Updated 13th June 2016
What is a static home?
It is pretty well what it says – it can be moved, thanks to the wheels and chassis on which it is built, but tends to stay put in the one place for at least several years at a time. Transporting a static caravan from one place to another is likely to prove both logistically demanding and expensive.
A static home is generally situated on a purpose designed caravan site, park or resort, where a number of additional facilities might also be provided by the owners – amenities such as a shop, children’s play areas, a restaurant and bar, and perhaps even a swimming pool.
Many parks for static caravans are carefully landscaped and well-tended in order to make the most of their scenic location.
Although they are perfectly comfortable and spacious for living in throughout many months of the year, static caravans are not designed for permanent occupation – and the fact that they are not going to be occupied throughout the year is typically a condition of the local authority’s licence of a caravan site or park.
Many parks, therefore, close down to owners staying in their holiday homes during the winter season
Static caravans are, therefore, also known as holiday or second homes – because of the function they serve – and certainly appear to retain a high degree of popularity. This brief guide is about buying a caravan for use as a second or holiday home. So it takes a look at:
- some of the reasons why you might want to buy one;
- where you may be able to buy a static caravan;
- considerations to keep in mind when buying one; and
- the question of insurance for your static caravan.
The intention is not to convince you to buy a static caravan, but to present to you a range of brief facts and information in order to help you decide whether or not such a purchase is for you.
This guide refers to static caravans only and not park homes, which are designed for permanent residential use.
Why buy a static home?
Versatility might be one of the reasons for the enduring popularity of owning a static caravan as your second home. By exercising care in your choice of static caravan, you may be surprised by how many different roles and purposes it may help to fulfil – such as:
The economic argument
- the very popularity of static caravans helps to make them a good buy – they tend to hold their price well, making your purchase a sound investment;
- at any one time, there are likely to be both new and second hand caravans of all shapes, sizes, makes and models on the market – whatever your budget, therefore, you are likely to find one to suit your pocket;
- both the initial investment and the annual running costs are likely to be considerably less than your purchase of a holiday home built from bricks and mortar;
Choice of location
- you don’t have to look far to find a static caravan park – they are all over the country;
- locations are as varied as England’s town and countryside itself, with locations close to the beach, near popular tourist attractions or in the depths of the countryside;
- whichever corner of the UK you favour for a second home, therefore, there is likely to be a static caravan site to suit you;
- the listings website com alone identifies nearly 2,000 sites and parks for static caravans and adds that almost eight million holidays and short breaks in the UK are taken each year in such holiday homes;
- read our guide to static homes for further considerations as to choosing a location;
A holiday home
- whether it is for your main annual holiday or occasional weekend breaks and short stays, a static caravan offers a holiday home of your own;
- you might choose to personalise it, decorate it and furnish it to suit your own tastes and equip it with all the creature comforts you might want in a second home;
A venue for entertaining
- do you ever find it difficult to come up with new and interesting ideas and settings when it comes to entertaining your friends and relations?
- a holiday home might offer just the solution – somewhere different, in an attractive part of the country, and spacious enough to allow all the social relaxation and entertaining you want;
Tasting the locale
- if you are thinking about moving to a different part of the country upon your retirement, a static caravan may give you a base from which to explore the area and get to know the people and local amenities before you commit to anything more permanent;
- the caravan might prove an affordable way of experiencing life in a new community without the risk of a major investment turning out to have been the wrong choice;
- since it is your second home, you are unlikely to be living in your static caravan for every month of the year and it will remain unoccupied during significant periods whilst the park is still open;
- this might be just the time to let your holiday home to paying guests and turn your investment into a further money-spinner.
Buying a static caravan may open up all manner of possibilities for you to enjoy. By making the right purchase you may be making a sound investment in a second home that may serve a multitude of purposes, including the possibility of making some extra cash by letting it out to others from time to time.
Where to buy a static home
There are a number of ways you might buy a static home and the initial decisions revolve around the following choices about whether you:
- want to buy a new static caravan;
- prefer to choose a preloved, second hand holiday home;
- choose to buy a caravan that is already pitched on site; or
- will arrange the transport of the caravan you have bought to your chosen site.
There are advantages and disadvantages in each of these choices.
There is something ultimately satisfying, of course, in buying new and in the knowledge that you are the first owner to enjoy all that your caravan has to offer.
If you are buying new, you are almost certain to enjoy the advances in design and technology that are likely to mark out your freshly manufactured static caravan from the crowd.
You may be able to buy a brand new caravan already pitched on a site of your choosing or buy direct from the manufacturer and arrange delivery to the host site.
The downside to buying new, of course, is the cost.
Buying second hand
If you are happy to buy a preloved holiday home, there are again any number of web-based listings, together with the good old standby of classified ads and word of mouth from friends or relations.
Your choice may be just as wide and you have the opportunity of grilling the vendors about what it is really like to own and use any particular model.
You might need to approach the actual purchase with a sensible degree of caution, establishing that the vendor has title to the property and that there is no outstanding finance, for example.
Whether you have bought a new or a second hand static caravan, it might be on a quite different site to the one you had in mind.
In that event, you need to arrange transport of the trailer to your chosen park or site.
