A New Year’s Regulation Making Tiny Houses Legal Dwellings.
Your tiny house on wheels can become a legal dwelling in New Mexico.
At least, if it meets the right standards and you’re willing to take the wheels off.
As of January 15, 2018 the New Mexico State Construction Industries Division has preemptively adopted the Tiny House Appendix slated for the 2018 International Residential Code in the New Mexico Administrative Code. This is a proactive and forward-thinking step taken by the state.
New Mexico is now a leader along with just a couple of other states with true statewide regulation around tiny houses. Converting a tiny house on wheels into a legal dwelling with a certificate of occupancy is now possible. That’s huge news.
Why Is It Huge News?
These new regulations provide a pathway for a tiny house to become a structure that can contribute to the equity and value of a property rather than being forever restricted to the status of RV or travel trailer, which is a depreciating asset.
In order to turn your mobile mansion into a credentialed crib, you’ll need a permit to anchor the house to some kind of foundation, much the same way manufactured housing is currently placed. But, just like manufactured housing, you can still potentially move the structure in the future.
If this is something you might pursue, it’s important to make sure your tiny house is built to residential code standards as well as the ANSI codes that regulate the construction of RVs. As we learn more about how the state will inspect tiny houses for folks looking to take advantage of this possibility––and how different municipalities may embrace or resist these tiny houses––we’ll keep you up to date. Our current information from Santa Fe, for example, is that placement of tiny houses will go forward under existing primary and accessory uses. For now, feel free to peruse the code below as it exists in New Mexico.
To learn more about how this came about and the folks who conceived of and championed an appendix to the IRC, read here.
And, of course, if you’re ready to build a tiny house for yourself, get in touch with us!
Read the Regs:
126.96.36.199 APPENDIX V TINY HOUSES:
- Section AV101 – GENERAL
(1) Section AV101.1 Scope. This appendix shall be applicable to tiny houses used as single dwelling units providing complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation and placed on a permanent foundation. Tiny houses shall comply with this code except as otherwise stated in this appendix. Tiny houses constructed in New Mexico or constructed outside New Mexico and transported into New Mexico shall be inspected to comply with New Mexico Residential Code requirements for instate or out of state production of dwelling units. This shall include Appendix V of the New Mexico Residential Code. Tiny houses constructed on a chassis with permanent axle shall be considered recreational vehicles and shall meet codes for and be licensed as recreational vehicles so long as the axle remain in place. If axle are removed and the unit placed on supports (foundation) the unit must comply with code requirements for tiny houses placed on a permanent foundations. Tiny houses placed upon a permanent foundation shall be constructed to comply with New Mexico Building Residential Codes including Appendix V (Tiny Houses) of the Residential Code.
(2) Section AV102.1 General Definitions. The following words and terms shall, for the purposes of this appendix, have the meanings shown herein. Refer to Chapter 2 of this code for general definitions.
(a) Emergency egress A skylight, roof window, or other emergency egress opening designed and installed to satisfy the emergency escape and rescue opening requirements in Section R310.2.
(b) Landing platform. A landing provided as the top step of a stairway accessing a loft.
(c) Loft. A floor level located more than 30 inches (762 mm) directly above the main floor and open to on at least one side with a ceiling height of less than 6 feet 8 inches (2032 mm), used as a living or sleeping space. Lofts shall not exceed 40 percent of the floor area.
(d) Tiny house. A dwelling that is 400 square feet (37 m2) or less in floor area excluding lofts.
- Section AV103 – CEILING HEIGHT AV103.1 Minimum ceiling height.
Habitable space and hallways in tiny houses shall have a ceiling height of not less than 6 feet 8 inches (2032 mm). Bathrooms, toilet rooms, and kitchens shall have a ceiling height of not less than 6 feet 4 inches (1930 mm). Obstructions shall not extend below these minimum ceiling heights including beams, girders, ducts, lighting and other obstructions. Exception: Ceiling heights in lofts are permitted to be less than 6 feet 8 inches (2032 mm).
- Section AV104 LOFTS
(1) Section AV104.1 Minimum loft area and dimensions. Lofts used as a sleeping or living space shall meet the minimum area and dimension requirements of Sections AV104.1.1 through AV104.1.3. 14.7.3 NMAC 3
(a) Section AV104.1.1 Minimum area. Lofts shall have a floor area of not less than 35 square feet (3.25 m2).
