Advice: Buying a pre-owned holiday home
If you’re considering taking the leap into holiday home ownership, you don’t have to jump in with a brand-new unit. Instead you could get a ‘new to you’ holiday home for half the money or even less. But is it a good idea? Are there any downsides? And what do you need to bear in mind? We guide you through all that you need to know.
Choosing your perfect used holiday home
Every year somewhere near 20,000 units are produced in the holiday home industry, and every few years new layouts emerge. The most popular layouts stay (with style trend tweaks and fabric changes), which makes choosing a used holiday home quite easy. So, if you’ve been exploring new models and already have a good idea of your ideal layout, you will know what to look for when you begin to search for a used holiday home. For example, do you prefer a completely open-plan lounge-dining-kitchen area? Or a kitchen-diner with a lounge that is partly separated? Or a kitchen that feels like a separate area? And, while most holiday homes have two bedrooms, a few have three. Lots have sofa beds so that your lounge can become an occasional bedroom. All points for you to consider…
So, a clear idea of how many bedrooms you need and what sort of lounge-dining-kitchen configuration you prefer is a useful start point – because, just like buying a used car, you have to be prepared to snap up a used holiday home quickly before the next customer does just that. And, also just like buying a used car, the bonus of buying a pre-owned holiday home is, of course, the cost – far less than a new unit. Or, you could look at it another way: you could go for a larger or more luxuriously appointed used model for the same money that you’d spend on a more basic new model.
So what should you look for when searching for used holiday homes?
An assessment of its exterior condition is clearly the first thing. Has it been well cared for? Is it clean? Or has algae and tree debris been allowed to accumulate around the seams? When you step inside, does it smell fresh and clean? Or is there a whiff of mould? If so, investigate, because you may find water ingress that can be costly to rectify. In which case, give it a miss and go onto the next holiday home on your shortlist.
A holiday home might look fine inside but there’s a chassis underneath that needs checking over for any signs of corrosion. Here’s what you need to know.
Holiday home chassis are painted, part-galvanised or fully galvanised. A painted chassis is more susceptible to corrosion than a fully galvanised or part-galvanised chassis. If you buy a holiday home that has a painted chassis, our advice is to be prepared to treat and repaint it – or have someone do it for you if you don’t fancy crawling underneath. Specialist paint, plus anti-corrosion primer, is available; among suppliers is chassis manufacturer, Bankside Patterson. Part-galvanised means that the chassis is made from pre-coated galvanised steel. Components will have been galvanised before welding took place. So, in the assembly process, it’s possible that, when the steel is cut, exposed edges may be left, leading to rust over the years. A fully galvanised chassis is completely dipped after construction; this type of manufacture delivers a high level of corrosion protection.
Personalising your holiday home
Once you find the perfect buy, it’s easy to inject your own taste into a holiday home by buying it some presents. New curtains and cushions, to change the colour look, are the instant obvious start points. More fundamental changes can be achieved, too. And there are companies out there that can help. If you need to replace wall covering – perhaps it’s not to your taste; perhaps wear and tear have taken little tolls – you don’t have to compromise by using domestic wallpaper. Specialist suppliers can source static caravan wall covering. Among them is Park and Leisure Static Caravan Specialists (static caravan-spares.co.uk), which supplies the same wall coverings that are supplied to holiday home manufacturers. This company, based in Suffolk, also supplies paste specially formulated for use on holiday homes. Even before you set out to search for a used home, look at the styling in new ones; it won’t take you long to gather some ideas of what can be achieved by changing colours and fabrics.
An improvement to consider
Insulation standards have risen over the years. Depending on the age of the holiday home you buy, it may benefit from an underfloor insulation update. It’s relatively easy to achieve. Again, we turned to Park and Leisure Static Caravan Specialists for advice. You can buy insulation by the roll. It’s a 4cm-thick aluminium foil and bubble construction. Air is trapped in the bubble layer between two layers of foil – one to reflect heat back into the holiday home from the floor, the other to reflect cold temperature back away from the floor. The company sells staple guns and heavy-duty hammers for the fitting procedure. This is clearly a DIY project of some magnitude, requiring someone to spend some time crawling under the unit – but, if you are buying a holiday home of some age, the benefits are obvious.
How long can you keep the holiday home on the park?
Almost all parks have a restriction on the number of years that a holiday home can remain on the park. That’s usually between 10 and 20 years. For most, it’s 15 years; some 12, a few 10. When buying a used holiday home, it’s vital that you get to know how long is left on the pitch agreement. That depends, of course, on the age of a holiday home. For example, if it’s five years old and the park permits holiday homes to stay on the park for up to 20 years from the date of manufacture, you know that you have 15 years of use before you have to replace it. So, that’s 15 years in which to put aside money for its replacement. If you are buying a pre-owned lodge, the licence agreement is likely to be longer than for a holiday home; every park is different, so check.
What comes with the home?
A used holiday home will usually come with all the amenities currently on the pitch. That’s decking, balustrades, steps and possibly skirting. If you buy a new holiday home, the cost of these runs to several thousand pounds. So, buying a used unit that’s complete with all of this is a very attractive option. If a used holiday home isn’t being sold complete with decking, steps and balustrades, it’s worth knowing your options. Which you go for depends on your budget – and also on your DIY competency; you can save a lot of money by going for a kit-form option. You can buy used decking and steps on eBay but you have to be prepared to collect them and then adapt them to fit your holiday home. How much? In a quick search, we found a set of steps and a short length of decking for £750 and units with longer decking for between £1,200 and £3,000.
If you’re buying new decking and steps, you first need to decide whether to go for wood or plastic. Apart from the appearance, the factor to consider is that wood needs maintenance to keep it in good order and plastic just needs wiping! And the cost? All decking and balustrades are bespoke designed to fit individual holiday homes so you need to get quotes. There’s a vast choice available and a good choice of companies in the market. Major companies include the Mayfield Decking Company and AB Sundecks.
If you’re interested in buying a park or holiday home, or you already have one and want inspiration on how to get the most from your park home, then Park and Holiday Home Inspiration magazine is for you. Better still, you can download a copy right now, just click here to get the latest copy of Park and Holiday Home Inspiration magazine.