Michigan Tiny House Laws

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The world of tiny houses in Michigan is centered on mainly accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, with specific rules and regulations in the hands of individual cities and counties. You’ll need to gain expertise in your local laws in order to comply with Michigan safety and building requirements.
Michigan does not appear to have specific state-wide guidelines regarding tiny houses but has relatively loose zoning laws compared to those of other states. The Great Lakes State could be a great place to establish tiny roots thanks to good communities and a positive movement for tiny houses, but you’ll need to carefully plan everything to comply with local laws.
Learning about your city and county safety and building laws is much easier said than done, which is why car and home insurance broker and comparison app Jerry created this guide. This article will go over tiny house laws in Michigan and answer your questions about tiny homeownership. 
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Michigan does not have a state-wide guideline regarding tiny houses, which means the answer to this question will vary by city or county. There is a positive movement supporting tiny homes in Michigan, and there are nice tiny home communities to join. However, some areas have zoning codes that do not permit ADUs. 
The rules and regulations surrounding tiny houses in Michigan can vary drastically. ADUs can be illegal in some parts of the state, while Briley Township has fairly loose restrictions regarding their Economic Efficient Dwellings. These tiny houses can be anywhere between 240 and 500 square feet.

Michigan cities that allow tiny houses

There is a push for tiny houses in Michigan, and building codes and zoning laws change quickly as more cities begin to allow them. Currently, the main towns and cities in Michigan that allow tiny houses are:
At the moment, Detroit does not have any clear-cut rules for tiny houses. However, it’s harder to build tiny houses in the city due to the constantly changing zoning regulations and building codes. There are plans to introduce tiny houses as a form of affordable housing in Detroit, so it’s not clear if regulations in Motor City will loosen in the future.

What kinds of tiny houses are permitted in Michigan?

The Great Lakes State does not have many guidelines when it comes to tiny houses in general, but there is one specific kind of tiny house that their laws focus on: accessory dwelling units or ADUs. The cities in Michigan that permit anything related to tiny homes are referring to ADUs, but ADUs are not allowed everywhere in the state. 
Accessory dwelling units are the main kind of tiny house permitted in Michigan, including Briley Township’s Economy Efficient Dwelling. It is a new kind of tiny home dwelling with separate requirements. No matter where your tiny home is in Michigan, it will need to follow the right codes and laws. 

What does a tiny house need to be up to Michigan building code?

Michigan does not have state guidelines for building codes when it comes to tiny houses—these guidelines and requirements are left to the city and county levels of government. For example, Ann Arbor requires tiny houses to have at least 225 square feet of habitable living space, but Briley Township requires the area to be between 240 and 500 square feet
No matter where you build your tiny home, remember that you’ll also have to meet the requirements for carbon dioxide and smoke detectors, emergency exits, lighting, plumbing, and ventilation. You’ll also want to make sure you have the basics for cooking, sleeping, and personal hygiene

What about Economy Efficient Dwellings?

Briley Township’s Economy Efficient Dwellings have different standards than ADUs in the rest of the state. Here is a breakdown of the regulations for this style of tiny house:
  • Must have an area between 240 and 500 square feet
  • Side elevation must be no less than 12 feet and no more than 20 feet
  • Length must be between 20 and 30 feet
  • Must be built on a foundation that is both permanent and preapproved
  • Can be built in agriculture, forest recs, and residential 2 areas
  • Must be built to Michigan building codes and qualify for a certificate of occupancy
Key Takeaway You can build your tiny home in your choice of select Michigan cities, but you’ll need to follow their specific guidelines, rules, and regulations for it to be permitted. 

Where can I build my tiny house in Michigan?

Here is one of the most important questions you’ll need to answer regarding your tiny house: where you will put it. In Michigan, the answer to this question will depend on local laws, which vary by city or county. Municipal and county zoning codes will decide on the locations you are permitted to build a tiny house at. 
You will most likely need a permit to begin building an ADU. Depending on local standards, you may be able to build a tiny house in your backyard (or a friend’s) or join a tiny house community like the one in Traverse City. If you decide on an Economy Efficient Dwelling, you’ll need to follow Briley Township’s guidelines. 

How to build a tiny house in Michigan

You’ve decided to build a tiny house in the Great Lakes State, so here is the list you’ll need to follow to make sure you’re compliant with the law:
  • Choose the kind of tiny house you want. Do you want a traditional ADU in a large, open backyard? Or do you want to try the new Economy Efficient Dwelling?
  • Research the building codes and zoning laws of your city and county. You can learn about specific building requirements using the resources at your local library.
  • Pick a tiny house building company. Companies like Dickinson Homes and Great Lakes Tiny Homes are a great help in getting through the legal requirements while building your perfect tiny house.
  • Decide on the location and setting. You might be building your tiny home in the back of a spacious backyard, or you could relocate to a city for looser building restrictions. 
  • Shop for homeowners insurance. Don’t forget about home insurance when your tiny house is complete! Michigan law doesn’t require you to have home insurance, but holding a policy will cover your home (and investment) against perils. 

How to save on car and home insurance

Whether you’ve got big dreams or you’re building a tiny house, you can bundle car and homeowners insurance policies to save on both thanks to licensed insurance broker and comparison app Jerry.
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Navigating the insurance market can be confusing, but Jerry provides end-to-end support to make it easy to find the right policy for your needs. Jerry handles the paperwork and can even help you cancel your old policy!
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FAQs

If you’re building a traditional tiny home or an Economy Efficient Dwelling, you will need building permits to begin. You will also need a certificate of occupancy.
The minimum required square footage for a tiny house will vary from city to city in Michigan. Ann Arbor requires at least 225 square feet, while Briley Township requires at least 240 square feet. You will need to research your local building codes to see how big your tiny home must be.

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