(b) Section AV104.1.2 Minimum dimensions. Lofts shall be not less than 5 feet (1524 mm) in any horizontal dimension.
(c) Section AV104.1.3 Height effect on loft area. Portions of a loft with a sloping ceiling measuring less than 3 feet (914 mm) from the finished floor to the finished ceiling shall not be considered as contributing to the minimum required area for the loft. Exception: Under gable roofs with a minimum slope of 6:12. portions of a loft with a sloping ceiling measuring less than 16 inches (406 mm) from the finished floor to the finished ceiling shall not be considered as contributing to the minimum required area for the loft.
(2) Section AV104.2 Loft access. The access to and primary egress from lofts shall be any type described in Sections AV104.2.1 through AV104.2.4.
(a) Section AV104.2.1 Stairways. Stairways accessing lofts shall comply with this code or with Sections AV188.8.131.52 through AV184.108.40.206.
(i) Section AV220.127.116.11 Width. Stairways accessing a loft shall not be less than 17 inches (432 mm) in clear width at or above the handrail. The minimum width below the handrail shall be not less than 20 inches (508 mm).
(ii) Section AV18.104.22.168 Headroom. The headroom in stairways accessing a loft shall be not less than 6 feet 2 inches (1880 mm) as measured vertically from a sloped line connecting the tread or landing platform nosings in the middle of their width.
(iii) Section AV22.214.171.124 Treads and risers. Risers for stairs accessing a loft shall be not less than 7 inches (178 mm) and not more than 12 inches (305 mm) in height. Tread depth and riser height shall be calculated in accordance with one of the following formulas: (a) The tread depth shall be 20 inches (508 mm) minus 4/3 of the riser height. (b) The riser height shall be 15 inches (381 mm) minus 3/4 of the tread depth.
(iv) Section AV126.96.36.199 Landing platforms. The top tread and riser of stairways accessing lofts shall be constructed as a landing platform where the loft ceiling height is less than 6 feet 2 inches (1880 mm) at the point where the stairway meets the loft. The landing platform shall be 18 inches to 22 inches (457 to 559 mm) in depth measured from the nosing of the landing platform to the edge of the loft, and 16 to 18 inches (406 to 457 mm) in height measured from the landing platform to the loft floor.
(v) Section AV188.8.131.52 Handrails. Handrails shall comply with Section R311.7.8.
(vi) Section AV184.108.40.206 Stairway guards. Guards at open sides of stairways shall comply with Section R312.1.
(b) Section AV104.2.2 Ladders. Ladders accessing lofts shall comply with Sections AV104.2.1 and AV104.2.2, including the requirements for handrails in section R311.7.8, and R308.4.6 glazing adjacent to stairs and ramps, and shall be permanently attached to the loft structure by a device that prevents movement during use. Attachment shall not be accomplished by use of toenails or nails subject to withdrawal.
(i) Section AV220.127.116.11 Size and capacity. Ladders accessing lofts shall have a rung width of not less than 12 inches (305 mm) and rungs shall be spaced with 10 inches (254mm) minimum to 14 inches (356mm) maximum spacing between rungs. Floor decking of lofts accessed by ladders shall be no more than 8½ feet above the main level floor. Ladders shall be capable of supporting a 200 pound (75 kg) load on any rung. Rung spacing shall be uniform within 3/8-inch (9.5 mm).
(ii) Section AV18.104.22.168 Incline. Ladders shall be installed at 70 to 80 degrees from horizontal.
(c) Section AV104.2.3 Alternating tread devices. Alternating tread devices accessing lofts shall comply with Sections R311.7.11 1 and R322.214.171.124. The clear width at and below the handrails shall be not less than 20 inches (508 mm).
(d) Section AV104.2.4 Ships ladders. Ships ladders accessing lofts shall comply with Sections R3126.96.36.199 and R3188.8.131.52. The clear width at and below handrails shall be not less than 20 inches (508 mm).
(e) Section AV104.2.5 Loft Guards. Loft guards shall be located along the open side of lofts. Loft guards shall not be less than 36 inches (914 mm) in height or one-half of the clear height to the ceiling, whichever is less.
- Section AV105— EMERGENCY ESCAPE AND RESCUE OPENINGS AV105.1 General.
Tiny houses shall meet the requirements of Section R310 for emergency escape and rescue openings including sleeping lofts.