DENVER (KDVR) — Coloradans can now legally live in a tiny home and consider it a full-time residence.
Before HB 22-1242, tiny houses were categorized with campers and RVs, so they could only be lived in seasonally.
Now tiny homes can be built on wheels to International Residential Code for people to reside in permanently.
“With this new law I’m going to be able to take my tiny house, put it on a piece of land, as long as I built it to code and as long as I tie it to utilities correctly and place it correctly, I’m going to be able to live in that full time in Colorado, that used to not be,” she said.
She was on the team that helped make the new laws so that tiny homeowners can live on their own property.
“There’s a difference now, we’ve actually defined what a tiny home is,” Manchego-Baker said.
Tiny homes in Colorado were previously built to qualify as a park model RV, so people could live in a tiny home in an RV park.
“For a decade people have been forced to go to RV parks because that’s all we really had,” she said.
She said the beautiful thing about this change is that people can buy a tiny house on wheels and live in it at an RV park while they are finding a piece of land to develop.
When they find the right property, they can go to the state with the appropriate paperwork to have the tiny house converted from personal property to a property with a certificate of occupancy.
“As long as you’re following the rules for placing the unit on the land then you’re going to be allowed to place it there,” she said.
Because of that, the tiny home and the land will appreciate value instead of depreciating like an RV does.
Manchego-Baker said there are things that the state does not yet know involving property taxes and license plates if the tiny homeowner wants to take their home to another place temporarily.
The law also poses a challenge for builders and designers as they try to work around coding, but she said Tiny Building Experts will build models that are dual-certified so people can live in their tiny home as well as drive it on roads.
“It makes design harder, it costs just a little bit more but you’re going to have to pay for your certification no matter what,” she said. “So the truth of the matter is we feel really good about setting people up for success now with this new law.”
However, Coloradans who have been living in tiny homes in RV parks might have a hard time selling theirs in this state because those homes were built to RV codes.
She brought this up to lawmakers in Colorado in a meeting earlier this month. They told her that people can reach out to the state and figure out what they need to do to rectify their RV.
“If you can fix your build to meet the Colorado certifications, then there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to place it,” she said. “The problem is the truth that they’re not going to meet the certifications and the reason why is because they can’t redo their framing and their insulation.”
For the people who have a tiny house built to RV code, Manchego-Baker said they might find success selling it in another state where the codes are different due to differing climates.
While there is still work to do, Manchego-Baker said this was a big step toward fixing the affordable housing crisis. She said the next step is changing some of the zoning laws.
In the future, she hopes that banks will help out veterans that couldn’t use their benefits for a tiny home because it was considered personal property, a luxury.
“Now that we’re recognizing them as real property and we’re able to put them on land I want veterans to be able to use their loans now, so I want some banks to step up for these veterans,” she said.
If you are interested in transitioning into a tiny home, Manchego-Baker said it starts with downsizing and decluttering. She recommends experiencing a tiny home by renting one on Airbnb or Hip Camp and checking out a tiny house festival.