14/12/2009
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Advertising feature - Park Life Leisure

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PARK Life Leisure is run by husband and wife team Steve and Karen Burton, who have some 20 years’ experience in the park home industry. They got into the refurbishment business as a result of managing holiday parks and then moving into the residential side, where they realised there was a need for a company specialising in interior refurbishing.

For some years they handled the after-sales work for the Tingdene Group. As a result they got to know everyone in the industry and so, eight years ago, formed Park Home Leisure.

“We have a strong relationship with Towergate Bakers,” Karen told us, “and give a rapid response to them and other insurance companies. But we don’t cover the whole country because it’s not feasible for us to do so.”

She added that they covered the counties bordered by the M3 and M4 motorways: Buckinghamshire, Surrey, West Sussex, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Dorset, and South East Devon. “We’d rather offer an exceptional service in 10 counties than a mediocre one nationwide.”

The company’s specialities include everything to do with internal refurbishment – kitchens, bathrooms, central heating, electrical and gas, plus insurance repairs such as water damage.

“We are one of only a few companies who are able to offer full interior refurbishment,” said Karen. “And we’re also only one of the few companies who meet the criteria necessary to belong to the Guild of Park Home Services.”

In reply to a question about carrying out refurbishment of the exterior of park homes, Karen told me that it was not something Park Life Leisure did. Instead they called in a company who specialised in that kind of work.


Listening


She added that they never gave quotations over the phone, but always visited the client and carried out a survey first. “We always listen to the client,” she said, “which, with the survey, allows us to give an accurate quotation.”

Once the quotation is accepted the company and the client both sign a contract of work prior to the project commencing. When we asked Karen for the worst job the company had ever had to tackle she recalled a home that had suffered fire damage. “It happened to a home in Wales about two to three years ago,” she said. “It was borderline on being a complete write-off, but the client and the insurance company wanted it to be rebuilt.

“We also get asked to repair water damage,” she continued. “If a floor is getting uneven or feels soft it’s usually due to a slow leak either from a water pipe or a washing machine where the hoses have worked loose.” It was important, she told me, not to ignore these telltale signs and hope the problem would go away. It wouldn’t. It would just become worse and the longer it was left the more the repair was likely to cost.

“Our advice is that the plumbing to the washing machine and the bath be checked every few months as it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Over the last 12 months the company has been asked to do more major refits than ever before. The main reason for this, Karen explained, was because people weren’t in a position to buy new. Like the rest of the housing market, the park home market had suffered as a result of the recession and so people were opting to buy a used home for £30-£40,000 and then call in Park Home Leisure to undertake a partial or complete refurbishment.

“One of the main advantages of asking us to carry out a refurbishment,” she said, “is that the owner ends up with the home exactly as they want.”


Speciality


One of the most common partial refurbishments which the company carries out each year is installing new bathrooms. “Many people, as they get older, struggle to get in and out of the bath.” Karen pointed out. “One of our specialities is installing disability bathrooms.”

As a rough guide, according to Karen, a new bathroom is likely to cost between £4,000-£5,000, including VAT. “We often work in association with local authorities and grant agencies,” she added. “The work is likely to include taking out the existing bath from under the window, fitting waterproof cladding to the walls – there’s a wide choice of colours – then fitting a sliding door and a waterproof blind to the window.”

Karen went on to tell me that she felt that the industry could do more to make sure that companies are educating clients so that they don’t get ripped-off.

Obtaining testimonials and contacting home owners who have had similar work done by a company before accepting its quotation is something that anyone contemplating having work done on their home should do.


PARK LIFE LEISURE’S TOP TIPS


• A refurbisher should always arrange a physical survey before sending a quotation
• Always ask for a full written quotation.
• Always ask for a full written contract of works detailing the work to be done, price, date the work is to start and finish, deposit amount, and balance amount on completion.
• If you are thinking of purchasing a home older that 15 years you should always arrange for a pre-sale survey from a reputable park home specialist surveyor.
• Never give a contractor cash in advance for work.


CONTACT


Park Life Leisure, St Catherine’s House, 642 Blandford Road, Upton, Poole, Dorset BH16 5EQ. Tel: 0845 6430174. Email: [email protected] Web: www.parklifeleisure.co.uk


This review was published in the December 2009 issue of Park & Holiday Homes magazine. To order our latest issue please click here.


Park & Holiday Homes magazine offers reprints of all homes and parks we've reviewed in our magazine. If you would like to see a particular review from a previous issue please print off the form found here
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