward on your project . If building tiny and being in one location that has regulations governing what you can do is desired, this video describes the process, pretty well, and our company can help with this too.
Copyright 1983-2018 Georgia Adobe Ecoitecture ™ (C) Servicemark Joe Woodall Commerce Georgia 30530
Many people remark they want a tiny home, but a large bedroom/living area, but a separate kitchen away from their home, so the home won't warm up so much in Summer.
As That, Mobile or Stationary Units can always be added to structures, as you desire them, Why not take a page from early American homes, and just build a separate kitchen ?
Here is just 1 design idea, of how that might work, with a porch or breezeway between the bedroom/living spaces and the kitchen diningroom spaces.
Anyone up for a pool and spa addition ?
See The 2017 Proposed Changes To The International Building Codes That Include Tiny Homes Into the International Residential Code (IRC) Posted At The Bottom Of This Page.
Contact Georgia Adobe at 706-363-6453 when you are ready to discuss your plans. The 1st conversation is ALWAYS FREE, just so we can see how we can help you !
*In the past 10 years, our company has been besieged, by foreclosure victims, desperately seeking a way to have a new home to house their family in, that has no mortgage just, so it can’t be stolen as their last home was by the ( both foreign and domestic ) low life lawyers, thieving property tax departments and low life bankers. We are delighted to help, in anyway we can and in the past much of what we have worked upon has been in locations that have no zoning , no permitting and nearly no codes and for a building that's set onto a foundation or Earth Sheltered so as to be never moved, this is great. There is a way to stop this trend and also to again to own your own mortgage free space again, all with just a few augmentations, to what is normally thought of, as the conventional structure, it's the mobile structure.
It turns out, that any road worthy tag-a-long trailer, even when owner built, can be lawfully road tagged in about all 50 US. States, so all one needs, is an enclosed trailer of some pleasing configuration, that meets road specs, so that ones property can be correctly stored inside that trailer and moved safely upon the roads in a tagged trailer. How you use it when you arrive , is your business.
When asked, we would never respond, that it’s a motor home, not a recreational vehicle, nor a tiny-home, as this leaves one in danger of being required to comply with several building codes, HUD regulations, DOT, federal and state regulations, and Recreational Vehicle Codes, even city and county regulations and codes plus other possible regulations including even homeowners association covenants or rules in municipalities or parking lots, which might not apply, to a simple tag a long enclosed trailer, to move belongings in; but would apply to tiny homes etc..
And, what’s inside, as long as it’s legal to own, and how you use it when you arrive at the day's final destination, as long as you are in control of the property it’s parked upon, becomes your business, as this is just a tag-a-long trailer. Notice the word trailer here, and there are many reasons to call it this, we will detail below.
When anything is on the road , the government including the DOT and police may search the vehicle, just as lawfully, as in the case of any other personal vehicle on the road, as it’s your personal property, search warrants or your permission is required for governments entering or searching, your personal property. This differs for commercial vehicles as that commercial licensed drivers, must submit to any lawful search, without warrants upon demand.
Additionally, when your vehicle or trailer is on the road, it’s never legally considered your home at that point, as it’s on wheels, on a government road, and thereby under DOT control. B.T.W. The DOT is the most powerful government entity out there, that you may encounter on an everyday basis, so respect the DOT, as you would the police ! *Notice none of this is to be considered legal advice as only lowly lawyers, may give any legal advice and the writer of this article, is not a lowly lawyer, just a writer passing on what they understand, delivered as their opinion.
Additionally, alternative materials can be used to build with, in certain situations and this can save the builder and homeowner ( strike that call it trailer owner ), lots of money. Building a structure to use as needed onto a trailer, ( even if configured as a home or storage building might appear ) gets owner's past the limitation of what ground based permanent dwellings or RV's must go by, and building codes apply to thus would apply, if that trailer were to be designated as housing, so it's a trailer.
Anyone with a regular driver's license can legally tow upon a public roadway a trailer, up to 13 feet 6 inches tall, by 8’6″ (102 inches) in width and up to 36 feet long. With a Farm or Emergency vehicle license, or CDL other drivers can normally tow trailers up to 48 - 53 feet long, (in most states 53'), behind their personal vehicle, when designed to tow that size load or trailer, all without any special movement permits or permissions, and we write here of only when it’s a personal trailer, and if the proper road tax "tag" is purchased and displayed, as tags are normally displayed.
Due to towing weight limits, the axles must be sized properly for the load of the trailer and with contents properly stored to keep those loads centered. You will also likely be required to have that weight info available, when requested by the DOT if they stop you and will normally have to go through and be weighed at highway weigh stations, as they are encountered during a trailer move.
Now, clearly, not everyone would even desire to tow their home daily, and towing something 53 feet long, is quite a load in itself, that requires more skills to handle, than any small lawnmower trailer might require, but a trailer somewhere in between those 2 extremes , ( call it a tiny home in private if you desire or not ~ who cares when in private ! ), but the trailer can be legally moved by its owner, as needed if done by an experienced licensed driver, perhaps when the land on which you find yourself parked, suddenly becomes less than desirable. In these ways building codes and other regulations can be avoided and when parked where no zoning or codes apply , life can become simple again. Yes, better housing is Earth Sheltered and Georgia Adobe™ has way to do this with trailers too, but that's a discussion best for a personal conversation with the company.
In addition, a full utilities package can be supplied through Georgia Adobe's™ Ecotecture™ Systems division and a package of these personal utility elements, are always available with all Georgia Adobe Homes™ too .
*Notice none of this information is to be considered legal advice and it’s only the writers personal opinion, as we all know that only those lowly lawyers, may give legal advice to any other person and the writer of this article, is certainly not a lowly lawyer. Georgia Adobe Ecoitecture™ can help you with every stage of your trailers development , from designing the trailer plans that work for you, to helping our clients to source their materials as needed for the build affordably, and in many cases, we can even build the trailer too. Notice also please, we never said we would be designing a building or a mobile home, just a road-worthy enclosed trailer. This is a legal difference, you should remember as that, it’s a road worthy enclosed trailer, to put things in and then move them down the road safely, not a house, tiny or not. After it arrives, you can call it what you want, in private.
Call today to start your enclosed trailer project.
Col. Joe Woodall, President, & Rogue Ecoitect™ GAL4016
231 Harris Lord Cemetery Rd.
Commerce, GA. 30530
A Woodall Auction Company
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