Constructing a Park Home - How is it made?
Cosy and attractively designed, a park home is as welcoming as any traditional house. But how do they differ from ‘bricks and mortar’ homes? With features like pitched roofs, double glazing and patio doors, on the surface, there is not a lot to set them apart from a conventional dwelling.
Behind the scenes, though, there are big differences. Not only are park homes made from different materials than traditionally-built houses but they are also constructed in a completely different way.
- Chassis - The start of your park home
- Flooring - Holding the park home together
- Walls - The strength of your park home
- Roof - Keeping your park home warm and dry
- Finishing Touches - Making your park home beautiful
While conventional houses are built on-site, park homes are put together in factories, then the 20-tonne structures are transported to their location. Specific materials and construction techniques can vary from home to home, but every park home will consist of a timber frame installed on a robust steel chassis.
Sturdy, weatherproof cladding is used for the exterior walls and the roofing normally consists of metal tiles. The way they are manufactured allows flexibility during the design stage so buyers can choose many of the features they want to be included, rather than having settle for an “off the shelf” design.
Both park homes and holiday lodges are constructed to relevant British Standards so you know that the comfort levels are going to be appropriate for your requirements.
Homeowners are at the heart of the design process. For example, Lissett Homes uses 3-D software to enable every detail in its bespoke homes to be scrutinised, ensuring the best use of available space within the construction. Before the build has even begun, buyers can “virtually” walk through their new property in a computer simulated model.
At any given time, Lissett will have four homes under construction and would-be buyers can book a factory trip to see the production at first hand as well as watching homes being designed in the drawing office.
As you would expect, building starts from the ground up, with the chassis being the first element for the manufacturers to consider. This is what makes the property “mobile” as opposed to it being a permanent structure and it is important that it is robust and treated to cope with the weather conditions of the locality for which they are destined. We asked some of the major park and holiday home manufacturers to explain how their chassis are made and treated.
In some cases the frames are made externally by chassis manufacturers but many companies make their own. For example, Omar explained that its chassis are based on designs developed in conjunction with Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. The chassis is constructed of two main beams that run the entire length of the home with outriggers to provide support and structural strength.
The main lengthwise beams are constructed as a two-tier hot-rolled steel channel beam frame, 300mm deep. Hot-rolled steel angle ladder frames are welded above and braced to the channel beam. The longitudinal steel angle components of the ladder frame provide additional support to the floor joists. Steel members of the ladder frame are located adjacent to and bolted to several of the floor joists.
The structure includes siting wheels levelling supports and detachable telescopic tow bar. All subframes are manufactured in Omar’s own workshop. Willerby explained to us that its chassis have been specifically engineered to cater for the rigours of transportation, prolonged usage and to withstanding extreme weather. “Entry-level holiday homes are built on a conventional steel chassis, supplied with a protective coating, to ensure durability.
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We also have the fully galvanised chassis. This chassis is produced from fully galvanised pressed steel sections that are mechanically fixed together to ensure there are no breaks in the coati ng that may allow corrosion to form. These are recommended for estuaries, coastal regions and areas with high salinity.” Lissett Homes is another manufacturer that constructs its own frames. “Our construction starts with a robust hot-rolled steel chassis, consisting of two large steel ‘C-sections’ beams with high tensile strengthening beams.
“Our chassis are heavier than those of most manufacturers because our construction is heavier and more robust.”
Pathfinder Homes chassis are manufactured by Bell Trailers. The frames are individually designed for each bespoke home depending on the customer’s requested layout. They can be painted or galvanised depending on the location of the home to protect against sea air or extreme weather conditions.
The number of axles required and the configuration depends on the length and weight distribution of the home, which is calculated at the design stage.
Once the chassis is constructed the next job is to create the floor of the home. High density wooden boards are attached to timber joists that are bolted to the frame and then insulation is added to protect the pipework that runs in the floor space. In its floor construction, Omar uses 18mm thick tongue-and-groove board screwed and nailed to stress-graded timber floor joists. These beams are securely bolted to the steelwork at regular intervals.
The floor deck is insulated with rigid polystyrene, which is held in position between joists with a fi re retardant micro-perforated barrier. In Pathfinder lodges the structure of the floor is manufactured out of 140mm by 35mm treated timber and covered in 18mm chipboard or plywood. Pathfinder told us: “Fibre-wool insulation fills the cavities between the joists. This insulation protects the pipework that runs within the floor structure.”
Lissett ’s floors are constructed using quality timber joists which are treated against fungicides and insects. “Every timber is inspected prior to use and any timber not meeting strict quality inspection standards for straightness or knots is rejected,” Lissett said.
“We integrate our joists in this way because it ensures the chassis behaves as one with the structure; creating an extremely strong foundation on which to build.”
With the base completed, it is time to put the exterior walls into place to form the main structure of the home. A frame is created using timber studwork. This is combined with plasterboard interior walls and external cladding to create a sturdy, weatherproof shell. The space between the upright joists is filled with insulation.
Pathfinder’s walls are constructed from 140mm by35mm timber with a 140mm fibre wool insulation between the uprights. The interior of the walls are boarded in either 12.5mm plasterboard or 9mm MDF depending on the model and the exterior can be clad in a few options from the manufacturer, CanExel, a painted stucco finish or a timber tongue-and-groove option.
Kingston Park and Leisure Homes explained that all of its internal walls are drylined, with 12.5mm plasterboard, providing a flat, easy-maintained repaintable finish. In its park homes, Omar incorporates semirigid, foil-faced Earthwool slab insulation between the uprights.
Wall linings are 12.5mm foil-backed plasterboard, which is glued, screwed and nailed to the studwork. Omar uses a textured synthetic copolymer resin as the standard exterior finish, and this is applied over primed 9mm magnesium oxide cladding board which is glued and nailed to the studwork
The roof covering normally consists of lightweight metal roofing ti les fixed to wooden joists. The strength of the overall building comes from the strong bonds between the roof, walls and floor.
Lissett Homes builds some of the biggest park homes and holiday lodges in the industry so is well aware of the need for an integrated structure.
“Our roof is constructed using trussed rafters to various designs to enable both flat ceiling roofs and vaulted (or cathedral type) roofs,” Lissett explains. “Our structure is all ti ed together using fixings, glue and cross-bonding with structural external plywood.
This results in an immensely strong structure capable of withstanding huge shear, strain and loads. It is with experience of building and transporting exceptionally large park homes and holiday lodges that we have understood the importance of an integrated structure.”
The roofing on Omar homes is a Metrotile steel tile system, fixed to treated timber battens over membrane. The ceiling consists of 12.5mm foil-backed plasterboard, glued and screwed to roof trusses. Like the walls, roof insulation comes from environmentally-friendly Earthwool, made from recycled materials and fully recyclable at the end of its life.
The roof void is cross ventilated via the eaves that have various widths depending on the style of the home.
Once the outer shell is complete, the focus moves to the interior, with the installation of electrics and pipework and the fittings of the kitchen, bathrooms and fixed furniture.
With the interiors fixed and windows and doors fitted, the huge modules are carefully loaded onto the back of trucks and delivered to a park. Here the finishing touches are added – furniture, carpets and appliances – and the home is connected to the utilities; gas, electricity and water.
Between 10 and 12 weeks after the whole process began, you are ready to start your new life in your luxury home!