Monday, October 6, 2014

Tiny Houses: 120 Square Foot Requirement Eliminated in the 2015 IRC

New 2015 IRC WITHOUT the 120sf Minimum Area Requirement!

It doesn’t look like much...but it is BIG news for the Tiny House movement.   The photo on the left depicts a “change bar” in the left margin of International Residential Code Section R304.1, indicating that something that used to be there is no longer.    With a little white-out, the tiny house community can breathe a breath of legitimacy.
The 2012 and previous International Residential Code (IRC) sections read, “Every dwelling unit shall have at least one habitable room that shall have not less than 120 square feet (11 m2) of gross floor area.”  It’s now gone.  Stricken from the code.  Khalas.  The brand new 2015 IRC no longer carries this onerous requirement. 
As I promised in a previous post,  I submitted a code change to the IRC Committee to eliminate the burdensome 120sf requirement.   Being that I am currently living in Saudi Arabia, I was not able to speak to the IRC committee as to the merits of the change.   Fortunately my fellow code geek and friend Tim (who will otherwise remain anonymous for his own protection...) spoke on my behalf and was successful with a committee approval of the 120sf elimination.   There was no contrary testimony or other evidence to show that this requirement had a legitimate life-safety benefit.   Thus “khalas”…a popular Arabic expression for “finished” or “enough”.   If it can’t be supported by technical merit, it needs to go.
For those of you trying to comply with the IRC or otherwise demonstrate habitability of your tiny house, the 120sf requirement will no longer plague you.   The only area habitability requirement is 70sf, which the code will still apply to any room deemed “habitable”.   See some of my previous blog entries for discussion on what and what is not "habitable".  One should be able to incorporate this minimum area within the normal minimal footprint of a tiny least maybe with the exception of the college professor that has taken up residence in a trash dumpster...
For those few of you that may be wondering, I am living and working in Saudi Arabia doing my small part to promote building energy efficiency, sustainable construction, and overall building safety.   Housing consumer electrical consumption here far exceeds the US average, approximately 9 times more that of other adjacent, developed Arab countries.
Most of the electrical consumption is for HVAC building cooling during our long and hot summer months. 
This work is keeping me busy…but not so much as to see me completely ignore my low-carbon-footprint friends back in the States.   
Here is the original code change with a reason statement that the committee used as part of their deliberation and approval of the change.  I have provided it to assist with jurisdictions still adopting the 2012 or earlier IRC editions.   The requirements exclusion from the 2015 IRC can be utilized in conjunction with my reason statement below for an IRC Section R104.10 "Administrative Modification if desired:
Brand New 2015 International Residential Code


Daniel Worth said...

Awesome news, thank you so much fir the update. Hope Saudi Arabia years you well.

Elaine Walker said...

Thank you very much! This is a great step forward!

Gabriella Morrison said...

This is brilliant news. Thank you for your efforts both here and abroad!

Anonymous said...

This is indeed big news and thanks for your work. Is there a reason why I can't find any other information on this elsewhere on the web?

Tom Meyers said...

RE: Why I cannot find any other information on this anywhere else...? Probably only because I wrote the code change, I paid $90 for the 2015 IRC to make sure it was published, and I am the only code geek that happens to worry about people that like to live in Tiny Houses! :)