Here is my summary and analysis of the proposed zoning and coding rules regarding Tiny Houses in Coconino County, AZ:
- If a tiny house is built on land or built on trailers where “the suspension/axle components have been permanently removed and the chassis permanently attached” to the ground, they are permitted in zones allowing detached single family dwellings, multi-family, or Accessory Dwelling Units if it meets those respective zoning laws as well as the Community Development regulations for Tiny Houses (i.e. passed inspection).
- If still on trailer, they are allowed:
- In a mobile home park, if they are attached to the land (but they are considered semi-permanent) and meets Community Development regulations for Tiny Houses (i.e. passed inspection).
- In an RV park, if: 1.) licensed as Travel Vehicles (under state’s DOT rules for RVs); 2.) registered with the DMV; 3.) are non-permanent housing; 4.) documentation provided to Coconino County Community Development showing trailer can support the weight of your THOW; and 5.) are self-contained in terms of wastewater. (NOTE: If DOT does not inspect and certified your THOW, then the County can get involved and require your THOW meets their building codes – which are more restrictive.)
- Tiny House = 200 – 400 sq. feet and on approved trailer or fixed land
- The ceiling height for rooms need to be 6’4”, so you can’t have normal lofts.
- Insulation needs to be at least R-15.
- A minimum of 60 amp electric panel required.
- If the county regulations are too restrictive for your THOWs, then you could only legally reside in the county at an RV park, if your THOW is certified by the Arizona Department of Transportation and registered with the DMV.
- There is a problem with the proposed rules. It says, “A Certificate of Occupancy will only be issued for tiny houses set on permanent foundations.” It needs to be written clearer. Earlier, they state that the county will issue a Certificate of Occupancy with the wheels still on the tiny house as long as the trailer is approved to carry the load, and the THOW is licensed with the DOT, registered with the DMV, and located in an RV park. The only way these rules are not contradictory is if a permanent foundation is simply that which is what the tiny house is situated on. As soon as the tiny house moves, that which it rested upon is no longer considered a permanent foundation under the code. This though makes the term “permanent foundation” a misnomer – confusing to what is commonly understood by the use of that term. It would be clearer in my view if they would define permanent foundation as something other than what is underneath a tiny house in an RV park, or just mention the exception for RVs when stating, “A Certificate of Occupancy will only be issued for tiny houses set on permanent foundations.”
- Hopefully, someone will be able to go to the meeting and address this contradictory language.
It has been frustrating for us not hitting any timetables for moving into our tiny house. We have struggled with impatience as we continue to prepare for living in a tiny house. But it hit me today that we are already living large by going tiny.
Just last week, we had a yard sale and got rid of a lot of stuff. We made over $400 which we put in the bank to help pay off debt. Last week, we also began to research planning and cooking healthy, but tasty meals from home. We have also decided to take up interests and hobbies that take us outside the four walls of our apartment. This week we got the rest of our skiing equipment at Aspen Ski and Board. Scott and the staff were super helpful in getting us the gear we needed at awesome prices!
We are also advancing personally. Briana is continuing to take swimming classes so she doesn’t drown in a creek we may cross on an upcoming hiking trip. We just got back last month from our amazing trip to Colorado. We are taking classes at REI to learn how to wisely enjoy the outdoors. …next week, we are taking a Zombie Apacalypse class… And we are planning a number of trips to our state parks in Ohio before the winter hits. And then when winter does come, we are going to be learning how to ski and take care of our equipment. So before we move into our tiny house, we have plenty to keep us busy and are having fun along the way.
We are moving forward to better living….
So from paying off debt, learning how to enjoy the outdoors, and learning how to eat better, we are already living large by going tiny! Moving into a tiny house will just be the final piece of the pie!
We thought we would take a moment and share with you one of the reasons why we are going tiny. One motivating factor for us becoming minimalists and living a simplified life is so our lives will be less encumbered, less focused on the accumulation of stuff and more committed to the accumulation of memories.
Time is everyone’s most precious commodity. Each of us has a set amount of it. It is possible for everything else to be re-acquired, yet once our time is gone, our journey in this life ends. We may not know how much time we have in this world, but there are ways we can learn how to appreciate it and not to waste it! One priority we want to focus on is to care not as much about stuff as we do about each other and the experiences we can have actually living life…together!
A little over a year ago, Briana and I met for the very first time at a Barnes andNoble in Columbus, Ohio! We can’t believe how much time during this year we have spent together! We thought we would close this post by sharing with you pictures of some of our experiences we have had thus far in our short journey together. Perhaps, over time, we will have some exciting experiences to share with some of you as well!
