If you want to learn how to get tiny house RVIA certified, you should definitely read this article.
There is something remarkably extraordinary about living in your dream tiny home and traveling around the country with your structure following behind you.
Thanks to the tiny house movement, tiny home enthusiasts can now live out their dreams without sweating it.
With the tiny home movement, there are tons of options you can explore.
You can either build your dream tiny home by going the DIY route or get professional tiny home builders to do it for you.
While some tiny houses are constructed permanently on foundations, others are built on trailers.
If your dream tiny home on wheels is fitted on a trailer, you may have to get certification for your tiny home on wheels before you hit the road.
When it comes to certification, here is an important question you should ask yourself, is your tiny home on wheels certified as a safe and roadworthy recreational vehicle by organizations like the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association?
RVIA: What does it really mean?
The RVIA is an acronym that stands for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.
Being an advocacy group with the recreational vehicle industry, this organization is one of the leading forces spearheading the activities in this sector.
The organization is responsible for drafting standards peculiar to the construction of RVs and Park Model RVs.
It is the responsibility of the organization to administer inspection programs aimed at educating members on these standards while also monitoring compliance.
The organization has been lauded for its effort in creating a self-regulated RV industry as well as coming up with uniform standards across the U.S.
To carry out its mandate, the RVIA has employed the services of inspectors who make over 2,000 random visits every year.
While you may think the number is overwhelming, wait until you learn that those 2000 plus visits and inspections every year involve inspecting and overseeing over 400,000 RV projects that are delivered every year.
You’ll agree that this is a lot of work for an inspector, especially considering the scale of inspection to be carried out during each visit.
The RVIA, in the discharge of its cardinal responsibilities, ensures that RV manufacturers follow all of the best-accepted standards for safety and professional craftsmanship squarely as they go about building all of those recreational vehicles they put on sale to the public.
Even though the RVIA is an industry advocacy group, they liaise with federal and state authorities within the U.S to ensure that the organization plays an active role in the laws regulating the industry.
They also work with industrial standard groups like the ANSI.
Besides their cardinal responsibilities, the RVIA also performs other functions like providing market research, promotional programs, and industry marketing, which has proven very beneficial to RV manufacturers.
Getting a tiny house RVIA certified
Before you get yourself overwhelmed with RVIA certification, let us tell you right from the get-go that you may not be able to get your new tiny home certified by the RVIA, and that’s because the RVIA mostly deals with leading high-volume mobile tiny home manufacturers.
So if you don’t have a factory floor and you plan on building your tiny structure in your friend’s backyard, you may run into some problems with the RVIA.
And if you decide to take the tiny house entrepreneurial route, you must be ready to work with the RVIA to iron out the factory procedure.
This will include all of the materials for your project and how you plan on assembling them.
We will take you through why this is super important and how much it will cost you to get an inspection performed as well as certifications made.
Even though the RVIA is a major organization that plays an active role in the RV industry, the organization doesn’t have the resources required to inspect every tiny home-building project that seeks its seal of approval.
That is why the organization beams its searchlight on manufacturers who build mobile tiny home structures that conform to all standards stipulated by the RVIA.
Read on to learn why an RVIA certification is so important.
Why your tiny home should get an RVIA certification
RVIA certification matters a great deal.
And that’s because their insurance wouldn’t cover any costly damage that may arise from faulty equipment in an uncertified tiny home.
An RVIA certification is a seal of approval that states that the mobile home in question has been professionally built in line with the best standards.
This seal certifies that the mobile homeowner complies with all RV standards stipulated by the association.
Also, the seal represents a pledge by the manufacturer to fulfill all of the association’s membership conditions, including agreeing to regular, periodic, and unannounced audits by inspectors dispatched by the RVIA.
These inspectors are charged with monitoring and educating members on all the requirements as it concerns heating, electrical, plumbing, fire, and life safety systems.
This is not just a commitment to the industry but playing their role in ensuring that the RV industry gets the attention it deserves.
More so, the majority of private and public campgrounds in the U.S.
have made it mandatory for RVs and Park Model RVs to have this seal before they are granted access to park their homes.
