• What about zoning? The alley lot is zoned Residential-3. Current DC code does not permit the construction of habitable foundation built dwellings on an alley lot unless the alley has a width of 30 feet or greater (see 11-2507 / R-3 Buildings on Alley Lots).  Private parking of vehicles and trailers (what tiny houses on wheels are classified as) on private property is permitted under R-3, as long as parking is not operated as a business (a DCRA license would be required in this case, and the owner does not plan to rent any spaces).  Per 11-321 (R-3 Accessory Uses and Buildings) and conversations with DCRA, a private garage up to 900 square feet could be constructed on the property, however this is not planned.
  • What about building permits? The lot owner worked extensively with DCRA (9 visits and counting) and a City Councilmember to assign a street address to the lot so that appropriate DCRA permits could be issued to improve the lot. To date permits have been granted and posted for excavation work, siting of a storage container, fence construction, and the electrical hookup.  Building permits pertain to foundation built structures, not trailers, so permits are not needed for tiny house construction.
  • What changes do you support to the current DC Zoning Update?   We support proposed changes to do away with the 30 foot alley requirement, and to allow residential dwellings on alley lots across the city. More widely, tiny homes (on a foundation) could be sited in DC as accessory dwelling units (ADUs) behind existing row homes, except the current zoning does not allow building of accessory dwellings.   The new proposed DC zoning regulations would allow backyard carriage house-type dwellings (which could be built as foundation built tiny homes) in R-1 and R-2, but not R-3 (special exemption only) or R-4- some of these lots could accomodate ADU’s, just like they used to allow construction of carriage houses.  We believe the proposed zoning regulations do not go far enough, and support changes that allow ADU’s in R-1,2,3,4.

Big picture, outside the downtown core there is a large amount of unused vacant land across the city. We would like to use this project as a way to explore the potential for a tiny house community on one of these many parcels. This appears beyond anything being discussed in current zoning debates, affordable housing policy, etc.

  • Are there any businesses operating, or planned to be operating, on the lot? There are not. There is no commercial activity on the lot. This has been confirmed with the head of zoning at DCRA.

Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. […] DC code does not permit the construction of habitable foundation built dwellings on an alley lot unless the […]

  2. How does one find a tiny lot to buy?

  3. Where do I find more information on zoning laws for Maryland? My brother has a gigantic backyard big enough for 2-3 horses, and I would like to buy a Minim and install it there. Is that something that can be done?

    • You’re best bet is to go down and have a chat with your local building codes/zoning office to see what is possible in your town.

    • Please post anything you find out. I live in Montgomery County and although I enjoy living in suburbia, I wish there were options for smaller homes in good areas. I would love to see/live in a tiny community!

  4. Are there any efforts to change the zoning codes in the city? If so, I would like to get involved in working towards a tiny house friendly city. Please let me know.



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