Thinking about buying a holiday home, in a part of the country of your choosing, set in its own manicured grounds? Static caravans have been meeting the dreams of thousands of happy owners for many years.
A static caravan offers a holiday home from which to enjoy:
- somewhere to take your main holidays lasting several weeks – or more;
- an escape for occasional weekend breaks;
- a wide choice of locations to suit your particular tastes – close to the beach, in the depths of the countryside or near popular tourist attractions;
- a chance to sample life in a part of the country to which you might want eventually to retire;
- a gathering place for entertaining your friends and relations; and
- a handy money-spinner when you let it to paying guests for their holidays and visits.
Before investing in such a home, however, what are some of the things it might be helpful to know in advance?
Practically everything to do with buying a home – for holidays or otherwise – has to do with location.
In the case of your second home, it is likely to be a question of choosing a part of the country to which you want to return again and again. To be able to use it for weekend breaks or for last-minute getaways, it is also important that it is not too far away from where you live, so as to avoid many hours of driving just to get there.
If you are thinking of letting it occasionally or regularly, it needs to be located to areas popular with tourists and other visitors.
Your static home
Choosing the right caravan as your holiday home is clearly critical – and fortunately, there is a huge range of different types and sizes of static home to suit practically any preference or purpose.
One of the first decisions, when you begin your search, is whether to choose a caravan already on-site or directly from a manufacturer or private sale elsewhere.
If you choose to buy a home already on a park you like, bear in mind that the management is almost certain to be charging the current owner a commission on the sale.
If you are buying from elsewhere, however, you need to take into account whether your chosen park has a pitch available, whether it approves your type, size and age of caravan and, the cost of transporting the home to the site itself;
So great is the range, so many are the suppliers and sellers, and such a choice of age and condition that it may be practically impossible to determine the budget you need.
Although static caravans generally hold their price very well, a second hand or pre-loved model is naturally cheaper than the same one new. The price of a new static caravan is inflated by the need to pay VAT – something of a furore was caused within the industry in 2012 when the Chancellor threatened imposition of the tax at a rate of 20% but this was subsequently reduced to a more manageable 5%.
Choosing a park – and the lease of your pitch
So that your static caravan enjoys the security, proximity to essential services and on-hand management throughout the year, you are likely to want to choose carefully the caravan park on which it is pitched.
This means choosing not only the facilities on offer but also the terms under which your caravan occupies pitch you rent or lease – it is commonly called a licence agreement. There is no legal requirement for this to be the subject of a written agreement, but there is clearly greater security and less uncertainty if the respective rights and obligations of you and the park owners is set out in writing.
The greatest confidence is likely to be given by an agreement that complies with the code of practice formulated by the British Holiday and Home Parks Association (BHHPA) and the National Caravan Council.
The park you choose will charge a rent for the lease of the pitch and this varies from one park to another and often between different pitches at the same park. With the lease, you are also agreeing to any terms and conditions relating to the management of the park.
Perhaps one of the most important of these is the length of the lease – anything from 5 to 99 years – and may impose conditions relating to the maximum age of the static caravan you may keep on the pitch.
Other conditions may be designed to ensure that caravan owners treat neighbours with the respect and consideration they are due, for example, in terms of avoiding excessive noise and keeping the pitch and its surroundings neat and tidy.
Other ongoing costs
The services you receive are typically provided by the park owners and since you are buying them indirectly, they might include any commission management decides to impose. To gauge the likely amount of your monthly electricity bills, you might want to request sight of previous bills to former owners.
In the case of bottled gas, you might want to ask whether this is supplied only by the park management or if it may be bought independently offsite.
The National Association of Caravan Owners (NACO) explains that since you do not live permanently in your static caravan, you are not liable to pay Council Tax – although your lease agreement with the site might include a contribution towards the business rates of the company.
Letting your holiday home
Many static caravan owners take the opportunity of earning extra cash from their investment and help to offset running costs by letting their second home to visitors. To help you do so, many parks offer a managed letting service to find suitable tenants as and when you need them.
