Tiny homes have become immensely popular over the last decade, spawning a grass roots movement encouraging people to ditch traditional homes for more minimalist fare. While tiny homes are appealing for many reasons (e.g. smaller mortgage and lower cost of upkeep), they have one major problem: their size and construction typically violate local building codes and zoning laws, which means people can't legally live in them full time.
However, here are three ways you can get around this issue and avoid the fines and penalties you may be charged if you're caught illegally living in your tiny home.
Get It Certified as a Recreational Vehicle
One way you could make a tiny home your permanent residence is to have it certified as a recreational vehicle. To do this, you must make the structure mobile by placing it on a trailer. While South Carolina doesn't have laws specific to how RVs must be constructed, they must be road worthy at minimum.
You'll need to have the vehicle inspected and certified that it meets state regulations before you can register it. It's important to note, though, you can only legally use recreational vehicles in certain places. You can't park it in someone's driveway or backyard and live in it full time.
You can live in an RV at a campsite but, depending on the site, you are typically limited in the amount of time you can stay there (e.g. anywhere from 2 to 30 days at a time), which can be a good option if you plan on traveling a lot.
Build on a Friend's Lot
If you prefer to build a more permanent residence with a regular foundation, you can choose to put the home on another person's property as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). The Federal Housing Administration recognizes AUDs as legal places to live as long as it sits on the same piece of property as a traditional single-family home.
Of course, your tiny home must provide the same amenities as a regular home, such as a sleeping area, bathroom, and kitchen. However, you don't have to adhere to the size requirements imposed by building codes or zoning laws. As long as the space is habitable, you can live in it full time.
You'll definitely want to consult with a real estate attorney about this particular option to ensure you know what you're getting into and to develop a contract that provides you with the most protection.
Look for a Tiny Home Community
Many states have changed their laws to make them friendlier to tiny home owners. While South Carolina isn't as progressive as California who leads the way in this area, the state is coming around. Tiny homes are very popular right now, and tiny home communities are popping up everywhere. Use the internet to locate areas where your dwelling would be welcomed and consider building there.
For more information about this issue or help with the legal aspects of constructing a tiny home, contact Cofield Law Firm for a consultation! 803-951-0389