average park model is really very inexpensive. A
basic new unit can be purchased for as little as
$25,000. But, like buying a car, that can rise quickly.
Many used trailers on 'rented' lots are available for
anywhere from $5,000 and up. Most are priced in the
neighborhood of $15,000 to $25,000 but can range much higher
with a lot of extras.
In resident-owned parks the whole cost changes because
you are now buying not only the actual trailer but also
your share in the park itself. They are all about
the same size - 400 square feet, but that can be
misleading. The trailers all start out at about
400 square feet. But then a storage room gets built and
maybe an Arizona Room. There are all kinds of creative
modifications done to enhance the living space. The
climate allows for some pretty basic enclosures to be
added that functionally serve as an addition to living
quarters. But still generally retain the legal status as
diagram shown here is a very typical park model design.
This layout is very common, at least before any
modifications or additions. A standard layout consists
of a bedroom, bathroom, and open design
kitchen/dining/living rooms. The front door is typically
patio doors and the rear door opens to the patio or
Arizona room. They are well designed and make good use
of the space available. The common width is 12 feet so
the length is normally just over 30 feet. But there are
still some that are narrower. Some older units are
only 8 feet wide and tend to resemble a standard older
traveling trailer. Then additions were designed to
expand to a 12 foot width. That resulted in what is
called 'slide outs' or 'tip outs'.
The basic unit is 8 feet but there are sections expanded
by an additional four feet. Some run the length of the
trailer and some less. The trailer shown here is
an early '80s model. In the late '80s and early '90s the
manufacturers began making most park models a full 12
most common park model trailer in the parks today are
the standard 12 foot width and are designed to appear
more like a permanent dwelling with standard pitched and
shingled rooflines. Windows and doors are more like a
house and interiors also more house-like. A very typical
trailer may be 10 to 15 years old and are commonplace in
Arizona and other parts of the country..
Then there are the 'higher end' units that have been
added to and modified. These tend to be more
common in the resident-owned parks (but not
exclusively). The owners in these parks have a much
higher investment and monies spent adding to the unit
represents a far smaller percentage of the unit total
cost and possibly less risk. A variety of
modifications and additions have added a lot more space
and may even include a carport. The end
result is some pretty elaborate set-ups for what began
as a 400 square foot park model.
Nearly all the Park Models have that standard layout (as
shown in the diagram above) of the living, dining,
kitchen area at the front of the trailer. bathroom,
storage, and rear/side door in the middle and bedroom at
the back. There are some variations on this but those
are pretty rare.
Probably more than half of the trailer space is
the front living, dining, kitchen area. The open
design adds both spaciousness and versatility.
It is a very practical layout. Most units
have ample windows and combined with the front
entry patio doors they are very bright and open.
The kitchen setup makes good use of space and
generally there is ample cupboard space. Most
units also have some type of china cupboard and
extra storage. The appliances are pretty well
what you will have at home with possibly one
exception. Propane is fairly common for cooking
The dining area is usually set up for two or
four people. There is often a second china
cupboard and possibly additional storage in this
area. The dining area can be quite small
but is really all that most need. Most units are
only occupied by two people and most of the
entertaining is done outdoors in the patio area
or Arizona room.
Bathrooms are pretty standard four piece
utilizing home quality fixtures.
Usually quite small, at least compared to
today's large facilities found in many new homes. But they
have come a long way from those tiny old travel
trailer bathrooms. They are certainly very
functional and are getting a bit larger in newer
units. They also have pretty reasonable storage
space for towels, linens and other items.
Bedrooms tend to have quite a bit of closet and
other storage space. Usually one wall is
dedicated to double closets and drawers. The
standard bedroom is probably in the range of 110
to 120 square feet. They are quite adequate.
Although a king bed may be a tight fit.
Nearly all the trailers sit on a lot that
provides anywhere from about 15 to 25 feet of
side yard. Normally that side yard is covered
'patio style' and serves outdoor living and
vehicle parking. Some parks have deeper
narrower lots allowing parking in the front
while others are wider and allow parking at the
side. The Arizona climate is so conducive
to outdoor life that the patio area can become
like an added living room. It is possibly the
most common area used for entertaining and maybe
even regular dining.