I had a wonderful time at the Tumbleweed Tiny House workshop. (Visit the site here to find a workshop in your area.) I met some great people, made excellent connections, and learned a great deal.
In fact, it was difficult to distill everything I learned into a short blog post. But here are the 5 top takeaways from the workshop:
- I knew more than I thought I did. From a beginner level, I would say I am pretty knowledgable. Now begins the intermediate stage of the learning process. Expert status would only be reached, in my opinion, if one successfully builds a tiny house with their own bare hands. We may never reach that status (which is OK) if we choose to have a builder build ours.
- Tool Libraries – If you are fortunate enough to have such a thing in your area, you can pretty much borrow tools for cheap. It only becomes expensive if you break or lose the tool, because you put your credit card down for the full value of replacing the item when you check it out.
- Registering your Tiny House On Wheels (THOW) with the DMV. If the build is DIY, when you get the trailer, you need to register it as a permanent trailer. Then, once it is built, you need to register it as a custom RV.
- We learned what it is like to actually be in a tiny house on wheels. While Briana and I had been in a tiny house before, it was not on wheels (a fixed tiny house; frankly, many of us have been in one of those before, right? 😉 Before entering one, we thought they were big enough. After listening to others who have been in them, we then believed they were big enough. But now that we have actually be in not just one, but two this weekend, now we can say that we know that these critters are spacious enough.
- Important steps to control moisture. I learned important ways to control moisture in a tiny house, so to prevent black mold from growing. In order to prevent moisture accumulation, it is essential to install vents over your cooktop and your shower and to have a properly-ventilated roof.
This weekend, we are in Nashville so David can attend a weekend tiny house workshop put on by Tumbleweed (visit the Tumbleweed Tiny House website here). I, on the other hand, decided to do a little bit of sightseeing!
Oh, by the way, Nashville is hosted the annual CMA Music Awards this week and the CMA Fest continues throughout the weekend, so it should be a little bit crazy – and fun! – down here.
For the last 8 months, not only have we been purging, but we have been educating ourselves by watching all the tiny house shows on TV, joining a number of virtual communities, and checking out different blogs…
We have also been moving in the direction of living our lives as simulated to tiny house living as we can. My office is in a separate space…David works in the living room or from coffee shops when he can. That has been the biggest part of the learning process. We have had to change our thinking because of the flexibility and freedom of living tiny. More of our LIFE can happen outside of the four walls of our home if we choose. We are becoming better students of the world around us, and we are excited for the opportunity!
David is in charge of designing our tiny house and making it into a reality. His education and planning started by storing a lot of pictures and videos, taking copious notes and designing different possible floor plans using pencil and paper.
He currently is learning how to use 3-D software so he can take our design ideas to the next level. David has been so committed and diligent regarding studying and learning about all things tiny, that he has moved from novice to proficient in record time – well on his way to expert status!
Education has been key thus far…and we know we will have to continue learning as we launch our tiny house experience!
We have been doing a great job paring down.
David has for years been pairing down, so he is ready (or at least so he thinks) for the final purge before moving into our new home.
We have discovered several things through our slow, but steady purging process.
First, purging is a marathon – not a race! As a former collegiate track athlete, David knows the endurance and focus it takes to be in it for the long haul. And that is exactly what the purging process should be. It will take time to determine what we REALLY need and what are really wants. One bit of advice we offer is to create a prioritized list of things you think you want and/or need. We recommend putting it in electronic format (we have a word document that we integrate with our Evernote app on our phone). Then when you see something you want to buy, decide where it belongs on the list. When you realize you need to buy X before you buy Y, it helps you not to buy impulsively or something you really don’t need. Intentional living is a prerequisite to living simply.
Second, it has really been fun identifying multiple uses for some of the items we already own! A small television long forgotten in a second bedroom may now find new life in a tiny house media center as a TV/computer screen. Decorative plates will now be used to both eat our everyday meals and as small platters to serve guests. David and I now ask – “Can this serve double duty?” It has almost become a game!
We learn so much every day through paring down. We have learned about each other. We have learned how extra “stuff” can distract us from what matters most. We have also learned that in a pinch wide-mouth coffee mugs might also double as great cereal bowls!
This is our first blog post! We are so excited to share our vision and our journey toward full-time tiny house living! Our hope is that our triumphs, our struggles, our laughter, our tears, etc., might be an encouragement to others looking into the tiny house movement.
David and I will continue to share our journey with you – from purging, to sketching, to building, to living in our tiny home! Please join us on the ride. I promise it will be exciting!