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Old 07-04-2010, 10:31 PM
Lumpy Lumpy is offline
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What's the smallest, cheapest house building codes will allow?

Say I've bought an empty lot where a house was torn down. And let's say I decide I don't need a full-size house; a one-room cabin the size of a large garage with a toilet stall in one corner will do me fine. YMMV, but generally what's the smallest dwelling most city codes would allow you to build and occupy? (Provided you have electricity, water, sewer, etc. hooked up)
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  #2  
Old 07-04-2010, 10:42 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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300 sq feet small enough?

http://lpchoirboy.com/080131/say%20what.htm

Quote:
This house, located near the intersection of Dufferin Street and Rogers Road is believed to be Toronto ’s smallest house. Occupying what used to be a driveway, it's a one bedroom, one bathroom home that sits on a parcel of land 7.25 feet (2.2 metres) wide and 113.67 feet (34.6 metres) long and has an interior area of just under 300 square feet (under 28 square metres).

Last edited by aceplace57; 07-04-2010 at 10:42 PM..
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Old 07-04-2010, 10:45 PM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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There's no standard answer to this. Building codes vary widely from location to location.
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Old 07-04-2010, 10:46 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is online now
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A Tumbleweed Tiny House would seem to fit your bill. The smallest one is 65 square feet.
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  #5  
Old 07-04-2010, 10:48 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_house_movement

Small House Society
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Old 07-04-2010, 10:49 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Many jurisdictions allow dwellings under 200 sq. ft. to be built without a permit, though in California it is 10'x12' with no plumbing or electricity.

If you are interested in buildiing a small house, an excellent resource is www.countryplans.com, which specialiazes in plans for small, owner built houses. They have an active forum of owner builders who share ideas and experiences.
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  #7  
Old 07-04-2010, 10:51 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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I don't think there is a code size restriction. The city simply wants it built well.

Now, some home owner associations have a minimum size. My neighborhood requires at least 1400 sq feet with a carport or garage. The requirements are explained in the bill of assurance.

So, be sure to buy in a neighborhood that doesn't have an active home owner association. Have the Realtor check the bill of assurance for any restrictions.

Last edited by aceplace57; 07-04-2010 at 10:53 PM..
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  #8  
Old 07-04-2010, 10:56 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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cite
http://www.propertybypam.com/bill_of_assurance.htm
Quote:
If you are purchasing a home - especially a new home - you may notice something called a "bill of assurance". In the very simplest terms this is a list of rules and regulations that were put together when the subdivision or group of lots was developed to protect owners.

For example, a developer gives a bill of assurance to purchasers of lots to let them know that the the development has standards for high quality housing, such as minimum home sizes, architectural consistency, and the quality of exterior materials including garages, fences, and auxiliary buildings.
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Old 07-04-2010, 11:16 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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In Ontario, you don't need a permit if you're building under 10 square metres, and the building has no plumbing or sewerage. However... some municipaities may forbid larger structures.
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Old 07-04-2010, 11:48 PM
astro astro is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumpy View Post
Say I've bought an empty lot where a house was torn down. And let's say I decide I don't need a full-size house; a one-room cabin the size of a large garage with a toilet stall in one corner will do me fine. YMMV, but generally what's the smallest dwelling most city codes would allow you to build and occupy? (Provided you have electricity, water, sewer, etc. hooked up)
For Minneapolis see here

Minneapolis, Minnesota Building Codes

and here

Zoning


In looking at your residential zoning code your main issue is going to be the minimum 5,000 sq ft lot requirement for a single family residence. It does not speak to minimum house size, only minimum lot sizes.
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Old 07-04-2010, 11:48 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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This video shows some of the problems of living in too small a house.
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  #12  
Old 07-04-2010, 11:58 PM
Stink Fish Pot Stink Fish Pot is offline
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How big was the Unibomber's shed?

Basically a shed from Home Depot (Home Depot makes much nicer sheds).
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  #13  
Old 07-05-2010, 12:37 AM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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no plumbing?? For a residential house?