Naturally, there is a charge for this service and you may also need to pay a setup fee and for cleaning the caravan after each guest leaves – these costs need to be taken into account when calculating any income you might expect from lettings.
Alternatively, of course, you may decide to handle all of the lettings business yourself.
If you do decide to let, you need to make sure that you have adequate insurance to cover these paying guests.
Static home insurance
The moment you become the proud owner of your holiday caravan, it is important to arrange appropriate static home insurance. You might consider several insurance providers, of course, but specialists such as ourselves here at Cover4Caravans have many years of experience and a good deal of expertise in matching the needs and requirements of your particular caravan with the most suitable products available – at a competitive price.
Your park management is almost certain to suggest their own favoured insurance provider and you might feel under some pressure to arrange cover from this source. Typically, however, you are under no such obligation and you might want to stand your ground in resisting such pressure.
Public liability insurance
Although you might have declined the park’s offer to arrange cover, you may still be required to furnish proof of your insurance protection in one important respect in particular – public liability indemnity.
Both you and the park management share an interest in ensuring that there is cover in place to indemnify you against claims from members of the public, other park residents and their guests who may suffer a personal injury or have their property damaged as a result of some negligence on your part.
By far the most compelling reason – as far as the park owners are concerned – for insisting on caravan insurance is for the protection of other caravan owners on the site, their visitors, and members of the public.
This element of protection is afforded by the public liability cover which is typically an important component of insurance for static caravans.
This gives you indemnity from any claims arising from your neighbours, visitors, or members of the public that, as a result of your negligence or breach of your duty of care have suffered a personal injury or had their property damaged. In that event, your insurance is there to ensure that any such injured party is adequately compensated.
If you intend to let your holiday home to other people when you are not using it, public liability insurance is again an essential form of protection from claims made by such temporary tenants or their visitors who allege your negligence in causing personal injury to them or damage to their property.
Public liability claims might involve very substantial demands for compensation, so it is typical for cover to start at £2 million (with the static insurance policies we offer) and it is by no means uncommon for it to be more than that sum.
What else needs to be covered in my static home insurance?
Public liability insurance is not the only element of static caravan cover that is likely to provide invaluable protection. Other elements typically include:
- safeguarding the structure of the caravan itself from such potentially catastrophic events as fire, flooding, impacts, vandalism, and theft;
- cover for the contents of your holiday home;
- an optional extra offered by some policies might extend to emergency accommodation in the event of your static caravan being destroyed or rendered unusable by a major insured incident;
- if you are moving your caravan onto the site or relocating it to an alternative park, you might also want to ensure that you and the transport company have sufficient goods in transit insurance to safeguard your investment whilst it is on the road.
When considering these wider aspects of cover for your static caravan, you might want to bear in mind that lower premiums may be on offer the greater your attention to matters of security – whether through fire and intruder alarms or thanks to the particular security arrangements provided by your chosen park.
Bear in mind, too, that your insurer is also entitled to rely upon your taking all reasonable steps to mitigate any loss or damage – especially during those times when your holiday home is vacant or unoccupied.
If you are thinking of buying a static home, therefore, some of the principal considerations might be summarised by the location, your choice of caravan park, the particular holiday home you choose and the insurance that is in place to protect your investment.
Static caravans may make ideal second or holiday homes. You might choose to enjoy one all to yourself or to let it to friends or other paying guests from time to time. There may be more involved in buying and owning a static caravan than first appears, but a little background research – and talking to any other owner who has gone before you – is likely to ensure that you go into it with eyes wide open and years of enjoyment ahead.
Further reading: Guide to static homes.
If you are just about to buy or have just bought your first caravan you may have all sorts of expectations about the pleasure it is about to bring – not least:
- the freedom of the open road;
- knowing that wherever you might pitch up your second home on wheels is there to give you a good night’s sleep and all the comforts of home;
- the chance to meet like-minded friends and establish long-term contacts to help you get the most of your caravanning holidays.
