What is the difference between a tiny home and a park model?

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: What is the difference between a tiny home and a park model? We will highlight seven differences between the two models and discuss the pros and cons of each type. 

What is the difference between a tiny home and a park model?

The main differences between a tiny home and a park model are in the size and pricing. Park model RVs are usually larger than tiny homes and, of course, less expensive. 

Unlike the park model trailer, the tiny house is built from materials made for a real home. Thus, the tiny house will be much more durable over time. Although a tiny house is generally built on a trailer and is, therefore, “transportable”, it is not made for permanent travel, and very often, it will be “put” on land sooner or later.

The park model is a large rectangular caravan that can be towed and moved but is generally mobilized by adjustable piles on a campsite plot. It is designed to last over time although the materials used are mostly inferior to those of the tiny house. This type of habitat is often seen in the United States. 

What is a tiny home?

A tiny home is a small transportable house attached to a trailer that can be towed by a passenger vehicle. Legally, it is considered a “land mobile residence”. The format of the tiny home is therefore similar to a caravan: it is limited by the maximum width and weight authorized for a vehicle as well as the maximum height allowed to pass under a bridge or a tunnel.

Tiny homes generally meet the following specifications:

  • Space: lounge area, kitchen area, dry toilets, shower room, sleeping space for 2 people on the mezzanine, small storage spaces everywhere (walls, ceiling, under the stairs, etc.)
  • Equipment: refrigerator, solar panels on the roof, microwave, shower, sink, dry toilet, etc.
  • Materials: wooden floors and cladding, Steel frame, 4 to 6 double axle trailer wheels, aluminum frames.

A Tiny House is therefore a real miniature house for 2 to 4 occupants. Without being at the level of insulation of a passive house, it meets modern comfort and the insulation standards of a traditional house. 

What is a park model trailer? 

The park model trailer is completely built and assembled at the factory. However, once the construction is completed, the house is delivered to the owner in one piece. Since these homes are designed for a mobile application, the resident can then choose to leave the wheels of his house to make multiple trips or drop it off on a temporary housing site. 

Thus, this type of residence creates certain freedom, independence and flexibility, but still, before considering an installation, the owners must find a park model park where they can be connected to public services (electricity, septic tank…).

The structure, dimensions and materials of a park model may vary from model to model. To find the ideal size for your park model, you need to:

  • assess your  needs in terms of space (a couple, several children, etc.),
  • calculate the remaining area on the plot.

The seven key differences between a tiny house and a park model

How it looksA really simple comparison! Truth is, park models are anything but aesthetically fascinating.
On the other hand, tiny houses are little gems, different from each other and always original. 
Of course, beauty is a subjective term of comparison, but we don’t think we can really compare the aesthetics of a tiny home vs a park model. 
The dimensionsPark model trailers are larger, between 9 and 13 feet wide and up to 32-40 feet long, they are certainly more spacious, even have separate “rooms” and much more storage space.
The tiny houses have a maximum width of 8 feet and the length usually does not exceed 25 feet (due to weight limits).
However, the tiny homes are designed as real homes to live in all year round, not just in summer, so the spaces are designed with much more attention and smart thinking!
The furniture and finishesNot to be picky, but everyone notices when a door opens exactly where the fridge door is supposed to close (and you can’t have them both open at the same time) These drawbacks are common occurrences in a poorly designed park model.
Besides, the space sacrificed for two bathrooms and the seriously questionable choice of materials means that you cannot rest in the dining area/internal sofa because you have the AC over your head. 
Or you have a “room” with two fixed single beds which (in the best case scenario) are miniature size (comfortable only for children). 
This is because custom-made furniture is not used for park model trailers, every space is not exploited and retractable solutions are not used as is the case with tiny homes where multifunctional solutions are exploited a lot and are often made with quality materials.  
The materialsWhat would you favour between a painted wooden panel and plywood with a plastic finish? Can you even compare? We need not say that in the Tiny Houses, the predominant material is wood, and attention to all the small details is essential. 
The only detail that you may or may not like is the wood grain or the choice of horizontal strips or smooth surfaces.
The structurePerhaps it may seem that this is not an important detail; however, in addition to influencing the next point, it is also essential regarding the mobile home’s stability and “swaying”.
Park models usually have a metal structure and are positioned almost fixed, resting on small support pillars, but they are always made on a steel frame, and without suitable supports, at every step, it seems that the house moves.
For those who have tried the experience in campers and caravans, it is exactly that feeling of an earthquake every time someone moves, perhaps even more intense.
A tiny home usually has a wooden supporting structure, positioned on its frame and with parking feet. They are more stable.
The insulationAnother technical detail perfectly explains why these houses on wheels are not the same thing. There is always an air conditioner in park models, and if it is hot, it must stay on all day; why? Because obviously, the house is not isolated enough.
Walls, floor and roof slab, are fragile and often composite, and plastic materials are used for cladding and insulation; in addition to being not very eco-friendly, this choice ensures that if the house is under the sun in July / August, you can’t stay inside without consuming a lot of electricity. 
A tiny home has slightly thicker walls, and by using wood and other natural products, in addition to a greater thickness of insulation, an environment is obtained that does not undergo rapid temperature changes. 
Outdoor spaceIn both cases, if you want to take advantage of the outdoor space, you can certainly enjoy a coffee on the porch. Park models usually have a wooden terrace created as a real livable extension of the trailer. 
Undoubtedly the most comfortable environment to spend most of the time in, hoping to have some trees around that shelter from the scorching heat.
As for tiny homes, these solutions are sometimes integrated into the structure (being transportable houses, you can take your terrace anywhere). With flap systems, you get platforms and curtains you can shelter from the sun. 
It will probably be a smaller surface, but with a large window that lets the inside communicate with the outside, you can still have pleasantly liveable environments.

The bottom line

We could probably continue with many other different details, such as the heating system, the environmental sustainability aspect, the fixtures etc., but in truth, the final choice is yours.

Our advice is to try living both in a tiny home and in a park model trailer, but doing it with knowledge of the facts. The best aspect of having this experience is to understand what you really need in a home! 

Please feel free to share your thoughts or comments on the content. 

FAQ on What is the difference between a tiny home and a park model?

Why a tiny house?

Due to its small size, a tiny house is already eco-friendly: it uses fewer materials, is often built-in wood, and its large windows optimise the amount of light and thus limit the need for light and heating.

What is the cost of a tiny house?

On average, a small house costs between $ 60,000 and $ 100,000; this price includes construction and labour required during construction.

What is a park model trailer?

A park model trailer is designed for recreational purposes. A park trailer is not used for residential purposes but can be attached temporarily in the same way as a recreational / RV trailer with or without its axles and ties.

What is the best brand of park model trailers?

When it comes to the best brand of park model trailers, the big winner remains the Jayco Jay Flight, which has been at the top of recreational vehicle sales for many years. A brand appreciated by many customers.


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