SO WHAT EXACTLY IS TINY HOUSE APPENDIX Q?
You may be wondering what the adoption of the 2018 IRC Appendix Q into your state building code means for you and/or for the tiny house community in general. In brief, Appendix Q is the language from the IRC which officially defines a tiny house and creates a construction code specific to the needs of tiny houses. When the appendix is adopted into a state/jurisdictional code, builders (both professional and DIY) can go to their local building department with plans that meet the code and, after the project is complete, walk out with a Certificate of Occupancy (CO)! This code and process is for tiny houses that are used as full time residences, and will not apply to tiny houses built to RV standards. Tiny house Appendix Q was co-authored by Andrew Morrison and Martin Hammer and presented by the following team at the Kansas City hearings: Andrew Morrison, Martin Hammer, David Eisenberg, Macy Miller, Beth Ann Norrgard, Jeremy Weaver, David Latimer, Zack Giffin, James Herndon, and Meg Stephens.
HOW DOES IT AFFECT ME?
If you want to build a tiny house with the intent of keeping it relatively stationary (not moving it more than once every 3 years or so) and using it as your primary residence, you will have a way to do that (assuming your jurisdiction has adopted the tiny house Appendix Q or is willing to recognize the appendix even if it has yet to be locally adopted). This assumes that your local zoning laws don’t have minimum square footage requirements that would thwart your efforts to live tiny in that location.
DOES IT ADDRESS MOVEABLE TINY HOUSES?
I had to make some last minute changes to the proposed code language to remove the word “moveable” from my original proposal entitled “Movable Tiny Houses.” Unfortunately, the head of the ICC code approval process said that he would not accept the proposal as written because he believed it was what they call in the industry a “hijack” of the original proposal. After many conversations and emails with the official, I decided to amend the proposal so that he would allow it to move forward. After all, when he said “if you keep the moveable details in there, I will throw the whole thing out” it became crystal clear what my options were.
That said, tiny house Appendix Q does take away the vast majority of the challenges a moveable tiny house would face, leaving the chassis/trailer as the last major potential roadblock (fear not, there’s good news to follow). As such, builders and owner builders alike can submit an application for the foundation design through Section R104.11 of the IRC entitled Alternative materials, design and methods of construction and equipment. This application simply needs to show how the chassis/trailer can be incorporated into a suitable foundation to meet the intent of the code. This design could likely draw heavily on Appendix E: Manufactured Housing Used As Dwellings, as the majority of that appendix focuses on mounting a chassis/trailer to a code approved foundation for manufactured housing. This is a great place to start for using the code itself to support your design and long term plans.
WHAT DOES TINY HOUSE APPENDIX Q ADDRESS?
The appendix addresses ceiling heights, sleeping lofts, loft access, emergency egress and rescue, and many other details. By removing all of the other issues that typically cause challenges for tiny house builders, each owner can use this appendix, along with section R104.11 to work with their building department and/or an engineer to create a foundation system that meets the intent of the code and does not require the complete removal of the trailer tires. See Does it Address Moveable Tiny Houses?, above.
WHERE DOES THE EFFORT GO FROM HERE?
Now that the tiny house Appendix Q went through the rigorous vetting process from the International Code Council (ICC), it is up to each state/jurisdiction to decide whether to adopt it or not. Currently, our efforts are towards that end. Since its approval in December, 2017, it has already been implemented in numerous states/building jurisdictions (ID, ME, GA) with many more in line (Oregon, Massachusetts, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico to name just the ones that we know about). https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/IRC2018/appendix-q-tiny-houses?site_type=public
To help the effort financially, you can check out our GoFundMe campaign HERE. Todd with True Tiny Homes has been paying out of pocket running our meetup groups, working legislating and volunteering in government capacities without pay. If you would like to become a co-sponsor of the Washington Tiny House Association and the American Tiny House Association please follow these links to donate!