I wasn't sure if this is a similar enough category to post under but because of the awareness of zoning laws and such I figured this was the closest.
I read the post about splitting up property into 4 titles to move a tiny house quarterly. I liked that creative solution! I have recently found land I want to buy but this would mean I need to move there. I am brainstorming and looking for what other people have done temporarily to live in while planning, getting permits and building a long term dwelling. I have thought about yurts, elk tents, making a custom tent, concrete fabric, etc... Many of my ideas that are simple would violate zoning rules I'm worried- and slightly more sturdy ideas like a cob hut. I'm afraid would cost more- and probably the funds would be best suited towards the bigger project. Also open to buying a tiny house! Does anyone know what is generally accepted inside city limits? (I clearly need to call the city!) I would be happy to tent camp, but feel like neighbors from my possible 5 acres may not be happy with that. I would love any experience or suggestions, thoughts, any input! Thanks!
Most of it is really going to come down to location and people. If you fill us in about your location, someone may have localish knowledge.
There is the question of what you are 'allowed' to do.
There is the question of what will people notice you doing. How private is your 5 acres?
There is the question of whether anyone will care, and attempt to do anything about it. What is the bylaw enforcement process like? Talk to the neighbours? Drive around and see if you can spot people living in campers, or in illegal secondary suites if that's a thing? If they can get away with it...
There is also the question of whether complaints will go anywhere... Some bylaws may be enforced if someone complains. But perhaps that someone needs to live nearby, within a certain distance, or it isn't a valid complaint. And perhaps even if it is a valid complaint, and EVERYONE nearby complains, the municipality may refuse to do much beyond a slap on the wrist, if they are scared of your lawyer. Know any scary lawyers?
Flexible laws cut both ways; perhaps your neighbor will decide to pave 3 acres of land right up to your fence for a heavy equipment yard...
In my municipality, secondary suites are only legal in a very small portion. The use of a 'tent, trailer, motorhome, RV, accessory, or agricultural building' for lodging, sleeping, accommodation, or residence is banned. And yet, a very significant percentage of homes have either secondary suites, or suites in detached garages/barns, or sometimes both. Live-aboard RV parking is scarcer, but available if you are patient. All is advertised openly online, on real estate listing, in the newspaper, on telephone poles... Enforcement would be an enormous endeavor, and there is nowhere else for many thousands of people to live.
A lot of places let you live in an RV for a year while building. Many downsides, but convenience and possibly legality are upsides. Most places I am familiar with allow construction of very small buildings without permitting. You'd generally not be allowed to live in it... but maybe you 'live' in a nearby house, the one that your mail goes to, and you are just keeping your furniture and appliances stuff in this coincidentally comfy small structure...
While I love the idea of tinyhomes, most are much more conspicuously A HOUSE than some of the other options, not to mention they're expensive to buy and a significant undertaking to build, if it is only temporary. Or were you thinking of the tinyhome as a permanent option?
'Theoretically this level of creeping Orwellian dynamics should ramp up our awareness, but what happens instead is that each alert becomes less and less effective because we're incredibly stupid.' - Jerry Holkins
While we wait for some of the info that Dillion's requested which would be helpful, I can share some basic thoughts that expand some of Dillion's very good points.
"Gurrellia Housing" and the related living tactics are not for everyone, but can be achieved if one is willing... I have lived at least 1/3 of my life this way if all the days are added up.
If you buy and own a five acer plot of land, and it is zoned for housing of some sort, plus gardening and/or livestock, then you have more opportunities than most. A very nice timber framed barn, shed and perhaps even a greenhouse or two is not an unreasonable thing to have for any small ag production, whether it is for only self consumption or small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture.)
These buildings (and the future house) will need some form of parking for cars, and equipment like trucks and tractors (whether you have them or not is your choice) so local residents will become accustom to seeing vehicles coming and going.