If you are just such a newbie, it might be helpful to share a few initial thoughts on making the most of the adventure that is opening up to you.
The caravan you choose
There’s little doubt you’ll have discovered by now that there are all types of caravans from which you might have chosen. Each one might be better equipped to serve the specific purpose you need – from a range that covers:
- conventional designs – these have a single axle and may range in length from 3 to 6.5 metres, sleeping between 2 and six occupants;
- the conventional touring caravan has all your home comforts including a toilet, sinks, showers, and kitchens fitted out with a cooker, work surfaces and a kitchen sink;
- on the other hand, you might have chosen something considerably more substantial and in need of a twin axle to tow;
- at the other end of the scale may be a small “teardrop” caravan specifically designed to make towing even easier;
- if you went for ease of towing and a relatively small and less well-equipped interior, you might have chosen a pop up, folding or GRP caravan.
In its guide for those new to the delights of caravanning, the Camping and Caravanning Club has published some helpful advice on making the most of your purchase. You may also wish to check out our own guide too, the Beginner’s Guide to Caravans.
When you were choosing your caravan, one of the most important considerations is likely to have been the space and layout it offered.
Although relatively small, you may be surprised by the ingenuity with which modern caravan designers have been able to exploit every possible opportunity for maximising the useful floor area.
While your car insurance may cover your ‘van with third party liability cover when towing (check with your car insurance provider), it does not cover theft, loss or damage to your caravan.
So, whatever the size and shape of the caravan you have just bought, you might want to give serious consideration to protecting the investment with the appropriate form of insurance.
If you are new to caravanning, however, choosing the suitable cover may be confusing and somewhat hit and miss. At Cover4Caravans we are specialists in finding just that insurance. We will suggest the most suitable and cost-effective cover insurance cover options for your own unique circumstances.
For anyone browsing a newbie guide to caravans, one of the most critical questions is likely to be the towing capacity of the vehicle you already have at home. This may prove one of the most technically confusing aspects of touring with your new caravan.
The broadest rule of thumb is that the heavier the caravan the heavier and more powerful car you need to tow it. This may be made more difficult by the fact that the manufacturer is likely to have stipulated a Mass in Running Order Weight (MIRO) or unladen weight of the caravan. This is considerably less important or useful than the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM), which combines not only the crude weight of the caravan but also its maximum laden weight.
The more you investigate, the more you may be baffled by the various descriptions and ways of calculating the ratio of the caravan to its vehicle weight. A comprehensive article published by Out and About Live on the 19th of May 2020, discussed the various weights and ratios you are likely to encounter – including such terms as the nose weight and those relating to loading and towing your caravan.
You may also wish to read our Guide to towing mirrors.
On the road
With a good deal of homework and preparation done, you may be ready to hit the road and take the first trip with your caravan. Here are some tips that may help your initial excursion – and subsequent journeys – go smoothly and safely:
- when packing the caravan, take care to distribute the weight properly, with heavier items on the floor and more or less over the axle;
- before every outing, check and, if necessary, inflate the tyres until they are at the correct pressure;
- many caravans have special devices designed to improve their stability – check that these are correctly installed and in working order;
- remember that the legal speed limit when towing your caravan is 60 mph on dual carriageways and motorways, 50 mph on single carriage roads and 30 mph in built-up areas;
- as we mentioned under the heading on Towing, above, your preparatory homework was likely to have included an explanation of the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) of your caravan, or the combined weight of the trailer itself plus the contents – make sure that you have not exceeded this weight and until you become more familiar with what the contents generally weigh, you might want to check the MTPLM at a public weighbridge;
- you will also remember that an equally important consideration when calculating loading weights is the nose weight of your caravan and keeping this within the limits of the car you are going to be using for towing;
- your first trip with the new caravan is likely to be relatively close to home but whenever planning a journey, you might want to remember that the car and trailer is less manoeuvrable than the car alone – if you are accustomed to using a sat nav, bear in mind that these devices may often take you down impossibly narrow or winding country lanes;
- experience is likely to teach you how to pick the best pitches when you arrive at a site, but broadly speaking you might want to avoid trees (leaves, sap and bird droppings), choose level ground and decide whether you want or need to be close to or further away from the site’s amenity block.
