New York State Off-Grid Laws: A Detailed Guide (2023)

New York State is known for having some of the strictest building codes and off-grid living laws in the country. Don't let that stop you from disconnecting from the network, though. If you're willing to work, NY can be a great place to live off the grid.

Somehow make these lawsEasierGo offline in New York because there are no gray areas: you don't have to guess whether your system passes, because the requirements are clearly defined by law.

This is not always the case in other states, where the decision is left to local authorities who may or may not be aware of new off-grid technologies.

Is it legal to live off the grid in New York State?

Living off the grid is generally legal in remote or rural parts of New York State. Some areas have laws that require connection to municipal sewerage, if one exists, making it illegal to live entirely off the grid. New York State also has strict building codes that make it difficult or expensive to legally take off the grid.

New York State Building Codes

New York State has strict building codes that must be followed if you want to legally live off the grid. For example, you may need to install automatic sprinkler systems if you have multiple families living in one home or if you are planning to build a three story home.

  • New York State Building Code:Adopts IBC 2018 with changes
  • New York State Housing Code:Adopts IRC 2018 with changes
  • Existing NYS Building Code:Adopts IEBC 2018 with amendments
  • NYS activation code:Adopts CPI 2018 with changes
  • Mechanical NYS code:Approves BMI 2018 with changes
  • NYS Combustible Gas Code:Adopts IECC 2018 with changes
  • New York State Property Management Code:Adopts IPMC 2018 with changes
  • Accessible and usable buildings and facilities:Adopts 2009 A117.1 with no changes
  • Standard for the installation of sprinkler systems:Adopts 2016 NFPA 13 with no changes
  • National Electrical Code:Adopts 2017 NFPA 70 with no changes
  • National signaling and fire alarm code:Adopts 2016 NFPA 72 with no changes
  • Security code for elevators and escalators:Adopts ASME A17.1 of 2016 with no changes
  • Construction law requirements for structural concrete:Adopts 2014 ACI 318 with changes

Are there New York State building codes?

Because inspections are required to obtain a certificate of habitability, there is no way around New York State building codes.

The state prioritizes compliance, and fines for violating the code can be large. Currently, the law imposes a fine of $25 per day after 180 days of violation. After 360 days, the penalty doubles to $50 per day. The maximum fine is $1,000 per day.

However, there are many legislative changes that exempt owner-occupied dwellings that lack electricity, plumbing or other utilities. This can create loopholes that make it easier to get permits and pass inspections.

The 144 square meter waiver

In many locations in upstate New York, buildings 144 square feet or less do not require planning permission if they do not have plumbing, heating, or electrical systems. I've heard from many people who have used this pond to build small cottages off the grid without permission. However, the exemption only applies to storage sheds and does not apply to apartments. You might get away with it for a while, but you might also find yourself in a slew of code violations.

New York State Camping, Hunting and Fishing Cabin Regulations

You can circumvent some of New York's most stringent building codes and regulations by building a cabin yourself. Underto her, a storage unit is defined as,

"A tent, camp hut, recreational vehicle, or other type of portable shelter intended, constructed, or used for the temporary employment of humans."


A member of the Adirondack Park Agencystricter definitionsWhat counts as a cabin:

"A hut, camp, or shed, or other similar structure, designed and used for occasional occupancy only and principally for hunting, fishing, and the like, and which:

(1) is a one-story structure but may contain a mezzanine;
(2) it is built on posts or pillars and has no permanent foundation;
(3) has a toilet or chemical toilet and no conventional sewage treatment system;
(4) has no pressurized or internal plumbing (this prohibition does not preclude a kitchen sink with a suitable gray water leach pit); j
(5) not connected to public services (electricity, telephone, cable, water or sewage).

But even off-grid cabins are not exempt from regulations. You must purchase a license for your cabin and the license is only valid for a maximum of three years. Code exceptions only apply if you live at the cabin seasonally rather than full-time.

I've heard of plenty of people living in their cabins full time and not getting caught, but it's a significant risk.

New York Zoning Laws and Off-the-Grid Living

except to knowConditionBuilding regulations for your off-grid property also require you to comply with local zoning laws. These laws sometimes make certain off-net technologies completely illegal. They can also make it illegal to live the off-grid life you desire. For example, zoning laws often limit how many buildings you can build on your property, whether you can use wind energy, and whether you can keep livestock.

Zoning laws vary by county. You must carefully review each location's zoning laws before purchasing a property to ensure you understand what is permitted. In general, lands classified as agricultural or rural are the most tolerant.