So it now boils down to where you "wash your face and rest your bones" which can be done very easily (and clandestinely) in a barn or greenhouse. One does have to understand this a way of living that entire families have done for years just to survive...so...it is achievable, but not the standard way to live as most "first world residents" understand to be normal. It is supper easy for the "single person" and some couples...much harder with kids and Elders. If you have ever read the "The Diary of a Young Girl," by Ann Frank, you can get an idea of how some have lived.
So, what I would suggest perhaps as a test to see if this "lifestyle" is something you can cope with:
Sleep/live for a week in your car, in a different location every night. If you get caught, you get an "fail" for that night.
Next, is to sleep outside the car without getting caught, like in a park, side of the road, on the roof of a building (I slept on top of a police station for 3 days once...) or at/in a church, etc.
Perhaps even try plain old "street living" as the homeless have to. It is a humbling experience and one that I think every human on this planet should be willing to do to appreciate what some must go through because of their circumstance in life.
These may seem extreme, but I know too many the "romanticize" Guerrilla Living, but don't really have the desire to really do it at any level, nor understand it...While others it becomes a standard skill set of how to sometimes live.
I even have a friend here in Vermont that had a reasonable income from his landscape and masonry business, owned 60 acres but wasn't much of a "farmer type." To put his son through college, he moved out of his house and rented it, and then moved into his car and "Masons Shed" he had in the industrial district in town. This became such an adventure for him that he didn't move back into a house for almost 6 years...
If you have more specific questions, I do my best to respond...
I agree with jay. I sometimes forget that i once lived as a vagrant. Small living comes easy for me. When others may have a hard time coping with living below their means, i spent a large part of my life in such ways. A small shed inside of a greenhouse is great way to live, its temporary anyways, and if kept simple, nobody would really know the difference. In my experience, staying off grid is the key to 'illegal' living. Weird how the more you go off grid, the less your structure is considered a home, and in return, less subject to codes. Win win. Inspectors have bigger better things to worry about, than a hippie living in an off grid tiny house. You would also be surprized to know that simple implements from motor homes can be installed in a shed, and be considered liveable. A cistern, small above ground septic, and wood burner can be a legal home. You dont have to use the systems, just have them present. You can always turn your clean unused septic into a cistern, so no loss of value there. Creativity is key in finding loopholes. By the way, a very romanticized, with an anarchist pov, story about living homeless by choice, is called 'evasion' . It could be a inspirational read without the danger.
If you are planning on building a larger home , over time, a good shed will be needed at some point. So build a shed and live in it. Just don't tell anyone that that is what you are doing. If you can, put it back out of the way ,so that most folks will not see it, or you, going in and out of it.
Be sure to put up no tresspassing signs.
It is important to expand Miles's point of topic...
When I suggested the Barn and other buildings, I should have expanded the logic of it. When planning a building site and the best possible engagement of the land, for not only living on but growing on, it is important to plan well all aspects of the particular piece of land that falls under your stewardship.
The "Barn," or "Shed" that I suggested is not actually what in the future would be the barn or shed (it can be if desired.) Instead this first Barn or Shed is a little bit different in planning, facilitation and design, as can be built with the full intentions of converting it into the primary residence at a future date. This is a very (and expanding) common practice among folks moving back to the land and into different levels of permaculture and natural living.
I watched a very beautiful "goat barn" get designed, with gorgeous timber frame structures and assembly, which further went on to be cobbed, and plasters with both running water and wiring for electricity, which many barns today have. This "barn" then became (unbenounced to the local "officials of sadness") a living spot for not only the goats, chickens, piggies, rabbits, and other wee beasties (as it has been for thousands of years) but also the human companions/caretakers. Of the 12 stalls in the 30'x40' four bay barn, a partial bay was converted into a small apartment with loft, that housed a young couple, some pet companions of both feather, fur, and scale, as well as a newborn human the following year. No one outside the family and friends new this barn held more than just livestock and when it came time to build a second barn to move the animals into the first barn became a home in the matter of one week...none the wiser for the effort...other than unfortunately the tax assessors who are always pleased to add another property to their tally...
That is just one of many examples..."if"...it is approached from the proper mindset, and the appropriate skills sets of living are applied...