I can't see that being allowed. They don't want people using the back yard as a toilet. That's a health hazard for the entire neighborhood.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
In Ontario, you don't need a permit if you're building under 10 square metres, and the building has no plumbing or sewerage. However... some municipaities may forbid larger structures.
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Old 07-05-2010, 12:51 AM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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Allow me to also point out that, at the discretion of the Zoning Board, someone owning a pre-existing lot too small to fit a house meeting minimum lot size requirements is entitled to a variance to make use of his/her lot. This is probably a place where consulting a lawyer specializing in land use would be advisable. I'm fairly sure that the right to seek (and be granted given reasonable grounds) a variance is part and parcel of the case law that established zoning laws as constitutional in the first place, so this would be relevant anywhere in the U.S.

Last edited by Polycarp; 07-05-2010 at 12:53 AM..
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  #15  
Old 07-05-2010, 01:10 AM
even sven even sven is online now
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
no plumbing?? For a residential house?

I can't see that being allowed. They don't want people using the back yard as a toilet. That's a health hazard for the entire neighborhood.
I think most tiny houses us RV style plumbing connecting to a sewer hose or a tank. Composting toilets are also an option, as are connecting to a septic system. In some cases- such as when a tiny house is built into a backyard, I imagine they simply use the house toilet for defecating.

Running water is not that big of a deal if you have access to a tap somewhere and don't mind doing a bit of hauling. In more remote areas you can have water tanks or rainwater tanks.
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  #16  
Old 07-05-2010, 08:53 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Originally Posted by astro View Post

In looking at your residential zoning code your main issue is going to be the minimum 5,000 sq ft lot requirement for a single family residence. It does not speak to minimum house size, only minimum lot sizes.
Gaagh! Legally required urban sprawl. My house, in a fairly posh neighborhood whose houses and lots are generous, is on a 5000 square foot lot. But the house I grew up in, a pretty standard Philadelphia row house, was on a lot that couldn't have been larger than 2500 square foot.

At McGill a member of the architechture dept built on campus something he called a "grow home" that was 14' wide and maybe 20' long. It had a living room, bedroom, and kitchen on the first floor, a bathroom on the second. The rest of the second floor was unfinished, but the idea was that it could be. So the total floor area was under 600 square foot. It turned out the Montreal building code did not allow a house 14' wide.
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  #17  
Old 07-05-2010, 09:25 AM
Bijou Drains Bijou Drains is offline
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Saw a NYC apartment that was very small, they had no room for any kitchen stuff other than a microwave and a small sink. I think it was around 200 square feet. They had a tiny bathroom and shower.
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  #18  
Old 07-05-2010, 09:57 AM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bijou Drains View Post
Saw a NYC apartment that was very small, they had no room for any kitchen stuff other than a microwave and a small sink. I think it was around 200 square feet. They had a tiny bathroom and shower.
I've been in a NYC apartment that instead of having a bathroom had a small water closet (ie a toilet in a closetsized room) and a bathtub in the kitchen! The tub came with a cover you could set stuff on like a shelf, but the tenant prefered to put a curtains in front of it to hide the whole thing from view (though this made the kitchen seem even smaller and blocked it's window). It wasn't a studio either. Three rooms counting the kitchen, all in a row. The 1st room (which had the entrance) was set up as a living room, the 2nd as a bedroom (this was also where the WC was), and the 3rd was the kitchen.
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  #19  
Old 07-05-2010, 12:52 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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I'd suggest looking into modern tree houses. Some of them are incredible. They are tiny houses with small sq footage.

They aren't much harder to build. They are built from a free standing deck that isn't attached to the tree. On top of the deck goes the walls, windows and roof. They usually are just a few feet off the ground. Some are way high. Depends on what you like and the size of the tree.

these are real, year around homes.
http://dornob.com/custom-tree-house-...lding-designs/

Last edited by aceplace57; 07-05-2010 at 12:54 PM..
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  #20  
Old 07-05-2010, 01:38 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
no plumbing?? For a residential house?

I can't see that being allowed. They don't want people using the back yard as a toilet. That's a health hazard for the entire neighborhood.
Actually, I think the under-10-m2-without-plumbing exception is intended to allow the construction of things like garden sheds without too much bother... and even if you just put an outhouse nearby, that needs a septic permit and many municipalities forbid them.

