Tiny Homes Carnival
Last weekend (7 and 8 March) the Tiny Homes Carnival was held in Sydney at the St Ives showgrounds. Despite the wet weather, around 8000 people walked through the gates to take a peek inside 15 tiny houses on display and to listen to the talks scheduled throughout the weekend.
Many fans got to meet the international celebrities of the Tiny House movement, John Weisbarth and Zac Giffin of Tiny House Nation, and Bryce Langston of Living Big in a Tiny House [check out our Facebook page for our own pic with John and Zac in the background although you can’t see them well :)] Our local celebrities also featured a number of veteran tiny house experts and advocates including Fred Schultz and Elle Paton. The ladies from Let’s Talk Tiny Houses were there to cover the event with their podcast interviews.
All in all, it was a celebration of Tiny Houses which received a lot of attention! A big shout out to Big Tiny who organised the event in collaboration with the Australian Tiny House Association (ATHA)!
More TH festivals and events
2020 promises to be a feast of TH events. Check out the event calendar on the ATHA website to keep up to date with what’s happening across the country.
Planning and building reforms in the USA
Admittedly for us, the most exciting news we heard came from by Zac Giffin when he shared the recent changes to planning regulations in the city of Los Angeles that now allow Tiny Houses on Wheels as Accessory Dwelling Units (read ‘granny flats’) within residential zones.
Key points of the changes in Los Angeles
The definition of a ‘Movable Tiny House’ has been added to the Municipal Code, as a structure intended for year-round separate and independent living for one household. In addition it needs to:
- Be licensed and registered as a vehicle;
- Comply with the requirements of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 119.5 which cover plumbing, propane, fire and life safety and construction;
- Not be able to move under its own power (this is presumably to restrict RVs); and
- Provide between 150 and 400 sq feet (14 and 37 sqm) of habitable living space including bathrooms.
Most planning schemes in Australia have a definition for a granny flat, generally referred to as secondary, accessory or ancillary dwelling. A granny flat is intended to be lived in by a family member (or a member of the household). All Australian States except Queensland, Victoria and South Australia* now allow for a small dwelling to be built similarly to a granny flat but lived in by a separate household (sometimes referred to as an ‘auxiliary dwelling’). The municipality of Los Angeles has now introduced a similar definition – Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU).
The new provisions for ADUs in Los Angeles address both fixed dwellings and Movable Tiny Houses. Some of the main ones are:
- ADUs are permitted in all residential zones but are subject to the regulations for height, heritage protection, and other relevant codes for that zone.
- Only one ADU per lot, the lot must contain an existing single-family dwelling and if the ADU is a Movable Tiny House it must be located behind the main dwelling.
- ADUs may be rented but not sold separately from the main dwelling except if the ADU is a Movable Tiny House (it can be sold when removed from the lot).
- Movable Tiny Houses do not need to meet the Building Code.
- One parking space per ADU except if located within one-half mile of a public transportation stop, or located within a block of a car share parking spot. [a refreshing approach compared to some of our councils which have increased the number of carparks to be provided in new developments]
- Movable Tiny Houses shall be connected to water, sewer and electric utilities. [not sure why?]
- Specific design elements for Movable Tiny Houses include:
- External cladding and trim shall exclude single piece composite, laminates, or interlocked metal sheathing;
- Windows shall be at least double pane glass and labelled for building use;
- Roofs shall have a minimum of a 12:2 pitch for greater than 50% of the roof area, and shall be in compliance with building code roofing material; and
- No slide-outs, tip-outs, nor other forms of mechanically articulating room area extensions.
- Los Angeles owners of residential dwellings are required to dedicate land, pay a fee or provide a combination of both for the City to provide additional or enhanced recreational facilities for new residents. ADUs are exempt from paying that fee.
Dominoes are falling
In 2018 the big news was the publication of Appendix Q of the International Residential Code (being the American equivalent of our National Construction Code) which provides relaxations on various requirements as they apply to fixed tiny houses that are 400 square feet or less. This Appendix is now being adopted by many States across the US.
The planning reforms of Los Angeles are hailed as a huge milestone of 2020. It is not the first city to introduce such changes (Fresno being the first), but certainly the first of the largest cities in the USA. And it is not the last with other Californian cities showing great interest.
Let’s see what 2020 will bring for Australia!
* Rent.com.au, The pros and cons of leasing a granny flat in Australia, May 9, 2019, https://www.rent.com.au/blog/pros-cons-granny-flat, accessed 15/03/2020