“Are tiny houses allowed in Manitou Springs or El Paso County?”

Recently we’ve had several inquiries from people who are interested in buying property in Manitou Springs or El Paso County with the intention of placing a tiny house on the lot. Is this even allowed? The short answer is: not really.

We did a little digging and this is what we found.

First, let’s define what we mean by “tiny house”. Tiny houses are year-round dwellings between 100 square feet (or less) and 500 square feet. Typically they are mounted on wheels so they can be towed to different locations.

There are two main issues that El Paso county zoning codes have with tiny homes: 1) minimum square footage standards; 2) being wheel mounted.

The current El Paso county building and zoning codes “don’t allow for single-family detached dwellings you might call ‘tiny.’ There’s a way around minimum square footage requirements if you build the home on wheels, call it an RV and register it with the state through the DMV. But then you run up against another pesky roadblock: You can’t live out of an RV parked on a residential lot as a permanent residence.”
[source: www.csindy.com]

An article in the Colorado Springs Gazette further explained that, “Because most tiny houses are mounted on wheels, they are considered recreational vehicles by the land development code. One major stumbling block is that El Paso County and many other counties in Colorado have rules that prohibit recreational vehicles from being used as permanent housing. El Paso County’s code also limits RVs to certain areas, such as specially designated parks and campgrounds.”
[source: gazette.com]

We checked with the Planning Director for the City of Manitou Springs – Wade Burkholder – and he gave us a similar response:
“We [the City of Manitou Springs] have no regulation regarding the minimum size of a structure. However, the dwelling must be hooked up to permanent utilities and placed on a permanent foundation. Thus effectively defeating the purpose of a tiny home. We don’t permit septic systems or wells for drinking water within the City or compostable toilets. The only place tiny homes that really remain mobile are permitted in Manitou Springs are at our RV Parks.”

Essentially, tiny house enthusiasts are between a rock and a hard place in El Paso County. Other Colorado counties may not have the same zoning and permitting restrictions so make sure you do your research before you buy land anywhere in Colorado with the intention of plopping down a tiny house on the property.

If you are okay with a tiny house on a permanent foundation and hooked up to utilities, then it is absolutely doable. Also, keep an eye out for any changes to zoning codes that might happen in the future due to the popularity of the tiny house movement.

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