Missouri Tiny House Laws

Many parts of Missouri have minimal or no zoning laws and building codes, making tiny-home living relatively easy.
Written by Laura Salvas
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Many rural parts of Missouri have no zoning laws or building codes, aside from state-wide laws concerning wastewater disposal. Laws around tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) are also fairly relaxed, though these homes are not allowed in cities. Generally, tiny home living in Missouri isn’t complicated. 
Missouri is a friendly place that generally respects your right to do as you please on your own land. But given that cities, towns, counties, and the state all have their own set of codes, you’ll need to know the law of the land before building your tiny castle. 
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This all depends on where you want to build your tiny home, as laws vary by city and county. 
Many rural areas have no zoning laws and do not require building permits, whereas cities and towns may have more regulations. But this doesn’t necessarily mean tiny houses aren’t allowed!
Each county has its own set of laws, as there is no state-wide law regarding tiny houses. Within a county, each city or town may have its own laws. The higher the population density, the more rules you can expect, since building codes aren’t just in place to protect you, but those who live near you.  
If you are looking to build a tiny home, you’ll need to
check the county laws
first and see whether your land is unincorporated (meaning not governed as part of a municipality). If you plan to build within the limits of a city or municipality, you will need to check for relevant bylaws. Planning for your super small home is no small job!

Missouri cities that allow tiny houses

As the movement toward a minimalist lifestyle grows, cities are working to adapt to this trend. Cities in Missouri that allow tiny houses currently include:
  • Branson
  • Columbia
  • Jefferson City
  • Kansas City
  • Saint Charles
  • Springfield
  • St. Louis 
Of course, each city has its own zoning codes and building restrictions. For instance, St Louis allows tiny homes
if you adhere to a series of regulations
. The city regulates everything from minimum room sizes to maximum occupancy based on square footage, ventilation standards, plumbing, and electricity requirements.
Key Takeaway The denser the population, the more building codes and zoning laws you can expect when building a tiny home.
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What kinds of tiny houses are permitted in Missouri?

Missouri’s laws vary by region, but most parts of the state allow tiny homes—and many places also allow tiny homes on wheels.
However, local bylaws can vary wildly. The closer you get to big cities or towns, the tighter the building codes may be. A town may have its own building codes, even if the greater county has none. 
Many places also allow tiny homes on wheels (THOWs), which are classified as travel trailers. Note that THOWs are not allowed in most cities. Legally parking your travel home can also be a headache.  

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

The only state-wide standard in place deals with
wastewater removal
. You will need to either connect your tiny home to the local sewage system or have a septic tank installed. 
The latter requires a permit and the use of a registered installer. Compost toilets require a septic tank for disposing of waste, and outhouses are illegal in any residence that is continuously occupied in an area served by piped water. 
Most places in Missouri require a permit to
build on a floodplain
, even if there are otherwise no building codes or zoning regulations. This means stricter building regulations and a required inspection. 
A permit is also necessary if you’re
drilling a well
on your property, and the law requires you to use a licensed well driller. 
Otherwise, what your tiny house needs to be up to code depends on where in Missouri you build your home. In many rural areas, there are no codes at all, and you are free to build a prepper-style bunker or test your childhood dream of living in a large blanket fort. 
Towns and cities are more likely to have at least a few (if not an extensive list of) codes and regulations.

What about tiny houses on wheels? 

There are more rules surrounding tiny houses on wheels, as these are classified as travel trailers in much of Missouri. 
Because they are defined as portable temporary shelters mounted on a wheeled platform and intended for camping, travel, or recreation, THOWs face different rules than do more permanent tiny homes.
In some cases, a special highway permit is not required. If your porta-home has a living area of less than 320 square feet, is towed by a motor vehicle, and does not sport a kitchen, bath, toilet, wardrobe, or closet, it won’t need a permit. It will, however, need lots of pit stops.
In the case of an emergency disaster, permit rules are tossed out, as shelter becomes a priority. 
Key Takeaway Location is a major factor in how much freedom you have to achieve your tiny home vision, whether on a foundation or on wheels.

Where can I park my tiny house in Missouri?

Your house on wheels might be able to hunker down in a campground that allows RV parking, but throughout the state, THOWs are not allowed to park in any public place or on a street, and they cannot be used inside city limits
So if you were looking to hit up the local dance club then stumble just a few yards into your bed, you’re out of luck. 

How to build a tiny house in Missouri

If you’re building in a city or municipality, how you build will be somewhat dictated by local laws and requirements. 
If you’re settling in a place with no zoning laws or permits, how you build is up to you! Of course, there are still many factors to consider. 
quality of the earth
(depending on the region) can dictate how easy it’ll be to build and whether growing your own food is viable. More affordable areas with looser restrictions tend to be rockier and not conducive to farming. 
The weather in Missouri can be all over the bootheel-inclusive map, with average temperatures ranging between 15-100 degrees Fahrenheit, so you’ll want to think about how to keep your petite home both warm and cool. 
As for tornadoes: unless you’re hoping to relocate abruptly, you’ll want to use high-grade building materials, have secure windows and doors, and ensure you have good insurance
Building rules generally exist to protect you and your neighbors, which is why rural (generally neighbor-less) areas are laxer than cities. However, taking a look at the codes required in cities can give you a sense of some factors that may contribute to your home’s safety.
If you aren’t interested in building your own tiny house, there are plenty of tiny houses for sale in Missouri, as well as homes available for long- or short-term rental if living small feels like a big commitment.
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You bet! There are a number of tiny home communities in Missouri, though they can differ in purpose. 
Some communities, like Elevate Community in Branson or Eden Village in Springfield, are sponsored by donors to provide housing to people with a low income, veterans, or people with disabilities. 
Elsewhere, such as The Hideaway in South Kansas, communities lease spots for tiny homes on wheels. 
Legislation passed in late 2020 means tiny houses can now be built in Lake Ozark, an area with high housing costs and lots of demand, so expect to see tiny home communities popping up there soon.
Most counties outside of major cities do not have building codes or zoning restrictions, including Osage County, Lawrence County, and Douglas County. In many areas, building permits are not required in unincorporated parts of the county (parts of the county that aren’t part of a municipality). 
Permits are needed if you are constructing a well or septic tank, however. Because so many areas do not have codes, it’s best to narrow down where you want to build and then check into local laws.
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