Are Tiny Homes Legal in Iowa?

With the increasing demand for tiny homes in Iowa, what is the legal status of such houses in the state? Check out this article to know about it.
January 14, 2023 by
Michael Zatorski
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Are Tiny Homes Legal in Iowa?


  • Iowa Zoning Regulations
    Varies from county to county. Contact the local authority to learn about them.

  • Tiny Houses on Wheels in Iowa
    The minimum height for THOW is 6.8 feet. But it is required to keep the height below 13.5 feet.
    The size range for THOW, in general, is 60 to 400 square feet 

  • Illegal Permanent Residency in THOW
    It’s not permitted to be a permanent resident in Iowa while living in a THOW

  • Safety Measures
    Your tiny home must fulfill the requirements set by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.5 Park Model Recreational Vehicle Standard. 

  • Importance of Maintaining Iowa Zoning Laws
    The state authority holds the power to even take your home away if it doesn’t meet the zoning laws

  • Are the Tiny Homes from UBuild Legal?
    Depends on the zoning laws of the local authority. But, it’s legal in most cities of Iowa.

  • Benefits of a Tiny Home
    Suitable for sustainable environment, cost-effective, easier to maintain

Iowa is an interesting state when we talk about the legal status of tiny houses. On one hand, the Iowa falls city code has reduced the size requirement for new houses from 600 to 500 square feet. So, the biggest among the tiny houses are now welcomed to stay at the city. On the other hand, places like Des Moines have posed serious resistance against tiny homes.
With two extremes in account, we present you more facts about the legal status of tiny homes in Iowa state.


Iowa Zoning Regulations
Zoning codes mark the use of land in a particular geographical location. It is important for developers, builders, and consumers to establish structures that utilize most of the land. Zoning codes help in distributing lands into districts or zones. Every builder or developer has to abide by the code. Otherwise, severe penalties can be imposed.
Having knowledge on zoning regulations is necessary. Although, the state is adjusting with the increasing demand of tiny houses due to increasing land price. If the house contradicts with local zoning ordinance, then it is a serious issue. 
In order to avoid ambiguities, contact with the local authority to know whether your tiny house violates any laws. Alternatively, you can consult with a local building code expert who can help with the interpretation of regarding law. 


Tiny Houses on Wheels in Iowa
Tiny houses on wheels or THOWs have different impression than permanent tiny houses. The law that had reduced minimum size of house from 600 to 500 square feet, generally talks about permanent structure. But when house with mobility is concerned, you not only have to check the zoning/building code, but also permission from Department of Transportation.
We understand that tiny or big, house occupies a special place at your heart. But your haven must meet some requirements to let you stay without insecurity. Requirements such as:

  • The minimum height for THOW is 6.8 feet. But it is required to keep the height below 13.5 feet.

  • The size range for THOW, in general, is 60 to 400 square feet 

  • The house must comply with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1192 Standard on Recreational Vehicles. In addition, automatic fire sprinkler system must be installed

  • Roof must be sloped and must comply with the Residential Building Regulations 

  • Ignition resistant materials are best for exterior walls

  • Water and sewer utility must comply with city plumbing codes. At least 1 separate bathroom should be present, having water closet, shower etc. the ceiling height should be at least 6.4 inches. 

  • Double pane glass for building use should be used for windows.

  • Mechanical equipment must be placed inside the structure, rather than on roof

  • Adequate light and ventilation necessities must be met
    The kitchen area must be functional with cooking equipment, refrigerator, kitchen sink, and free working area measuring at least 30 inches


Illegal Permanent Residency in THOW
There is no state-wide building code present at Iowa. So, you might find flexible regulations where residing inside THOWs is permitted, other places must have resistance against this. The state of Iowa has complex building regulations depending on cities, counties. The major cities are adjusting with the tiny home concept. But the minimum size requirement is more than an average tiny house.
Again, when THOWs are concerned, not only you have to take the building and zoning codes into account, but also parking or stationing your THOW can be a matter of legal obligation. Since THOWs are mostly registered as recreational vehicle. Thus, permanent or consecutive residency can be considered as illegal. 
So, even though you are planning to station your THOW in private property, we recommend you to check carefully whether any code is violated or not. 


Safety Measures
We learn when we look for something. We love the minimalistic entity of our tiny houses, but the safety procedure is more complex than an average apartment. After all, a full functioning house is formed inside a limited measurement.
If you are planning to buy one, then it must fulfill the requirements set by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.5 Park Model Recreational Vehicle Standard. 


Importance of Maintaining Iowa Zoning Laws
Zoning laws are there for a reason. It helps the authority to record and utilize land for public use. It further helps in planning and developing areas. This is why, even though you are planning to place your tiny house in your private property, you must seek permission from the authority. Since, tiny house does not only function as an extra residence, but also has impact on the lives of residents. 
On addition, often authorities have restrictions over how many persons can live inside a tiny house. So going through legal requirements in case of maintaining THOWs can save you from facing big penalties.


Are the Tiny Homes from UBuild Legal?
UBuild believes that, there is nothing like the comfort of your own home. This is why we vision to provide housing facilities to those who want to reside inside what they can call their ‘home’.
Every house that we present to you, is built while prioritizing your safety and comfort. Our quality houses are constructed focusing on legal requirements set by the national authority. Since we care so much about your satisfaction, we fulfill every safety procedure before bringing the houses to public. So, are the tiny homes from UBuild legal? Indeed! 


Benefits of a Tiny Home
Simple living is the new goal. A tiny house means just that. It is space saving, environment friendly, energy saving, and minimal yet luxurious. It takes you less money to invest on a tiny house, less time to clean it, and less effort to maintain it. But more than that, it is affordable and accessible to many of those who are hit hard by rising price in real estate. Less is more here - for human, environment, and a sustainable future.


Final Thoughts
We join hand in hand in this tiny home revolution. Because going minimal and committing to a quality-life is what we are looking forward to. Contact us at UBuild now if you’re ready to join this movement!

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