HUD Regulations...Tiny Houses vs. RV Fulltimers - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-10-2016, 01:48 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
In our area they are having constant issues with people who buy small back wood or lake lots and then park an RV or build a shack on the lot. They install a well for water but no means to properly dispose of the waste water and then complain when a government agency cites them . My neighbor had an RV trailer
on his lot as a summer home until one of the other neighbors caught him draining his black and gray tanks down the hill and into the lake. The DNR told him to install a septic system or get the trailer off the lot. According to him this was his lot and because he could not afford a septic , the DNR had no right to make him move.
The neighbors on either side of him ,who had to smell the raw sewage saw it differently. I have no issues with living in a small home but just because they are small does not mean they don't need to comply with the building ,sanitary and fire codes.
The other issue is they leave the trailer on the lot for years yet
because it's on wheels even though the tires are rotted and flat ,that the trailer is portable and thusly they should not have to pay property taxes . That way they can use the schools and government services but not have to pay taxes to pay for them.
I would assume that they would have had the option to collect the gray and black water and carry it or have it carried off site to a dumpstation. The waste water treatment plant in our town has one at the public's disposal
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Old 04-10-2016, 02:55 PM   #16
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I live in an area of contrast...the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains, beautiful dairy farmlands, the Green Mountains of Vermont...but sadly many of the towns and villages outside the Adirondack Park Authority on the New York side of the border between NY and Vermont do not have zoning.

I moved here knowing that and took my own advise..."if you elect to live here then be prepared to buy your own zoning" . That means buying enough acreage to insure that all you can see is under your ownership. That means spending the money to buy plenty of acreage.

In these hill towns you see eye sores of "Shanty Towns" that would turn anyone off to living anywhere near them. Sad that humans would choose to destroy the beauty of this area and live like savages. The farm animals in these hill town live under better conditions.

The moral of this story is simple....do your homework before you select a home base. Carol H seems to have done that and is protecting the quality of her life.
Zoning is designed to protect the quality of life and the environment in which we live. Not all people respect their neighbors or the laws for the common good.

This all started out about Tiny Houses and the RV Fulltimers as they relate to local codes, product safety and basic sanitation etc. etc.
Placing a travel trailer on a lakefront lot can be done without damaging the quality of life. I have seen this done on lakes in upstate New York. The travel trailers are connected to septic systems and have wells for water. They do not dump holding tanks into the lake water. The state department of environmental protection does enforce health and water quality standards on lakefront properties. Violators are subject to arrest and removal of the offending travel trailers. If people do not respect their neighbors they belong in jail.

Laws are about the common good. The Tiny House Fad has caused the government to create a new batch of codes. Local communities have the right to ban these structures. That right comes from the people...for the people.
HUD has worked with the RV Industry to create a special classification for our Travel trailers through the RVIA....that is a good thing. Since the Tiny House movement chose to build most of their structures on wheels while trying to circumvent building codes in order to create cheap small and often substandard permanent housing designed to avoid taxes and sanitation codes the HUD has begun creating even more regulations.

We all might be thankful the RVIA was there to separate us from the Tiny House movement.
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Old 04-10-2016, 04:14 PM   #17
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Tread carefully folks. Discussing zoning law and building codes is inherently political, and we have moved this thread out of "Problem Solving" because it has nothing to do with small molded fiberglass travel trailers.
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Old 04-10-2016, 05:57 PM   #18
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The eternal urge to control others

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Tread carefully folks. Discussing zoning law and building codes is inherently political, and we have moved this thread out of "Problem Solving" because it has nothing to do with small molded fiberglass travel trailers.
Yes, that's quite true, but these are opinions lofted by many fiberglass trailer aficionados nonetheless. I shake my head at the number of people who leap at the opportunity to control other people, how they live, how they use their property, what they place on their property, etc. This is a part of human nature that many of us can do without. I'd rather live among free, decent, tolerant people in a "shanty-town" with "eyesores" all around than among people who count it as their duty in life to interfere in their neighbors' lives and exercise control over them and their property.
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Old 04-10-2016, 06:16 PM   #19
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True, but an unimproved lot pays far less than a lot with an approved residential structure. If people are living full time in an RV on an unimproved lot next door to someone with a house on the property, they are paying less than their share of the cost of tax-funded services. I think that's the inequity Steve is pointing out.
But there are two sides to this tax fairness coin.

