Author Topic: A kit cabin in California (Nevada County) as primary residence?  (Read 482 times)

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Offline HJS_Cabins

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I am exploring the possibilities of buying a kit cabin (say an allwood cabin with ~150 square feet) and a small piece of land, and setting it up as a primary residence in Nevada County.

I get the general impression that the building code present barriers but I can't find anything explicitly preventing this. Nevada County apparently defaults to the California building code and California seems to only require each room be 70 sq feet, excluding bathrooms (with a smattering of other constraints, the raw code is complicated).

Obviously, electrical, plumbing and similar stuff presents others problems but I want get folks input if there are important size or building requirements I may be missing (this stuff is infamous for pitfalls, I know).

Thanks in advance.

Offline Don_P

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Re: A kit cabin in California (Nevada County) as primary residence?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2019, 02:36:20 PM »
structurally, checks to make... foundation, anchorage to the foundation and sills, floor system construction, walls and sheathing, roof construction (typically a failure), roof hurricane ties, seismic ties from foundation through roof. Headroom.

Insulation, can you get there within the frame. Will the windows and doors meet code. Can you get sanitary facilities in that space, kitchen and bath.

Start in chapter 3 of your code for general design requirements and then hit each chapter for spans, bracing, construction, etc. Chances are, no.

Offline Dave Sparks

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Re: A kit cabin in California (Nevada County) as primary residence?
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2019, 02:36:08 PM »
Pretty small for a primary residence. Why not build something larger and more marketable? The county might be happier also.
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Offline gbleuc

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Re: A kit cabin in California (Nevada County) as primary residence?
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2019, 04:58:04 PM »
Hi HJS_Cabins,

I'm still pretty new here and was glad to see something I could maybe give input on, ha!! So, I understand wanting to build small. I do second what Don_P said regarding the specific aspects to check. With regards to what you asked about specific barriers present in the building code that would prevent this: Usually it's the minimum square footage of a structure that is included in the code and which is what prevents being able to build and live in something that size. For example, in many places in CA in order to obtain a building permit it must be a min of 600 or 800 sq ft. The follow up to that is that 1) Lots of places are starting to modify the code to include these structures, due to the increasing prevalence and requests for "tiny homes," and 2) Some aspects of codes are not set in stone, and sometimes people who are really after it will petition the county for either a variance for their project, or (more commonly) for the code modification mentioned in #1. Some have been quite successful at it.

A quick google search and I found this:
.. so it looks like they are discussing it in your area.

There are tons of requirements around building code, but that minimum house size requirement would be the biggest. Feel free to continue asking questions, happy to answer if I can.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: A kit cabin in California (Nevada County) as primary residence?
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2019, 07:05:05 PM »
Not that it makes any difference to the end result the building code (IRC) does not have any minimum sq footage sizes for the minimum total footprint. The IRC does have some room sizes but not the entire structure.  It is the zoning rules where "they" stick in things like minimum square footage, whether or not you can live on site in an RV while building, etc. Your end result is the same but those are two different sets of people, different rule books. Sometimes they work together, sometimes they seem to ignore the other.

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.


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