Building A Tiny House In Virginia: A Complete Guide

Building a tiny house in Virginia is an exciting venture due to its affordability and charm. However, it’s essential to understand the state’s rules and regulations governing such constructions.

Virginia embraces alternative housing options, but there are specific guidelines to follow. Compliance with building codes and zoning laws is crucial to avoid legal issues.

Building A Tiny House In Virginia

Despite challenges, many have successfully built and lived in tiny homes in Virginia by adhering to these regulations. Educating yourself on the rules ensures a smooth building process.  John Smith says,

“Building a tiny house in Virginia offers a unique blend of scenic landscapes and historical charm, providing an idyllic backdrop for minimalist living.”

Key considerations include minimum size requirements, obtaining building permits, and ensuring access to utilities like water and electricity. By navigating these requirements effectively, you can fulfil your dream of building a tiny house in Virginia and enjoy the benefits of simple, intentional living in a picturesque setting.

In this article, we will discuss Building a tiny house in Virginia for sale, do I need a permit to build a tiny house on my property, and tiny homes for sale in Richmond, VA.

Can You Build A Tiny Home On Your Property In Virginia?

Yes, you can build a tiny house in Virginia, but it’s essential to know that there are only a few laws across the state. Each city and county has its own rules. Before you start building, you need to check what the rules are where you want to build. There are three primary levels of rules to think about if you want to build a tiny house in Virginia:

Building A Tiny House In Virginia

Building codes: Virginia uses the International Residential Code (IRC) to ensure safety and standards for all homes, including tiny ones. These rules cover things like how big your tiny house should be, how high the ceilings should be, and other vital details. It’s essential to meet these standards to make your tiny home legal.

Zoning regulations: Zoning laws differ depending on where you want to build your tiny house, whether in a city, county, or town. Some places allow tiny houses as regular homes, while others may only allow them as additional units on existing properties.

There are even areas with extraordinary communities just for tiny homes. To know where to legally put your tiny house, research and understand the zoning rules in your chosen area.

Local ordinances: Local rules can also affect whether tiny houses are allowed in Virginia. These rules, called ordinances, can be different from one place to another and might have extra rules or things you need to do if you want to live in a tiny house.

Darren Robertson, a local Realtor, says that talking to local officials and being open about your plans is essential to follow these rules correctly.

How Small May A House Be In Virginia?

Building A Tiny House In Virginia

Different areas of Virginia have different regulations regarding the construction of small dwellings. You can find tiny houses on wheels, in backyard cottages, or even as freestanding structures.

However, city and county regulations can limit the types of tiny homes allowed, with specific rules on size, parking, and occupancy duration, even if tiny houses on wheels are permitted.

These regulations vary significantly across different areas of Virginia. Reviewing local zoning laws to ensure compliance with them carefully is crucial.

Additionally, tiny houses built on permanent foundations must adhere to the same building codes and regulations as larger homes. Local building and zoning codes dictate specific requirements such as minimum square footage, setback distances, and utility connections.

Therefore, whether opting for a mobile tiny house or one on a permanent foundation, understanding and following local regulations is essential for a successful build.

Always consult with local authorities and review zoning laws thoroughly to avoid legal issues or setbacks during construction.

What Meets Virginia Building Codes For A Tiny House?

To ensure compliance with Virginia building codes, your tiny house must meet specific criteria depending on its classification as permanent, temporary, or transitional. Let’s look at the rules for permanent structures:

TinyTiny homes classified as permanent structuresmust follow the Virginia Residential Code and meet Appendix Q requirements of the IRC. Here are some essential requirements:

1: Land Area: Your Virginia tiny home can be built on land that’s at least 320 square feet.

2: Square Footage: The tiny home must have a living space between 120 and 400 square feet.

3: Height: Habitual rooms must have a minimum height of 6 feet 8 inches.

4: Room Features: At least one room in the tiny house should have a window and a closet.

5: Foundation: The tiny house must be built on a permanent foundation, like a concrete slab or piers, meeting local building codes’ load-bearing capacity and stability requirements.

6: Emergency Escapes: Your tiny house must have standard emergency escapes approved by the IRC and rescue openings.

Guidelines For Transient Tiny Homes

The state does not prohibit transient tiny dwellings, such as tiny houses on wheels (THOWs). You can legally register them as recreational vehicles if they’re less than 400 square feet. Such homes are subject to extra regulations in just two counties, Buckingham and Fauquier:

Building A Tiny House In Virginia

Only on privately owned land are THOWs permitted by the Buckingham County government. Fortunately, the county offers the option to rent or purchase land from homeowners to park your THOWs.

The county of Fauquier has a strict policy against THOWs parking on private or public property.

Each county has regulations on how long you can leave your THOW parked on private property or a specific area.

Standards for structures undergoing transition

Virginia allows transitional buildings that meet the requirements for tiny dwellings. The small transitional homes can be used as ADUs but must be connected to sewage, power, and water utilities.

Additionally, remember that certain jurisdictions restrict the use of ADUs to particular uses, such as housing for elderly or disabled people or family members.

It would also help to have the necessary safety equipment in your tiny transitional home, such as fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors, and smoke detectors. The egress standards for emergency exits must also be followed.

Which Counties In Virginia Permit Teeny-Tiny Houses?

Most counties in Virginia are okay with building tiny houses. But the rules can be different in each place. Some countries might make it easier to build your tiny house than others. It’s essential to think about this before you start building.

