Making the most of your static home

If you find that your static caravan is looking a little tired, then it might be time to think about giving it an overhaul and refresh inside and out.

Before offering a few useful top tips that just might help keep your static caravan in better all-round condition, let’s quickly review – and dismiss – some of the excuses you might hear from other holiday homeowners.

My static caravan is strapped for space – so my options are limited

However true that might be, it’s no reason for being defeatist.

A significant amount of space in a static caravan is typically wasted – just think of the empty air at or around shoulder and head height, and other unused areas.

You may be able to create additional storage space and free up floor space by putting in some additional wall cabinets, removing items from floor level and thereby making space for additional seating or decorative items and the like.

It might also be a good idea to think about purchasing furniture that doubles up as storage areas – seats that lift up, for example, giving access to hollow spaces underneath.

I can’t afford new furniture and décor

Understandable perhaps but don’t forget that it is sometimes possible to obtain nearly new items at a fraction of the cost by purchasing them at public auctions, garage sales and jumble sales.

You may also be amazed at how things can be improved by simply giving surfaces a light sanding down and applying a coat of new paint or varnish.

Keep an eye open also for liquidations and stock clearances – they are often good sources for new furnishings at knockdown prices.

I don’t have the time

Of course, only you can make the decision, but it may be advisable to think about how much the value of your caravan might increase if you undertake some basic renovation and redecoration.

The difference may be substantial and something that brings a smile to your face.

On a related subject, remember that if you have significantly renovated your caravan, you may have increased its value to an extent that it requires an increase in the cover levels stated in your static caravan insurance.

What can I do about the windows?

Leaving aside expensive options such as replacing them with more modern and decorative versions, it may be possible to replace existing curtaining and significantly change the internal and external appearance of your caravan.

Yes, curtain fabric can be breathtakingly expensive at times, but you may wish to check on the internet for off-cuts. Remember that today you may be able to bring fabric in from overseas for a fraction of the cost it may be available for in UK retail outlets – and that is even after the shipping costs have been taken into account!

Top tips on making the most of your static caravan

With those excuses for inaction safely out of the way, let’s turn to some of the practical – and sometimes seemingly minor – ways of making the most of your static caravan by keeping it in better all-round condition:

  • keep the outside skin of your caravan free of detritus. Twigs, small branches and – above all – leaves, can cause major problems with things like gutters and seals. The issue here is no different to that associated with a conventional property – so get rid of these things as fast as possible and don’t allow them to accumulate;
  • disconnect everything when you are leaving. Make sure that all gas, electricity, and water feeds are shut off at their point of entry into your static. In the case of water systems, they should be fully drained down if you are planning to leave for any length of time and certainly if you are shutting up shop for the winter period.  Some static caravan insurance quotes and their associated policies might make this a mandatory requirement of for the cover provided;
  • regularly check the seals on windows and doors. Even on the best-quality designs, these can at times cause problems, and you’ll want to pick that up and rectify it sooner rather than later;
  • be hyper-cautious with food waste. However house proud you may be, it’s easy to allow crumbs and other spills to accumulate – sometimes at the back of cupboards and the like. This is a heaven-sent invitation to various forms of pest which may be far more prevalent in rural surroundings than perhaps your normal urban environment. Once the pests have taken up residence, they can be especially difficult to shift – so don’t provide them with any encouragement;
  • deal quickly with any serious scratches or dents. If your caravan’s paintwork or other forms of metal insulation are damaged, you may find rust gets in very quickly and once it does, it can be almost as difficult to shift as some sorts of pest infestation. So, get remedial treatment the moment you notice anything that looks even slightly damaged;
  • make sure you regularly service your locks. It’s incredible how wind and rain can get into locks on exposed sites and then corrosion sets in. The first symptom is usually when you can’t get into your static for the first time in the season! So, use plenty of lubrication and other manufacturer’s recommended treatments;
  • regularly inspect your gas and electrical appliances, using a professional where practical.  Remember both sets of appliances could be dangerous, and even lethal, if they are poorly maintained.  It’s not an area where you want to take chances;
  • on a closely related subject, do the same for your flues and ventilation.  Few things in a static home are likely to be more dangerous than combustion-based heating or cooking with a defective or blocked flue. Hopefully, it also goes without saying that you should also have installed carbon monoxide and smoke detectors – and they should both also be regularly tested.

The above checks – and others like them – typically will only take a short time but they may improve your safety and help you to maintain the highest asset value in your static caravan.

Now that it’s done

Now that your caravan is fully maintained, spruced-up, spick, span, and looking its best, you are likely to spend as much time as possible enjoying it. So, it is probably time to pose one of the most frequently asked questions we receive here at Cover4Caravans – can I live in my static home permanently?

Can I live in my static home?

The question of living permanently in a static home is a complicated one.

Although this article cannot, of course, offer qualified legal advice, it may nevertheless give you a quick overview of at least some of the issues involved.

What is a static home?

Local authorities and insurance providers may see this as being a question of one of three quite different situations:

  • someone living in a static home on a site licensed for permanent 12 months per year occupation.  This is typically referred to as being a park home site;
  • a static caravan, either on private land or a site licensed only for recreational purposes, which is nevertheless being occupied permanently. Note that local laws may prohibit the occupation of a caravan on a recreational site for more than 9-10 months each year – some insurance occupation limits may be lower;
  • static caravans on authorised sites being used for holiday and recreational purposes.

Typically, the first category above is not an issue from either a legal or insurance viewpoint. The same is true for the third category.

It is only in the case of the second category where things may become complicated and you may find yourself vulnerable and exposed in both legal and insurance terms.

Insurance issues

If you compare static caravan insurance policies, you will typically find that they do not permit a static caravan to be lived in permanently for cover to be maintained.

They may require that, amongst other qualifications, in order to obtain cover for permanent residency in a static, it must be on a local authority approved site for permanent occupation.

If the site meets the specified criteria, you may be able to obtain cover through what is called park home insurance – insurance specifically designed for park homes which are lived in permanently the whole year round.

However, if circumstances necessitate you moving permanently into a static caravan on an unlicensed site, you may need to have an in-depth discussion with your insurance provider to ascertain what cover (if any) might be available.

Legal issues

Whatever the custom and practice may be in some situations, you may find that it is against local authority laws to occupy a static caravan permanently, whether it is on private land or a site approved for recreational purposes only.

In the case of private land, even if it is your own property, you may need to seek planning permission and these days that may be difficult to obtain.

If you move permanently into a static parked on a recreational site, you may find that court orders are taken out against you and ultimately that may result in eviction.

If the next step in terms of insurance issues is to speak to an experienced provider of static policies, in terms of legal issues you may need to consult people such as the citizens’ advice bureau, the local council or a suitably experienced solicitor.

Take these steps in advance rather than waiting for your occupancy position to become a legal or other issue.