Tiny Houses

27 February 2015

Pittsburgh zoning

Our upcoming zoning hearing is a very important day for us, because that will be the day we find out if we receive our site variances for the project.  Our site is impossible to build on without these variances if we follow all of the current zoning code requirements.  What problems have we encountered?  Read on…

First, our site is less than 1,800 SF, which is the minimum permitted buildable lot size in the City of Pittsburgh.

Second, the setbacks.  Front and rear setbacks are required to be fifteen feet each, and side setbacks are required to be five feet from the property line.  But we can take some more lenient contextual setbacks, meaning if the neighbors did it, so can we.  This reduces the side yard setbacks to only three feet and we don’t need a setback at all in the front.

Third, parking.  The City of Pittsburgh requires one off-street parking space per dwelling unit.  A standard parking space is ten feet wide by twenty feet deep.  On a site that is only twenty-four feet wide by forty-three feet deep, that’s a lot of space to give up just to park a car.  To make matters worse, the contextual front yard setback only applies to the structure and not the parking space, so the parking space is required to be set back fifteen feet from the sidewalk.

Are you confused yet?  The resulting buildable area, if we were to follow the existing zoning codes, would look just like this

Zoning Diagram JPEGAnd so, in order to build our Tiny House we need to ask for the following variances:

  • – permission to build on a site smaller than 1,800 square feet
  • – a rear yard setback of three feet, instead of fifteen feet; and
  • – a waiver of the on site parking requirements.


  1. BrianTH said on

    So how did the hearing go?

  2. Ms Shernise Allen said on

    I love following the Tiny House journey in PGH and I really hope that this concept flourishes because it will fill a desperately needed housing market (low-middle income, green efficient new housing).

    My suggestion: build up – put the Tiny House on top of a “garage space” but be creative about it. Take a look at the houses Make It Right.org created in New Orleans – picture on their website and you will get my drift.

    I really want to work for a company here in Pittsburgh dedicated to building Tiny Houses in the Pittsburgh area.

    GOOD LUCK with the Zoning hearing.

  3. admin said on

    We’re still waiting for the final word…

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