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Monday, 23 November 2015 10:53

Tiny House on Wheels in Tampa Bay

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Home Is Where You Hook Up 

Do you want to build a tiny house on wheels (THOW) and live in Tampa Bay? Not so fast.

Your Tiny House on Wheels (THOW) Is Actually an RV

We've seen the clever tiny homes featured on television - many have been built on wheels. When you build your tiny house on wheels, it is technically considered a Recreational Vehicle, or RV. RV's are subject to regulations that prevent you from taking up residence and parking anywhere you choose. If you want to live in Tampa Bay, before you pursue building a tiny house on wheels, consider this:

 

Where are you going to put your tiny house on wheels?

 

In your head, you may see yourself living here:

Beautiful Tiny Homes Tiny House Community Orlando

 

But in reality, you may end up living here: 

Trailer Park Image2 sm

 


The bottom line is that in the Tampa Bay area, there are very few places where you can actually live in your tiny house on wheels (THOW).

 

    1. RV Park
    2. Tiny House Community, aka an RV Park, (none that we know of in Tampa Bay; closest one is in Orlando)
    3. Your own land (properly zoned, single family lot with permanent water, power and septic or sewer needed – a serious financial commitment).

 

The most likely choice is an RV Park.

 

Welcome home to your tiny house in an RV Park!

Trailer Park Mailboxes

 

Is this really where you want to live?  


As we mentioned in our previous blog post, there are rules about living in what is technically considered an RV. All communities have rules about where you can park an empty RV, and the rules are much more stringent when someone actually occupies the RV as a permanent residence. Your THOW is required to be hooked up to sewer and water, and there are only certain places that have the capability of offering those hook-ups – mainly RV parks.

 

Trailer Park image 3

 

Trailer Park Image1

 

We visited a few RV Parks and mobile home communities in the Tampa Bay area. We asked them if they would be willing to accept a THOW. We found that the majority are deed restricted and do not want home-built projects in their community. Others only accept selected manufacturers' "park models" that do not exceed 600 square feet. We did, however, find a very nice RV community near the Hillsborough River State Park that would allow temporary parking for your THOW, but would not allow for a permanent stay.

 

The Tiny House Community website offers a national listing of tiny house friendly RV parks; there are approximately fifteen of these RV parks in the state of Florida. 

 

*** UPDATE ***  Even the RV people say that a Tiny House is not an RV! 

Even the RV Community is rejecting the THOW concept! We recently reviewed the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association website, and we verified a few things. There's a type of recreational vehicle known as a "Park Model" - here is what the RVIA says about these "Park Models"  

"These RVs are used for recreational purposes only. They are not meant to be permanently affixed to the property, they do not improve property values in any way, and they are neither designed nor intended by their manufacturers to be used as permanent residences." 

When asked the question, "Is a Park Model RV a Tiny Home" the answer is a resounding NO. RVIA explains:

"so-called 'tiny homes' that the media describes are not really homes either. That's because federal, state and local laws typicaly require that permanent residences be built to federal, state or local building codes or standards. Few so-called 'tiny homes' meet those standards."  

 

Want to live in a THOW in your backyard? That is illegal.


Occupying a THOW in the backyard of a single family zoned parcel is prohibited in the Tampa Bay area including Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas Counties.

 

    • You can park your THOW along the side of your house, but you can't live there.
    • You must be the only house on the lot. Make sure you comply with zoning. All single family homes lots are zoned to have one single family, permanently built structure on the site. Multiple living structures are not permitted.  

 

Want to buy a lot, or put yout THOW on your vacant land? That could be costly.  


By the time you spend the money to incorporate the required infrastructure, (water/sewer/electric) you might as well build a traditional house.

 

Other things to consider for a THOW: 

 

  • If it is on wheels, then it is considered a "mobile home" and it needs to meet the requirements of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) - essentially making sure the structure is safe enough to be transported on the highway.

  • Your tiny house on wheels will be inspected. The DMV and local building officials will be checking to see if there is an Engineer Of Record (EOR.) Only the EOR can make modifications and additions to the building.

  • In order to make it a permanent residence, you need to have a licensed mobile home contractor strap it down with hurricane straps to ensure it can withstand Florida's Building Code Hurricane Requirements.

  • You are required to register your "RV" annually with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

 

It's a lot of fun to imagine yourself living in a tiny home. We understand that this lifestyle enables people to declutter, free up resources, and get outdoors to enjoy life. However, fully understand that local communities throughout the United States limit the short and long term placement and closely manage the construction of THOWs.  

 

Bottom Line - Your THOW is not a permanent home because it doesn't meet Florida building codes.  

You should carefully plan ahead before you build a Tiny House On Wheels (THOW).  As an alternative, a properly zoned and permanently built tiny home or Accessory Dwelling Unit should be seriously considered.  For more information on such a structure, please contact Home Care Suites.  

 

Below is a photo of one of our Accessory Dwelling Units under contruction in North Tampa.  This tiny house was designed to meet local codes, properly permitted, and built to match the architectural design of the house.  

  

HomeCareSuites ADU Mackin Exterior

 

Home Care Suites

 

 

 

 

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