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Buying a second hand caravan

Second hand caravans tend to hold their price very well – the Caravan Club, for example, goes so far as to say that a second hand caravan does so far better than a new one.

If you are just starting out or if you are looking to change the caravan you already have, therefore, buying second hand might be an attractive and cost-effective option.

For all the euphemisms about their being “preloved”, however, there might be a natural reluctance in making what is still likely to be a significant investment in something that has already been used.

The following tips and suggestions, therefore, are intended to help you rest more easily about knowing what to look for and what to take into account when buying a second hand caravan:

What you want

  • the make and model, of course, is very much a question of personal choice, based on your individual requirements with respect to such matters as size, towing weight and layout;
  • it is likely to be a fairly major investment, so it is important to spend your money wisely by making sure that the caravan you choose meets as many as your needs as possible;
  • size and layout are likely to be everything, with your need to compromise any need for the comfort of a roomy interior with manoeuvrability and ease of towing when on the road touring;
  • especially if you are touring as a family and have children or young adults to accommodate, too, the actual layout of the interior is likely to be just as critical as the internal dimensions;
  • the technical considerations relating to the car you have and the caravan it can tow are also crucial – at the very least, ensure that the caravan you are interested in buying is within the maximum weight your car is able to tow;
  • of course, your choice is also likely to be swayed by the cost of any caravan that catches your eye – but, as ever, the cheapest might not always represent the best value for money;

Use

Your guiding principle when choosing a family caravan is likely to be the use to which you want to put your it. With your own needs as well as your children’s’ in mind you might want to give thought to the following:

  • accommodation: there is likely to be more to it, for example, than simply counting the number of berths the caravan has – the size, length and comfort of a berth may vary quite widely and may need to accommodate young people from toddler size to adolescent;
  • facilities: the older your children, the more likely importance is going to be placed on the roominess and effectiveness of showering and washing facilities – unless, of course, you plan to be staying on sites where 5-star facilities are always assured;
  • size matters: no caravanning holiday is likely to bring assured fine weather when the whole family is able to eat, play and relax outside – think of the worst case scenario when you and your brood are cooped up in the caravan for several continuous days of rain.

Layout

Although size matters, it may prove equally important the way in which the space is actually laid out and used.

It may make sense to study the wide range of layout options published by online caravan sales companies in order to home in on those designs most likely to meet your family’s needs.

Storage

When a family goes on holiday, there is invariably more than the usual amount of equipment and kit to be packed – adventure sports gear for older members of the party, perhaps, or diversionary toys and games for younger children.

To free the precious space and keep the inside of your caravan as uncluttered as possible, therefore, you might want to make sure that the layout and design you choose includes plenty of cupboards, lockers and general storage.

Where it’s been

  • you have the National Caravan Council (NCC) to thank for its foresight in 1992 in setting up the Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS) which is the practical equivalent of a 17-digit VIN etched into the chassis of the caravan (and typically the windows, too) as a way of recording the history of ownership in much the same way as the logbook does for your own private motor car;
  • there is no need to stop there, of course, since you are probably also going to want to know more about previous owners, their record of maintaining the caravan and whether it is subject to any outstanding finance;

The condition it’s in

  • the condition of any second hand caravan you are looking over is clearly going to depend on the wear and tear it has suffered as a result of its age and the price you are prepared to pay for it;
  • this, in turn, might rest on your estimation of the overall useful life of the caravan – the Caravan Club, for example, puts the average practical life at some 14 years;

It’s value

  • the price someone is asking you to pay for a second hand caravan may not be the same as its true market value – prices for the same make, model and age may vary very widely, so a rigorous price comparison may be the order of the day;
  • the age and value of the caravan are also important factors when it comes to insuring your caravan and you might want to remind yourself of some of further considerations by referring to our own quick guide on the subject here at Cover4Caravans;

Where to buy a second hand caravan

  • if you are serious about going ahead with the purchase of a used caravan then of course you need to decide where you are going to buy it;
  • you might be surprised to discover just how widely the price of practically identical caravans may vary;
  • a serious price comparison – with your net thrown as widely as possible – therefore, may be one way of ensuring that you save money on the purchase (whilst being aware, of course, that a suspiciously low price may be just that, suspicious);
  • as the idea of buying your next caravan begins to take off you might do worse than canvas your friends and fellow caravanners about makes and models that might be up for sale;
  • this might lead to the sales advertisements that might appear anywhere from your local newsagent’s window to the classified listings of your local newspaper;
  • casting your net wider, by going online, you are able to access many more listings, of course, and a number may specialise in the new or second hand models in which you are especially interested;
  • there is a site for caravans, for example, that echoes in every way its sister site for motor cars – Autotrader Caravans, with a constantly updated listing of sales;
  • a helpful suggestion from the Camping and Caravanning Club is that you make the most of the several caravan shows that are staged around the country at various time of the year – these provide an opportunity to see for yourself some of the latest layouts and designs in an atmosphere that is almost guaranteed to be competitive when it comes to pricing as salesmen vie for sales;
  • what you have seen and learned at such a show might point you in the direction of a particular dealer whom you might choose to visit later – an established dealer with a reputation to maintain might be a good place to secure a money saving deal on the right caravan and aftersales service, but you may need to exercise good judgement, and the advice of fellow caravanners, in order to find the most reputable dealers.

