Tiny House In a Landscape

Windmille Cove Park Model with the Bay Window and Loft(1)

This weeks Tiny House in a Landscape is of a Park Model Home located at Windmill Cove in Central California. A park model seems to be ideal as a tiny living space for two people. My wife and I are in the process of downsizing and looking for a new place to live and I wonder if this could be an option.

I love the idea of a park model around 400 square feet with a full size bedroom, a small kitchen and living area. Really all a person needs to live comfortably. Unfortunately as far as I have been able to learn park models are restricted to resorts with full hookups and can’t be put on your own land and lived in full time. So to enjoy one you must purchase or rent one in a resort and pay monthly rent for the land. If you know differently please let me know. Popular park model builders are Cavco, Athens, ideabox, and Wheelhaus.

Windmille Cove Park Model with the Bay Window and Loft(1)

large cabin loft interior

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Katya - May 17, 2014 Reply

I just clicked on the Cavco link you gave and they had an ad on the side for their “eco-models” which are built to modular standards and can be placed on private property.

Otessa Regina Compton - May 17, 2014 Reply

Looks really nice, I wish we could see the inside of this home. Do you think we can get some photos?

    Nicole - May 17, 2014 Reply

    Click on the Windmill Cove link in bright green. It shows beautiful pics in the gallery!!

    Chris - July 10, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for your feedback. I took this picture. I will see about adding the floor plan and pictures of the inside for you all to look at, on our website.

    We sell Park Models, Manufactured Homes, as well as Modular. There is a solution in our portfolio for most any project.

    Usually what we to do is work closely with the local County or City Planning office, of the customers location, to see what works for them within the confines of our customers needs, be it Accessory Dwelling; Mother-in-laws quarters; Cabana Room; etc.

    Why each local ordinance is different, has to due with the fact that each area of California is its own microcosm. Think about it, from Sacramento you can be in the mountains in 90 minutes or the ocean in 90 minutes or Wine Country in about an hour or the crops as far as the eye can see in about an hour south. Each one of these areas has its own climate, elevation, traffic, etc. The locals have adapted and so in turn our municipalities have evolved their interpretations of needs and rules to protect us from ourselves, i.e. improper construction or safety issues. And this is just Northern/N. Central California.

    I hope this illuminates some of the what’s and why’s of this topic.

    Thank you,

    Chris
    reliablehomesolutions.net
    877-442-4403

Tam Wilson - May 17, 2014 Reply

I live in a park model built by Blue Ridge Log Cabins out of South Carolina.
It was set up on a piece of land outside of Black Mountain, NC. The original owners had it put there to be a bear hunting cabin. They ran the power to it and did an illegal septic. I was able to get a mortgage through Macon Bank (most banks would not do it because it didn’t meet their square footage requirements or because they classified it as a trailer). Anyway I had the septic done and have been living here for about 8 years. It is probably about 380 square feet.

    cheryl preston - May 17, 2014 Reply

    Tam, I live in Lake Lure, very close to you, and want to put in 2 park models in addition to the 2 other cabins I have on the property. I am talking to Rutherford Electric now about running power. I am looking at park models with holding tanks, and those that need to be hooked into existing septic. My email is cherylepreston@gmail.com if you care to talk offline. I have some questions–great timing!

    D.Burris - May 17, 2014 Reply

    WOULD LOVE TO SEE SOME PHOTOS OF YOUR PLACE.

    Paula - May 18, 2014 Reply

    I live in the town limits of Black Mountain on two acres. I’m allowed to build another home/cottage on the property as long as it’s HALF of the square footage of our home. They allow park models as well. I think I could get away with two small units on foundations or park models. However you have to provide water/sewer/electric for each one-can’t combine. Less than two years ago when I did the research it was going to cost 8 to 10,000.00 to do it. I would love to have a self contained unit here but don’t know regulations on composting toilets. And grey water? We’re in a wellhead protection area so who knows. Waiting for the new zoning administrator to settle in and then I will go have a chat.

    Bill Burgss - December 13, 2014 Reply

    You might enjoy some of my Park Model RV design Ideas at 4Fathoms Designs on facebook.

Walt Barrett - May 17, 2014 Reply

Hi Kent,
That is a neat little home. I like it!
Thanks for the Birthday Wishes. I appreciate it.
Walt

Jason - May 17, 2014 Reply

The problem siting your park model is most likely due to your location in California, the red-tape capital of the universe. Try it in a different state.

    glenn bell - May 17, 2014 Reply

    Jason,

    You are entirely correct about California being the red tape capitol of the world—or at least the U.S. However some of us who live here cannot or do not want to go elsewhere. Despite the fact that California is a nightmare of regulations, it’s still California and it’s beauty hasn’t changed.

