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Tiny houses are such a great concept, and the market is demanding them and ready, however, our zoning codes and building regulations are not ready for them. Most folks doing tiny houses are skating around the rules within a kind of murky grey area. In the rurals this may work, but in the city you would likely draw the ire and resentment of your neighbors- and more importantly code enforcement to your property.

The reason so many tiny houses are on wheels is to avoid two main limiting factors. Dwelling unit density restrictions from the underlying zoning and standard building code. I haven't checked with Reno specifically but many communities have a "minimum size" a dwelling unit has to be which is often over 600 square feet. This is a somewhat vestigial clause that originated during the early 20th century tenement housing crisis facing American cities.

In terms of the density restrictions, tiny houses are ways to effectively increase the density of your property without building above the dwelling unit cap. The problem is in most communities, you can't live in the city on a single family or multi family lot (other than a mobile home park) in an RV or trailer. Tiny houses on wheels would technically be considered RVs.

In Reno the city is doing a brand new 30-year comprehensive plan for the city, and the plan is what ends up informing the actual ordinance regulating development. I'm optimistic in light of the demand by many millennials and down-sizing boomers that more flexible development standards will become the norm- standards that are more encouraging of creative spaces rather than prescribing sterile ones.

If you couldn't tell, I have a degree in urban planning. Lol.

have anyone in here look at putting tiny house in lake Elsinore, California? Land still cheap and next to a lake. 30 minutes to Orange County. I have visit the area recently and I see they have Mobile home park around, but I don't know much about zoning in the area, so I am still researching @Hersh M. @Lee Ripma

There is a woman in Denver who is asking $300 a month for parking. That's about $10 a day. I don't think you could park it at an RV park for less than $10 a day, but I don't have a lot of experience with RV parks. I believe that includes sewer, water and electric.

So your current rents, divided by 2, would be $1,000 in income to put toward your mortgage? And I'm guessing your mortgage plus PMI is around $1,700 per month? So you and your wife will have to pay about $700 a month for the mortgage, plus any maintenance, etc. correct?

@Mindy Jensen , that's what I was afraid the rents would be.  I'm not sure it would be worth that amount of cash flow to have people living fairly near my house.  We live on 35 acres, so we are not used to having neighbors.  With vacation rentals, we can take a break from it at any time, but with a lot rental, not so much.  We'd be paying the utilities also, and we're paying a chunk of change to put in electric, water, and septic.  So, I'm just hoping our vacation rental plans work out!

Yes, that's what we're doing, @Mindy Jensen .  We bought our first tiny house a few weeks ago, and we are working on the infrastructure to get it in place so we can list it as a vacation rental.  Since we were already setting up water, electric, and septic for one house, we decided to go ahead and do 3 spaces around our pond.  If the first house is staying rented enough, we'll likely put in a second one.  I was thinking of the lot rentals as a Plan B if the vacation rentals are a flop!

@Leigh Ann Smith

Are your tiny houses actually mobile with wheels? And, if I'm reading your post correct, you actually have them hooked up to city water, electricity from the grid and then a septic tank. How does that all work? Is it just like hooking up an RV?

@Vincent Crane

Hi Vincent,

I think your question was directed at me but I wasn't quite sure since there is a bunch of other stuff on this thread. Our total debt service plus PMI, taxes, and home insurance is around $1,650. Currently our rents are $2,050 but we assumed those tenants upon purchase. The rents are under market significantly so we believe that once the leases are up, and we've implemented our improvements, we can get $1,400 for the unit we are not living in. We also plan on renting out one of the rooms in the unit we live in for another $400. We plan on still setting aside around what we currently pay in rent, around $800, at our new place for cap ex, vacancy, maintenance, etc.

The good part about it is that if we're taken out of the equation and we rent both the units, the property should cover all its own expenses handily and then perhaps even a tiny bit left over for cashflow. Thanks for your post!

@Dave Hurt

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the congratulations. We have a good friend from Arizona who is looking to do more rock climbing in the Sierras and wants to move up this way. He'll be living with us to start and we'll see how it goes. My wife and I have previously had roommates before and have been perfectly content with it- really just depends on the person I think.

Thanks again! Take care.

@Wesley Pittman , we only have 1 tiny house so far, and it is on a trailer.  It will be on the grid for electric, connected to water from our well, and the waste water will go to the septic.  I'm attaching a picture of the house.  This is not its final location.  It's waiting here for us to get the site ready that's beside our pond.

@Watson Hilaire

Thanks for the encouragement and idea! I would consider that if the 3rd bedroom in the unit we will be living was not really tiny. To call it a bedroom was a bit of a stretch on the seller's part. We do have someone renting it at the moment but it's probably less than 80 square feet. I think we are going to use it as an office and place to store some of our outdoor gear.

The person that is actually renting it right now was shown the layout for the other unit (by the previous owner) which has three, average size bedrooms. She was told the layou for both units was the same, which is totally not true. She ended up renting site unseen and is eager to move into the other unit.

@Leigh Ann Smith

That is soooo cool! I watched Tiny on Netflix, and since then have actually been harassing my wife about us actually trying micro-housing for a year to see how we like at some point. Please keep posting as progress is made with your vacation rentals. I'd love to learn more about how it works out.

@Leigh Ann Smith Your pic inspired me to do a google image search on 'tiny house' and so many cool pics came up. 

Then I went a bit overboard thinking it would be pretty awesome to transport that house using balloons. This is what came up. Lol. Maybe a serious option some time in the future. 

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