What Counties in Tennessee Allow Tiny Houses – Rules and Regulations You Need To Consider


If you are interested in buying a tiny house in Tennessee, it is crucial to understand the rules and regulations that apply to tiny houses in cities and counties.

Not all counties in Tennessee allow for tiny house living, and those that do, have specific regulations that must be followed as the popularity of tiny houses continues to grow.

From building permit regulations to zoning requirements, there are factors to consider before embarking on your tiny house journey in Tennessee.

Tennessee, Tiny House Costs

Determine how much you can afford and what reasonably priced tiny home alternatives are available before you start your search.

The average price of a tiny house ranges from $159 to $575 per square foot, depending on the county and city.

We offer a solution to consider all needs and budgetary constraints, so you may start building your small home. Check out the tiny homes for sale in TN!

What Counties in Tennessee Allow Tiny Houses?

Knoxville County

As long as your tiny home conforms with IRC safety regulations and is on a permanent foundation, Knoxville, Tennessee, is welcoming of them.

Only RV homes and mobile home parks are permitted as tiny homes on wheels. They include sewer and electricity, water, a kitchen with a sink, an additional bathroom, and a bedroom, and must abide by the setback requirements and other zoning regulations. In summary, they must be completely functional for tiny living.

Shelby County

It is another Tennessee region that welcomes tiny homes. The laws governing tiny homes in Shelby County vary slightly from those in other cities. The site that will house your tiny home must be less than 1 acre in size and adhere to local regulations.

Davidson County

Another Tennessee county that is well-known for allowing small homes is Davidson. But it has more stringent regulations for compact homes. For instance, a tiny house is only permitted behind an existing structure and is a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (DADU). Furthermore, they are only permitted in multi-family homes—not single-family houses.

Tiny House Regulations And Rules In Tennessee

The laws and ordinances governing small dwellings in Tennessee differ from location to location. However, the regulations for every type of tiny home—permanent, temporary, and transitional—vary depending on the municipality.

Permanent Structure Rules

In Tennessee, tiny houses are classified as permanent structures and must meet local building codes and zoning regulations. These rules dictate their size, location, and utilities, ensuring they comply with safety standards. While some areas may have specific requirements for tiny homes, they are subject to the same regulations as traditional houses.

  • In Tennessee, a house is tiny if its floor space is 400 sq ft or less, not including lofts.
  • They need to be permanently attached to a foundation, whether they are prefabricated or constructed on-site.
  • In Tennessee, county building codes and regulations for permanent tiny homes usually demand following the IRC and the most recent version of the National Electrical Code.
  • The tiny house covers the necessities for eating, sleeping, cooking, and maintaining hygienic conditions.
  • There are requirements for minimum ceiling heights, a functional bathroom with a closet and window, and a minimum room size of 70 square feet.

Temporary Structure Rules

There are specific regulations and rules for tiny houses as temporary structures. These rules address the following aspects: minimum square footage, foundation requirements, and zoning restrictions. Those interested in building or living in a tiny house in Tennessee familiarize themselves with these regulations to ensure compliance. 

  • Tennessee has laws and permissions regarding temporary living buildings, such as those used as temporary homes or during construction.
  • Tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) are the most common portable tiny homes.

Transitional Structure Rules

Transitional buildings serve as a link between short-term and long-term housing.

When it comes to ready-removable and transitional tiny house constructions, the regulations are more stringent. Tennessee often does not accept ready-removable constructions as legitimate dwelling areas to protect customers (from fire dangers).

In Tennessee, it is illegal to convert a shed into a tiny home. Sheds are only allowed to have electricity for operating machinery and tools, not for living in. Even though a shed may be a small space, it cannot be used as a small house.

Additional Considerations

  • At least 120 square feet in size. 320 square feet of land.
  • The requirement is for at least one bedroom with a window and a closet.
  • Minimum ceiling height of 6’8″ for living areas, and 6’4″ for kitchens and baths.
  • Requirements for stairs and ladders include safety features and minimum size for loft access.
  • Have a room that is at least 70 square feet and is not for sleeping.

In Tennessee, Where Can I Build A Tiny House?

