Areas With Few or No Codes: East Tennessee

East Tennessee has no building codes
East Tennessee has no building codes

Message from a reader: “Just wanted to add my experience as an example if it helps someone (not selling anything). I bought 75 acres in Blaine, Tennessee (20 minutes east of Knoxville) back in 2014 for $146K. Rural, forest and hills, 4 seasons, but close enough to bigger cities. No building codes. TN has no state income tax. I pay around $100 a year for property tax because it is designated as “greenbelt.” The surrounding counties are the same and are very open to alternative building.

I found it because my mom lives in next-door Rutledge county and she contacted a local real estate agent who knew the area–it wasn’t advertised because it was already under contract with a commercial buyer that backed out. I plan to build when I retire from the Air Force in 2 years so I will update then on any other costs I encounter, such as property tax after a house is built. Lessons learned thus far: local knowledge helps find land, try to get “greenbelt” designation for property tax purposes, east TN counties with no building codes.”

Thanks to Revonda who posted this on our very popular page Counties with Few or No Building Codes.

Building in areas with codes can raise the price 10 times even if you do manage to get a permit.

Image source: East Tenneessee Economic Development Agency

7 thoughts on “Areas With Few or No Codes: East Tennessee”

    • Building “permits” and building “codes” are two different things. Yes a permit for residential buildings is required statewide, but unlike most other places you don’t need approval of stamped blueprints or any inspections throughout the building process in areas that opted out. The state building permit is primarily for tax purposes. You simply tell them the estimated cost of construction(minimum $60.57/square foot) and pay a fee based on that. They use the cost of construction, along with land value, to determine the taxable value of your property.

      Building “codes” dictate everything from the material to be used, foundation type, minimum insulation(including window R value), minimum hallway width, minimum number and size of windows in bedrooms without exterior doors, minimum number of exits and even which direction your exterior doors open(in or out). And that’s only scratching the surface.

      In areas of TN that opted out of adopting the UCC you can build your home with un-graded lumber you harvested from the property and milled with a sawzall. Don’t try that in Nashville. You can build a log cabin with a thatched roof or an earthbag home with no opening windows and a dirt floor if you wish. The only inspections required in those areas are for any septic system and for electrical if you are connecting to the grid.

  1. Is there a way to contact Mr. Owen Geiger
    I would love to learn more.
    About off grid living and alternative living in eastern Tennessee.

    • I’m living in a different ‘world’ but keep hearing about this. Sounds terrible. Many, many people believe it’s caused by a certain alphabet agency who also brings in lots of other goodies to make $ and undermine the US. Just sayin.

  2. There are a lot of beautiful affordable lush areas out there, as well as economically depressed, methed out, trailer life… It pays to not rush buying land, and keeping your ear to the ground


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