As a single person with no children, I have paid the same property and school taxes all my adult life as the families that have two, three, seven children. All of these children cost more for schools, roads (soccer practice, school plays, football games, etc.) These kids do a LOT of running around. I will also venture a guess that many of these kids cause the local police additional expenses in keeping them under control. Families cost a lot more to the community, yet single folks who live alone must pay all the same taxes. This doesn't even take into account the multiple income tax breaks that families can take advantage of.

Taxes have never been fair to everyone. The biggest breaks generally go to the class and situations that have the biggest constituency - married folks with kids.

Tiny houses are one of the FEW ways that single adults have to try to level the tax field a bit.
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Old 04-10-2016, 07:05 PM   #20
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In what way could asking for relaxation of the law be anything other than favoritism? The implication is that the law is too strict to begin with, at least for those granted favors.
The term favouritism is the practice of giving unfair preferential treatment to one person or group at the expense of another.

Which is totally not what the community board I volunteer on does. In fact it does the opposite. Any home owner can apply to the board for a relaxation of the building by laws and have an open public hearing of their application. One of the most common reasons a homeowner may not be granted a relaxation on set backs or building heights etc is if the board majority feels the request comes at the expense of a neighbours property - for reasons such as loss of view, loss of privacy etc. and it is possible for the homeowner to build on the lot without negatively impacting the neighbours. Neighbours are all invited to have their say in the application and what they have to say about the application is given a fairly high level of weight when the time comes for a board vote. It is BTW just as common to hear all the neighbours say they are in favour of an application as it is to hear the majority say they are opposed. Basically the process puts the development of the neighbourhood back into the hands of all the people who live in the neighbourhood.

As far as the reason the board is needed is not actually due to the zoning being to restrictive it is simple impossable to write zoning bylaws that cover all shapes, sizes and sloops of property. Basically they are written to cover a nice flat even rectangular property. As we all know not everyone has that type of lot especially in the area that I live. In this area it is pretty common as a result of the slopped and odd shaped lots for a home to have at least one building variance on it.
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Old 04-11-2016, 08:59 AM   #21
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The government and therefore taxes are involved in everything we touch.
Thanks to the RVIA we as owners of travel trailers have been given a special classification. Our units are not considered permanent structures and therefore circumvent building codes, property taxes as dwelling units etc.etc.
When you park your travel trailer on your property it is not taxed as a dwelling unit. The agreement between HUD and our guardian angel (RVIA) insulated us from that type of taxation.
The Tiny House movement threatened to end all that. Most of their units were built on wheels and it was evident that they might be trying to avoid taxation and be considered as part of the RV class. This gets complicated but since they were designed as an alternative to standard housing that inclusion in the RV class was not allowed. HUD then imposed building codes (far more specific than the code established thru the RVIA) that governed the building of travel trailers etc.
This allowed the state's and towns to tax Tiny Houses as permanent housing even though they were on wheels. The goal of the Tiny House movement was to save money by downsizing...not just in size but too often in minimum building standards as to electrical codes, sanitation and general construction.
What HUD did was two fold...first they let the Tiny House movement know they had to answer to higher standard and couldn't have it both ways and secondly
(Important to us) reaffirmed the special RV class as for "recreation" and not permanent housing.....to date the status of Fulltimers living in RVs is safe.

Fulltimers have it both ways for now. They can "follow the sun" while establishing residency for things like driver's licenses, taxes (especially state income taxes) while not actually living in that state. It is no wonder that most Fulltimers are "residents of Florida" a tax friendly state. They avoid real property taxes by not owning any real property.

The subject is very complex yet simple...and .....it is not political but it does involve many government regulations....and...IMHO does not violate any of the rules of this form....it is all about our life style and RVs in general.
It is a subject vital to our interests.

My last point is this....any town, through local codes, can restrict both the storage of RVs on private property and restrict the placement of Tiny Houses based on their square footage...and many have established minimum square footage regulations long before the advent of the Tiny House Fad.
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Old 04-11-2016, 04:51 PM   #22
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The term favouritism is the practice of giving unfair preferential treatment to one person or group at the expense of another.

Which is totally not what the community board I volunteer on does. In fact it does the opposite. Any home owner can apply to the board for a relaxation of the building by laws and have an open public hearing of their application. One of the most common reasons a homeowner may not be granted a relaxation on set backs or building heights etc is if the board majority feels the request comes at the expense of a neighbours property - for reasons such as loss of view, loss of privacy etc. and it is possible for the homeowner to build on the lot without negatively impacting the neighbours. Neighbours are all invited to have their say in the application and what they have to say about the application is given a fairly high level of weight when the time comes for a board vote. It is BTW just as common to hear all the neighbours say they are in favour of an application as it is to hear the majority say they are opposed. Basically the process puts the development of the neighbourhood back into the hands of all the people who live in the neighbourhood.