Small houses and mobile homes

New York State has improved a lot lately when it comes to allowing small homes.Anhang QIRC deals with homes that are 400 square feet or less. Defines requirements for stairs, ceiling heights, emergency exits, etc. However, some areas of New York State may still have zoning laws that set minimum dwelling sizes. These zoning laws would make it illegal to live in a small house on your property.

As in most US states, the rules for living in an RV are much stricter. Zoning laws often prohibit RV living or restrict it to certain areas.

Off-Grid-Strom in New York

Off-grid power is legal in New York. However, you must follow the state's strict building codes and inspection procedures.

It becomes more complicated if you do not want to have any electrical installations in the house. If you don't have electricity, you can't comply with parts of the Fire Safety Act. The state also requires that all homes have a habitability certificate. The inspector cannot issue the certificate without an electrical connection. In that sense, living entirely off the grid in New York may be illegal.


Solar Energy Laws

Off-grid solar power is legal in New York State. There are numerous financial incentives for installing solar power. State laws prohibit homeowners' associations from imposing "unreasonable restrictions" on solar systems.

Although legal, installing solar power in New York is not always easy. They require approval, a process that usually involves submitting various documents such as a "worker's compensation certificate" and invoices. Many counties require that solar panels, even small installations, be installed by certified professionals.

Wind Energy in New York

New York State laws make it surprisingly easy to harness wind energy. The rules are laid out clearly so you don't have to worry about getting a special permit from the zoning authorities (as is the case in many parts of the US).

Most zoning ordinances have a 35 foot height limit for residential properties. Noise limits are usually 50 decibels. Many communities have farm and farmland exemptions that allow a wind turbine to be installed without a permit, as long as the restrictions are followed.

New York off-grid water laws

New York State has strict rules for off-grid water. The fire safety code requires all new construction to have wet pipes.

Existing buildings often have to have pressurized running drinking water.

The Installation Law states that

"Structures equipped with sanitary facilities and used for dwelling or dwelling shall be supplied with potable water in the quantities and pressures specified in this chapter" and "Potable water shall be supplied only to sanitation establishments supplying water for drinking or bathing or culinary products or for processing food, medical or pharmaceutical products. Unless otherwise specified in this Code, all plumbing shall be supplied with potable water.”

Because the building code (Section 2902) requires homes to have at least one shower or bath and sink, you cannot circumvent the law by simply not installing lighting fixtures in your home.

For example, it is strictly forbidden to bring rainwater into the house for showering. In order to comply and maintain your certificate of habitability, you will likely need to be connected to a public water supply, dig a well, or install an expensive system that pumps and treats water from nonpotable sources.


All wells in upstate New York must be drilled by a DEC registered water well contractor. You can't dig your own well in New York. The state does not need a permit to drill a well as long as it does not pump more than 45 gallons per minute. However, some local counties may require a license or have more stringent requirements. Testing is required by law for all new wells and wells that have not been used for a long period of time.

(Video) 6 Mistakes to AVOID when Buying Raw Land {for a HOMESTEAD}

Learn more about fountains in NYherejhereand test informationhere.

Rainwater harvesting laws in New York City

Harvesting rainwater is legal in New York and even subsidized by the state. However, there are strict regulations for rainwater harvesting systems. These are addressed inSection 1303of the New York Installation Act.

Some of these regulations include:

  • Rainwater can only be collected from roof surfaces that are impermeable above ground. In some cases, you can collect rainwater from sidewalks or parking lots.
  • Dirt deflectors must be used on gutters and ladders.
  • If used, a diverter for the first flush must function automatically and not manually.
  • Rainwater may need to be treated for some applications.

In addition to these rules, rainwater tanks must meet the requirements for domestic water storage (Sections 1301.9 and 1303.10.1 through 1303.10.3). For example, you must respect social distancing rules and only collect rainwater in opaque barrels if you don't protect them from the sun.

Disposal of waste water and waste

Complying with local wastewater treatment laws is often one of the most challenging parts of off-grid living.

In the state of New York, you cannot obtain planning permission if an approved sewage system is not available. In most cases, this means connecting to the public sewage system or installing a septic tank. However, there are some exceptions for the use of alternative off-grid waste disposal systems.

Required for connection to the public sewage system

Although not currently required by law, many New York boroughs require you to be connected to the public sewer system if one is nearby. This effectively makes it illegal in many parts of New York to live entirely off the grid.

grey water

If you want to recycle gray water or use other non-potable water for things like flushing the toilet, you're going to have a hard time legally in New York State. By law, all gray water in bathrooms must be disinfected. Even non-potable water from rainwater harvesting must be filtered through a 100 micron or finer filter before it can legally be used to flush toilets.

