Tumbleweed “Bodega” on a foundation in Royalston, MA

Just 252 square feet, this tiny house in Royalston, Massachusetts is fully permitted and legal, and was built using modified Tumbleweed “Bodega” plans. It’s on a permanent foundation and was completed in October 2013.

According to owner/builder Chris Haynes, the code in his area requires one room that is at least 150 square feet, and while the living room area was listed as only 120 square feet in the plans, when combined with the kitchen, Chris was able to achieve the 150 square feet minimum. He also had to add a back door to the plan, and he discusses the allowed width of that door. Chris praises the building inspectors in Royalston.

Derek “Deek” Diedricksen, of HGTV/DIY interviews owner/builder Chris Haynes, and the conversation on meeting the code starts at the 1:10 minute mark in the video.

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Welcome to LegallyTiny.com!

Cheryl SpeltsMy name is Cheryl Spelts and I’m an artist and photographer, a law student, and a longtime lover of tiny houses.

A little over a decade ago I owned a park model RV, situated under a 100-year-old oak tree, next to a seasonal stream, in Southern California. It was a gorgeous location, and my expenses were low, but I kept wishing the park model was aesthetically more pleasing. I began to dream about tearing down the walls, and rebuilding them to look like a tiny Victorian house. Then I saw a photo of Jay Shafer’s first tiny house on a trailer, and I knew what I wanted to do was possible!

Since then I’ve created hundreds of floorpans, and elevations, and I’ve considered everything from siding materials, to roofing, to insulation, to framing, to making my own doors and windows. It’s been great fun, and I hope to start actually building my dream tiny house in the next couple of years!

As a law student I’ve been particularly interested in the challenge of finding places to legally place and live in a tiny house on wheels. I’m also fascinated by zoning and the minimum size limits that keep many people from building on a foundation as small as they’d like. And while the topic is way too big for one law student to figure out how to live tiny legally, on a national, or international scale, it is possible for one law student to collect and publish the stories of people who have actually found a way to live tiny legally, in their area.

So what is LegallyTiny about? It’s a collection of stories of the people who have navigated the codes, regulations, and zoning in their area, and are now living tiny, legally–both on wheels and on traditional foundations. There may also be a few stories with not-such-happy endings, if we can learn from the experience. There will be links to communities where you can legally live in a tiny house, and RV parks that accept tiny houses on wheels. And finally there will be links to builders that are RVIA certified, or the equivalent, which makes their tiny homes on wheels easier to place in RV parks, and in some states on private land.

Bottom line? If there’s a story on the web about living tiny, legally, I’d love to feature it here! So if you find a story of someone living tiny legally, please share it with me, so that I can share it on this site.

Knowledge is power, so let’s build a resource to help all tiny house lovers figure out the codes and regulations and zoning in their own area, and make it easier for all of us to live legally in a tiny house!


“Home is the nicest word there is.” –Laura Ingalls Wilder

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