Your inspection

  • when you are buying second hand, your own physical inspection is likely to prove absolutely critical;
  • public enemy number one as far as touring caravans are concerned is likely to be the problem of damp and condensation – the symptoms of which not only leave unsightly, tell-tale signs but might also pose a threat to health;
  • check carefully for signs of damp or condensation, therefore, since even when remedies exist, they may prove very expensive;
  • your inspection of the outside of the caravan is likely not only to be restricted to spotting dents, scrapes and scratches, but also to the potentially more important check on the condition of seals around doors and windows – silicone based sealants, for instance, might be expected to last as long as 20 years, whilst acrylics may last only half that time, and oil based sealants only five years or so;
  • hitch gear, lighting and electrical connections, wheels and windows are also likely to be a focus of attention during your inspection of the exterior;
  • on the inside, you may get an immediate impression of how well the caravan has been looked after – or otherwise;
  • checks of fitted electrical and gas appliances – especially the latter – are essential safety precautions for which you might want to consider the expert oversight and testing by a qualified engineer;
  • the security equipment installed and used to protect the caravan may offer a further clue to how well previous owners have looked after it – and, the greater the level of security, of course, the more likely you are to qualify for any available discounts on insuring your caravan.

Insurance

Finally, whatever size, shape or layout for your family caravan you choose, at an early stage you might want to think about the implications for insuring your caravan.

Given the time, effort and money you are likely to have invested in acquiring the vehicle, caravan insurance is probably a priority – and a specialist one at that. There are a number of specialist caravan insurance providers – such as us here at Cover4Caravans – so you might want to take the opportunity of an early discussion of your needs.

Next steps

Buying a second hand caravan may prove every bit as sensible investment as buying one new, especially if you take care in your choice of age, make, model and overall condition. Careful research and forethought is likely to make sure you secure just the caravan you have been looking for.

Why use a caravan awning?

Even the most ardent caravanner may at times find it hard to deny that any typical caravan, be it tourer, static or motorhome, might at times be a little short of space.

Admitting that space may be an issue though is not the same as saying that nothing can be done about it or that you should just accept cramped living conditions as part and parcel of your caravanning holiday.

Also, the lighter your caravan, the easier it is to tow up hills etc.

One obvious solution therefore is to invest in an awning for your caravan. Their versatility is shown by the many different uses they serve:

  • for the additional space which it is always helpful to spill over into, even if you have quite a large caravan;
  • as a place to store additional pieces of kit and equipment which might otherwise clutter the interior of the caravan;
  • as a “wet room”, where you are able to shrug off wet clothing and muddy boots when the weather is inclement;
  • as a shady retreat when the sun is high – but still open to gentle breezes if the awning’s walls are rolled up; and
  • choosing an awning with a little individual taste and style and it may even be a way of putting a distinctive personal touch to your touring or static caravan.

These days, awnings come in all shapes and sizes and typically consist of a steel or aluminium framework over which a waterproof cover is stretched.  They can no longer be looked on as being just a glorified tent.

They come with windows and zippable doors and can easily be fitted on to your caravan structure. You may find that your awning can double the living space your caravan provides and might be a more cost effective and flexible way of increasing your living space than buying a bigger caravan would be.

Types of awning

What makes an awning still more versatile is that it may be bought in different sizes and designs to suit particular purposes:

  • a full awning, for example, typically runs the full length of your caravan, to which it is attached by the built-in channel of the caravan itself – your handbook normally specifies the length of this channel, making it easy to determine the size of the awning you need;
  • a full awning may even give you the option of creating a tent within a tent – also known as a “pup tent” for use as an additional bedroom;
  • a porch awning, on the other hand, is a more compact version and may be appropriate is payload weight is an issue when towing a touring caravan;
  • lighter still is a simple sun canopy, which might extend the full length of the caravan but is designed simply to provide shade and may or may not come with removable side walls or those which may be rolled up out of the way.

If you are unable to afford a new awning or simply want to try one out before committing to such an investment, the Caravan Times suggests a search of the second hand market in order to find one in which you might be interested.

If you are planning to buy a used awning, of course, it repays to give it a careful inspection, paying particular attention to any tears in the canvas and ensuring that seams are still watertight.

Awning insurance

With so many potential uses and versatility, it may be easy to imagine how your awning quickly becomes an indispensable piece of kit.