There are exceptions for treated water, which is defined as "non-potable water resulting from the treatment of wastewater by a facility or system licensed or authorized to produce water that meets the jurisdiction's water requirements for its intended uses." “.

You must check with your local health inspector for water quality approval requirements as treated water.

composting toilets

Composting toilets are legal in New York. They must be certified to NSF Standard 41 or equivalent and have a minimum 5 year warranty.

(Video) 13 Questions to Ask When Buying Land

It's even legal to use a composting toilet or other non-water based system on your property. The law states that these systems are allowed:

"In certain areas of the state where running water is unavailable or too scarce to fund toilets,Ö where water needs or wants to be saved.“

However, the law continues to say that

“Waste water treatment from sinks, showers and other facilities must be provided when flush toilets are installed. Domestic wastewater without sanitary waste is referred to as gray water.

Because of this last requirement, a septic tank or gray water treatment system must be installed.

Are latrines legal in New York?

Outhouses, known in law as "pit toilets," are surprisingly still legal in many parts of upstate New York, such as the Catskills. However, it is generally illegal to build a new toilet. You must keep all existing pit toilets in good condition if you wish to continue using them legally.

New York Wood Stove Laws

You must obtain a permit for any heating system in your New York home, including wood stoves. The US EPA regulates new indoor wood stoves through the New Source Performance Standard (40 CFR 60, Subpart AAA). According to these rules, wood heating systems must be certified to meet clean air standards. see more informationhere.

Also, if you plan to source your own firewood, remember that it is illegal to import untreated firewood from other states. Raw firewood from New York may not be shipped more than 50 air miles from its original source. "Treated" means it has been heated to 160°F for a minimum of 75 minutes. This means you can only get firewood near your property.

Are you living off the grid in New York? Do let us know your experience in the comments section below.


Is off-grid living legal in NY? ›

Off-grid electricity is legal in New York. However, you'll have to follow the State's strict building codes and inspection process. Things get more complicated if you don't want to have any electrical system in your home. You might not meet parts of the fire code if you don't have electricity.

What can I build in NY without a permit? ›

  • Small site development - including finished grading and planting; fencing; and re-paving of existing roadways, parking lots and walkways.
  • Bleacher projects which involve only the installation of pre-engineered, factory-built equipment without foundations or sitework.

Can I put a tiny house on my property in NY state? ›

Among its rules are that a tiny house must not be less than five feet long or wide, and must have code-compliant stairs or ladders, handrails, and emergency exits.

Are composting toilets legal in New York? ›

Composting toilet residuals (liquid and solids) are considered septage and may be land applied. The land application of composting toilet residuals is regulated under 361-2.3(d) and the storage of composting toilet residuals for later land application is regulated under 361-2.3(e).

Do you need permission to live off-grid? ›

You will need to check and negotiate planning permission. This would set up a great basis for your new off grid life. Once you have land your opportunities open up extensively. It's great if you buy land with a well, or with close access to water.

Can I live in an RV on my own property in NY? ›

So New York does allow it. Not all states and cities share the same RV laws though. You are advised to check your local regulations before moving into any RVs. According to the IRS, you can claim an RV as a house for tax purposes.

How big of a shed can I build without a permit in New York State? ›

The Rules of the City of New York §101-14 requires that backyard sheds meet the following requirements: Size: Up to 120 square feet – no permits needed. Above 121 square feet – plans, approval, and permits required.

Do I need a permit to build a pole barn in NY? ›

POLE BARN TYPE STRUCTURES – Whether residential or commercial in nature a Building Permit is required per the other sections of this site. SHEDS – Any utility shed structure large than 100 square feet and less than 200 square feet needs a permit.

What happens if I build without a building consent? ›

If your project needs a resource consent and you start work without one, or you don't comply with your building consent, you're committing an illegal offence. The penalties include fines of up to $200,000 and the removal of the work you've done.

What is the smallest house you can build in New York State? ›

There's no minimum size for tiny houses, and the maximum size to be considered a tiny house in New York is 400 square feet. Tiny Houses on Wheels (THOWs) must be registered as R.V.s with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and can be up to 400 sq. ft.

Do I need a permit to build a cabin in NY? ›

Note that a permit is also required for any dwelling unit, regardless of its classification as a single family dwelling, mobile home, or hunting and fishing cabin, if the structure will be located within a designated "critical environmental area" or a scenic or recreational river area, or will be within or will ...