As far as the reason the board is needed is not actually due to the zoning being to restrictive it is simple impossable to write zoning bylaws that cover all shapes, sizes and sloops of property. Basically they are written to cover a nice flat even rectangular property. As we all know not everyone has that type of lot especially in the area that I live. In this area it is pretty common as a result of the slopped and odd shaped lots for a home to have at least one building variance on it.
Where I live, in order to avoid favouritism, we leave "u" out of it!
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Old 04-11-2016, 06:16 PM   #23
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With a lot of these "new" ideas such as tiny house or full timing there is a period of things being a little fuzzy in terms of what is ok and what is not. At least in terms of laws or codes. As Carol pointed out rules that cover every circumstance are unwieldy and impractical.

Sometimes the restrictions are based on known problems that have come up before and are well worth heading. Other times they reflect out of date information or situations and need to be re-examined.

Most times laws, rules and regulations reflect some issue that has arisen or can be foreseen to be a potential problem. Waste disposal is a classic example. Many older cottages were built on lakes with the most rudimentary of septic systems. Some as primitive as a 55 gallon drum of pea gravel with the bottom full of holes. Worked fine when the family came out on weekends during the summer, or for a week at a time off and on. Over time sprawl and more people retiring many of these cottages ended up as family homes being lived in full time. That waste load was not anticipated in some cases leading to lake and streams being heavily contaminated with sewage. People learn from that, several area lake communities acted to install sewer lines or community septic systems OR in some cases condemn the existing septic systems and insist new modern systems were installed.

All of the "solutions" tended to be enforced on the people living there by consent of the majority. Not because they liked telling people what to do but in order that all might enjoy water front property not living next to a sewage pond property.

Tiny houses are really new phenomena that is sort of recycled from what were called park models back in the day. Those were nominally trailers but so large as to be difficult to tow. Intended to be left in a single location, typically in a camper park. There is considerable difference between building a house (even a very small one) and building a camper. Having done both I would have to say you would not really like the school bus camper parked forever in the lot next door. Heck wife doesn't want it parked in our back yard and we are on acreage. Stays out on a relatives farm.

People have rights but they also have matching responsibilities that go with any rights. That goes for camping, full timing, and even small house moving into the neighborhood. One responsibility is to find a way to fit into the community rather than expect any and all communities to welcome a small house on wheels. Sometimes asking why there is a problem with some activity can lead to a solution or path to mutual accommodation.

I like the tiny house idea but not the idea of my having to climb into a loft bed, been there, done that, not again unless there is reincarnation. In some ways the ones I have seen on that TV show on Tiny House hunters they are really nothing but a complete modular house built on the transport frame for one side of a typical modular. Even with wheels sometimes the size makes towing a job for a professional.

Locally we have had issues with mobile homes dropped on lots during construction that when money got tight the houses did not get finished. Mobile home is not helping single family home values around it, and no one wants to put someone out of their house. Regulations against mobile homes on construction lots were passed to avoid having that conflict becoming a possibility. I think it might have involved a bond on removal in some communities, an outright ban in others but sometimes allowing a truly mobile RV to be lived in on the site during construction. Folks generally try to find a way that works. The fellow telling you the rule may have had nothing to do with it being created.
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Old 04-11-2016, 10:00 PM   #24
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As Carol pointed out rules that cover every circumstance are unwieldy and impractical.
Every reasonable protection could be covered with legislated codes and laws. Total control of every possible circumstance would of course be unwieldy and impractical without variances which I insist amount to favoritism.
This is not sour grapes on my part, since I have pretty much always been able to do what I desired with my own property without variances, though I have on occasion had to "explain" codes to those who wished to obstruct my progress.
I have seen permits contingent on the use of certain local contractors, and in one case an insistence on the use of a particular landscaper with a free hand and specified budget.

The key to a successful negotiation is often a clear vision of the motives of the opposition. That can sometimes mean you must smile and pretend that they only wish to protect you and your neighbors from misery and financial ruin while keeping the truth in mind.
BTW; I contend that favoritism is the application of preferential treatment to one person or group. The requirement to be unfair or cause harm to a another is not necessary.

