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Tiny Houses / Charlotte Zoning


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So I have been increasingly intrigued with the possibility of converting freight containers into tiny houses. The economics are interesting -- guestimating $2-3k for the container, roughly 20k in upfit expenses for something decent looking and another $10k??? in site costs and utilities hookups. I am sure I am underestimating costs. There is also a significant growth in demand for tiny housing.  What I don't know about is how our zoning might handle such a dwelling. 

Is it possible that a tiny house of any variety would be permitted on any SF lot in town as an accessory dwelling? If I remember correctly their are requirements about max size of the accessory dwelling being dependent on the size of the main house. I also assume that a tiny house would be considered to be the same as a 'normal' house if built as the only dwelling on a lot. Does anyone here have some knowledge of the relevant code here in town?

Ultimately I wonder about the economics of adding accessory dwellings to the back yards of existing rental properties. It seems like the economics of this strategy might be decent if you can rent the unit out for $300-$400 per month and then pick up the unit and move it elsewhere when the time comes.



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This subject has been brought up a lot where I work.  Basically, from what we have seen regarding freight containers, it's not as cost effective as most people would think.  In order to get them up to NC Building Code and function as a house, i.e. insulation, wiring, plumbing, interior walls, etc, one must invest quite a bit of money. 

As for actual tiny houses, if it meets the NC Building Code and can be placed on a lot by itself and meets all the minimum lot requirements and setbacks, they're technically permitted in the City i work.  We also allow for "accessory dwellings" which are "intended to provide a living opportunity for relatives, elderly parents, college students, etc in order to provide affordability, close proximity to a family, while establishing a level of independence and privacy."  These too must meet the NC Building Code and are intended to be rented out to family members only.  Also, where i work, the aggregate floor area of all accessory buildings/dwellings on a property may not exceed half of the total first floor area of the house.  With this requirement, one shouldn't have a problem placing a 400-500 SF tiny house on their property. 

Now i work for a City with only 20,000 residents so this really doesn't compare to Charlotte but it might give you a little perspective.  I'll have to look through Charlotte's Ordinance to see if i can find out any worth wild information. I believe Charlotte does allow for accessory dwellings to be rented out to whomever you like, my friends that live in Brightwalk have units above their garages that they rent out to non family members, i've never heard of them having any trouble with the City.  

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