BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The tiny house phenomenon is gaining popularity across the country, with many choosing a smaller dwelling for one reason or another.

If you happen to be looking for one here, you’re in luck: The City of Buffalo allows tiny houses, which are defined by the New York State Residential Building Code as residences that are 400 square feet or less in floor area, excluding lofts.

That is to say, they don’t get a lot of requests for building permits for tiny houses. The city’s Department of Permit and Inspection Services says there are “not very many” residences that qualify as tiny homes and there hasn’t been an increased interest in tiny home ownership here in recent years.

The requests to build tiny homes are handled on a case-by-case basis.

“Homeowners have to first find out if the tiny home or auxiliary home fits inside the guidelines for zoning, land-use and permitting,” the Department of Permit and Inspection Services said. “In addition to other specifications, the structure must have dedicated sewer, water, and electric lines.”

The city says there’s “no minimum building size requirement” in Buffalo, but depending on whether or not there’s already a house on the lot you wish to build on, it will either be considered a “carriage house” or “detached house” building type.

“A carriage house may only be considered a principal building if the front lot line of the parcel is located along an alley,” Buffalo’s Green Code Unified Development Ordinance says.

The Green Code, which was signed into law by Mayor Byron Brown in January 2017, contains the requirements for these building types. They also must comply with the New York State Residential Building Code and Property Maintenance Code.

MORE | See the city’s zoning map here.

“Most notably, your tiny home must be built on a foundation and not on wheels,” the city says.

There are occupancy rules, too. It’s probably obvious, but a tiny home probably isn’t the best choice for a family, especially a large one.

John Wagner, an associate real estate broker with 716 Realty Group WNY, sells homes across the Buffalo area and adjacent counties. He believes traditional home ownership is still a more feasible option for homeowners who might not plan to stay in their house forever.

“In residential real estate, comparable sales are how we determine value,” Wagner says. “With non-traditional construction, including tiny homes, comparable sales will be difficult/impossible to come by. Standard measures like price per square foot will be skewed, and the buyer pool will be especially limited.”

Wagner says he has seen an increase in people asking how to build homes in non-traditional ways, like tiny homes or “barndominiums,” the latter of which he described as “pole barns usually built on a concrete slab with living spaces built in.” But “very few” follow through with it, he says.

A non-traditional home can be a risky investment, he says.

“All to say, if one wanted to do it as a passion project, and understand that you are gambling its resale value in a much riskier way than one normally would be subject to in residential real estate, go for it,” Wagner says. “Do I see it becoming the next generation’s ticket to affordable home ownership anytime soon? No.”

Although its resale value may not be the most attractive thing for potential tiny home owners, Rocket Mortgage says the overall cost of purchasing a tiny house is usually less than what one would pay for a regular home, despite the average cost of square footage.

“While the nationwide average cost of a tiny home is $300 per square foot compared to a traditional home’s $150 per square foot, tiny homes are overall cheaper to build or purchase,” Katie Ziraldo wrote in a February article on Rocket Mortgage’s website.

On average, the company says tiny houses cost between $30,000 and $60,000 but prices can range anywhere from $8,000 to $150,000, they say.

Buffalo has no plans to create any sort of residential area specifically consisting of tiny homes. The “tiny homes” filter on Airbnb has only a handful of options in the Buffalo area, though more are available in the Southern Tier.

Anyone who is interested in building a tiny home in Buffalo can get a building permit for one by contacting Dave Krug at the city’s Permit Office at dkrug@buffalony.gov or by calling (716) 851-4924.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.