As you may have noticed the TINY HOME craze has subsided here in Chico and I believe part of the reason is the regulations required to obtain a permit for them overshadow the appeal. A Tiny Home is considered a Second Dwelling Unit or Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) by the City of Chico.

We get asked fairly often about guest houses, in-law quarters, 2nd units, granny units, and tiny houses. Call them what you want but they are desired more and more these days.

CAN YOU BUILD A SECOND UNIT ON YOUR PROPERTY? The short answer is, if you are zoned R1 (Low Density Residential) or R2 (Med Density Res) then Yes – IF you meet the requirements!

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SECOND DWELLING UNIT (ADU) AND A GUEST HOUSE? The short answer is, an ADU is rentable, has its own utility meters, is hooked up to sewer/septic, and has a bathroom and kitchen. A Guest House is 250sqft or under, with no kitchen, and may not be rented.

What about putting 5 tiny homes on one lot? No can do. Nice thought, but not realistic; at least not here. Move to Portland!

All sarcasm aside, the ADUs are popular for a reason. Whether it is to rake in some extra rent to help offset your mortgage or you really do plan on housing your mother in-law in your backyard (good luck) they are a huge selling point for any home.

As I mentioned above, it typically is not the actual zoning that is the issue, it is the ‘other’ requirements. Some of these include:

Either the primary home or the ADU must be Owner Occupied, only 1 ADU per parcel, if it is behind your home it must be 30ft away from the primary home or at least 10ft if it is side by side to your primary home, all other setback rules must be followed, it can only be up to 75% as large as the primary home not to exceed 650sqft on a 4,500+sqft lot or 850sqft on a 6,000+sqft lot. If you want something larger that 850sqft you need a Use Permit. Then there are more rules on height/site coverage, open space, trash storage, security lighting, walls/fencing, and vehicle access.

Long story short, it is plausible to reap all the benefits of a second dwelling unit but you have to jump through the bureaucratic hoops and the lure of the tiny home craze is/was simplicity. I think they call this an oxymoron, or a paradox, or a flaw in logic. So I don’t expect to see a tiny home village popping up in Chico soon, but who knows, we could be surprised.