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Tiny House Q&A: RVIA Certified Tiny Houses

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Question: Should I be considering RVIA certified tiny houses? 

Answer: Although you can always build a tiny house on wheels without an RVIA certification right now I’m showing you why you should seriously consider saying ‘yes’ to RVIA certified tiny houses.

If you ever want to be able to park and live in your tiny home in an RV park in the future you’ll want to have this certification to make sure you have as many options as possible when it comes to living in your tiny home. Some RV parks and campgrounds will NOT allow your tiny house on wheels on their property if it is not RVIA certified while others will.

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Tiny House Q&A: RVIA Certified Tiny Houses

RVIA Certification and Tiny Houses

To RVIA or Not to RVIA?

Right now and in the past, tiny homes are being built without RVIA certifications because it costs more money to do so. And if you want, you can go that route. But increasingly more builders are offering RVIA certifications because it gives you more options for financing, parking, and insurance.

Why You Might Want to Have an RVIA Tiny House

I personally highly recommend the certification and hiring a builder that can provide it so that your tiny house is allowed in more places in the future.

And in case you ever want to sell it, this certification might make it easier to sell and more valuable too. Or, let’s say you wanted to move out of it. Say, you outgrow your tiny house, right?

Well, if you have an RVIA certification it can be easier to find an RV park or a campground to park it in and possibly rent it out using Airbnb and the like. So when you’re done with your tiny house, it can still work for you and provide value to others.

Examples of RVIA Certified Tiny Houses

The ESCAPE Traveler Tiny House

RVIA Certified ESCAPE Traveler Tiny House

See more.

The Cayman Tiny House by Innovate Tiny

Cayman Tiny House by Tiny Innovations RVIA Certified THOW

See more.


ESCAPE Model One Tiny House - RVIA Certified

See more.

RVIA-Certification Resources to Learn More

RVIA-Approved Tiny House Builders

Is getting an RVIA certified tiny house on wheels important to you? Yes or no and why? Please share in the comments. Thank you!

If you enjoyed this tiny house Q & A on RVIA certified tiny houses you’ll absolutely LOVE our Free Daily Tiny House Newsletter with even more! Thank you!

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 34 comments… add one }
  • Alex
    January 27, 2015, 11:34 am

    For me, an RVIA certification would be important because even though I might want to live and park my THOW on my own rural property I might change my mind later and want to live in an RV park in a town or city. Plus I’d want to be able to get insurance for it easier and I might even want to finance it as long as I can make extra principal-only payments every month. And then later, if I moved out of it and wanted to keep it, I have more options. For example, I can keep it at an RV park and rent it out to friends/family or put it up on AirBNB.

    • Elisa
      February 13, 2019, 12:14 pm

      I was thinking the same thing… resale value will remain healthy if the house is built to a recognized standard.

  • Jax
    January 27, 2015, 1:10 pm

    RV certification was a requirement in selecting our builder, we wanted to be under RV laws and to be able to insure it. We financed our home and tow truck via an old friend (with repayment when our current house sells), but we did learn that RIVA certifications also open up RV loan financing through traditional means (banks that do RV loans). For those that have this obstacle to tiny house dreams, this is a solution. Where you park your tiny house will impact your insurance, so having as many legal places to do so just makes sense.

    • Alex
      January 27, 2015, 5:45 pm

      Thanks Jax. Would love to see your tiny home sometime too!

    • Pam
      October 11, 2019, 5:40 pm

      Would be interested in knowing if you know of or have an alternative heat source that is this approved.

  • greg
    January 27, 2015, 3:39 pm

    Though I haven’t built what most would classify as a ‘tiny house’, in the past I have built several rigs (Some sort of mobile camper/home/shelter) and, though I never bothered to actually get any of them RVIA certified, I always built to RVIA standards (Or better. Sometimes you just have to use common sense!) For the most part, a lot of people smarter than me about these things put in a lot of research and testing to come up with these standards so I figure it’s not going to hurt to pay attention.

    Having said that, over the past 40 years I’ve built quite a few ‘RV’s for myself and never had problems getting them insured without the actual certification. Also, during those 40 years I’ve spent a lot of time in a lot of campgrounds in several of my own creations, and never once was I questioned about RVIA certification as I checked in.

    I used to be able to download the standards for free from the RVIA site but last time I went there to make sure mine were up to date it seems that option has been taken away and I would now have to pay a healthy fee to get a copy.

