Before building, check out the local building code

Simple shelters, tiny houses or accessory dwelling units have gained popularity over the years, but what is allowed in your backyard may vary by city, county and state. These structures can range from 100 to 400 square feet and can be built as a free-standing structure or built on a trailer to move from location to location.

Simple Shelters like all other houses are required to comply with building codes. The 2015 Minnesota Residential Code defines Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) as a single unit providing complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation. An ADU is regulated by code, and code requirements include light, ventilation, heating, minimum room sizes, ceiling heights, sanitation, toilet, bath and shower spaces, emergency escape and rescue openings, means of egress, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.

City and County Codes may vary

While Minnesota has code regulations regarding accessory dwelling units, in 2014 the Minneapolis City Council passed a zoning code amendment which allows accessory dwelling units citywide on lots with single or two-family homes.

“This has opened the door for simple shelters to be built within the city limits,” said Jake Nau, Owner of Open Air Concepts. “This amendment will allow residents to build a separate structure for a family member or an addition to square footage without adding onto their existing home.”

Other counties within the state have started following suit. Eagan, Minnesota, located in Dakota County, has information listed on their website on how to register an accessory dwelling unit.

Are You Ready for a Simple Shelter?

Open Air Concepts is currently concentrating its efforts on Simple Shelters. They have developed three different floor plans and are currently building a prototype so that people can view one first hand. For more information regarding Simple Shelters, contact Jake Nau at 763.972.9950.