When you consider the limitations on park model
size, the storage shed becomes far more valuable
than your old shed in the back yard at
home. A storage shed is common fare and
they are usually about 8X10 feet or larger. They
are extremely valuable, especially when you
consider you have no basement and the trailer
size is limited. In fact, most people don't know
what you would do without one. The storage
shed is rarely just a place for storage. They
are used creatively like a work room, TV,
computer room or bar.
Many people add a room at the side of the
trailer to provide some extra living space.
These rooms are known as 'Arizona Rooms'. They
are constructed in varying sizes over part or
even all of the side or patio area. In Florida
they are known as a 'Florida Rooms.' There
are many different designs and layouts, some
quite basic and others much more elaborate. They
serve a variety of purposes including space for
guests with some even adding extra bathroom
facilities. But probably the most common is for
the Arizona room to serve as a type of 'family
room' similar to the one in your house back
The condition of the park models will vary widely. Older
units can have some real serious problems. The best way
to evaluate any park model is with a thorough
inspection. Does the exterior and interior appear
well maintained? Does it look like it has been
upgraded - fixtures, paint, flooring? Older trailers
came with metal roofs and a common site is an old roof
with patches over patches. Newer trailers have
traditional shingled roofs and are really not much
different than your normal house roof.
Contrary to popular belief, park model trailers can
increase in value over time, similar to a conventional
house provided it has been well maintained,
professionally improved following current code
guidelines and updated in areas such as plumbing,
electrical and quality interior finishes. Unlike a standard RV that depreciates similar to an
automobile, park model trailers can appreciate since the
cost to replace them in current dollars increases.
Park model floors can become weakened from water or
termite damage. What seems like a simple floor squeak
can be a sign of bigger problems. It is a good idea to
have a look under the trailer to see the condition of
the floor. Electrical wiring can be somewhat less than
up to normal household standards. Again, this can be
more of an issue in older trailers where homeowner
modifications may have been made over the years.
Plumbing in trailers is often done using plastic water
lines and over time some of this older plastic becomes
hardened and can easily break, especially at or near
joints. Plumbing is usually not that hard to access and
lines can be repaired and even (quite easily)
updated. Another common issue in the Arizona area
is termites. They can really wreak havoc with a park
model. They are common and if the owner hasn't done
proper prevention they can infest the park model.
If you are not familiar with what to look for it may be
a good investment to have an inspection by a pest
Heating equipment is similar to a regular house with the
possible exception of the common use of propane.
Especially in the older units. Many are equipped with
propane for both heating and cooking. Cooling is
by central or window air conditioners, heat pumps, or
the 'swamp cooler'. Swamp coolers are most common in
older units and are quite a reliable and inexpensive
method of cooling.
This section is to assist the park model owner with
all those questions related to ownership. We have
searched for sources of good information related to Park
Model and added some advice and tips from the 'more
experienced'. Many readers will already have
considerable knowledge and experience with their models
but, information on the assumption that you are a new
owner and wondering what to do next is always
To those who already have a lot of experience with their
Park Model we would love to hear from you with any
advice and tips you feel would help others less
experienced. Just email your tips & tricks
Otherwise, when in doubt, good neighbors, the local
hardware store, and some experimentation can help solve
Good information on park models is sparse to some sense.
There are plenty of sources for the traveling RVs and
the standard house trailers but little specifically
related to park models. There are some sites that
provide good advice that applies to all trailers and
some that dealt with specific infrastructure that
applies to any home structure. Experienced owners of
park models are only too willing to share their
knowledge and experience.
Click on the subject that you seek advice on:
The following sites provide
good information on the wide range of trailer
maintenance, repair, and renovation:
Since the invention of the
'Heat Pump' a device that air conditions in the summer
and heats in the winter, most air conditioning is no
supplied using this type of system. Heat pumps
work well in environments from 40F and higher which
suits southern Arizona. Below 40F, there is
insufficient heat or BTU's in the air to provide ample
heat efficiently. Therefore supplementary heating
is required. Please see 'Heating'. From an
air conditioning perspective, the size of the unit is
based on a number of factors, room size and windows
being the most prominent. For the average park
model a 2 1/2 ton heat pump is sufficient for air
conditioning. These are commonly found units and
are very competitively priced. If your park model
includes an Arizona Room and/or you want real bone
chilling cool air, perhaps increasing to a 3 to 3 1/2
ton unit would be best. It will cost more, but you
will be better satisfied with the results.