    That said, let me tell you how I solved this puzzle, probably as well as anyone could have. About a year ago I bought a 1976 Holiday Rambler which, while not pretty, was not damaged at all. The skin was perfect, almost without a ding anywhere. It is 32 ft. by 8 ft. I gutted it entirely down to the aluminum framing. I rewired, reinsulated (reflectix and fiberglass) rebuilt all floors, skinned all walls with 3/8 inch plywood, plumbed with pex and sharkbite fittings. New 3/4 inch plywood on the floors over existing 3’8 plywood, 3/4 inch foam, and another 3/8 inch plywood. Floors are 2 1/4 inch thick. 1 inch existing foam in the ceiling covered by pink and reflectix and 3’8 inch plywood. Very, very warm. Ikea cabinetry all around, full size fridge, double stainless sink, bathroom full size shower and an RV toilet. Heated in winter by one medium Wave catalytic heater. It has 3 burner stove top plus a 1000btu single burner because I am a serious cook.

    It is effortless to live in. I addition I have a 10×12 high ceiling storage shed which holds everything else I need, mostly tools and storage.

    But here’s the kicker: There are adult parks all over CA where you can place one of these and live very comfortably, very cheaply. If you are smart and hunt carefully, you can find a space in a park in an extremely nice area for about $600/month, which generally includes covered parking, water and sewer and garbage pickup. You must pay your own electricity, phone, internet and TV. Most importantly, almost all adult parks in California are Rent Controlled, which means they cannot raise the rent each year more than the government inflation/cost of living rate. I just got a 2% raise in my fee.

    In CA most park models require a fairly large space to place them, but since they have no holding tanks, they are still considered travel trailers and need a DMV registration.

    Since figuring out how and where to live is only the first part of doing the things you really want to do in your life this, at least for me, has proven to be a great solution. I hope this is helpful. If I can help, you can reach me at seeanew@yahoo.com.

      Caitmac - December 13, 2014 Reply

      I guess $600 a month sounds cheap for CA, but that’s 2x what I pay for my mortgage on a conventional 1400 square foot house, on half an acre, on suburban lakefront in Texas!

andrea - May 17, 2014 Reply

My understanding is that you could put it on your own land , but you would have to put it on a permanent foundation and go through the normal dwelling or accesory dwelling permitting process.
But true, it would could not be considered a trailer.

    Bobbi - May 17, 2014 Reply

    Andrea,

    I am in Montana, we build cabins and park models. They do not have to be put on a foundation, due to the RV regs. In CA, things are different but still do not need a foundation.
    Some states you can do what you want with no regs what so ever.

      andrea - May 18, 2014 Reply

      im definitely no expert, but im beginning to look into it. We have very strict zoning in cal, and depending on zoning technichally rvs have to a legal limit of three months here
      on most property zones in our county, but thats usually only if someone decides to complain …it would be a big investment to risk not being legal.
      So a way around al that uncertainty would be to actually comply and make it like a small dwelling. But then the model I was looking at , would not comply with our local calf and county regs….kitchen widths, stair width and height, and the loft not living space, . So while we can build small still have to conorm to regs. Or , as another person wrote, be zoned ok for mobile or rv…

Eric - May 17, 2014 Reply

Park models are legally mobile homes and can be placed on your own land with approved septic and such as per your local zoning restrictions. They meet the same housing standards as a full size mobile home, as I am led to understand. If your land is sufficiently rural, there may be no restrictions at all, but you would be living somewhat far from everything like a grocery store, gas station, restaurant, hospital, and maybe friends. Things to consider, but I really believe a park model is simply a smaller mobile home, they don’t have RV tanks and such. Check with the manufacturers to be completely certain, they are likely to know where their products can be placed.