  • Vicky
    January 27, 2015, 5:47 pm

    If I were to build my own TH, is there some way I can qualify as a RVIA certified builder? Is it feasible?

    • greg
      January 28, 2015, 10:46 am

      The place to start is the RVIA site, http://www.rvia.org/ . To get a copy of the standards click on STORE . A box will open and one of the options is CODES & STANDARDS. For building a unit the publication you want is Std for Rec Veh NFPA 1192 – 2015. For a n0n member the cost is a little less than $50. (Back in the day it used to be free!)

      If you are an RVIA Manufacture member you can click on STANDARDS then in the box that opens up, RECREATION VEHICLE INSPECTION PROGRAM to get more information.

      But for an informal chat before spending any money (You have to contact RVIA directly to get any membership pricing but I suspect it is costly.) you might want to try contacting Paul at Sportsmobile, [email protected] to see if he could put you in touch with the inspector that comes to their facility on a regular basis. (I have found Paul to be a very accommodating person.) That inspector might be willing to give some relevant guidance on what it takes to make it happen.

  • Susanne
    March 1, 2015, 6:24 pm

    Anyone else experience what “Greg” experienced-no troubles due to lack of certification?

  • Dave Parson
    March 6, 2015, 6:28 pm

    Hi Alex; I didn’t know where to put this – i’m finally ready for my tiny house. An Amish company will build it (8×24) for $46,000. It’ll only take a month – 6 weeks. Now I’m looking for financing but can’t find any anywhere. Any suggestions?

    • di
      March 15, 2015, 1:25 am

      Search for “RV financing” online.

    • Robert Brown
      September 24, 2015, 10:35 pm

      possible to get in touch with the Amish builders?

  • Mario
    May 13, 2015, 5:23 pm

    Pacific West Associates offers a Self-Certification program.
    Call PWA at 307-315-0181

    • August 11, 2016, 3:21 pm

      We have changed our phone number! Please call (816)-716-6271 for Tiny Home Certification Inquiries. (We do self-builds!)

  • May 14, 2015, 1:44 am

    We are certified under Pacific Western Associates. They have the same guidelines and are recognized by all RV manufacturers
    Easier to work with and less expensive.
    Pat @ California Tiny House

  • May 14, 2015, 1:51 am

    We just found out that Pacific West Associates is starting a self certificate program. This will assure your tiny house will be build under RV guidelines. It is in the beginning stage and will be offered soon.
    Pat @ California Tiny House

  • Barbara Childs
    May 19, 2015, 7:04 pm

    Hello, I have been wanting to know if My husband and I could live a dream of owning some sort of Tiny House. The reason I say it like this is cause we are both on a fixed income. I feel like we will never live on our own with no landlords. Are there any programs for folks like us. I Truely Hope So.

  • Barbara Childs
    May 19, 2015, 7:05 pm

    Hello, I have been wanting to know if My husband and I could live a dream of owning some sort of Tiny House. The reason I say it like this is cause we are both on a fixed income. I feel like we will never live on our own with no landlords. Are there any programs for folks like us. I Truely Hope So.

  • Raul
    July 21, 2015, 10:01 am

    in the near future i plan to have built a mini on wheels well more like 40 foot aluminium long trailer with a hydraulic lift to extend the second floor up and maybe a low boy trailer to be able to stand up straight on both floors just like a double decker bus a split level bathroom on the goose neck with the water tanks there, solar roof and roof top garden and deck and drain system for gray and black water. plus a extending windmill mast, plus a lot of other ideas. but, I am looking for someone to build it when i get my pension, with the entire frame of aluminium. so if you do this for a living let me know.

  • Jay Olstead
    November 13, 2015, 9:55 pm

    Raul….I saw your comment on this page. We have developed an aluminum trailer for THOWS. We will be posting as we build. The trailer is completed and construction will begin next week. With our method, you have the option of building with aluminum or lightweight steel metal insulated panels. Keep in touch
    Jay @ ragsdalehomes.com

  • Angela
    December 18, 2015, 10:50 am

    I’m having a tough time deciding I really want a THOW because I will be living in it full time living a dream of the adventurist. I plan to use it to travel around the US every 6 month’s or year depending on funds and I’ll still be employed. I was just wondering how easy is it to find a spot to park it? I plan to do rv sites or campgrounds I’m not into parking it privately. Are the options unlimited? Do you guys have a hard time finding an rv to park it at? Thanks for any advice it will help me make my decision between a Thow or an actually RV. I just dreaded going to the laundry mat with the RV.