As with anything you do not want to go without for long, awning insurance, therefore, may be seen as a priority.

The problem is that not all caravan insurance providers may offer cover for awnings at all and you’ll typically find that those that do might attach specific terms and conditions to their cover.

It may be sensible therefore, when looking at caravan insurance, to compare what provision is or is not made.  At Cover4Caravans for example, our policies typically have a separate listing on your policy schedule relating to your awning.

This is needed because while it may, of course, be very tempting to regard the additional space that an awning provides as just another part of your caravan, it is a separate and less secure structure.

You might wish to keep in mind therefore that even the most sophisticated awnings may be easy prey for thieves and that there may be very specific conditions laid out in your policy document, including:

  • the contents of your awning, apart perhaps for garden type tables and chairs, not being covered at all;
  • storm damage to the awning only being covered if you are present at the time that it happens.

It may simply be just plain common sense to get into the habit of not keeping any valuables under the awning and of stowing it away when you are not actually present at the caravan itself.

If you need further help or advice on cover for awnings or what your obligations are, please feel free to contact us.

To find out more, check out our handy guide on buying, installing and using your awning.

Paws of Approval and Countryfile live …

While the start of June was a bit of a washout for Britain, then the last few weeks’ of sunshine suggests that the long-awaited summer is finally here! To celebrate, here are a few tidbits of news that might give you an idea or two for the next outing with your caravan.

Dog-friendly sites get the Paws of Approval

One of the great attractions to owning a caravan is the freedom it gives to dog-owners to take their pets along with them on outings and holidays.

Whether that is a successful and stress-free experience, of course, depends very much on the kind of reception you are likely to get when you arrive at your caravan site.

To encourage more sites to be paws-itively dog-friendly, the Caravan and Motorhome Club has launched a campaign called Paws of Approval, to highlight and promote those where its members and their four-legged friends have found a positive experience.

More than four in ten Club members are dog-owners, says the Caravan Times, and they are now being invited to award sites they have visited with one to five “paws” as a mark of their dog-friendliness.

Dirty dishes no more at eco-friendly site!

Washing up – it’s a chore that follows you wherever you go, even when you’re on holiday in your caravan. Indeed, the basic facilities available at some caravan sites might make it even more of a chore.

You’ll be in for a pleasant surprise if you stay at Skelwith Fold in the Lake District, therefore, which is said to be the very first to in the UK to have installed a free-to-use automatic dishwasher which cleans all your tableware in an eco-friendly cycle which takes just 5 minutes or so to clean and dry a full load.

As the Caravan Industry and Park Operator puts it you can say goodbye to being up to your arms in soap-suds, confident that your dishes are washed, cleaned and dried in a fast and eco-friendly way.

NCC adds further protection for leisure vehicle dealers and consumers

When you’re buying your caravan or motorhome, of course, you want the assurance you’re getting a fair deal with which you feel entirely satisfied.

Take comfort, therefore from new model terms and conditions devised by the National Caravan Council (NCC) to be followed by its dealer members throughout the UK.

Choose an NCC registered member when you buy your next leisure vehicle and you may be more than usually assured you are getting a fair deal.

Join in BBC Countryfile Live

It’s been aired for 30 years and currently attracts an estimated 5 million viewers every week – Countryfile is one of the BBC’s favourite series, especially for the many caravanners who appreciate their forays into Britain’s glorious working countryside.

A welcome addition to the schedules is an inaugural Countryfile Live event in the stunning grounds of Castle Howard in Yorkshire, from the 15th to the 18th of August.

Special attractions include the Craven Arms Pub Garden, the Village Green, Passion for British Livestock displays, stalls from more than 400 exhibitors – and, of course, the chance to meet some of the presenters of the flagship programme.

The icing on the cake for touring caravan owners is that you can pitch the ‘van within a stone’s throw of the event, within the grounds of Castle Howard itself, on a site specifically set up by co-hosts the Caravan and Motorhome Club – and qualify for the cheapest tickets available for entry into the Countryfile Live showground.

£9.3bn a year spent by UK caravanners and campers

It seems that caravanning and camping has never been more popular – it has certainly grown into a multi-million pound industry that is a pillar of the British tourism industry.

A recent comprehensive study by the UK Caravan and Camping Alliance (UKCCA), published in February, reveals that visitors to Britain’s many campsites and holiday parks spend more than £9.3bn a year, contributing a sizeable 8% to the tourism industry’s total Gross Value Added (GVA), and providing jobs for an estimated 171,448 full-time equivalent jobs.

The survey included all those who stayed on campsites and holiday parks in the UK – whether as caravanners, campervanners, motorhomers, campers or those who used rented static caravans, holiday lodges, pods, cabins or other holiday homes, together with those who owned their own holiday home.

