What is a park home and who can buy one?
More than 250,000 UK residents currently live in park homes. It's a very popular way of life — especially among the older community — as it offers peace and quiet, as well as security. But, there are still lots of misconceptions about what a park home is, who can buy them, and whether they can be lived in all-year round.
Here, we're going to answer all of the questions you might have about park homes, to give you a better understanding of whether living in one is a good option for you. Read on to find out more.
What is a park home?
Park homes are detached bungalow-style homes that are located within a private estate. They're typically manufactured offsite and then placed on land that is owned privately or by a local authority. To fall into the definition of a park home, a property must be movable in one or two pieces, whether that's on its own wheels or by being transported by another vehicle. Additionally, they shouldn't be more than 20 metres in length, 6.8 metres in width, and 3.05 metres from floor to ceiling inside.
When you buy a park home, you own the building itself, but not the land it sits on. Instead, you'll rent the pitch from the site owner. The fee is typically paid monthly, but some parks will allow you to pay weekly.
According to the law, park homes are classed as 'mobile homes' and are covered by the Mobile Homes Act 1983. However, they are static for the most part, and are rarely moved. So, when you buy a park home, it's vital that you think carefully about its location.
If you think that the mobile home life might be for you, knowing what one is and who can buy one is just the beginning. For more information, make sure you also read our guides to buying a park home and living in one.
How do park homes differ from conventional houses?
The main difference between park homes and conventional houses or bungalows is how they're constructed. Bricks-and-mortar homes are built from the ground up, while park homes are typically manufactured offsite and moved to a park afterwards. Mobile homes also tend to be smaller than their traditional counterparts, which means most who move into one downsize. We have a guide to downsizing your homethat can help you with this.
You also can't take a mortgage out on a park home. This means that, if you don't have the money to buy one outright, you must look for alternative kinds of financing.
When you own a park home, you'll usually pay for your utilities differently as well. Things like your electricity, gas, and water will be sold back to you by the park owner, and there are rules in place to prevent you from being charged too much. For example, in accordance with the Office of the Gas and Electricity Market's standards, site owners aren't allowed to charge you any more than they've paid for your energy. And, similarly, they can only charge you what they've paid for your water, as well as a reasonable administration fee.
The process of selling a park home is slightly different too, as the purchaser must be approved by the site owner (although, they can't unreasonably withhold approval). Getting this approval is a particularly important step if the site your desired park home sits on has restrictions when it comes to the likes of the age of its residents.
In a lot of other ways, park homes and conventional homes are very similar. For example, bungalows and park homes look alike both inside and out. Park homes can also be built with all the features of a traditional house, such as a garage and garden. Plus, they can be lived in all-year round. So, while the legal and financial aspects of owning a park home are quite different to having a bricks-and-mortar property, there aren't many differences when it comes to the practicalities of living in one.
How is a park home constructed and what are they made of?
Park homes are constructed under carefully controlled workshop conditions, and then transported to the park they're going to sit on. They typically have a timber frame, which is then mounted on a robust steel chassis. This means they're particularly durable and weatherproof.
Once a park home is sited, it's then connected to mains services such as drainage, electricity, and sometimes gas.
Modern park homes are built in line with the British Standard BS3632, so they're suitable to be used as a permanent residence. In accordance with this, they're well insulated and come with central heating, double glazing, and energy-efficient boilers. The latest homes are also more energy efficient with better sound proofing, which means they're more practical and cheaper to run.
Buyers have a lot of freedom when it comes to the design of their park home. They typically come with one to three bedrooms — possibly with en suites — plus living and dining spaces, a fully fitted kitchen, and at least one main bathroom. They can even be built with a garage.
Park homes usually come fully furnished, although you can choose to buy one without the furniture included. Most furnished homes will come with loose and fitted furniture, carpets or laminate flooring, and soft furnishings. They will also have all of the usual kitchen appliances.
Who can buy a park home?
Most people can buy a park home. You will find that certain parks have restrictions when it comes to the likes of the age of its residents and whether they allow kids, but there are parks out there that are happy to welcome everyone from young families to elderly couples.
Park homes are particularly popular among the older community because they offer security, peace of mind, and a safe, comfortable living environment. Also, when compared to conventional houses, park homes are usually easier and more affordable to run and maintain. This makes them an attractive option for retired people, or those who have mobility problems.
How long does a park home last?
New park homes have an estimated life span of 70–80 years, although they can last longer if they're properly maintained. You can learn more about how to keep your property in the best possible condition by reading our park home maintenance guide.
One of the biggest threats to the lifespan of your home is the possibility of there being inherent defects in its structure. To help protect you against this, we offer a 10-year park home warranty scheme that you can take advantage of if the manufacturer of your park home and the site that it sits on are both GoldShield-registered. To learn more about the benefits of registering your home with us, be sure to read our guide to understanding your GoldShield warranty or get in touch.
Additionally, our GoldShield Care schemes can help you to keep your home in the best condition possible. We offer yearly inspections, as well as packages that include everything from painting to mastic renewal. So, whether you think you would struggle to maintain a park home yourself, or you simply want the peace of mind of having an annual inspection, we'll have a care scheme that will help you to stay on top of things. To get a better idea of how this could benefit you, take a look at our guide 'Do I need a GoldShield Care scheme?'.
Can you mortgage a park home?
You can't take a mortgage out to buy a park home. However, some finance companies do offer specialised options that are more suitable.
When you purchase a park home, you buy it outright. As part of the price, the plot of land it's on will be leased to you for a fixed period of time. This will still be the official property of the park owner but, once the previously agreed amount of time has passed, a park home can be moved, sold, or the lease can be renewed.
It's vital that you understand the difference between buying and leasing a plot of land. This is because the kind of financing you're eligible for will depend quite heavily on the length of the site lease you get. You should also know that there's no standard finance option for park homes, so you should speak with an expert and carry out plenty of research into the routes you could go down.
Can you live in a park home all-year round?
Different laws apply to different kinds of mobile home sites. This means, if you're looking to buy a park home that you can live in all-year round, you need to do plenty of research into which park home sites are suitable for you. A park's licence will state whether it's a holiday site or fully residential and, in some cases, a park may house both holiday and residential homes. Therefore, when buying a park home that you intend to use as a permanent residence, it's vital that you double and triple check that both the park and the plot you've chosen are residential. You should also get this in writing before you commit to a purchase.
You should also ensure that any park home you're considering buying has been built in line with the British Standard BS3632, as this will mean that it's designed to be lived in 365 days a year. However, simply buying a home that fulfils BS3632 won't necessarily mean you can use it as your only residence — you'll still have to find a suitable park and pitch to site it on.
Can you move a park home?
People will typically sell their park home and buy a new one when they decide to move to another site. But, in some circumstances, park home owners do decide to transport their existing home. There are, however, some factors you need to consider before choosing to move a park home. These include how old it is, whether a vehicle will be able to access it easily, and how much it will cost to transport. So, while they are technically mobile homes, it's worth remembering that park homes aren't particularly easy to move, so you should always put plenty of thought into choosing a park home site as well as the pitch you would like your home to be placed on.
Park homes can be a great, affordable option for people who want to settle into a peaceful and friendly community where they feel safe and secure. They're typically easier to maintain than conventional houses, which makes them particularly practical if you're elderly or have mobility problems. And, you can choose everything from the number of rooms to the soft furnishings. If you like how this sounds, it might just be time for you to take the plunge.