With so much likely to be new and experience still to be gained, you might be forgiven for overlooking the overriding purpose of your purchase of a caravan – namely to have fun, relax and enjoy yourself. Hopefully, this brief guide for newbies may have helped you to do just that – and, sooner than you think, you may count yourself amongst the old hands in the caravanning community.
Even in autumn or on fine days during the winter, you might be tempted to spend some time in your touring caravan or static home.
British weather being what it is, though, those stolen moments of appealing sunshine are just as likely to be interspersed with rainy days.
And on rainy days, the inside of any caravan can feel more than a little constricting. That’s when you might want to get the board games out.
Although numerous games can be played from a simple pack of playing cards – and a deck of cards can easily be stowed in even the tiniest caravan – board games might prove more imaginative and challenging fun. Here are a few suggestions.
All the old favourites
Mention board games and some diehards will spring immediately to mind – Draughts, Ludo, Chess, or Cluedo (once the light starts failing and the company’s ready for a little murder mystery).
But you might equally want to experiment with something newer or a little different:
- Trivial Pursuit has also become an old-time favourite, but there are constantly updated versions available and the range includes ones for different age groups – there is even a travel version for the game if you don’t have space to open up a full board;
- this much newer board game Articulate! is nevertheless a variation on an old theme – can you describe a particular word without actually using it;
- as the tension gathers pace, you’ll probably find yourselves lifting the roof of your caravan as the war of words locks anything from four to twenty people in battle;
- another board game almost certain to raise a raucous for the whole family, Buckaroo takes you all on a trip back to the Wild West and a famous bucking mule;
- it’s quick, its frenzied and – best of all, perhaps – even children as young as four can play along with you;
Snakes and Ladders
- who’s never played Snakes and Ladders before! And that’s all part of the fun, of course. Unfold the board and you’re almost certain to be taken back to those time of innocent family fun – the game’s stayed just the same and you’ll enjoy teaching a younger generation all the ups and downs of this classic;
- the British Council has even published on their website a version you can print out at home before you go on holiday;
- if you’re looking for something more cerebral – where you might even enjoy a bit of peace and quiet before things get really tense – then Scrabble is the go-to board game;
- it says it’s for ages 10 and up but, quite honestly, anyone who can spell is able to have a shot at this game designed for between two and four players;
- there’s nothing like a guessing game, especially for the younger members in your party – and Guess Who? is one of the originals;
- players get to ask the yes/no questions – are your eyes blue, are you a boy, are you on the television, and so on – until someone guesses your secret identity.
Just accept it. At some time during any outing in your caravan, it’s likely to rain. And when it does, knowing that you have a board game or two at the ready will only mean the beginning of still more fun and laughter.
From a cheap caravan to Buckingham Palace-style, go-ahead for the Malvern Caravan Show, and more caravan news
Thanks to their opening on the 4th of July, ahead of many other attractions, and the huge surge in staycation holidays, pitches on caravan and camping sites quickly sold out this summer – as the Express newspaper reported on the 30th of July.
Even if you missed out on the early rounds, there is still plenty of time to enjoy outings in your touring caravan – so you’ll want to keep fully abreast of what is going on in the world of caravanning. Here are our latest snippets of caravan news.
Couple transform rusty caravan bought for £50
How much did you spend on the last caravan you bought? Last month, the Sun newspaper illustrated a story about a couple who paid just £50 for their tourer!
As you can imagine, the super-cheap tourer was in more than a dilapidated state – a veritable rust-bucket, in fact. But the before and after photographs taken by the couple showed just how they had transformed their small wonder on wheels both inside and out.
The dinky little vintage caravan is now kitted out in a suitably kitsch style to catch the eye of any passing admirer.
Holiday like the Queen in a Buckingham Palace-inspired holiday home
From the sublime to … Buckingham Palace. A static caravan on a site at Clayton Bay, Scarborough, has been fitted out in a style designed to echo the Royal Palace.
