Tiny House Certification Companies:
Several companies now offer inspection and “Certification” services for tiny homes. As Tiny Houses gain acceptance as a low cost housing alternative these Tiny House certification companies are hoping to provide a nationally accepted building standard for professional builders and do-it-youselfers alike.
They claim that their certifications will swing the door wide open for you to get insurance, mortgage loans, and RV Park admission. They also suggest you’ll have more peace when buying a tiny home with their certification. This is beginning to be somewhat true. A few insurance companies and lenders are beginning to accept these certifications as authentic.
However, as the Tiny House industry grows more insurance companies and lenders are offering their products with or without any type of certification. It is reported that RV parks are beginning to be more welcoming to tiny homes regardless of certification.
It is important to keep in mind that these tiny house certification companies are not governmental agencies and have no influence with the governments regulatory housing agencies or your local building inspectors. These certifications will not help you get a “certificate of occupancy” from your local building inspectors to allow you to live in a tiny home legally. For more on actual building codes and Appendix-Q refer to my web page.
What the Tiny Home Certification Companies actually do:
Unlike the RVIA code for recreational vehicle manufactures, these certifications are for individual THOW‘s. Someone (guaranteed to be an expert building inspector) at the company will inspect your home as you video it on your smart-phone. If they spot discrepancies they will suggest a fix to bring your build up to “code” standards. These standards seem to be a mesh of the various building codes taken from NFPA 1192, ANSI 119.5, NFPA 70 (National Electric Code) that they feel are applicable to tiny houses plus some specifications of their own. They archive this information and make it available to “concerned parties on your behalf. Then you get a certificate and a shiny sticker. For this you pay about $1,500.00. They do not add any sort of warranty or guarantee to the THOW.
National Organization of Alternative Housing (Noah)
From the “about” section of their website: “In the summer 2015, he [Robin Butler] started NOAH Certified, a third-party inspection and certification company for tiny houses on wheels.” “Robin saw a need for standards in the tiny house movement. NOAH Certified began filling this void by setting tiny house standards using national standards from the RV and home building industry. Even though NOAH Inspection and Certification is a voluntary process, over 100 builders across the Nation have become members of NOAH to assist them with the building of tiny houses.”
There are six people listed as employees of this organization.
There is no “About Us” section on this companies website. However I have learned that is was started just recently by Barbara Reilly. Barbara is the former Co-founder, Treasurer, General Manager at NOAH. This company will do the same video certification but will also offers a “registration” of a tiny home AFTER it’s completed.
Pacific West Tiny Homes (PWTH)
Here is their story from the “About Us” section of their website: “Pacific West Tiny Homes, Inc. is a subsidiary of Pacific West Associates, Inc. which is an accredited third party agency that has been recognized in the industry for over 30 years. PWTH is composed of licensed electrical, mechanical, structural and forensic engineers. Our evaluation and certification staff meet the requirements of the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) E-541, which is for agencies engaged in design and system analysis and quality control and assurance analysis.
Our President, Chuck Ballard, is a principal member of the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) Technical Committee on Recreational Vehicles. He is also a Principal member of the NFPA 1194 Recreational Vehicle Parks and Campgrounds committee. In addition, he is a principal member of ANSI (American National Standards Institute) A119.5 Recreational Park Trailer standard. All 3 are responsible for writing the codes and standards for the Recreational Vehicle Industry.”
Here’s my experience with certification companies:
I have recently retired from the Custom Electronics Industry where CEDIA is a certification company. For many years they have charged membership fees, insisted on members paying for classes, just to get a “shinny sticker” that said they were CEDIA certified. While this is in no way a government recognized or approved agency, customers are just now beginning to ask if a company is CEDIA certified. So, now it means something.
While I still think that CEDIA is just a for-profit rip off, custom electronics install companies now need to weigh the expense against the recognition effect on business. But, the custom electronics install business is barely regulated by local inspectors personal interpretation of local electrical codes. CEDIA Certification means nothing to the building inspector.
Here’s my point: While NOAH and the others are starting to become somewhat industry recognized it is more important to building code inspectors to comply with government accepted building codes. Appendix-Q is pushing that down the road.
There are thousands of these local inspectors across the county, many have not yet heard of Appendix-Q let alone any other certifications. They see the wheels and just walk away.
The best suggestion I saw is to video document every step. Even so, a friend of mine just had to rip out his sheet rock because they failed to get it inspected by the local guy. Maybe it would be better to make some cookies for the local inspector and have him excitedly involved in every step of the build.
On the other hand, if I was buying a used tiny home or one from a tiny house builder I might feel pretty good about it having a shinny sticker certification from one of these companies.
For more information on codes and zoning visit my web page.