…In Topeka and Shawnee County, regulations require a permanent foundation for residences, effectively making living in a tiny home on wheels illegal. There are additional provisions regarding connections to sewer, water and electric utilities. In some constructions, there are minimums on the size of bathrooms and living rooms.
Richard Faulkner, division director of development services with the city, said one person approached the city and had met all the code requirements in their tiny home. However, after discovering the cost to run the water line, the project fell through.
The city is open to considering tiny houses, but it depends on how they are constructed, he said. There are different requirements for residential homes, manufactured homes and mobile homes.
Another issue is that there isn’t a set definition for tiny homes, Faulkner said.
Shawnee County planning director Barry Beagle said the viability of tiny homes depends on the owner’s intended use. For instance, permanent occupancy in an RV home isn’t allowed. A tiny home would most likely be treated as a single-family dwelling. Just as it is in the city, a permanent foundation is required.
The county has received only a couple of inquiries about tiny homes, Beagle said.
Faulkner noted that tiny homes are already present in Topeka, with a couple of hundred houses in the 500-square-foot range. Many Topeka residences that could be considered tiny homes because of their size date back to the 1950s, Faulkner said.
A list supplied by the Shawnee County Appraiser’s Office shows that 479 houses are smaller than 600 square feet. They are spread across all four quadrants of the county, but nearly 40 percent are on the southeast side. The smallest house on the list measures just 240 square feet in size and is located in northeast Topeka.