Long before the recent fascination with tiny houses, there was the park model, which evolved from a bi-level trailer popularized in the 1950s.
Of course, if you ask a modern day tiny house purist, even though park models technically are tiny (legally they must be under 400sf) dwellings, they aren’t REALLY tiny houses.
Or are they?
It all depends, of course, on how you define a tiny house. To many who have adopted the passion for tiny houses based on their affinity for minimalism or anti-consumerism, a tiny home is typically a bespoke or DIY crafted home created by an artisan. And while such dwelling certainly do fall into the tiny house category, so do park models.
Park models are named that way because they officially fall under a certification by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association and are often designated for use in campground or RV park settings. These dwellings, in order to receive RVIA certification, undergo a 3rd party inspection process.
In recent years the park model has become most popular as a second home. They populate camps and communities across North America, from Maine to Florida to Arizona to Oregon. Park models owners will often expand the home’s square footage by adding screened rooms, lanais (screened or glassed-in verandas that act as living rooms), or exterior decking that allow for an even more living space.
It’s important to note that while many owners may, in fact, occupy their park models year round, these dwelling are officially designated as temporary or seasonal by the RVIA.
So is a park model a tiny house? Yes and no. Park models are dwellings which are small, typically manufactured (as opposed to bespoke artisan units) that serve all sorts of purposes, including seasonal or vacation homes, Airbnbs, ADUs, offices, studios, hunting cabins, weekend retreats, and for some, year-round dwellings.