The city of Leander is taking proactive steps to allow for the construction of tiny houses within certain boundaries.
On Thursday, Leander City Council approved modifications to the city’s building regulations regarding tiny homes, defined as a facility that is between 140 and 700 square feet. Assistant City Manager Tom Yantis said the minimum square footage is habitable space for a sleeping area, living area, kitchen and bathroom.
“We got this from the model code that’s being developed by the International Code Council [ICC] to be adopted in their 2018 update, and it will be a new tiny house section of the international code,” Yantis said. “We’re a little bit ahead of ICC on this. A lot of communities are working on these same sorts of amendments in order to be able to facilitate the development of tiny houses.”
Yantis said a recent change to the city’s house zoning code will allow the council to review requests for construction of tiny homes in single family urban manufactured housing district.
There are no current requests for tiny home zoning, and there is no zoning district in the city specifically for tiny houses. Under the building codes, tiny houses would be required to have a permanent foundation and be connected to city utilities, Yantis said. One form of permanent foundation is pier and beam foundation, which Yantis said would be more cost effective should the homeowner wish to move the house at a future date.
Council member Andrea Navarrette said she is glad the city is working to address the relatively new concept of tiny houses, and named millennials and “empty nesters” as two demographics that may benefit from tiny houses.
“If we’re even ahead of the international building code, that’s exciting,” she said.
Because the latest decision was a change to the building code, not the zoning code, Yantis said it did not require multiple readings before being approved.