What are tiny homes? An explanation by PWA

 In News, Tiny House Articles

Technically speaking, Tiny Homes on wheels are classified as RVs (Recreational Vehicles) or RPTs (Recreational Park Model Trailers) depending on whether they meet a certain criteria or are on wheels. They may or may not be accepted as an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) depending on the local jurisdiction. Many zoning boards define ADUs as a unit on a permanent foundation.


     Tiny Homes on wheels are primarily designed as temporary living quarters for recreation, camping or seasonal use. They are built on a single chassis, mounted on wheels and have a gross trailer area not exceeding 400 square feet in the set-up mode. (Exceeding 400 square feet would categorize the product as a Manufactured Home and as such would require compliance to HUD Standards). Each Tiny Home that is built in a PWTH certified facility will be certified by the manufacturer as complying with ANSI A119.5 or NFPA 1192. DIY builders may choose to have their tiny home certified to these standards. Pacific West offers programs to assist with this certification. Two different types of Tiny Homes are offered. One type is 8′ 6″ or less in width and is designed for frequent travel on the highways while the other type is 8′ 6″ or wider, and must be transported with special movement permits from the state highway department. The 8′ 6″ units are not typically expandable when it reaches its destination utilizing slide-outs or tip-outs, but builders may choose to design that way. The wider units, being less mobile, are usually sited in a resort or RV park location for an extended term, typically several years.


The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a nonprofit association which establishes procedures and guidelines to create recognized minimum safety standards for products used by both consumers and industry. ANSI sanctions standards that have been created following rigid consensus procedures which allow all affected entities to have a voice in the development process. Among the critical issues reviewed by ANSI is the make-up of the committee empowered to establish or revise the Standard. All segments must be represented and no specific interest group or Trade Association can be in a position to dictate the outcome.

A Standards-making committee for Recreational Vehicles has existed since 1937, and the canvass method was utilized to create the first safety standard sanctioned by ANSI in the early 1960s. In the 2005 edition the committee completed an editorial revision to the standard and merged the requirements from ANSI A119.2 into NFPA 1192 Standard for Recreational Vehicles.

          A Standards making committee for Park Trailers has existed since 1980, and the canvass method was utilized to create the first safety Standard in late 1981. The Standard and the process that was used to establish it were submitted to and sanctioned by ANSI in March of 1982 and was then identified as ANSI – A119.5 Standard for Park Trailers.

The Standards cover hundreds individual safety related requirements that must be complied with in the production and/or repair of RV’s or Park Trailers as applicable. The requirements found in these Standards (either directly or by reference) include sections covering electrical, plumbing, structural, heating & AC, fire, and life safety issues.

Copies of these Standards are available from:

Pacific West Tiny Homes, Inc.

1550 W 15th St.

Casper, WY  82604.

Phone: (503)-970-1474

Fax: (307)-234-3344


            Pacific West Tiny Homes, through Pacific West Associates, is an appointed third party inspection agency qualified either by being appointed by two or more state agencies of government to conduct A119.5 and NFPA 1192 Standards inspections or has demonstrated their ability to meet the requirements (stipulated by the American Society for Testing and Materials Standard E-699) for a third party agency. Manufacturers must appoint an approved inspection and design approval agency which will then conduct in-plant inspections that will take place at least once a year, not exceeding once per quarter.


     Keeping the Standard up to date and insuring that the inspections and enforcement procedures are uniform in their application are two of the primary missions of Pacific West Tiny Homes. To assist the industry with continuity, PWTH publishes and updates a handbook for the A119.5 and NFPA 1192 standards which covers any and all interpretations and gives the details on how the standard shall be applied.

          The maintenance of the handbook is based upon a consensus of interpretations from the various inspecting organizations, both governmental and third party. The A119.5 and 1192 Handbook also provides guidance to the builders, suppliers and repair firms.

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