The above point is one of the most important ones yet.
This is why the average person building or buying a tiny home really cares about RVIA certification.
The reality is that many mobile tiny homeowners want to be able to use campgrounds, this way, they have a place to park their homes and access other utilities.
Sadly, the lack of RVIA certification has prevented many mobile tiny homeowners from using campgrounds for RVs, as they are turned away because of the missing seal on their property.
This happens quite often with private facilities, especially citing some of the insurance concerns we highlighted earlier.
With RVIA, tiny homeowners will enjoy a lot of perks, including financing, insurance, and parking.
More so, it also makes flipping your tiny home a walk in the park.
Getting started on RVIA membership and certification
A company that is interested in becoming a member of the RVIA must be aware of the type of membership they qualify for.
And just to be clear, a mobile tiny home builder only qualifies for Park Model RV Manufacturer Memberships.
Also, you’ll need to set up an account for your company.
Since the process is online, we doubt you’ll run into any problems.
The next thing after creating an account is filling out an online membership application form.
Once that is done, you’ll be asked to provide the RVIA along with other supporting documents.
Since we are talking about a Park Model RV tiny home membership, you’ll be required to provide the following items:
- Commitment Pledge Form
- Product floor plans or two or more images of the final unit
- Passed inspection
Note: The commitment pledge form features a robust requirement that must be adhered to by the manufacturer.
This includes committing to building mobile tiny houses that conform to the best industry standards.
You must also agree to unannounced inspections of your factories to monitor compliance.
This explains why it is almost impossible for one-time builders or individuals to get RVIA certified.
Plus, it takes a lot of resources, planning, and time to put together an industrial operation that will comply with the ANSI standards.
How much does it cost to get RVIA Membership and Certification?
Based on recently available information, joining the RVIA will require would-be members to pay a $500 initiation fee.
Once that is done, each member is expected to pay dues of $2,040 each year.
This is an indication that you plan to build certified Park Model RVs.
Also, keep in mind that each RVIA seal will cost you $27.
Plus, you’ll need to buy the seal in batches of 10.
While these requirements are important, they play second fiddle to compliance, which is a big deal.
To certify or not to?
Most of the tiny home manufacturers on the market today make it a point of duty for their business model to get RVIA certification.
And that’s because they know that the tiny mobile homes they are constructing are meant to be on the road now and then, just like standard RVs.
And since it’s a vehicle and not a permanent residence, it’s important to get RVIA certification.
On the flip side, other tiny home builders ignore RVIA certification, and that’s because their tiny homes are designed to be permanent residences.
Even though some of these homes are built on trailers, they don’t move on the road often.
If you plan on building a tiny home that will eventually be towed to a permanent location or address and fixed on a foundation, there is no reason to subject yourself to all the hassles of RVIA certification.
On the other hand, if you plan to travel often with your mobile home, then getting RVIA certified is a must.
Plus, this will enable you to get access to campgrounds to park your home.
Any options outside these two we have highlighted above will put tiny homeowners in an unpleasant legal grey area.
Trust us when we say you want to avoid this kind of trouble.
Frequently asked questions
How can a tiny homeowner get RVIA certified?
To get RVIA certified, you must agree to unannounced random inspections.
You must also ensure that your structure is built to the best standards as stipulated by the RVIA.
You must comply with over 500 safety codes.
Not just that, your structure must be inspected to confirm that you adhered to these codes.
The codes cover brake lights, electricity, heating, plumbing, fire safety, and more.
What is the exact cost of RVIA certification?
When it comes to RVIA certification, there are many fees to consider.
While we can’t state categorically how much you’ll pay for RVIA certification, to give you some ideas, every member is expected to pay a $500 initiation fee.
Besides the initiation fee, you’ll also end up paying $2,040 as dues every year.
As per the RVIA seal, you’ll pay an extra $27 per seal.
Is RVIA a must for tiny houses?
Well, it all depends on what you’re interested in.
This certification will give you access to campgrounds where you can park your home.
On the flip side, if you are interested in a tiny home on a permanent foundation, you won’t need RVIA certification.