    Bobbi - May 17, 2014 Reply

    Eric,

    I am in MT, we build park models. They are RV’s, not mobiles. We someone lists them as a mobile, it is usually because, they do not have a tax system on the books for park models. If they list it as an RV, then they can not tax it, especially if it has a tag on it. All a bunch of crab.

mick mccrary - May 17, 2014 Reply

I am sure every state is different, but in Florida, a regular rv is under 399sf. It has to be placed on property zoned rv, which is only rv parks or a few mobile parks with lots zoned rv. Park models built to HUD standards and under 499sf can be titled rv park trailer or mobile home and must be placed in rv parks or if mobile home, in parks or private land zoned mobile home. 500sf up are all mobile homes. You cannot put an rv on mobile home zoned land with one exception: Some counties allow seasonal 6month use of rvs on private land. All coastal counties require mobiles be constructed wind zone 3, able to withstand winds of 110mph. Interior counties and most other states are WZ2, 100mph. There are no used wz3 units on the market, so anyone considering a mobile on vacant land along the coast, be aware you will be stuck with buying an expensive new unit. This is why there are many vacant mobile home lots sitting idle. If anyone has further input on how to deal with this mess, please email me expatcebu@yahoo.com

joy - May 17, 2014 Reply

I have owned a part model for 14 years. Mine was delivered on wheels. It is on private property with no problem, in Missouri. The State considers it an R.V. and I pay no person property tax on it. It is 320 sq.feet and very well insulated with full size range and refrigerator and sink.

    Carol Stahl - May 17, 2014 Reply

    I’m glad you mentioned insulation, its something that is discussed very little on this website. Insulation isn’t only to keep out cold, also noise and heat so I’da thought it would be even more important in dwellings which sometimes have no cross ventilation.
    I’d also like to look at floor plans when a house is presented, sometimes trying to line up the outside doors and windows with the interior views takes imagination.
    Overall I like the look of the park model, and that it’s around 400 sf.

      Bill Burgss - December 13, 2014 Reply

      I have some designs at 4Fathoms Designs on Facebook as well as at least one book available at Amazon.com. And e-Books through Blurb Publishing for the Park Model RV Format.

Kari - May 17, 2014 Reply

Wow Kent! That’s lovely. No wonder you like it so much! Hope you are well. K????

cheryl preston - May 17, 2014 Reply

Your park model is adorable. I am looking at a model that looks like a bungalow style to put out on my property. I live in Rutherford County, NC and it is not illegal to put a park model on your own property–I am talking to electric company now about putting in a pole and looking into have another well drilled. The other nice thing is I don’t have to have a permit; I’m in an unrestricted zoning area so there is no law against having an “RV” on my own property. Except this one won’t be moved once it’s in place.

    Kent Griswold - May 17, 2014 Reply

    Hi Cheryl, this is not our park model, however we are looking at this option as a way to downsize.

      Bill Burgss - November 8, 2014 Reply

      As with many states Kent, permitting will always be a problem. I design at 4Fathoms Design and have taken my designs (on face book) to 11 factories without any willing to try one of my designs. Mainly because I require 1.5 bath, D/W, W/D, on demand H/W, L.E.D. lighting and Metal roofing.

PJ Slade - May 17, 2014 Reply

Check Forest River – their park models are varying sizes from slightly over 300 to duplex models with 2 homes on the one double-length unit. Their R factor for insulation & build quality is superior to many, and as others noted, codes for location vary county to county as well as state to state, sometimes even between towns that are as close as 10 miles apart! I’m looking at a possible buy of a Forest River 1 Br unit here in Atlantic Canada, where they make upgrades to insulation & some other materials for use in the harsher, colder climate. Well worth your time to check them out for a high quality park prebuilt.

Terrie - May 17, 2014 Reply

What does this model run in dollars?

Maureen - May 17, 2014 Reply

I have been looking at different park models since 1996. I first saw them in the Pacific Northwest and they were built locally. Some were on private land where you were allowed to park an rv, some were in resorts where you leased the land. Some resorts sell deeded lots for these park models and would also rent them out for you if you did not live there full time Look on rv parkstore.com for deeded lots for sale and park models for sale. A couple of manufacturer’s that I know of are Cavco and Athens. They have lodge styles with lofts and cottage styles too. Some are larger than 400 SF and are built to HUD standards and are considered mobile homes while under 399 SF are rv’s in a lot of states. I have recently heard of a company called Holiday Villages in Texas that sell lots in their communities and allow RV’s, park models, mobiles and stick built homes too. You might “try before you buy” by staying at one of the resorts and renting for a night or two. Many of the KOA and other rv parks have them for rent by the night (although not inexpensive). I tried this in Oregon on the coast and decided that I too could retire to one of these and with a loft model have room for the grandkids too! Good luck on your research!

    patricia - May 23, 2014 Reply

    Maureen,

    What a great idea!! I live in upstate NY, and love the idea of park model living. However, a tryout is a wonderful way for me to determine if living in such a small space is doable for me.