Favoritism is favoritism, even when ostensibly justified.
For example... A variance which allows the violation of a 10 ft easement contingent on the acquiescence of the offended neighbor merely shifts the responsibility for the perceived destruction of property values onto the shoulders of that neighbor while exculpating the one receiving the favor.
I do understand that the burden of such responsibility can clearly be unwieldy and impractical, but if you are charged with determining and imposing the corporate will and vision then do so proudly and without rationalizing. (for the corporate good of course)
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Old 04-12-2016, 05:53 AM   #25
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Speaking of tiny houses, trailers, and local government....

Interestingly, a column was just published that includes a discussion of tiny houses. It says in part as follows

I discovered something else very interesting. I heard about people building what they term “tiny houses”, that is, houses that make Thoreau’s Walden cabin look like a McMansion. Ok, now I dig what these folks are doing. They’re building something to live in, not something to pay on for the next thirty years. Guess what? Local governments in many states actually have laws that say you cannot build houses under 500 square feet! Say what?! Now, I think I know why that is. Some local governments probably base property tax on the square footage of the house. So if it’s a tiny house, the regime can’t extort a lot of money from the owner.

The Tiny Housers have gotten around that by building the tiny houses on trailers, so it’s technically a camper/trailer and not a “house”. In other words, they have to use wheels as the cover story. But I give them credit for finding a way to give their local governments the high hat. However, why should anyone have to go to these lengths just to build a dwelling to live in? Is there anything more basic to human beings than building dwellings to live in, besides eating and drinking water? It’s pretty much right up there with making fire, also, but you need permits to do that, too.


The entire piece can be read HERE.
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Old 04-12-2016, 06:18 AM   #26
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The first, most important responsibility....

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I would have to say you would not really like the school bus camper parked forever in the lot next door. Heck wife doesn't want it parked in our back yard and we are on acreage. Stays out on a relatives farm.

People have rights but they also have matching responsibilities that go with any rights. That goes for camping, full timing, and even small house moving into the neighborhood.
What is said above is true, but doesn't mention the most important responsibility of all: The duty to leave people alone if they're not directly harming you. That's not a popular idea these days, as everyone leaps to use government to implement their own ideas of what is "acceptable" or what is "harmful".

Why not leave people alone? If they want to live in a tiny home, what business is it of ours? If they want to put a trailer on their land and live in it, what should we care? I've lived in trailer parks filled with junky trailers and shacks. In one was a poet and novelist. In another a geneticist working on his Ph.D. In another a family raising 5 kids, 4 of whom became medical doctors when they grew up. In yet another trashy trailer was a young woman attending law school. Terrible neighbors because they lived in relatively run-down places? I beg to differ.
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Old 04-12-2016, 10:29 AM   #27
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I agree some folks are too willing to have the government or society enforce "their" version of appropriate. I don't think the quality of accommodation has anything to do with the quality of the people living in that accommodation. Not really relevant to the issue of would my school bus camper or a run down mobile home on a lot enhance or hurt the value of my neighbors property. Not about who lives in the dwelling at all, it is about the dwelling or land use having an impact on those around it.

One has to consider they already live there, it is a community, that community has a chance to weigh in through local government if they so desire (no one goes to township meeting most of the time but that is a choice)

There is an old saying that bears directly on leaving folks alone. My right to swing my fist must stop before reaching someone else's nose. But that works both ways. I have a nose too so if someone wishes to open an auto salvage yard next door I would be very glad that zoning laws prevent it.

If zoning laws require houses be more than 500 sq. ft. then build one that is 510 sq. ft. or work to change the zoning laws. Convince people that already live there that this is not a shack or a shack on wheels that will lower the value of the property that they already own. Having purchased their home based on the current use and profile of the community no one has an inherit right to come in and change it. The common good has weight and merit because everyone has a nose that limits the swing of the individual. Unless said individual wants to live far away from everyone else.

Typical shotgun house was only 320 sq. ft. add a hump second story loft and you can hit the 500+ sq. ft. While this does not exactly match the 400 sq. ft. standard for a "true" tiny house it would probably meet zoning and be much smaller than many typical homes that run better than 1000 sq. ft.
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Old 04-12-2016, 10:37 AM   #28
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This info graphic on average sized homes by country is sort of interesting. Don't know exactly how accurate it is. How Big Is The Average House Size Around The World?


Guess it is sort of like campers, some like a compact 13 ft. and others want 17 or 19 ft. for a bit more room or amenities. Others want a 35 ft. with a basement, which is what makes camping in a campground so interesting. My little 13 ft. parked next to other campers that may have a tiny backpacking tent or a giant motor home, and we all end up swapping camping stories around a campfire.
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