Oregon's newly proposed tiny house code

Months of advocacy and countless meetings feels like it's finally paying off after Oregon Building Codes Division recently proposed more reasonable standards for the design and construction of tiny homes, which are defined as 400 square feet or less in floor area.

Rather than recognizing tiny houses in into the official state building code, the proposed approach would adopt the new standards under the Oregon Reach Code. The Reach code is a voluntary set of standards outside of the state building code, available at the designer or builder's discretion, and requires building officials to accept structures built to it.

The proposed code would provide tiny houses built on permanent foundations the option of following the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC) with Tiny House Appendix Q , which allows for lower ceiling height limits and sleeping loft access by ladder. It would also create a new building classification for tiny house on wheels, and would allow for temporary RV-type electrical and plumbing connections.

Local building officials would also have the authority to waive or reduce some of the Reach Code requirements when deemed reasonable and when they do not create an imminent threat to public safety. However, they would not be allowed to impose additional requirements beyond what is included in the Reach Code.

In all, the proposed Reach Code should increase housing affordability and ultimately allow more tiny homes to be constructed. This is something that all tiny house advocates should be able to get behind and we encourage you to write comments of support for the "Reach Code Part II - Tiny Homes Code Proposal."

Words of support should be sent to: Richard Baumann, Rules Coordinator, at Richard.J.Baumann@Oregon.gov by August 30, 2018. A public hearing on this proposal will be held in Salem on August 28.

You can read the full proposed code language, background, and information on the public hearing here.

The proposed code recognizes two different types of tiny homes:

Group R-3: A permanent one-family dwelling of 400 sq. ft or less that will be permanently anchored to the ground. These structures are able to follow the 2018 IRC with Appendix Q, which allows for ladder access to sleeping lofts and reduced ceiling heigh limits. It requires permanent utility connections and fixtures as defined by standard plumbing and electrical code.

This classification could apply to our Emerald Village type tiny homes.

Group R-5: A wheeled residential or recreational structure 400 sq. ft. or less. These structures must be built on a trailer and have temporary RV-type electrical and plumbing connections, and are limited to temporary living quarters for seasonal or emergency use. The duration of stay can be limited by the local municipality, unless the structures are located within an approved RV, manufactured housing, or transitional housing park, in which case they are not subject to limitation on use and length of stay (see ORS 197.493).

This classification could apply to our Opportunity Village type tiny homes.

It also allows for R-5 structures to be converted to R-3 structures, if the structure can be permanently anchored to the ground as well as plumbing and electrical connections, and meets other standards of the 2018 IRC with Appendix Q.

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