Do Remote Off-Grid Cabins Have to Follow Building Codes?

Off-grid cabins are a very common desire for a personally owned luxury and recreational retreat for families. Most often, people try building these reality escapes themselves. But the question poses on whether or not these personal recreational retreats have certain regulations that must be followed in order to legally own and build.

Do remote off-grid cabins have to follow building codes? Off-grid cabins do have to follow building codes and regulations that vary depending on the area you are living or trying to build in. Before building something, you should always check with the local City Hall to see what regulations will need to be, or not be, followed.

By continuing, you can figure out exactly what you will need to know about off-grid building regulations or finding them in your City’s system.

What Size Building Requires a Permit?

The regulations for building sizes that require permits will vary by city and county no matter where you are. Each has its own laws and regulations to ensure the safety of the people in these situations. 

Generally, there is a certain size (under 400 sq. ft. for example) with which cities don’t require any building codes due to such a small-sized structure, but the number varies depending on where you are at.

Some people get around the regulation numbers by building on a trailer so it’s not a “building” (tiny house) to cheat their way into getting a decent sized cabin without it needing the actual building permits necessary to build an entire cabin or building completely from scratch.

Here is a list of some local regulations in Idaho:

WhereMinimum Sq. Ft. Requiring a Permit
Boise200 Sq. Ft
Idaho Falls
120 Sq. Ft.
Ada County200 Sq. Ft.
Post Falls200 Sq. Ft.

These numbers are only a couple local calculations. Before looking into building a cabin, go to or call your local city building, or the local one in the area you plan to build, and ask about the requirements and regulations to ensure that everything is done properly.

Each county, and even city sometimes, has their own specific regulations and requirements on how large or small a building has to be to require a permit. Plus, you will need other permits for necessities such as electrical and plumbing for your cabin as well that you will have to obtain.

Without seeking the necessary help, you could get in serious trouble and get fined hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars.


Can You Build a Log Cabin Without Planning Permission?

Depending on the size of the log cabin you decide to build, you may not need planning permission for it. 

Generally, smaller cabins don’t need planning permission, especially if they are under the permit requiring size regulations. The only time you will probably need planning permission for your cabin is if it is a large cabin that will need to be inspected and built professionally and able to pass a ton of regulations in order to be legal.

Before just building your cabin on your own, make sure you seek the proper professional guidance to ensure your cabin is built safely and up to code. Also go to your city hall in person or call them or even go on their website to make sure you know all of the regulations you must followand ensure that you are allowed to legally build your desired cabin.

Is it Legal to Live Off the Grid?

It is perfectly legal to live off the grid, as long as all of the proper and required permits and regulations are obeyed according to what your city or county legally requires.

Living off the grid is essentially living on your own provided power, food, etc. which is totally doable as well! Not to mention sometimes super cost effective, depending on your local regulations and required permits.

Your own power source is extremely easy to acquire. This is most often putting solar panels on your cabin or house that will help to collect power from solar energy to run your house. Not only is it cost effective in the long term, but this method of power also very environmentally friendly.

A way to live on your own food is also super simple and cost effective. For meat, you just hunt whenever the desired meat is in season and then freeze that meat to use throughout the year. For produce you simply can have your own garden. They are super easy and cheap to start and not too hard to maintain if you keep up on it. This will then give you more than enough food to throw in your fridge, can, freeze, stew, or any other method you want.

Living off of your own water system can be done by placing a septic tank on your property and using well water for your house. This could get a little more expensive, but isn’t too bad long term either. Be careful to not treat it as loosely as your city plumbing from home though. Septic tanks are super picky and can get jammed or kill the bacteria that breaks down your waste easier sometimes than you are used to.

Living off the grid isn’t too hard overall. It can even be fun! It is just harder to do depending on certain regulation in your specific area. However, if you choose to do so, it leads for a fun, self-providing and supplied life full of feeling accomplished from this.

Related Questions:

How to get around building permits? I would recommend using the proper building permits as much as necessary. However, to avoid having to actually build as much and to get a greater square footage count without requiring a permit, I would suggest using a trailer and then building off of that.

Is building a cabin in the woods legal? Generally, it is legal to build a log cabin in the woods, but only if you have the proper land and building permits to do such. Keep in mind, also, that every state and county will have their own regulations and rules which may limit your ability to do so.

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