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California Tiny House Laws: Things to Know!

  • Homeowners Insurance
  • Gerard Stevens
  • 7 minutes

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Plenty of people yearn to have a house in The Golden State. But it’s no secret that you’ll have must spend substantially more than the national average to buy a house in California. So, if you want an affordable option, there’s always one – buy a tiny house in California. However, before you rush off to do that, what are the California tiny house laws? 

Many resources are available in California for people who wish to own a tiny house in California. However, the laws related to these differ from one community to the next. Be aware that some areas in the state have more stringent rules than others.  

California tiny house laws intend to benefit the entire state. Still, if you dont know what they are, your dream of building a tiny house in California could get dashed before they even get off the ground.  

Buy a cheap insurance for your tiny home in California

Are tiny houses legal in California? 

It is legal in some areas if you abide by your citys zoning and building regulations. However, owning a tiny house is illegal in some parts of the state. California tiny house laws might vary greatly based on the area. For instance, San Francisco’s zoning regulations don’t allow homes with rooms less than 70 sq ft. But in Isleton, an hour’s drive from San Francisco, you can locate Park Delta Bay, Northern California’s first legal tiny house community.  

There are two ways to own a tiny home in California: by getting a special use permit or connecting your tiny home to an RV park. Ideally, you can get special use permits through the planning department of your county or city. The process for getting the permit can vary depending on your location. Usually, it involves completing an application and attending a public hearing. 

Does California have a tiny home community? 


Yes. There are numerous tiny home communities in the state. These include Park Delta Bay, the tiny house community in Joshua Tree, the Fresno tiny house community, and the Modesto tiny house community. Also, many smaller communities in California welcome residents to move to small houses. 

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What cities in California allow tiny houses? 

California’s tiny house zoning laws and building codes tend to change quickly. Many cities now permit the construction of tiny homes. In reality, you can find Around 15% of the tiny homes in the country in California. The following are the cities that allow you to construct tiny houses.  

  • Fresno 
  • Los Angeles 
  • San Jose 
  • California 
  • Santa Cruz 
  • San Diego 
  • San Luis Obispo 

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What size is considered a tiny house in California? 

The California Residential Code and California Building Code are part of the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC). According to California tiny house laws, a tiny home requires the following features to meet the CBSC’s requirements.  

  • One or more rooms having a total floor area of at least 120 sq ft 
  • The ceiling should have at least a height of 7 feet 6 inches 
  • A minimum of 70 sq ft of total floor space for all other living areas 

The home must have the following features.  

  • Ventilation 
  • Lighting 
  • Emergency exits 
  • Plumbing 
  • Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors 

Efficiency Dwelling Unit (EDU) 

Do you wish to have an even smaller home? Then, go for an Efficiency Dwelling Unit. Your home’s size depends on the number of occupants there. For an EDU, your living room must be at least 220 sq ft and include an extra 100 sq ft of living area for each additional tenant beyond two. It must also satisfy the following requirements.  

  • Cooking appliances 
  • A kitchen sink 
  • A separate closet 
  • Refrigeration equipment 

Tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) 

THOW in California

Many areas in the state permit tiny homes on wheels (THOWs), especially in RV and mobile home parks. These are the California tiny house laws they must follow.  

  • Licensing: Your THOW must register with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for using it on public roadways. It must also meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 119.2 or 119.5 safety regulations.  
  • Towing: Suppose your THOW is unable to move under its power. Then it must be capable of getting towed by a frame-towing hitch, bumper hitch, or fifth-wheel connection.  
  • Skirting: The THOW’s wheels and undercarriage need coverage. 
  • Size: For highway usage, your THOW must meet the California Vehicle Code’s requirements for length and weight.  
  • Spacing: You must have a first-floor living area of at least 100 sq ft.  
  • Living purposes: You need living spaces for sleeping, cooking, and personal hygiene. 
  • Design: Your THOW must resemble a typical house. 

How to build a tiny house in California 

Follow these steps to construct a tiny house in California.  

  • Choose the type of house: Whether it be a tiny house on wheels or an EDU, decide the type you want.  
  • Do some research: To find info that can assist you in identifying the legal requirements, visit your neighborhood library.  
  • Find a construction company: Many companies construct your tiny house. Also, they will assist you in navigating complex regulations and work with the planning division of your local government.  
  • Choose the best location: You can move to a different city with good zoning regulations. Or finding a backyard big enough to fit your tiny house is also an option.   
  • Get home insurance quotes: Ensure to buy home insurance after constructing your tiny home! Although state law doesn’t mandate it, having insurance will offer adequate protection to your house.  

Where can I park my tiny home in California? 

According to California tiny home laws, there are four main areas where you can park your tiny home. 

  • Private parking: It can be a good option if you have friends or family with extra space on their property. This area can be a backyard, a driveway, or even an empty lot. Just ask the landowner for permission before parking your tiny house there. 
  • Parking spaces in tiny house communities/farms: It can be beneficial because these areas often have water and electrical hookups. And they usually have a low monthly fee. 
  • RV parks: You can place tiny homes in many RV parks. These also offer water and electrical hookups. RV parks can be more costly than other options, so compare the rates before choosing. 

How much is a tiny house in California? 

The cost of tiny houses in California can range between $30,000 to $60,000 (only the cost of construction) or even more. The cost varies depending on your home’s style and the amenities you include. 

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Do you need a permit for a tiny house in California? 


Yes. You’ll need building permits if you’re constructing a tiny house on a foundation. But for THOWs, you must have the tiny house on wheels inspected and registered with the California DMV. 

What is the max height for a tiny house in California? 

The maximum height should be around 14 feet.  

What is a California ADU? 

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are an innovative way to construct much-needed housing in California. Granny flats, backyard cottages, in-law units, secondary units, and other terms also refer to ADUs. In CA, the cost of an ADU can range between $300,000-$400,000. 

What is the largest tiny home village in California? 

With 117 units and 224 beds, the New Arroyo Seco Tiny Home Village is California’s largest tiny home village. 

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Are there tiny homes in Los Angeles?  

Yes, there are six tiny home villages. It consists of around 908 beds.  

Can I put a tiny house in my backyard in Los Angeles? 

The Los Angeles City Council has accepted the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance. The ordinance makes tiny houses allowable and permanent inhabitation ADUs or backyard cottages. 

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