Maine Considers Adopting 'Tiny House' Building Code Regulations

Published: Sep. 18, 2017 at 3:44 PM EDT
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Adopting Maine's first-ever guidelines for safe construction of 'tiny homes' was the center of a public hearing in Augusta on Monday.

The state's Technical Building and Standards Board is looking into clearing up confusion surrounding the life style choice that's been growing in popularity in recent years.

Typically between 100 and 400 square feet in size, tiny houses are promoted as affordable, environmentally friendly, and a simpler way of living in the 21st century.

Maine is one of the few states that is actively positioning itself at the forefront of the tiny home market by changing the state's building codes to accommodate safe tiny home construction.

"Because basically the building code requires certain square footages to meet minimum requirements in the code. Tiny homes are smaller than that. So this basically gives the code enforcement officer the tools to build them safely," said Richard McCarthy, Assistant State Fire Marshal.

Rather than submit legislation to change the codes, Rep. Seth Berry decided to save time and ask the regulators directly.

"I'm very interested in the next steps that we might take and this is not necessarily in your wheelhouse, but I think clearly the issue of tiny homes raises some interesting questions about septic, and plumbing, gray water, and composting toilets are often a part of those systems," said Rep. Berry, (D) Bowdoinham.

As the Board continues to receive public comment until September 28th, they hope to clear up any confusion surrounding the guidelines to build a tiny house, but ultimately it's up to each town whether to accept the lifestyle trend or not.

"The next step is zoning. Thats where most people misunderstand that there's going to be tiny homes popping up everywhere. It's still is up to the town to zone for that size structure," said McCarthy.

Hoping to get a head start in this emerging housing market, the Board will have a decision by mid-November, a decision that many carpenters, empty-nesters, and millennials will be looking forward to.

"People that are younger are moving out of the state or moving to places where they can afford it, not necessarily because they want to but because they have to. So tiny houses allows that affordable housing to happen," said Alan Plummer with the American Tiny House Association.