  • Kenny
    February 29, 2016, 7:36 am

    One thing I would point out, this certification from RVIA doesn’t amount to anything. It’s a ploy designed by a self serving organization of builders and manufacturers designed to prevent others from entering the market. The truth is the RVIA never actually inspects 1% of the RVs manufactured today. They charge a membership fee and the members self certify or attest that they met the standard. I had a fifth wheel whose frame broke due to substandard manufacturing and materials. Depositions proved the RVIA had not in 15 years actually tested or inspected a single RV manufactured in the plant. Don’t be fooled and hoodwinked into the RVIA scam. Truth is there are far more stringent rules that are set up by NFPA that regulate 90% of your RV or THOW build that is backed by hundreds of years of research and development and will generally far exceed RVIA. Never once have I been asked to show my RV is RVIA or even asked about it. I challenge anyone to find any life safety, plumbing, electrical, heating or gas appliance deficiency. I am an NPQ Board Certified and State Certified Arson Investigator and I can assure you I have in more than one instance found electrical faults that started fires in RVs which had that shiny oval sticker on it.

    • Phil
      April 5, 2016, 6:03 pm

      Well said, seems like some clown in Elkhart had a cousin who needed a job, and started this idiotic ‘Ass-ociation.’

    • linda
      September 28, 2017, 1:22 pm

      wow, I had not idea,, and we build a tiny house and have been trying to get that shinny sticker to put on it,, thought for sure they wanted to inspect it!! uh Politics!!!

  • Phil
    April 5, 2016, 3:52 pm

    As a new builder of travel trailers, truck campers, and tiny homes (soon down the line) I contacted the RVIA and asked them about membership and certifications. To be a manufacturer member, the membership is $2000 a year for the minimum- which is up to a million bucks a year. Then you also have to pay the initiation fee, which is $500. Why? And why is it a sliding scale?

    The way most RV’s are built, using crap OSB and plastic junk everywhere, they should be all kicked out. So, I’m starting a new certification process- the Aircraft Camper and Coach Certification, because I use all Alclad 2024 aircraft aluminum, riveted, and on galvanized steel chassis, which no one else is using, and we can see them challenge that one.

  • July 26, 2016, 3:15 pm

    One major problem with buying an RVIA certified tiny house is that it lumps Tiny Homes in with either RV (ANSI 119.2, NFPA 1192) or Park Model RVs (ANSI 119.5) for the sake of expediency. Legally, this is “gaming the system” because most of us are building tiny homes to be used as permanent residences and not temporary seasonal use. By federal definition Park Model RVs and traditional RVs are not intended as permanent residences and most places (RV parks included) only allow one to live in them for 90 days (that is the local ordinance). At best certifying a tiny house intended for permanent habitation as RVIA compliant is deceptive, marginally useful, and very expensive, at worst, illegal. If a client absolutely needs something that is certified to a standard (because a client requests it), we use PW associates to certify that our home meet ANSI 119.5. PWA is affordable (especially for a THOW builder), easy to work with, and recognized in all 50 states. This is not ideal, as it’s still not tiny house specific, but until tiny house specific codes are developed (that are recognized by insurance, bank, and gov) this is a pretty good way to go.

  • Allyson
    August 9, 2016, 12:34 pm

    So if the tiny house is RV certified can it go in any RV park or does the park still have to “accept” it. We are seriously wanting to get a tiny house (mainly for use more like an RV for weekends, etc–leaving it parked for approx 6 months at a time in different places) but are finding that it’s pretty difficult to find somewhere to park it.

  • Suzzanne
    May 23, 2017, 10:18 pm

    My THOW is about to be complete in 3 or 4 weeks. I live in NJ and I cannot find a camp ground who will accept it on their property unless it is RVIA certified. So now I have a $50,000 investment and no place to put it. Unless I want it 3 hours away, I’m out of ideas. Too bad Amazon doesn’t sell those stickers. I’d pay dearly for one right now.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      May 24, 2017, 3:19 pm

      I’m so sorry Suzzanne!

  • June 13, 2019, 6:21 pm

    Pacific West Associates certifies tiny homes and park models


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