“Tiny houses” are not prohibited in Denver per se, but there are aspects of some tiny houses that do not align with city codes. Each tiny house is different, and there is no industry-standard definition of a tiny house.
In general, smaller dwelling units offer myriad benefits to individuals and the community at large including sustainability, affordable housing and accommodation for shifting demographics (like single-person households and downsizing retirees).
But like any other structures built in the city, a small dwelling must meet health and safety codes to ensure the safety and quality-of-life of all city residents — current and future.
Here’s an overview of a few of some common tiny-house features that may clash with local health and safety codes. Just as there is no standard definition of a tiny house, there is no one code or regulation that addresses all tiny house considerations. The mobile aspect of many tiny houses may be the biggest obstacle for those who wish to occupy these types of mobile homes in Denver.
Not hooking up to the municipal water system:
International Residential Code (building code)
- R306.1: Every dwelling unit shall be provided with a water closet, lavatory and bathtub or shower. R306.2: Each dwelling unit shall be provided with a kitchen area and a sink.
- R306.3: All plumbing fixtures shall be connected to a sanitary sewer or an approved private sewage disposal system.
- R306.4 All plumbing fixtures shall be connected an approved water supply and shall be provided with hot and cold water.
Denver Housing Code: Water
- Dwellings must be connected to the municipal water system or other approved system (sec 2-203). (For details contact Denver Environmental Health.)
Not hooking up to the municipal sewer system:
Denver Revised Municipal Code: Disposal of wastes and use of public sewers
- The owner of any building situated within the city and abutting on any street or alley in which there is now located or may in the future be located a public sewer of the city, is hereby required, at his expense, to connect the building directly with the public sewer designated by the manager of public works. Sec. 56-102., F.
Home on wheels:
Denver Zoning Code: Mobile homes
- The Denver Zoning Code allows a residential property to park or store a trailer or RV on an improved surface (asphalt, for example … not grass) on the rear half of the lot if the trailer or RV is less than 22 feet long and is operable. The trailer or RV may not be lived in or otherwise occupied.
Size of home:
2015 International Residential Code (building code): Minimum area
- R304.1 Minimum area. Habitable rooms shall have a floor area of not less than 70 square feet. Exception: kitchens..
- R304.2 Minimum dimensions: Habitable rooms shall be not less than 7 feet in any horizontal dimension. Exception: kitchens.
- Reclaimed or recycled gray water systems require a permit from the state. (For details contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.)