Like everything, regular maintenance is critical for the
best return on investment. The average heat pump
has a 15 year life. Anything older than that and
it is living on borrowed time. If you use your
park model year round, have it inspected every year by a
professional. If you use your trailer only half
the year, its safe to have it inspected every other
year. Just be sure to cover the unit over the
Are you wondering how to repair a park model trailer window? Any leaking window can be a nightmare. To avoid weather issues inside your park model trailer you will need to invest very little money, just a little time and elbow grease will repair any leakage problems.
Here's what you need:
Remove caulk. Use a good indoor/outdoor caulk remover to soften the existing caulk around the park model trailer window. Allow the product to work for two to seven hours. Use a utility knife to slice the caulk out from the base of the park model trailer window.
indoor/outdoor caulk remover
bath cleaner without ammonia
caulk (the type that remains elastic)
Apply cleaner. Use a cleaner to remove the residue left behind from the caulk. Apply liberally around the park model trailer window, allowing time for the cleaner to work. Rinse with water (use a rag if needed to scrub remaining debris) and dry the area thoroughly.
Tighten screws. Use a screw driver to make sure all screws in and around the park model trailer window area are tight. Replace any screws that appear stripped.
Apply caulk. Squeeze and caulk products are great because they do not require a caulk gun. A good layer of indoor/outdoor caulk applied around the park model trailer window will seal the gap around the window from the elements.
Clean drips, etc. Use the bathroom cleaner and a rag to clean caulk that has dripped or been incorrectly applied while it is still pliable. Make sure to remove all residue.
Removing Hard Water Stains
Hard water stains can appear on glass surfaces after tap water containing dissolved calcium and magnesium minerals has evaporated. Calcium and magnesium minerals can't always be sprayed away with your average household cleaner. You can try to use a stove-top cleaner, but most types have a potent smell and can be expensive. One effective home remedy for hard water stains on glass is a mixture of vinegar and baking soda.
What also works is vinegar and newspaper.
First, electrical work requires
adherence to local building codes and an
inspection. You run a serious risk of doing any
electrical work without a permit. Therefore, a
licensed electrical contractor is generally
required. Contact you local municipal office for a
list of licensed professionals. It will cost you,
but isn't your safety more important?
The interior walls of most park
models and RVs are covered in a vinyl wallboard.
Seams are often covered in a matching tape or small trim
strips. Painting or re-covering the walls is not a that
big project provided you use the right procedures and
more important, the right materials for professional
There are many roofing
applications applied to park model/RV roofs including
metal, foam, rubber and asphalt shingles to name just a
local roofing contractor is also a good investment over
a do-it-yourself project. Check with your local
municipal services for licensed roofing contractors.
Skirting is the application of a covering from the
ground to the bottom of the park model trailer to
enclose the vacant area found there. There are
many application types from brick foundations to faux
coverings in imitation stone. In most cases, on a
new park model purchase, skirting is offered as an
option. Most RV parks insist through their bylaws,
that skirting be provided on all installations. One
company that deals in park model skirting can be found here.
Another company provides their information here.
Summer-izing Park Models
There are some things to keep in mind when preparing
your park model to sit in the summer heat of
Arizona. It is important to know some basics.
Add Moisture to the Air
Your trailer will not have much ventilation and it could
become pretty hot in there. The climate is extremely dry
so you need to consider adding some moisture to the air
by providing some evaporation. One method is to place
containers of water throughout the trailer that can
evaporate over the
summer. Using small mouth jugs, like quart and gallon
size milk and juice containers, allows for slower
evaporation to assure they last the season.
Those traps below your sinks, bathtub, and in the toilet
are there for a reason. (If you have ever removed one
you will know what we mean) During the summer the
water in the traps is sure to evaporate and remove their
plug value. They need to be closed off to prevent that
from happening. Toilets can be sealed off with plastic
wrap so as not to allow evaporation from the bowl and
even the tank. Some people use mineral/baby oil or
similar to stop the evaporation. Oil does not mix with
water and remains on top creating a seal. Only a thin
layer of oil is needed.