Selecting a comfortable location for the tiny house is essential. Hire a certified small home builder to help you with the process, take care of any paperwork, and ensure your house complies with building regulations.

Building a tiny house requires effort, but it doesn’t have to be tiresome. Tiny houses are usually in the following areas:

  • RV parks
  • National Parks and campgrounds
  • Tiny house communities
  • Private properties

Tiny Home Communities in Tennessee

You can do a tour because everywhere you look in Tennessee is art, there is stunning nature, history, music, and culture. Likewise, it has The Great Smoky Mountains, the birthplace of the blues, Civil War monuments, Lookout Mountain, etc.

If you prefer outdoor exploration, there is a ton of hiking to do, whether it be through woodlands or the stunning Smoky Mountains. There are also numerous water-based activities available in the municipality.

Tiny Town Estates

The first tiny home neighborhood in Thorn Hill, Northeast Tennessee, is called Tiny Town Estates and it is continually growing. Beginning at $8000 per acre, they sell lots ranging from 1 to 5 acres. They are open to several home designs, including THOWs, yurts, park models, and tiny homes on permanent foundations.

Thorn Hill’s Tiny Town Estates is between Norris Lake and the Clinch River, about 30 minutes from Tazewell and sixty minutes from Knoxville. They accept applications from people of any age group and welcome pets.

Retreat Tiny House Communities

Three thriving small home communities are by Retreat in Tennessee: Sunset Bluff, Deer Lick Falls, and Water’s Edge.

The Retreat tiny house communities accept short-stay and extended-stay guests of all ages and offer everything you might want in a purpose-built communal location. Many facilities are on-site, like laundries, bathrooms, stores, and entertainment.

Piney River Resort

A tiny home development called Piney River Resort is for year-round vacationing. According to the season and duration of the stay, extended stays are welcome and subject to a discounted fee.

As a gesture of appreciation, they have teamed up with the Tents for Troops initiative to provide active military personnel and their families with a complimentary overnight stay in an RV only 50 miles from Nashville’s center and a short distance from the Johnny Cash ranch and museum.

Tiny House Builders Near Me

You won’t have to spend time searching for Virginia tiny home builders since Great Lakes Tiny Homes offers a large selection of tiny homes delivered anywhere in the US.

As a tiny house manufacturer authorized by the RV Industry Association (RVIA), Great Lakes Tiny Homes specializes in adhering to the most stringent safety, construction, and legal requirements while maintaining the highest production standards.

Do I Need a Certified Builder?

Yes, you need it! You could think about DIY, but bear in mind that there are more obstacles and uncertainties.

Purchasing a tiny house from a builder like Great Lakes Tiny Homes, which has received RVIA approval, guarantees to follow all relevant rules and regulations.

Furthermore, it increases your self-assurance and ensures the durability and security of the materials in your home.

Getting insurance and financing is made simpler by finding a licensed builder. A tiny house that satisfies RVIA requirements is also safe and livable.


Can You Make a Tiny House in Tennessee Your Main Residence?

Definitely! Tiny home permanent residences are legal in Tennessee.

Consider that local laws and tiny home regulations could vary depending on where you live. Ensure the small house complies with all relevant regulations, particularly about inspection requirements. You can speak with municipal and zoning officials as well.

Working with Tennessee’s licensed builders made it possible to live a more comfortable and environmentally responsible lifestyle.

What Size Home Must Have a Minimum Square Footage in Tennessee?

Tennessee is a tiny home-friendly state. However, there are no state-level laws that address tiny homes. The International Residential Code states that a tiny house may not be less than 120 square feet in size in areas that have embraced it, such as Knoxville. Moreover, the land needs a footprint of at least 320 square feet.

Does My Tennessee Tiny Home Require Me to Pay Property Taxes?

Non-movable tiny houses on foundations (THOF) are subject to the same sales and use tax laws as ordinary residences. Nevertheless, tiny houses on wheels (THOW) that fit the bill for being considered a manufactured home only have to pay half the standard sales and use tax value.


In conclusion, Tennessee allows tiny dwellings, although the exact laws governing them depend on the area and kind of building. To guarantee compliance with all relevant standards and regulations, anybody interested in building or residing in a tiny home in Tennessee should speak with the local building and zoning authorities.

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