Tiny Houses: Different Requirements For Mobile And Stationary Builds



A tiny house is a small, compact dwelling that is typically much smaller in size than a traditional dwelling. A tiny house can be either mobile or stationary and is generally self-contained. In Australia, there are no specific regulations relating to tiny houses specifically. As tiny houses are generally on wheels, the rules for caravans typically apply. If a tiny house is built as a transportable dwelling it is typically exempt from BCA requirements

However, plumbers are often confronted with the situation where a tiny mobile home is transported to a site where the structure is fixed to the ground and permanently connected to a sanitary plumbing system that may be a reticulated sewerage system, on-site treatment plant, composting toilet and the like. Similarly, drinking water will be required to be connected to the fixtures installed in the tiny home.

In this situation, the work will require a Plumbing Permit (Form 1) to be lodged with the Local Council. Owners of these types of homes are generally not informed of this requirement at the time of purchase and plumbers often find themselves in the difficult situation trying to meet the client’s expectations and comply with the requirements of The Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018. The problem is further exacerbated when the Local Council requests a Form 18A – Inspection Report for that part of the plumbing (Water and Sanitary components) that were installed at the time of construction and, such documentation was never required because the mobile tiny home typically fell into the same category as a caravan.

This is proving to be significant problem for the purchasers of this type of tiny home, plumbers, and Councils.

Councils cannot issue a Form 18B – Inspection Certificate – Fit for Purpose, or a Form 19 – Final inspection certificate where evidence of full compliance with the Plumbing and Drainage Act cannot be substantiated.

In summary, if the mobile tiny home is going to be fixed to the ground it can no longer be considered mobile and requires Building and Plumbing Approval. Similarly, if it is going to rely on some type of on-site sewerage treatment system it will require Plumbing Approval.

Prospective purchases of any type of tiny home are advised to contact their local Council regarding any Building or Plumbing Permit requirements that may be applicable prior to purchasing a tiny home.

Stationary tiny homes will require Local Council approval and the type of approval required depending on the intended use of the tiny home e.g. Granny Flat, rental property etc.

Kerry Apelt
Kerry Apelt Technical Officer (Part Time)

Kerry has been a part of the MPAQ technical team since 2017. Kerry brings a wealth of industry experience to the role, including over 30 years’ service to the training of plumbers in Queensland, teaching extensively in Certificate III and Certificate IV. During his career, Kerry has worked closely with industry regulators and held various positions with the National Plumbing Services Training Advisory Group (NPSTAG), including Secretary (2006-2011) and Chair (2012-2014).

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