It is important to seal off all drain openings. Make
sure to include all sinks and the bathtub or shower. A
variety of methods are used for this, some
quite creative. One method is to cover the drain
openings with plastic bags filled with water. The bags
then take the form of the surface where the drain
opening is. Make sure to use sturdy bags and that they
are 100% sealed. Use tape to seal the overflows. To be
safe you may want to use a better quality moisture-proof
tape than the painters tape used here.
Cover Windows & Doors
Wherever possible, windows should be covered to prevent
sun damage and reduce internal heat. Many trailer owners
have cut aluminum insulation
sheets to fit each window and place them inside the
curtains or blinds, or between the window and
screen. A variety of window coverings are seen in
the parks come summer. Some simply use cardboard, some
appear to be thin plywood. Some trailers with awnings
will lower and secure them. But probably the most common
are those aluminum sheets cut to fit each each window
and the patio door. They are quite durable and can be
used year after
Shut Off Water & Power Supply
Power and water supply lines should be shut off. Shut
off power at both your internal breaker and the outside
main breaker. Shut furnace thermostat and water heater
off. Some people advise leaving water in the lines
to help protect the plastic lines from drying out and
plugging. And when you return it is suggested that you
open some taps before turning the water back on.
You should also take this opportunity to drain your hot
water tank. Over time, sediment builds up at the
bottom of the tank. A once a year flush is
recommended and doing it right after you turn the water
on is best.
Clean the fridge and freezer and use baking soda or
coffee in dishes to help absorb odors. Some people also
like to block open the doors to keep air circulating.
Clean the grill and oven. Use drain cleaner in kitchen
and bath drains and flush with hot water. Remove
batteries from smoke alarms, clocks, and remotes.
Weeds should be sprayed around the trailer. They can
grow quite well over the summer and most parks will
charge you for dealing with them. Termites are another
issue in Arizona. Those of us not familiar with these
little pests are certainly in for a lesson in
determination and (unfortunately) some destruction. It
may be a good idea to call in an exterminator to have
your unit checked and sprayed. You can buy termite
sprays and do some work yourself but be sure to read the
instructions for dealing with these critters. We are
told that you can kill termites that are there but to
prevent them at all you need to dig trenches or holes in
the ground and then soak the ground under the surface.
That's where they will come from. And don't store
anything under that trailer unless it is sealed in
plastic. That good 2x4 you are saving will be a real
Arizona does get some good winds in the summer monsoon season. Your trailer can be
vulnerable so you need to take a walk around to examine
anything that could be caught by a strong wind. Awnings
should be secured down and various trim and other items
checked for their security. Also check yard ornaments
and outside furniture. You should do the walk
around to see what can best be stored inside the shed or
trailer. The less loose things around the better not
only from severe weather but to minimize loss should
there be a break-in.
Ants are another concern. As with other issues, things
can happen over time when no one is around for maybe
seven months. Get some ants appearing in
your home and you usually catch things before they get
out of hand. But when no one is around to catch things
they can/will get out of hand.
Spiders are also a problem over the summer in park
models. One suggestion is to scatter fabric softener
sheets (like Bounce) throughout the park model before
you leave. Put them behind the sofas and chairs, on the
shelves, in the drawers and on the floor. Thanks
coolers use water evaporation to provide cooling that is
then blown throughout the trailer. The best explanation
to describe the concept is to imagine putting on a wet
t-shirt on a hot day and then blowing yourself with a
fan. The rapid evaporation of the moisture provides
considerable cooling effects. Swamp coolers became
quite out of fashion and almost suggest 'old'. But there
may now be some resurgence. They can be more economical
to operate than air conditioners and will save on
energy. They require some regular maintenance but are quite an affordable means to provide some
relief from the heat in earlier fall and later spring.
If you care about utility bills and about the
environment then don't discount the swamp cooler. They
are effective only in hot dry weather, which
Arizona has and is certainly a reasonable cooling
alternative for the desert areas.
The following websites provide good information the
value and use of a swamp cooler.