Tiny House

It could be a vehicle or a building, find out more about cases when the Building Act and Building Code apply.

Is the 'Tiny House' a vehicle or a building?

Simply because a tiny house is capable of being moved does not mean that it is considered to be a vehicle under the Act. The distinction between a ‘building that is moveable ’ and a ‘vehicle’ is that a vehicle is used for transporting people or goods or must be powered by some form of combustion engine or self-propulsion.

Tiny House on Wheels Minimum Requirements

  • A tiny house must be registered as a caravan/home-built caravan. Find out more about registering caravans.
  • All services i.e. electrical, plumbing and gas must be certified by registered tradespeople
  • Smoke & gas alarms to be fitted

Do tiny houses require building consent?

As long as it remains a vehicle, and it stays either mobile or not used on a long term basis then a building consent is not required. However, if the building has been constructed elsewhere for the purpose of being a tiny house, then the designer will need to demonstrate how it complies with the Building Code (as well as the work happening on site).

You’ve decided that the tiny house is not a building, but it’s parked on a site and you want to connect to services:

If a vehicle that is parked on a site is to be connected to services by an easily disconnected means, the services themselves will need building approval and are required to comply with the Building Code.

Power connections

The Building Code provisions for electricity (G9) are primarily based on any electrical installation being safe. This also applies to gas (G11). Electricians and gasfitters are self-certifying.

Water use / connection to town water supply

Potable (drinking) water: Building Code clause G12 - Water Supplies does not specify that a house needs to connect to the public supply, however a potable water supply will be required for human consumption, food preparation, utensil washing and oral hygiene in order for the building to be sanitary.

Non-potable water: Any non-potable supply needs to be clearly marked and be installed in a manner that avoids the likelihood of injury or illness. How this is to be achieved is the responsibility of the designer to determine.

Waste water disposal

Connection to sewerage system: Building Code clause G13 requires that if a sewer system is available then then water-borne foul water needs to discharge to it. The Local Government Act 1974 Section 459 (7)(b) restricts the ability of the Council to require a connection of a building to the public drain if the nearest part of the building is more than 60 metres from the public drain, so for the vast majority of urban sites a drain will be required unless there is a special approval not to do so.

Onsite grey water disposal systems

As above, water-borne foul water is usually required to be disposed of to a public drain. Any other option would need to be fully justified by the designer, including the reasons for a waiver of the Building Code.

Composting toilets

Composting toilets do not use a water-borne drainage system so are not specifically required to be connected to a public drain. There is currently no Acceptable Solution to the Building Code for composting toilets, so it's the responsibility of the designer to demonstrate compliance with the performance requirements of the Code (clause G13). Although it is not referenced as a means of complying with the Building Code, there is an Australian/New Zealand Standard that a designer may find useful:

AS/NZS 1546.2:2008 -On-site domestic wastewater treatment units - Waterless composting toilets.