Buying a park model home
Most people don't know that a park model home is actually different from a mobile or manufactured home. Park models are actually classified as recreational vehicles, although they're not designed for frequent travelling like other RV types. They're usually considered to be all-in-one homes that can be transported on the back of a semi-truck. They're popular seasonal or vacation homes and are a great way to have a true home away from home.
Because park models are classified as RVs yet are generally less transportable, buying and insuring these homes is a little bit different.
Decide on the Right Layout
Originally developed as seasonal or temporary homes, park models were once legally limited to a size of 400 square feet, usually 12 feet wide and just over 30 feet long. Over time, the maximum size of these homes has increased to up to 560 square feet, and of course, many people got around the size limitations with additions. Despite their smaller size, these homes have a small footprint and can be moved and placed in a variety of locations, making them popular options for primary and secondary or vacation homes.
Park models come in a variety of styles and layouts. Most units have a kitchen with full-sized appliances, a living and dining room, at least one full-sized bathroom, and between one and three bedrooms. Some models even offer a laundry room. Owners often opt to expand their living space with covered porches, patios, decks, sheds, and garages - remember that these additions are an option for you if you're worried about space. Any add-ons will depend on the size of the lot and local regulations.
The key is to purchase a park model home that provides enough day-to-day space for your needs. For example, if you rarely have overnight guests, perhaps consider skipping the second or third bedroom to give yourself more living space to the other rooms. However, if you have kids or grandkids bunking with you every weekend, you may want those extra bedrooms.
Talk to dealers and manufacturers to get an idea of what floorplans are available. Many will have the blueprints and pictures of a finished model online, and some may even be able to give you a tour of a show park model.
Choose the Right Manufacturer or Check the Condition
If you're buying new, be sure to research the manufacturer. Not all are created equal. If you're not ordering a new park model home, be sure to check the condition of the unit just as you would an RV or new home. The roof, floors, wiring, plumbing, and heating/air conditioning are the main areas to focus on. You'll also want to look for any evidence of pests or damage. It's best to get an inspection.
Buying a Park Model Home
Park model homes come in several standard models with varying floor plans and amenities. Almost every unit can be heavily customized so that even those with the same layout can be drastically different. The price range can start at $15,000 and easily rise to over $200,000 depending on the location and quality of the park model.
Remember to factor in the cost of moving your park model home, or find out if this is included in the price. These units usually require professional movers to be relocated. If you plan to locate your park model home at an RV resort or campground, be sure to talk to them before you buy. Find out if they have any limitations on installation or size and if there are hook-up restrictions.
Protecting Your Park Model Home
Park model homes can be the perfect family getaway or snowbird retreat. It's important to protect this property. Whether placed in an RV park, campground, or on private land, comprehensive park model insurance plans can protect your investment.
Some insurance companies will require a roof inspection before they issue a park model home insurance policy. You may want to consider some add-on coverages such as Sewer Back Up to better protect your home. You can learn what types of coverages are available here or you can talk to your broker. Don't forget that you may require vacancy or seasonal home insurance if you plan to be away from your park model for any length of time. Insurance companies will void a standard policy after 48 hours if no one is checking on the home. Your broker is the best person to advise you in this situation.
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