Can you live in a yurt in New York? ›

New York. New York state is another one of the states that don't need a permit for a yurt, but you do need to make sure that the platform is built to local codes for decking structures. Yurts are classified as a temporary structure which means there is no permit needed to put one up.

Are septic holding tanks legal in NY? ›

Tank size shall be based upon five days design flow or 1,000 gallons, whichever is greater and meet the same construction as a septic tank except that the holding tank shall not have an outlet. Holding tanks are not acceptable for long term use on year-round residences.

Does toilet paper go in composting toilet? ›

Any type of toilet paper is acceptable; less substantial brands (such as marine or RV paper) will compost the quickest. Diapers, wipes and tampons should not be placed in the solids bin.

What can you build on land without planning permission? ›

When you do not need it
  • industrial premises and warehouses.
  • some outdoor signs and advertisements - though there are special rules around adverts.
  • demolition - but before you begin you must get approval to demolish from your local planning authority ( LPA ) through your local council.

How many acres do you need to live off the grid? ›

Even though a lot of those sources put the number at a lot less, the general consensus is that you really need at least 5 acres of land per person to be self-sufficient. And that's assuming you have quality land, adequate rainfall, and a long growing season.

How much power do you need to live off the grid? ›

The average off-grid home usually requires about 7 Kw (or 7000 Watts) of power to rely entirely on its own energy production.

Can you buy land and then live on it with an RV? ›

Let's get right into it: Is it legal to live in an RV on land you own? The short answer is: Yes, as long as you live in the right place.

Can I camp on my land in New York? ›

Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of any road, trail, spring, stream, pond or other body of water except at areas designated by a "Camp Here" disk. Groups of 10 or more persons OR stays of more than three days in one place require a permit from the New York State Forest Ranger responsible for the area.

How do I claim my RV as primary residence? ›

Declaring your main home

Your main home is the one where you ordinarily live most of the year. This can be a boat or RV even if it doesn't have a permanent location. As long as it contains the required facilities, you can claim it as your main home on your taxes.

Does a shed increase property tax in NY? ›

The permits and regulations relating to the building of a shed don't affect whether you pay property taxes. However, county assessment authorities tend to monitor zoning permits. If they discover you're building a shed and have applied for a permit, a local tax assessor may decide to increase your taxes.

What's the biggest shed I can have without planning? ›

You don't normally need Building Regulations Consent for a basic shed or outbuilding provided it's under 15 square metres and has no sleeping accommodation inside. For further advice check the Planning Portal's advice on outbuildings here.

What's the biggest size shed without permit? ›

In most areas, you generally do not need a building permit for a small shed, such as a 6×8 or an 8×10. However, larger storage buildings may challenge local zoning restrictions. Many areas will only allow sheds to be installed in backyards.

Do you need a permit for a carport in NY? ›

Yes, a building permit is required to construct a carport structure. In order to obtain a building permit you will need a site plan of the proposed carport showing its size and setbacks from property lines. A building permit fee is based on the valuation of the structure plus a nominal permit issuance fee.

Do you need a permit for a gazebo in NY? ›

I. Permits are required for the following actions unless stated otherwise. Addition / Alteration Any structure other than the main building (i.e. barns, garages, carports, gazebos, pergolas, cabanas, etc.) Structure) – Addition Enlarging a structure by adding to the size in any direction.

Do you need a permit for a floating deck in New York State? ›

Always check with your local building department for local regulations, but the International Residential Code says you won't need a permit for your floating deck if your project meets the following criteria: It takes up less than 200 square feet. It's not more than 30 inches above the ground.

How big can you build without planning permission? ›

Single-storey extensions must not exceed 4m in height. Single storey extension width must not exceed half of the original size of the house. Extensions on the side or front of a house must be closer to the property than a public highway.

Do I need permission to replace Windows? ›

You should not need planning permission if you are fitting windows which are identical, like-with-like replacements. However, if the new windows differ in appearance or size to those you are replacing (for instance, different glazing patterns) you may need to apply for planning permission.

What building work can I do myself? ›

Work that does not require building consent
  • general repairs and maintenance.
  • removing or building a veranda or patio with a maximum floor area of 20 square metres.
  • building a pergola that has no roof.
  • building a carport with a maximum floor area of 20 square metres.
  • building some types of retaining walls and fences.
Feb 23, 2022

Can you live in your car ny? ›

Sleeping in you car is perfectly legal in NYC. You will only attract police attention if someone reports you or you have committed a parking violation.