This grand caravan has recently been refurbished to the tune of £100,000 and ends up with chandeliers in every room, toilets that are gold-plated (of course), a pair of red velour and gold thrones, a four-poster bed – and matching dog bowls and bed for the royal corgis.
Fit for a royal the caravan might be, but the cost to stay in it is a far more lowly £13.25 per person a night, according to a story in the Daily Mail recently.
Plans resubmitted for controversial caravan park in Shropshire
It’s a continuing on again off again saga for a proposed new site for static caravans in the village of Hinstock, Shropshire, recounted the Shropshire Star earlier this month.
A previous planning application for the development of a site for 10 holiday homes and an office block was turned down, so the owners have resubmitted revised plans which, they say, has benefitted from a landscape assessment designed to minimise the visual impact of the development.
The revised layout is “more logical” and “less dense” insist the planning applicants.
The Malvern Caravan Show to go ahead next month
Pandemic or no pandemic, (at the time of writing) the Malvern Caravan Show goes ahead as planned from the 2nd to the 4th of October, revealed Out and About Live on the 1st of September.
The Three Counties Showground nestles at the foot of the picturesque Malvern Hills and will host more than 200 new and used caravans, motorhomes, and campervans – some of which will be on sale at show-only prices.
Pre-book your pitch to stay onsite for the whole weekend or just turn up for a day visit. Although the programme of events may be just a little more limited than in previous years, there is still entertainment to be had – including a fun dog show, bingo, and a coffee morning fund-raising event for local charities.
We’re coming towards the end of another season for your holiday home. As Autumn arrives at the end of this month and Winter is on the horizon, it may be helpful to review some of the obligations you are owed by your caravan park managers. Plus, we also review some other issues concerning your use of the static home.
Can I live permanently in my static caravan?
This is perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions about static homes or holiday caravans.
Typically, no. You are unlikely to be an entirely free agent and need to investigate the situation carefully because:
- the local authority licence for the caravan park may be for seasonal, recreational use only but prohibit residence the whole year round;
- the site owners may prohibit permanent residence; and
- typically, your static caravan insurance is unlikely to provide cover for its use as your main home and permanent place of residence.
Is insurance a legal requirement for static caravan ownership?
There may be no formal legal requirement for such insurance – although some form of cover may be necessary if you have a loan on the caravan.
Your site owner may also demand that you have a minimum form of insurance in place in order to make sure that third party liability cover is available on all caravans on their site.
In most cases, they do not have the right to insist that you purchase such insurance from them, so that means you can shop around for the most suitable static home insurance deal.
Can I let out my caravan during the holiday season to obtain income?
There are several aspects to this question:
- depending upon your site agreement, you may require the site owner’s permission;
- in some cases, the local authority may not have authorised the site for holiday letting use but only for that of owners;
- if you have existing static insurance, you may need to discuss your plans with your insurance provider and possibly upgrade your cover, as letting your caravan out may invalidate any existing policy if it is aimed exclusively at owner-users;
- if you have purchased your caravan using a loan, some lenders may require that you obtain their permission before letting your caravan out as a commercial activity; and
- remember that the law may oblige you to declare any income obtained as part of your tax and income affairs.
Holiday park site owners and their responsibilities in times of bad weather
With winter storms and severe weather seeming to be the ‘norm’ over the last few years, it’s not just caravan and park homeowners who feel the effects, but even people living in bricks and mortar homes – no structure is safe from extreme weather.
