The internet is certainly very well populated with articles advising you on what to look out for when you are purchasing a static caravan.
However, many of them concentrate on what might be termed the nuts-and-bolts of trying to check out whether a given caravan is right for your needs and in good condition. There are though, a number of other important considerations which are perhaps rather less commonly highlighted for attention.
This article will be concentrating on those.
Why do you want to make the purchase?
If you just like getting away for a few weeks each year, you may be better off simply renting a caravan, thereby avoiding the annual ownership costs associated with having one of your own.
On the other hand, if you are hoping to combine a holiday retreat with a possible income generating idea, make sure that you understand the insurance, taxation and site regulation issues associated with letting your static to other people.
You may be able to obtain advice from:
- expert providers of caravan insurance such as Cover4Caravans;
- Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC);
- the site owners where you are considering purchasing your static.
In any situation where you believe that your static might constitute an investment opportunity, you would be well advised to take extensive professional advice from other owners. Unlike conventional property, static caravans typically depreciate in value rather than appreciate. After a number of years they may be worth considerably less than you originally paid for them.
Statics can be a superb holiday and recreational lifestyle experience. Keep in mind though that for reasons involving a combination of insurance, local authority and site owner regulations, you will not be allowed to live in it permanently. In fact, the number of weeks each year you can occupy it may vary significantly from one site to another.
So, in summary, make sure you understand exactly why you wish to purchase a static and that it will deliver what you expect it to in terms of your lifestyle.
After purchase is not the time to start asking questions as to whether your site is going to be one you are happy with.
This is perhaps one of the most important areas for pre-purchase investigation because even if your static is ideal, if it is located on a site you are not happy with then the result is likely to be your dissatisfaction in the medium to longer term.
Remember to look at:
- the wider geographic location – such as just what is behind those trees you can see at the edge of the site;
- what are the crime statistics for the site and surrounding areas – that might make a big difference to your peace of mind and possibly your insurance premiums also;
- is the location one that is in close proximity to rivers, lakes and coastlines? If so, keep flood risk in mind and remember that locations at the bottom of picturesque hills might be particularly prone to flooding due to rain run-off;
- where are the nearest facilities? Rural isolation might be beautiful in the summer months but less so in the bad weather that can be associated with spring and autumn.
It is also highly advisable to check all local zoning and planning permission situations. Your static might have a beautiful outlook over open countryside today but if there are plans to build a brick works in those same fields next year, you may wish to know about that in advance.
Site terms and conditions
These have already been touched on in the context of permanent occupancy and letting but they may have implications for you in many other respects:
- the maximum age of caravans permitted on the site. Some sites may have strict limits of 10 or 15 years and if your static is approaching that age, you may either need to consider selling it or moving it to another site – keeping in mind of course that any new site would need to permit older caravans;
- open seasons. Some sites may only open for a relatively few months each year. Whatever the situation, make sure that it coincides with your access expectations;
- fees and charges – be sure you understand these and how they might change in future years;
- pets – some sites may have no restrictions and welcome most domestic pet animals but some may ban them entirely.
In passing, some sites may try to pressure you into purchasing your static caravan insurance from them. In the most situations, you are under no obligation to do so and you may find it more cost-effective to purchase your own policy on the open marketplace.
The site owner may have a right to charge you an annual administration fee for inspecting your cover and they may have a right to insist that you have at least third-party liability protection.
Sometimes overlooked, it might be advantageous that your site is reachable via public transport for all periods of the year rather than just the traditional holiday months of July and August.
Even if you normally drive, in some circumstances injury, medication or illness may not permit you to do so but you might still wish to take advantage of your static.
Neighbours and site culture
Try to rent a caravan on the site during the peak holiday season before making a final purchase decision.
Some sites may look quiet and refined for 10 months of the year but in July and August they might become raucous and full of energetic young holidaymakers. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that providing you understand it is likely to happen and do not object.
Make sure also that you look as closely at other statics on the site as you do the one you are considering – at least externally. If there appears to be a high population of poorly-maintained caravans then it might suggest that the site is in decline and that some of your short-term neighbours may not be entirely to your liking.
Finally, try to realistically assess how much it is likely to keep your static in good order and habitable condition for 12 months each year.
You can check that out to some extent by looking at helpful statistics published by organisations such as the caravan club and talking to other owners. Then, budget accordingly!
Richard Burgess is Director of cover4caravans (http://www.cover4caravans.co.uk) a dedicated UK caravan insurance broker. Their easy to use site and friendly staff will get you multiple quotes from specialist insurers for static caravan insurance at a competitive price.