We have established that tiny houses are less than 400 square feet, right? I mean, that is the definition anyway.1 I can’t say I personally believe that but we’ll go with it anyway. Lately though tiny houses on wheels have taken on the shape of a small house, with some being built on triple axle goosenecks and measuring 38′ in length presumably by 8’3″ at least. That comes in at roughly 313 square feet. That certainly does counts as a tiny house it seems. But wait. By that definition shouldn’t a park model be considered a tiny house then? Ask some purists and the answer is no. In fact, the answer is a rather indefatigable no! But why not? I’ve heard a number of reasons.
- Park models aren’t meant to be mobile.
- They are built in a factory, moved to one location, and then essentially removed from their axles and tongue making them stationary.
- They measure 10 ft. – 12ft. in width.
The list really does go on. But let’s figure out just what a park model is.
To quote directly from the RVIA website:
On July 1, 2012, RVIA created a new membership category for manufacturers of park model RVs (PMRVs). A park model RV (also known as a recreational park trailer) is a trailer-type RV that is designed to provide temporary accommodation for recreation, camping or seasonal use. PMRVs are built on a single chassis, mounted on wheels and have a gross trailer area not exceeding 400 square feet in the set -up mode. They are certified by their manufacturers as complying with the ANSI A119.5 standard for recreational park trailers.
Oh man! Now I’m really confused. This park model thingee is built on a trailer-type chassis and it does not exceed 400 square feet. Doesn’t that mean it is a tiny house? According to Wikipedia (the world’s most well-known model of openly editable content), it does. So why all the hate on park models then? Why in a polite discord do park models get such a bad wrap? I don’t know either. What I do know is that park models are really quite cool and also offer a great alternative to those who feel many tiny houses are just too small, too narrow, and too constricting for their needs.
The park model in its most popular form seems to be a revision of the lesser known two-story mobile home created in the 1950s by Pacemaker Trailer Company in Elkhart, Indiana.
The modern park model is smaller in size than those Pacemaker Bi-Levels (perhaps because of DOT laws?) of the 1950s but still every bit as fun and functional. They are named as such because while they are recreation vehicles they are designed for long(er)-term living or permanent placement and are most frequently found in RV or mobile home parks. A typical floor plan consists of a living area, a kitchen(ette), a bathroom, and a rear bedroom. A number of park models now feature lofts as well albeit they have truncated ceiling heights and are most suitable for lying down than hanging out. Aesthetics aside though the park model of today is again an evolution of style and amenities but one that acts as a response for a desire for quality housing at an affordable price. In fact, one of the newest park model communities – Village Farm Austin – features four different home park model styles already on site with water, sewage, cable TV, Wifi, and electricity, with starting prices at just $69,995. Considering the median price for a comparable sticks ‘n bricks home in the same area but on a private lot (as opposed to in an RV community) is $271,000, it seems the park model does in fact answer that demand.
In recent years the park model has possible become most popular as a second home or a “snowbird” home for retired people looking to spend the winter months in warmer climates. In fact, areas like central Florida, South Florida, the Gulf Coast and the Palm Springs region in California, are quite populated by RV communities and park models. Oftentimes park model square footage is expanded by screened rooms or lanais (screened or glassed-in verandas that act as living rooms) that allow for an even more expanded footprint.
All this to say that park models are truly not tiny houses or small houses or mobile homes or manufactured houses (actually, they are all of those) but just homes. They are shelters from the storm, a refuge from the outside world. They are where families gather, share meals, enjoy a laugh, comfort each other, and make memories. And as a matter of fact, wouldn’t it be nice if we took the labels away from all houses including tiny houses and just looked at them all as homes, no matter the size or style? Not all houses will be for everyone. But for everyone, there should be a house.
What do you think? Have you ever seen a park model? Do you like the idea of park models? Would you live in one? Let us know in the comments below!