What is the easiest state to live off-grid? ›

Money Inc has California at the top of their list, too, and gives us a glimpse into their lives: “In California, there is a large community of what is known as plugged-in off-gridders. These are people that access the Internet, but they live the off-grid lifestyle in many other ways.

Does New York have a grid system? ›

Most of Manhattan is laid out in a grid pattern, meaning that it's easy to find your way around. Avenues run north-south and streets are east-west. Fifth Avenue separates the East and West sides, with street numbers increasing as you head away from Fifth.

What other states can you live off-grid? ›

Top US States That Allow You to Live Off the Grid
  • Alabama. You won't see Alabama on every list regarding what states allow off-grid living. ...
  • Missouri. ...
  • Georgia. ...
  • Tennessee. ...
  • Texas.
Oct 6, 2020

Is sleeping in a car homeless? ›

In the HUD definition for homeless, cars are “not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation.” Though vans are not mentioned, generally speaking, they are “not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation.” Thus, persons sleeping overnight in cars or vans are homeless.

How long can a car be parked in front of my house in NY? ›

Unless a posted sign says otherwise, you may not leave a vehicle parked in the same spot for more than seven days in a row. This rule includes spots in all types of neighborhoods, including residential areas. Unless posted signs say otherwise, commercial vehicles may not be parked on any street for more than 3 hours.

Can you sleep in your car drunk NY? ›

Instead of driving home while impaired, individuals may responsibly choose to sleep in their car. However, in New York, individuals are not allowed to sleep in their cars while drunk. If they do fall asleep in their motor vehicle while intoxicated, they can be convicted of driving while under the influence (DUI).

What is the absolute cheapest state to live in? ›

1. Mississippi. Mississippi is the cheapest place to live in the United States, with a cost of living 15.6% lower than the national average.

What is the least desirable state to live in? ›

New Mexico. The Land of Enchantment is cursed by crime — the second highest violent crime rate in the nation, according to FBI statistics. Only Alaska is worse. In her 2022 State of the State address, Gov.

What state is the cheapest to live off-grid? ›

Known for its affordability and accessibility, Texas makes a compelling location for off-grid living. With lower property taxes and cheaper land, the cost of living in Texas is significantly lower than other states.

Does New York have underground power lines? ›

Currently, 86% of electric load and 82% of customers in New York City are served by underground distribution networks.

Who regulates national grid in NY? ›

The Public Service Commission regulates the state's electric, gas, steam, telecommunications, and water utilities, and oversees the cable industry. The Commission is charged by law with setting rates and ensuring New York's utilities provide adequate service.

Why does New York have a grid system? ›

Established in 1811 to blanket the island when New York was a compact town at the southern tip, the grid was the city's first great civic enterprise and a vision of brazen ambition. It is also a milestone in the history of city planning and sets a standard to think just as boldly about New York's future.

Where is the easiest place to live off-grid? ›

The ideal place for living off the grid depends on your priorities and preferences, but there are 7 general factors to consider:
  • Missouri. ...
  • Montana. ...
  • Idaho. ...
  • Oregon. ...
  • Wyoming. ...
  • Washington. ...
  • West Virginia. ...
  • Tennessee. If we're talking about good growing seasons, Tennessee wins in that department.
May 6, 2022

What is the difference between homesteading and living off-grid? ›

However, most regular folks use 'homesteading' to mean a lifestyle of simpler living. Whether you live in a suburb, inner-city, or out in the country, you can still enjoy a homestead lifestyle. Going Off-grid, however, is a bit different. Off-grid living means being fully responsible for how you live.


1. 🚛 🚗 The Interstate's Forgotten Code 🚗 🚛
(CGP Grey)
2. The Homestead Research Guide: What you need to know before buying land
(Black Off Grid)
3. New Hampshire vs Vermont - Best State For Off Grid Living
(Live Life DIY with Rob)
4. Absolutely NEVER Buy This Type Of Land
(Kristina Smallhorn)
5. Best off-grid cabin I've ever toured- SEE WHY
(Girl in the Woods)
6. URGENT! Do Not Buy Solar! Do This Instead. Save $1,000's!!! Mango Power E Review


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Carmelo Roob

Last Updated: 11/06/2023

Views: 5915

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (65 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Carmelo Roob

Birthday: 1995-01-09

Address: Apt. 915 481 Sipes Cliff, New Gonzalobury, CO 80176

Phone: +6773780339780

Job: Sales Executive

Hobby: Gaming, Jogging, Rugby, Video gaming, Handball, Ice skating, Web surfing

Introduction: My name is Carmelo Roob, I am a modern, handsome, delightful, comfortable, attractive, vast, good person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.