Building A Tiny House In Virginia

Here are some counties in Virginia where it’s easier to build tiny houses:

1: Loudoun County: They’ve allowed tiny houses on wheels since 2019. They have rules about how big the lot must be and how to connect to utilities.

2: Spotsylvania County: They allow tiny houses on wheels with specific rules and permits. You have to follow the rules about size, foundations, and utilities.

3: Clarke County: They allow tiny houses on foundations with rules about size, foundations, setbacks, and utilities.

4: Roanoke County: They let you have tiny houses as extra living spaces on some properties.

5: Henrico County: On residential properties, you can have extra living spaces, including tiny houses.

6: Richmond City: They’re trying to make it easier for people to have tiny houses as extra living spaces in certain areas.

Could You Live In A Little House In Virginia Permanently?

You may permanently live in a tiny house in Virginia, provided that you comply with the regulations the local building department

sets forth.

Certain governments may permit tiny homes built on foundations or as permanent residences on wheels (THOWs). To select a location for your tiny house inside the state, it is essential to conduct thorough research.

How Little Is Too Little For A Virginia House?

Building A Tiny House In Virginia

A specific minimum size is required for a house built in Virginia to be considered a tiny house. A minimum of 320 square feet of land is required for your home’s construction. A second requirement is that the total floor space of your home be 120–400 square feet.

Remember that where you live and the sort of tiny house you have can affect the legislation. One example is most counties’ square footage requirement for accessory dwelling units (ADUs). These units must fall between 200 and 400 square feet to be considered tiny homes.

Where Can I Park My Tiny House In Virginia?

Several counties in Virginia have different regulations regarding constructing tiny houses. If you’re looking to construct your ideal tiny house in the state, consider the following:

  • Zones designated for residential use
  • Agrarian or rural regions
  • Parks for mobile homes
  • Finished ADUs for the Backyard
  • Collaborative neighbourhoods or complexes with shared housing

Where In Virginia May I Park A Tiny House On Wheels?

There are a lot of places in Virginia where you can leave your THOW. Parking in a public or commercial lot is not an option, but here are several places you can:

Building A Tiny House In Virginia

You may be able to purchase or lease land for your THOW in certain counties. If you want to find out more, we suggest contacting the local zoning and administration office.

Registering a THOW as an RV in Virginia is also possible. Thus, campgrounds, RV parks, and even state parks will welcome your little house, provided you can register it as an RV. Before you put your little house on public land, check the regulations in your area.

Keep in mind that the regulations governing tiny houses in Virginia differ not only throughout but also across individual counties. So, before you park your RV, follow the rules of the road.

Can I Build A Tiny House In Virginia’s Backyard?

Building A Tiny House In Virginia

Some counties in Virginia allow the construction of tiny homes as auxiliary dwelling units (ADUs) placed in backyards. But before you start building, follow all of Virginia’s tiny house regulations.

Do your best to adhere to the Virginia small house regulations to avoid problems later. Contact the local planning or zoning authority to ensure your construction is lawful.

How much does it cost to build a tiny house in VA?

The cost of building your own tiny house in Virginia can vary a lot. It depends on how big you want it to be, how customized, and what materials you use.

If you decide to build it yourself (DIY), it can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000. That’s if you buy only some materials and don’t hire professionals.

But hiring professionals is better if you’re like most people and have little construction experience. Building a tiny house in Virginia costs between $30,000 to $100,000 to build your tiny house.

Does Virginia Have Any Neighborhoods That Allow Tiny Houses?

For those seeking a more communal lifestyle, Virginia is an ideal site to construct a tiny house. Tiny house communities throughout the state provide a welcoming and accepting atmosphere for those interested in downsizing their homes. However, you may have to do some digging to locate one.

There is a sense of belonging, shared activities, and facilities in these communities. Do your homework and check out a few neighbourhoods to pick the one that suits you best because locations and amenities vary greatly.


Virginia is a great place to live a minimalistic, uncomplicated life, and it’s not only because it’s tiny house friendly.

While building a tiny house in Virginia is no different from building any other type of structure, you must still adhere to all local ordinances. The regulations about tiny houses vary slightly across counties.

You may build your dream house in this stunning state by doing homework, talking to the right people, and enlisting their help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Live In A Tiny House On My Own Property?

Whether you can live in a tiny house on your property depends on the rules set by your local government. They have regulations and zoning laws to ensure homes are built safely and don’t cause issues for neighbours with things like electricity, water, and sewage. These rules also help prevent accidents or damage to nearby homes.

Is There A Tiny House Community In Virginia?

Yes, there is a tiny house community in Virginia, situated just across the James River, with a view overlooking the historic town of Williamsburg.

How Do You Start Building a Tiny House in Virginia?

To start building a tiny house in Virginia, follow these steps:

  1. Research Regulations: Check local zoning laws, building codes, and permit requirements.
  2. Choose a Location: Find suitable land or a tiny house community.
  3. Design Your Tiny House: Plan the layout and features.
  4. Secure Financing: Arrange loans or use savings.
  5. Hire Professionals: Consult architects and builders if needed.
  6. Obtain Permits: Apply for necessary building permits.
  7. Start Construction: Begin building according to codes and regulations.
  8. Inspection: Have your tiny house inspected and approved.


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Virginia’s Tiny Home Rules And Regulations: An Overview

Aftab Tariq

I'm Aftab Tariq, a wordsmith with a deep passion for all things small and sustainable. Through my writing, I aspire to inspire and guide you on your journey towards embracing the beauty and simplicity of tiny living.

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