From the desk of Robin Butler…
As President & CEO of NOAH Certified I am often asked many questions that pertain to the Tiny House on Wheels (THOW’s) movement.
In an effort to respond to some of these questions I am offering my personal opinion based on the insight that I have come across.
One such relevant question is: Can a builder build a THOW meeting IRC?
Under the current NOAH (National Organization of Alternative Housing) Standard, NOAH is requiring that all sleeping lofts have a secondary means of egress. This is a 24” wide by 17” tall ellipsoid and is further detailed in NFPA 1192 section 188.8.131.52. And an illustration can also be located in Appendix Figure A.184.108.40.206.
I would like to make an argument that if a builder building to the current NOAH Standard used the egress requirements for IRC that he/she would meet all the requirements of IRC, Except for the movable foundation.
In IRC guidelines, part of the definition of a room is that it must meet a minimum of 70 square feet. Ninety-nine percent of the lofts in THOWs do not meet the requirements for a room with the lofts measuring less than 70 square feet. Therefore, a loft must be considered to be part of another room. Ergo the loft is part of a bedroom and the main part of the Tiny House, including the loft, is the bedroom. Therefore, the loft is part of the lower area bedroom and not a separate sleeping area.
A tiny house builder having a secondary means of egress anywhere in the loft or lower area (the bedroom) would meet the egress requirements of IRC. The secondary means of egress provided in IRC is different from NFPA 1192 or ANSI 119.5. That secondary means of egress according to IRC states that the window sill must be no more than 42 inches above the floor; minimum of 20 inches wide; and a minimum of 24 inches tall for a total of 5.0 square feet of clear area on the ground floor or 5.7 square feet of clear area if located in the loft ( IRC Section R310.2.1).
The rest of IRC guidelines (studs, sheathing, headers, rafters etc.) must be met and are already being inspected to by NOAH’s inspectors. If the builder is building to IRC requirements, we further recommend the builder have their plans reviewed and stamped by a licensed engineer.
As I have always said I have learned that it is best to do your homework before starting your THOW build to be sure that your end goals can be reached.