This might not be just expensive to arrange, but you also need to establish whether your chosen site has a vacant pitch, whether the owners are prepared to lease that pitch for the caravan you have chosen and whether you incur any further charges for bringing your caravan to the site or park.
The most straight forward, hassle-free and potentially least costly option is to buy your new or second hand caravan already on-site.
If you choose this course of action, remember that you are almost certainly going to have to pay – directly or indirectly – the site owners a commission on the purchase;
The commission is actually typically charged to the vendor of the caravan, although you may find a proportion of this cost passed on to you as the purchaser.
Any commission charged by the site owners on the sale of a static caravan on their site may be more relevant if and when you come to sell the home.
If you are investing what is likely to be a fair amount of money in buying a static home, of course you are going to give plenty of thought to the extent to which it is going to meet your needs and expectations.
A thorough inspection of the home is essential, of course, and you might want to be guided on some of the things to look out for in an online guide published by the Static Caravan Club.
But there are a number of other important considerations, too…
You might have found the perfect location for the site on which you want your holiday caravan pitched, but is it really in a place you will want, or be able, to visit at the drop of a hat when the need to get away takes you?
One of the major attractions of owning a second or holiday home is being able to get there as often as the fancy takes you. It is likely to be important, therefore, that you choose a location not so very far from home – or close to major travel connections.
Location might prove especially critical if you intend to let your holiday home for part of the year. Local attractions may be important to visitors or the park may need to be set in an especially tranquil and relaxing environment. It might help to put yourself in potential visitors’ shoes when deciding where to pitch your holiday home.
It is also important to understand the terms and conditions on which you are able to pitch your static caravan on its site.
This is effectively a lease agreement between you and the site owners, setting out exactly what you might – and might not – enjoy in return for the ground rent that you are paying.
Some of the more critical questions you might need to be answered are:
- not only how much you need to pay each year, but how long the lease may run – some sites, for example, draw the agreement to a close once your holiday home reaches a certain age, of say 10 years, others like Whitley Bay Caravans have no such age restriction;
- different sites might have different regulations about your letting your caravan, so if you are buying with an eye to renting it out to paying guests during the year, you need to know exactly where you stand;
- the park might offer a wide range of facilities, but are use of these all included within the annual rent you are paying, or are there additional charges for their use;
- are there restrictions on the decking or verandas you may add to your caravan and might you have to pay extra for the privilege.
Static caravan insurance
If you have travelled this far and finally taken the plunge to invest in the purchase of a static caravan, one of the next most important steps is to protect that investment with the appropriate form of insurance.
Firstly, note that in most cases you are under no obligation whatsoever to take the site owner’s own caravan insurance package. So, you may wish to shop around and compare your options.
Also, if you do not take the site owner’s insurance, they may charge you a small admin fee to see proof of your cover – overall, though, you may still save money buying your cover independently.
So, what is finding suitable and cost effective static home insurance likely to involve?
- an opportunity you might not want to pass up is the availability of entirely free advice and guidance on the most suitable insurance cover for your static caravan;
- it allows us to understand the particular insurance needs you are likely to have and to match those needs and requirements to the most suitable products available in this niche of the insurance market;
Insuring your static caravan
- the principal focus of any insurance, of course, is the protection of the caravan itself from potentially disastrous risks as fire, flooding, impacts, theft and vandalism;
- if you needed any reminder of the destruction which flooding might cause to a holiday home, just look at the photographs published by the telegraph newspaper on the last day of 2015;
- in addition to the caravan, insurance also needs to cover the contents of your holiday home against similar risks and threats – making it important to ensure that you are not under insured and, in the event of a claim, have insufficient funds to repair or replace all that might have been lost or damaged;
- one important aspect of cover which you might need to prove you have to the owners of your caravan park is third party liability cover;
- this typically gives you indemnity in the event of a neighbour, one of their visitors or a member of the public suffering a personal injury or having their property damaged and holding you responsible as the owner of the caravan;
Security and safety
As with any other kind of general insurance, cover for your static caravan also relies on your taking all reasonable steps to mitigate the risks of loss or damage.
These may be especially important during those times of the year when your holiday home is left empty and unoccupied, particularly during any part of the park’s “closed season”.
By and large, they are likely to be quite straight forward, common sense precautions such as ensuring that your holiday home is securely locked, valuable items removed and measures taken to ensure that water pipes do not freeze – the latter normally requiring that you completely drain down all water and heating systems.
But there may also be additional measures you may take, together with the level of security offered by your particular caravan site or park which help insurers recognise the enhanced level of protection enjoyed by your static caravan. In those circumstances, you might even earn discounts on the insurance premiums you need to pay.
If you are thinking of buying a static caravan as your second or holiday home, you may be in very good company – many others have decided on a similar course of action.
The reasons for buying a static caravan are many and varied, not least because of the flexibility and versatility offered by these holiday homes.
This extends to the many sources from which you might buy your second home – whether it is new, second hand, already on-site or an off-site purchase.
The location of your holiday home is clearly critical not only to your own enjoyment of the property, but also to the potential for your letting it out to paying guests during those times of the year when you might not be using it.
Insurance cover is also one of those important issues on which you might want to seek the expert, professional guidance and advice of a specialist caravan insurance provider such as ourselves.