So, what can you do if your caravan becomes waterlogged or snowed in? Here we look at your site owner’s obligations and yours:
Duty of access and safety
- various pieces of legislation place a park site owner under a legal obligation to maintain safe and reasonable access to various areas around their site. By implication, that might mean clearing snow, mud or water from road and paths leading to caravans and site facilities etc;
- by contrast, you may have the responsibility, confirmed by the site agreement and your own static caravan insurance, to keep your pitch clear and safe;
- of course, the law cannot specify in advance every conceivable circumstance that might arise and therefore definitive answers about what is or is not reasonable can’t always be given in advance;
Discussion before escalation
- so, what happens if you have concerns about the current state of your site – if severe weather has resulted in problems accessing your site or your pitch, remember that the site owners may be trying to deal with numerous problems all at the same time;
- practically, it may be difficult or impossible for them to progress every owner’s concerns simultaneously in exceptional circumstances and they may need to prioritise. Try to understand their priorities and approach – and be patient;
- if you suspect that your patience is being abused and, in fact, they’re sitting on their hands, then speaking to them politely is always the preferable first step – sometimes inaction arises as a result of an honest oversight or misunderstanding and a friendly word is all that’s required;
- if that still results in nothing but inertia and in the meantime, you are unable to safely access your caravan, then you may need to write a formal letter or note confirming the situation;
- make clear, politely, in your letter that you believe the current position means that they are in breach of prevailing legislation demanding that safe access is provided – that might well do the trick, but if it doesn’t, you may need to take legal advice and consider further action.
How do I keep my static home condensation-free?
Condensation can become a big problem in static homes. It can occur at any time, but it is often more of a problem later in the year as the nights become cooler.
Not only can it be unpleasant, but it can also lead to problems like damp and mould. Damp can damage your interior and your furnishings, and mould spores can cause health problems, especially for people who suffer from health issues like asthma.
Although problems with condensation can be frustrating, by following a few simple tips you can reduce the likelihood of any problems occurring – keeping your static home drier and more comfortable.
Here are some tips and suggestions for keeping condensation at bay:
Make sure you ventilate properly
- the main reason condensation forms is because of a lack of ventilation;
- to prevent this, make sure you constantly air your static by opening the windows – if the weather is warm enough, you may want to leave the windows slightly open during the night, but always take security seriously and do not leave windows open when you are away from your ‘van;
Improve the insulation
- if your static home does not have good ventilation, you may be tempted to keep it warm by blocking up draughts – but this can increase the problem of condensation;
- instead, work on keeping the interior warm by investing in insulation and double-glazing windows – that way you will have less need to block draughts, and the ventilation will be improved;
Heat your caravan slowly
- how you heat your static home can also affect how much it suffers from condensation;
- it is quite common for people to arrive after being outside and turn up the heating onto a high setting to quickly warm up – this may not be the best option;
- a better idea is to keep your heating on a low and consistent heat for longer, as this will help the heat to penetrate the furniture and cupboards to keep them dry;
Use extractor fans
- extractor fans are often used in the bathroom and kitchen because these are the areas where moisture tends to build up the most – so, if you do not have fans, you may want to invest in some.;
- use your fans when you are cooking in the kitchen or using the shower in the bathroom and keep them on for a while after you have finished – you may also want to open the windows to increase the ventilation further;
Dry clothes outside
- drying clothes inside your static home can quickly add a lot of moisture to the air;
- avoid doing this as much as possible, and keep a window open if you have to dry your clothes inside;
Invest in a dehumidifier
- a dehumidifier is a simple and cost-effective way to cut down on humidity in your static home – add one or two in your caravan and you will help to reduce condensation.;
Do not block air vents
- air vents should be clear at all times, so never block them up to keep warm;
- they allow gases and moisture to leave, blocking them can be very dangerous and can cause carbon monoxide poisoning – which can be fatal;
- improve your heating situation in other ways, such as improving the insulation, but never block the air vents.
Do I need a TV licence for my static caravan?
Finally, the vexed question of whether you need a TV licence for your static caravan – the answer may be trickier than you imagined and requires a little explanation.
The key question is whether or not you will be using any television installed in your static caravan at the same time that your normal television is being used in your permanent home.
If the answer to that is no, then you may not need a separate licence for your caravan. You may be able to simply make what is called a non-simultaneous use declaration and that should cover you.
If you are likely to be using a TV in your caravan while someone at your normal place of domicile is also using the TV there, then you will need a separate licence for your caravan.