If it's a farm building, not intended for human occupation, the looser Farm Building Code applies.
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  #21  
Old 07-05-2010, 03:53 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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As others say, depends on zoning. Most areas haev minimums (and maximums) to ensure the land values. Nothing says "dump" like th trailer parked in the empty lot next door being used as a house.

IIRC there was a news item many years ago about some eco-freak in Boston who tried to liev in a house without sewer or water. The local autorities said you could not do that, due to health concerns.

People seem to be confusing garden shed or outbuilding here with inhabitable structure. For human habitation of a structure you most likely need sewer connection and running water; then all the other bylaws - hot and cold water, proper electrical, drainage, sump pump and insulation and fire code rules (no exposed styrofoam insulation) etc. etc. etc. (slum buildings are frequently closed/condemned for failing to meet these codes).

There's a very narrow house in Amsterdam, that shows up on weird house programs, which IIRC, is only 6 feet wide.
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  #22  
Old 07-05-2010, 04:00 PM
ftg ftg is offline
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My county has gotten fussier in recent years and there's a minimum house size for new single family home construction but it depends on which area of the county. It ranges from 1000 to 2000 sq ft. So YMMV even within a jurisdiction.
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  #23  
Old 07-06-2010, 12:01 PM
digs digs is online now
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Figure out a way to LIVE in a teeny house before you build one. The idea is amazing... the claustrophobia, esp. in the winter, not so great. Maybe situate it NOT in a lonely valley, but near a coffee joint you can get away to.

But nothing beats sitting at the table, opening the fridge for the milk, the cupboard for the Cocoa Puffs, and then rinsing your dishes...

all without moving from your chair.
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  #24  
Old 07-01-2014, 05:54 PM
bettaboy bettaboy is offline
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NYC and small

This is an old thread but I thought I would add to it for anyone such as myself finding this great site recently. I lived in both Boston and later NYC and Japan long ago. Having come from the West coast I was surprised at "studio" living when I was in Boston (brother was an architect). Large older houses were converted into apt complexes (with stunning original wood work so on). People become very creative and many were beautiful (students) and eventually would move on and out to the suburbs or larger apt highrises.


In NYC (ditto for any city really) one has to understand the location, original use and architectural style of when it was made and for whom. Later as areas were "homogenized" and "gentrified" (poor pushed out unless like the Spanish in then Hell's Kitchen got wise, bought their own buildings (when I came it was when Mayor Koch was selling buildings for one buck in certain areas) and found out about the 4% rebuilding loans only to sell later when the area was improved drastically and became Clinton.

The older Lower East side apts were much of the old immigrant tenant buildings - horrible conditions with one back window (no real building housing health codes then) (rail road apt) for emptying one's toilet waste (buckets). Bathtubs in kitchens, as well as many brownstones in Greenwich village.

Later this area as well was redone and upgraded and costing more - as space and location for turnover became rare). Bloomberg area when even outside rich were encouraged to come in and buy as well many highrise projects which had been put on hold for as long as a decade now being completed

The same for the old Iron structures (where I was told never to cross Avenue A or get killed) which became later (pushing out artists and photographers who needed huge spaces) SoHo. Ditto the meat market - now luxury area.

What was/is truly amazing is how many creative people transformed these places into amazing spaces. I remember seeing (in a bathroom so small one could hardly do more then well - "business") they had wall papered the walls with News paper - so one could "read".

And later while in Japan which made the small places in NYC look huge - I was amazed at how ingenious they are at making it all fit - and later adopted it to my one bedroom. There, one could lift a floor "tile" and storage abounded. Tiny appliances and all made for their market. Things double/triple duty and all was beautiful, efficient and calming. The Japanese had paper houses before the War and have learned to "save" face - ie pretend one does not hear anyone in the next room.

So back in NY, I build all things in - used the 11 foot ceilings to stack storage in any dead space I could find (even the little hall between bath and bedroom). I stored thousands of books this way and clothing was rotated in equally tall closets (but small).

