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Clarity to come from MBIE... THOW a building or a vehicle?

***** EDIT November 2021 please note that this MBIE guidance document has since been released and can be viewed here********

An exciting new project is underway within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to give clarity to the NZ tiny house community about the status of tiny homes on wheels as buildings or vehicles.

MBIE have recognised that there is a perceived lack of clarity on the definition of Tiny Houses on wheels (THOW) as vehicles or as buildings. This uncertainty makes it difficult for owners, builders/manufacturers and also councils to navigate the legal requirements of constructing a tiny home. Quite frankly, as a business operating within this space, its beyond exciting, simply to have MBIE acknowledge THOW as a unique and different concept to traditional housing solutions, and also acknowledge that there is vastly conflicting and confusing advice being issued by councils across NZ. We're hoping to see some clear definitions and 'lines in the sand' drawn as to what criteria a THOW needs to meet in order to be a vehicle and therefore exempt from the Building Act (we're anticipating that these will be to do with weight, size and road legal status - i.e WOF and reg, but lets see!).

Here is a statement MBIE made in a Stuff article earlier this year...

"In response to the growing number of tiny homes and the lack of clear guidelines to deal with them, MBIE is currently putting together a stakeholder group to help produce guidance for councils, builders and tiny homeowners as they navigate the building regulatory process. “We are aiming in the near future to clarify our position on how tiny houses on wheels should be classed and then publish guidance to provide clarity about when and how those tiny homes interact with the Building Act and building code,” a MBIE spokeswoman said. The guidance on both fixed and trailer-mounted tiny homes is expected to be published around the middle of this year."

The scope of the project is to give clarity of how EXISTING legislation applies to THOW, and they will not be making any legislative or regulatory changes.

The group of stakeholders includes a mixture of representation from MBIE, NZ Transport Authority, Tiny house associations/advocacy groups, tiny house manufacturing companies and a few councils.

As a business, Build Tiny was involved with MBIE's initial round of research earlier this year, we hope that our input will be heard, and it's really exciting to see the stakeholder group come into formation with some strong voices in the mix. So here's hoping for a favourable outcome for the tiny house community, or at the very least, CLARITY!

Gina Stevens

Director and Designer

Build Tiny


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