Does your Tiny House fit within the Dutch building regulations? Obviously this differs per home, but one thing is certain: more is possible than you would initially assume. Joost Pothuis is a senior specialist and advisor building regulations at Arcadis Nederland B.V. Last year, Joost was requested by the municipality of Almere to support in assessing and realizing the entries for the Tiny House design competition, the BouwEXPO Tiny Housing Almere. The building rules specialist explains the possibilities to design and build within the limits of the regulations.
“On the basis of the 2012 Building Decree, a lot is already possible,” says Joost. Popular believe dictates that because Tiny Houses are so small, they cannot meet building codes. But is that true?
Following the rules of the design competition for the BouwEXPO Tiny Housing in Almere Poort, a Tiny House may not exceed 50 m2 of living space. With this surface you can easily comply with the Building Decree. The minimum surface area of a home must, according to the Building Decree, be at least:
- Regular house: 18 m2 living area + 2.2 m2 toilet / bathroom = 20.2 m2, outside storage, individually 5 m2 or 1.5 m2 / common house;
- Student residence: 15 m2 residential area + 2.2 m2 toilet / bathroom = 17.2 m2 Outdoor storage “functional”;
- Private commissioning: 10m2 living area + 0.64m2 toilet = 10.64 m2
In the spirit of decluttering and minimalization, considerably smaller floor plans than 50 m2 have been entered into the contest. So small that it is not always possible to meet all performance requirements. The equivalence principle of the Building Decree then offers the possibility to deviate from the performance requirements. You may achieve lower performance if the safety, health, usability, energy efficiency and environmental performance referred to with the performance requirement are not endangered.
The Tiny House must be “habitable”. The applicant will have to demonstrate this equivalence to the municipality (the municipal building supervision) when submitting the building plan. At the competition in Almere, Joost helps several submissions to assess equivalence. The A-house, for example, has little space for a traditional staircase. A miller’s staircase has been designed here, which is steep and has deviant steps. A great equivalent solution.
Tiny Revolver House also looks anything but traditional, a horizontal cylinder that can rotate on its axis. This allows you to adjust the functionality from dining room through sitting room to bedroom. In order to arrive at the minimum m2 requirement, you must demonstrate that you are dealing with 3 spaces in one due to the rotation, all of which count for the minimum surface requirement. This is how the submitting architect was able to adhere to the Building Decree.
In other designs, Joost made good use of the freedom of requirements for decoration and furniture. For example, you can always include a loft bed and apply multiple use of space. A table that turns into a bed or a staircase that also functions as a storage space. Smart storage systems have saved a lot of space.
Tiny Houses simply have to comply with the building regulations, but this is possible. The minimum surface for a private commissioned house is only 10.64 m2. And if you are unable to find a solution, you can always use the principle of equivalence to demonstrate to the municipality that your home meets the performance requirements in the Building Decree. An extra advantage: no requirements are imposed on the decoration and furniture.
Text and illustrations: Marcel van Mierlo