Tiny Homes

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Housing, Building Codes & Standards is responsible for inspecting all manufactured homes, including tiny homes, in the state of Colorado.  Tiny homes are considered permanent living structures and inspections include construction, installation and foundation which must meet all state adopted building codes, with local design criteria for wind load, snow load, etc.  .  Tiny homes will receive a certification insignia and an installation insignia when completed and installed.  This allows the local jurisdiction to validate that it was built for long term occupancy.  Local jurisdictions cannot require factory built residential homes to meet a different set of building codes.

Tiny homes built before July 1, 2023 may not be designed for long term occupancy and will not receive a state insignia. Tiny homes without a state insignia are probably not designed for long term occupancy.  The state does not regulate the manufacture and sale of recreational vehicles.

Clarifying the new tiny home state program, Colorado statute defines a tiny home as a structure that is permanently constructed on a vehicle chassis, designed for long-term residency, includes electrical, mechanical, or plumbing services that are fabricated, formed, or assembled at a location other than the site of the completed home, is not self-propelled, has square footage of 400 square feet or less and has a metal plate insignia installed under the kitchen sink by the Division of Housing.

For additional information on building codes and standards including Tiny Home FAQ for Local Jurisdictions, please visit: https://cdola.colorado.gov/office-of-regulatory-oversight/building-codes-and-standards

There are a LOT of tiny home support groups on the internet.  One of the more established sites is for 501c3 public charity non-profit Tiny House Alliance USA which has information on certifying and insuring tiny homes as well as tracking codes and news about tiny homes.  They also list resources that include architectural services, design and manufacturing and engineering services, legal services, as well as listings of villages and builders.

In 2016, Colorado Legislative Council Staff issued a brief on tiny homes stating “all tiny homes must conform to any applicable local zoning code ordinances” which may place additional requirements on minimum square footage, noting that local code also often dictates setbacks from property lines and often restricts the number of units allowed on a property.  Local code may classify tiny homes as an Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) be regulated as such—this is becoming a common approach to tiny homes, to lump them together with ADU regulations.  It is somewhat common for ADUs to be prohibited from being utilized as a primary residence or from being rented out.  The brief noted that as of 2016 Walsenburg and Durango had adopted ordinances specifically related to tiny homes and ADUs.

The tinysociety.com that ranks states and summarizes state laws on their website rates Colorado 6/10 Tiny House Friendly noting Walsenburg and also Park County.

Recreational vehicles or Tiny Homes on Wheels (THOW) are not covered by building codes.  Use of an RV or THOW as a permanent dwelling is “typically illegal” in Colorado according to nolo.com a legal advice site, though a THOW may be treated like a “mobile home” if it is “permanently affixed to the ground, hooked up to utilities and otherwise meets safety standards.

2023 Update: What Ever Happened to the Tiny House

Tiny houses started as a minimalist revolution. They ended up as an Instagram

Read in WIRED: https://apple.news/ArFb453hdSFyczLXiRDzUFw

Local Jurisdiction information:

Clear Creek County has regulations specific to tiny homes explained in a PDF by their Planning Department.

Routt County Regional Building Department issued an informational brochure on tiny home construction in 2015 that applies to Steamboat Springs, Yampa and Oak Creek as well as unincorporated areas.

Salida has a tiny home development called River View at Cleora.  That development is on County Road 102 and the contact number is listed as (719) 247-6195.  It was built by Sprout Tiny Homes  which has a corporate address in Pueblo, Colorado.

Aspen is home of Sprout Tiny Homes’ Aspen Ski Company workforce housing project that won a ULI award.

Park County’s tiny home regulations are also summarized here at the americantinyhouseassociation.org website.

Searchtinyhousevillages.com listings:

Granby, Lake Shore Homes & RV has a tiny home as part of the River Run RV Resort development owned by Sun Outdoors which includes RV Sites, tiny homes, and tent sites and many other amenities such as pool, clubhouse with meeting rooms, bowling alley, a variety of restaurants and permanent food trucks on site.

Hayden, Creekside Homes is at 274 S 2nd street has pad sites for Tiny Houses on Wheels with all utilities and requirements for insulated skirting, utility tie in by the home owner and a restriction that the unit must be 9’ x30’ or smaller.

Durango, Hermosa Orchards Village development consists of 6 single family rental homes and 22 leased home spaces for tiny and manufactured homes on lots of 4000 sf and listed as “10 minutes to Durango’s many stores, brew pubs and fantastic restaurants”. Tiny houses on wheels and mobile homes permitted.  Another tiny home village in Durango is called Escalante Village which also allows tiny houses on wheels.

Fairplay, Whispering Pines Village is “a community for both full-time and part-time small-living.”  In the existing village there are more than 20 cabins, several RVs, tiny houses on wheels, a fully equipped club house and community recreation areas.  Other amenities include a coin-op laundry, clubhouse with wi-fi sitting area, full kitchen and “plenty of space for groups” a tennis court and hot tubs.  Lots are 3500 sf, maximum size is 399sf.

Basalt Campground is listed as an “unverified community with limited information available.”

Steamboat Springs, Cheney Creek tiny homes lists a one-time payment at $150,000 for one of 6 tiny homes they are selling.  The contact information is microlinvingllc.com/cheney-creek-tiny-home

Pitkin County BOCC has purchased Mobile Home Parks recently to protect the housing while Eagle County BOCC has advocated to protect water quality and assisted with a resident buyout that fell through.  As we push resources toward addressing the deficit in affordable homes, it is also important to keep an eye on preserving existing affordable housing.  There is no more urgent area for this than with regard to trailer parks.  Colorado Legislature recently passed HB 22-1287, which aims to shore up residents rights and aid in buyouts.

Other States:

Nebraska has a statewide Tiny Home Regulation explained in this Fact Sheet issued by the Housing and Recreational Vehicle Department.

California implemented new state-mandated ADU laws on January 1, 2020 that among other things requires all cities to create ADU incentives!