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Lincoln looking at rules for tiny homes

December 16, 2017

LINCOLN — Lincoln officials are expected to approve city building code changes that would allow some residents to build tiny homes, guest houses and small studios on their property.

The city council will vote on the proposal Monday.

Builders have had more requests for smaller houses alongside a larger family home, often because families are now caring for elderly family members, according to Ann Post, an attorney for the Home Builders Association of Lincoln.

Allowing smaller homes on more lots will give more flexibility for families to meet their needs, said local builder Dan Klein. The smaller units are often also used for children who aren’t moving away from home but want their own space.

Areas that are zoned for duplexes and single-family homes would be allowed to add a small, one-bedroom addition of no more than 800 square feet. Additions would have to meet design standards and size and setback rules when applying for a building permit.

The land requirement for areas zoned for apartments would be reduced from the current standards to the duplex-sized lot standards.

About 27 percent of all residential-zoned lots are large enough for a duplex and would qualify for a small addition, according to Andrew Thieroff, a city planner. About 20 percent of single-family lots are large enough for a tiny house.

Design standards for the units will require them to be compatible with the main structure’s architecture and fit into the neighborhood.

Single-family homes and duplexes will require the property owner to live in one of the two houses on the lot. The new code would allow for both units to be rented in areas that are zoned for apartments.