Being an artists - I made a platform for my figure of a Bhudda to sit on one end (it was a shape that fit the apt which was not square) tapered at one end and a tad wider at the other. When guest came I would pull out bedding and use the platform as a guest area.

I made hinged top doors on the platform to store my wood and other supplies in back (not often used so in back) and had storage on wheels to pull out and back for more immediate tools up front. This was because we had only two very small closets.

In NYC one could "dumpster dive" and find almost all one needed. A construction guy even cut a strong metal piece so I could shore up the long side of the front piece (underneath).

I made tall columns along side and in the middle of two windows and storage was in all of these (and so angled that when one walked in - one could not see the books). (well that was my design the super I paid to do the actual building - thought I had made a math area and "straightened" it out)

I did away with the traditional table as it took up much space for no real reason - one uses trays which can be store away if on legs or just trays and some can be found and are very beautiful. The kitchen was tiny and I again used the ideas from Japan (and restaurant below us) to garner ideas. Tons of storage due to high ceilings and more beautiful objects in open grid storage, and ugly pots pans in stove (no one uses stoves really) and rest behind re done traditional cupboards. I painted murals on all, made a "paper lantern" over ugly lightening (found rusted iron grating and pasted Japanese paper over them and hung them up in curved shapes) and found an old Iron rail road "thing" to hang cooking utensils on. I cook healthy and simply so used one steel pan for soups, water and one black cast iron for all else.

Special occasions eat out or un stuff stove and use.

In all the space looked clean and bare but held much more then when it had traditional furniture - which was not made for these small spaces anyway.

So it can be done - living tiney and elegantly but one has to MHO look to those such as Japanese culture to see how to use all things in double or more fashion.

Great site btw.


Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaboi867 View Post
I've been in a NYC apartment that instead of having a bathroom had a small water closet (ie a toilet in a closetsized room) and a bathtub in the kitchen! The tub came with a cover you could set stuff on like a shelf, but the tenant prefered to put a curtains in front of it to hide the whole thing from view (though this made the kitchen seem even smaller and blocked it's window). It wasn't a studio either. Three rooms counting the kitchen, all in a row. The 1st room (which had the entrance) was set up as a living room, the 2nd as a bedroom (this was also where the WC was), and the 3rd was the kitchen.
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  #25  
Old 07-01-2014, 08:12 PM
Mr. Nylock Mr. Nylock is offline
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Building and zoning codes vary, but a general rule of thumb is the further away you move from urban areas, the more lenient the codes are. Some ares even have no building codes.
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  #26  
Old 07-01-2014, 09:01 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr. Nylock View Post
Building and zoning codes vary, but a general rule of thumb is the further away you move from urban areas, the more lenient the codes are. Some ares even have no building codes.
True. In Alaska, if you live outside the city limits, there are no building codes. You can throw up any kind of shotgun shack that suits you, and shit in a honey bucket. The blue tarp is a standard roofing material.

I knew one guy with a nice little cabin, with an outhouse that had only two walls at right angles to each other, just enough to break the wind, which afforded an unobstructed view of pristine wilderness while you pinch a loaf. The seat was styrofoam so it wasn't too uncomfortable at 10 below.
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  #27  
Old 07-02-2014, 06:38 AM
bob++ bob++ is offline
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When land prices are astronomical, you get creative.
Quote:
London's skinniest home at just 99 inches wide
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz36JI4PP9v
Quote:
Tiny unfurnished flat in Mayfair, central London, is spread across just 461 sq ft - for 1million.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz36JIW2HKp
Or 10 Hyde Park Place - The smallest house in London which is barely a metre wide.
http://www.secret-london.co.uk/Odd_Buildings_2.html

Last edited by bob++; 07-02-2014 at 06:39 AM..
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  #28  
Old 07-02-2014, 09:54 AM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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I was watching a documentary about tiny houses, they mention that minimum size for a permanent home is about 600 Sq ft. I have no idea where that was or if it is a city, County, state, etc standard. Since local government depends on property tax I'm sure they play a big role in discouraging $15000 400 square foot homes. To get around this issue people built homes on trailer beds and claimed they were not permanent domiciled.
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