The latest statistics produced by the National Caravan Council estimate there to be 555,000 touring caravans in the UK, 225,000 motorhomes, and 365,000 (static) caravan holiday homes (i.e. not including cabins, lodges and other leisure homes).

Reasons for camping

The UKCCA study delved further into our love affair with the caravan – both touring and static varieties – by asking those surveyed why they were staying at a particular site or holiday park:

  • more than a half (57%) said that they wanted to visit or revisit the area;
  • a further 13% said they were familiar with the region, but wanted to visit a different area within it;
  • 11% said they had friends or relatives in the area;
  • a further 33% said the site had been recommended by friends or relatives, an advertisement online or a magazine, or through their caravanning or camping club;
  • some 7% were attracted to the availability of specific activities in the area. And
  • 6% were attending an event or festival nearby.

The overwhelming majority (92%) of visitors said they felt less stressed when caravanning or camping, 88% said they felt more relaxed and 87% said they felt happier.

Activities

What do people do on a caravanning or camping holiday?

The answers given my visitors may help to underline the pleasure gained in simply being outdoors – whether exercising or doing very little at all:

  • 64%, for example, said they spent their time just relaxing;
  • 55% said that they took short walks – of less than 2 miles;
  • 50% enjoyed spending the time with friends and relations;
  • 36% engaged in nature or wildlife activities;
  • 29% took themselves off on longer walks or hikes – or more than 2 miles;
  • 28% engaged in other physical activities; while
  • 19% went cycling.

Prospects

The report also predicts the continued growth of this sector of the tourism industry. From now until well into 2025, an annual rate of growth of 3.8% is forecast – which is greater than the UK economy as a whole and faster than other sectors such as retail, construction and manufacturing.

The UKCCA study revealed a strong and increasingly important foreign interest in caravanning and camping holidays in Britain – with expenditure from this quarter growing by around 6% a year and increasing in value from £21bn in 2013 to £57bn by 2025.

Run Cottage Site Review

We’ve now stayed at this site twice between Christmas and New Year 2016 for 7 nights and at the beginning of June 2017 for three nights. The site is now Adults Only and comes under the Tranquil Parks umbrella.

The site is privately owned and is situated on the edge of the village of Hollesley in Suffolk on the Alderton Road. Access is recommended from the A12, the required junction of which is about 7.5 miles from the site. Directions given on the website are clear and advise the best route. Some of the roads may look small on a map but there is nothing of concern. You may want to check out our Site Arrival Video below which shows exactly what you can expect on route.

As you enter the site, the reception is to the left at the rear of the house. A few camping essentials are stocked. Normal arrival time is from 1pm.

The site itself consists of two areas or paddocks and has just 45 pitches including 14 hard standings. Electric hook up is 10 amps and is included in the pitch fee for motorhomes and caravans but an optional extra for those in tents.

The facilities block is on your left as you enter the first paddock, with a washing up and laundry room on the left as you face it consisting of two large sinks with large drainers, a washing machine and a dryer. There is also a fridge freezer.

The Gents facilities consisted of two showers, two toilets and two wash basins. Showers are push button. I assume, not having had reason to look, that the Ladies is a mirror image! Further on is the waster water and CDP then at the end there are two ensuite units each consisting of a toilet, basin and shower. During both our visits the facilities were kept immaculate and I’m delighted to report that the loo roll was some of the softest I’ve encountered on site!

A separate information hut was well stocked with leaflets, maps and pub menus along with a selection of books and DVD’s for swapping or borrowing whilst on site.

Dogs will love the pleasant 2 acre exercise field accessed through a bar gate and two wooden glamping pods overlook a large pond.

Satellite TV hook up is available as TV reception can be quite poor. A nominal fee is charged but you can borrow a box, remote and the required cables for free. We took advantage of this during our winter stay and it worked just fine.

WiFi is free and performed well. Both times we were in the first paddock so were closer than some would be.

On both occasions we found the site exceptionally well kept but the spring sunshine really brought out the siteís beauty. Clearly a lot of work goes in to keeping it so nice.

So, that’s the site. We’ve now stayed twice and wouldn’t hesitate to go back. It’s owners Andy & Michelle are friendly and welcoming and it’s a lovely environment to kick back and relax for a few days. But if you want to get out and about, what is there to do? Well, quite a lot!

Just a mile and half from the site is the coast, the nearest settlement being Shingle Street. As the name suggests there’s not a lot of sand about but it is a lovely place.

Thereís also Bawdsey Quay just a few minutes drive away where, in season, you cab catch a foot ferry over to Felixstowe Ferry.

Orford castle is not far away as is the town of Woodbridge on the River Deben and Aldeburgh on the coast.

And for those that don’t want to stray too far the village pub and shop is within walking distance!

For more details visit www.runcottage.co.uk

Site Arrival Video