    Thank you,
    Patricia

David Remus - May 17, 2014 Reply

In the US a ‘park model’ is a manufactured building on wheels specifically designed to allow it to be moved later. There are no holding tanks because it is designed specifically to use a sewer hookup. This avoids meeting certain regulations that apply to permanent houses relating to permanent foundations (it doesn’t have one), waste treatment (it doesn’t need to), some earthquake standards, etc.

By having housing that does not have to meet the more stringent regulations (in some ways) of regular houses, it provides a lot of more affordable housing in very expensive areas, especially here in California. By meeting the more stringent regulations (in other ways) necessary for a vehicle to be moved several times in it’s lifetime, we don’t have roadsides littered with homes falling of of trailers.

In CA there are lots of places you could build a small home this size, but permanent homes are built under different rules. A park model is designed specifcally to avoid the same requirements for a permanent home in exchange for creating more affordable and mobile housing.

Jay Olstead - May 17, 2014 Reply

Hi everyone,
Once upon a time there was a mobile home. Then came the park model. Then the tiny house on wheels. Now, there is the ” Tiny Wheeled Estate. ” Available with the same square footage as the park model, however it’s mobile, on wheels, transports under 103 inches in width with no special permits, over 11 1/2 feet in height from the floor to the peak of the roof, Can be built with no lofts and sleeps 6, available in a model that is totally sustainable and made with all green technology, 48 volt 10,000 BTU solar air conditioner, mostly 12 volt, no electricity, no water, no sewer needed, Optional garage, 4 elevations featuring contemporary, traditional, Mediterranean, and a Beachy model for those who want to live at the water’s edge. See our Facebook….Website being built as we speak, 4 videos on YouTube. Announcing!! ” Next Generation tiny house trailer just released. None can compare. Features the first convertible building platform that will accept wood, SIPs, or metal studs. Optional 6 inch Sip floor available as an option, then just build using any builders plans.
Ciao

    Steve - May 19, 2014 Reply

    Jay can you provide more details and website addresses so we can see what you are doing?

    george hill - May 24, 2014 Reply

    hi jay, very interested in your new plans is there a internet site i can log into? no facebook, george

Noah - May 19, 2014 Reply

Why not just get the permits for a dwelling or accessory dwelling and have a foundation-bound home? Seems to me that the likelihood of ever moving one of these things is nil.

Anthony Rizzo - May 19, 2014 Reply

I don’t know if you got your answer yet but here is my two cents based on the research I’ve done. A park model is a mobile dwelling meant for part time residence that is less than 400 square feet. It can be placed anywhere recreational camping is allowed including your own property if your local zoning codes so permit camping on the property.

Many RV parks have long term residents because it is economically advantageous. They are not going to enquire if you are still camping or if you are actually living there so long as you are paying rent. This usually works out well for renters who don’t have mortgages or home owners insurance. For those who do wish to obtain a mortgage, loan or insurance they will have to be willing to get creative with the definition of their dwelling. Because traditional home lenders and home owner insurance doesn’t apply to a recreational vehicle no matter how much like a home it looks like. RV and park models however can be financed and insured as the recreational vehicles they are.

The three main obstacles you’ll face placing one on your land and permanently living in it are neighbors, code inspectors and location. As you’ve probably already surmised nobody is going to give you a problem if you have it as an accessory dwelling on your main property or if it is on a property zoned for recreational use and you are there part time but try to put it in an urban lot or suburban subdivision and your neighbors will rat you out and the code inspectors will come calling. So if you haven’t purchased your property yet do your due diligence to find one that allows park models and that has neighbors who live on their recreational for more than just part of the year. I hope this helps.

BEVERLY FRYE - August 8, 2014 Reply

I live in a 408 sq. ft. tiny home. I have been living in it for 6 months and love it. I bought a storage building and me and friends and finished the inside

Amber Oliver - December 5, 2015 Reply

I’m not sure how old this post is, but I permanently live in a park model home and have for a few years now. I bought it in 2011, and originally had it in a mobile home park that absolutely drove me insane, bringing people over without my permission or prior notice to show off my house. I bought land in town, directly across from my parents house shortly after that. It is hooked into city water with no problem, and normal electricity. I don’t see why you would have to rent in a mobile park just because you own a park model.

    Kent Griswold - December 6, 2015 Reply

    What part of the country do you live in, it sounds like it is legal in your town?

T - March 19, 2016 Reply

To put it on your own land just make sure the property is zoned for mobile/modular homes. Then add a water hook- up and power pole with hook- up ( just like the RV park). I live in rural Florida -mobile homes are everywhere.

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