Inspecting a Tiny House

Blog, Home Inspection

Inspecting Tiny House

The tiny house movement is one that has gained quite a bit of momentum in the past few years. This trend attracts a new wave of buyers and sellers from diverse backgrounds. In fact, according to a recent survey, the largest group of tiny house owners included individuals who had a bachelor’s degree and earned $50K to $100K annually.

Due to the popularity and money-saving benefits offered by tiny houses, more and more people are opting to invest in this type of structure. If you are tasked with inspecting a tiny home, you may attempt to go about it the same way you would a traditional home – for all intents and purposes, this may not be the best option.

Here, you can learn about some unique codes that apply to tiny houses and other factors that will impact your inspection. Keep reading to ensure you are ready to handle a tiny house inspection.

DMV Approval

This isn’t a factor that applies to all tiny houses; however, if you are inspecting a THOW – tiny house on wheels – then it is imperative to check. Factors to look for include the following:

  • Built on a trailer registered with the local DMV
  • Unable to move on its own power
  • No larger than the allowed by the state law
  • Has a minimum of 70 sq. ft. on the first floor and no more than 400 sq. ft total
  • Includes basic functional areas

It is imperative to document each of these things in the inspection.

Plumbing and Electrical Inspection

It’s crucial to check and make sure that the plumbing and electricity in the tiny house was handled by a professional and that everything is up to code. It’s a good idea to use the IBC standards for plumbing and electrical in stick structures, along with the RVIA codes to check for issues related to leaks, testing, and pipe vibration. These are also elements that have to be signed off on.

The Waste Connections

If the little house you are inspecting has a shower or toilet inside, then the systems should be properly plumbed into holding tanks that are able to be emptied at a marine pump-out station or RV pump-out station, or that are plumbed into a septic system or sanitary sewer.

If there is a greywater or a composting system installed in the tiny house, it’s also important for you to determine what local codes apply to these elements. Ensure these requirements are met.

Fire Safety

The fire standards related to inspecting a traditional house are very different than those for a tiny house. Since these houses are much smaller, make certain that the house has a door or window that is a minimum of 32 inches wide so that a firefighter will be able to break in and save an occupant’s. Also, look at the options for escaping a fire if someone is up in the loft area. Fire prevention is a key element to consider as you are inspecting a tiny house.

As you can see, there are several factors to keep in mind as you inspect a tiny house. Due to their size and design, these require different inspection standards than a traditional, full-size home.

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