To start with, I looked at the building codes the city has adopted: the 2012 International Building Code and 2012 International Residential Code. Links to these codes can be found on the City of Denton website. According to these codes, any single-family, primary residential building has to meet the following regulations:
- Every dwelling unit shall have at least one habitable room that shall have not less than 120 square foot of gross floor area. (R304.1)
- Other habitable rooms shall have a floor area of not less than 70 square feet, except kitchens. (R304.2)
- Habitable rooms shall not be less than 7 feet in any horizontal dimension, except kitchens. (R304.3)
- Portions of a room with a sloping ceiling measuring less than 5 feet between floor and ceiling shall not be considered as contributing to the minimum required habitable area for that room. (R304.4)
- Requires that every dwelling have a water closet, lavatory, and bathtub or shower (which could be as small as 18 square feet while still meeting spacing requirements in Section 307). (R306.1)
- Requires that every dwelling have a kitchen area with a sink. (R306.2)
Sounds great, right? Not so fast...
Cities also have a municipal code that can essentially override what the adopted building code says. Meaning, if the building code says one thing, but municipal code says another, you have to go with what the municipal code says. So what does Denton municipal code say?
All single-family dwellings must have a minimum heated floor area requirement of 900 square feet.
900 square feet is definitely not a tiny home. If you're like me you might be wondering '900 square feet? I see houses all over town that are smaller than that!'. You would be correct. In fact, I live in a house right now that's about 430 square feet. However, all those houses were built at a time when there was different code. Houses in the US have gotten larger over the years, not smaller. City code reflects that. The tiny home movement is still pretty small, relatively speaking. Though growing, most cities haven't gotten on board with it yet.
With knowing all this, my next step was to figure out if there's a way around it. There might be, but I'll wait and get into that next time. In the meantime, if you have any questions, insights, tips, knowledge, etc., please let me know!
Words - the internet somewhere.