Park and holiday home advice: chassis
You wouldn’t buy a house without making sure it was built on strong foundations. You wouldn’t buy a car without first checking it was roadworthy. And, once you’ve splashed the cash, you certainly wouldn’t then ignore their upkeep. The same principles apply when you purchase a park or holiday home. It is one of the most important investments you will ever make; a purchase that you hope will bring many years of trouble-free living and leisure lifestyle. So it is vitally important that you’re aware of all of the facts you may need to safeguard your investment and keep any maintenance and repair work in the future to a minimum.
What to look out for
- Rust on the chassis or supports
- Home doesn’t seem to be level
- Bouncy floor
- Creaky floorboards
- Gaps appear below the skirting
- Damp floors
Top of the priority list should be the home’s steel chassis. The chassis and supports are central to the structural stability and long life of the home and need to be inspected regularly for the tell-tale signs of any problems. Basic advice is that any damage that may occur must be fixed as soon as possible.
The chassis is literally the foundation of a park home and the only part of the structure that can’t be replaced. It is essential, therefore, that you keep it in tip-top condition.
Rust is the biggest potential problem with steel, of course, causing deterioration and, eventually, weakening of the steel structure. Luckily, with good maintenance it’s an easy issue to keep on top of.
The adjustable steel support stands, which bear the weight of the home, also need to be kept in good condition. It’s worth bearing in mind that any internal or external modifications to your home could impact on the distribution of weight and the supports have to be capable of accommodating the changes. If they aren’t, the stability of the home could be affected and that will have long-term implications for its structural integrity.
If you are buying a new home it’s important to make the correct decision regarding chassis finishes at the time of purchase, based on where your home will be situated. It is especially vital for coastal locations that the chassis is regularly checked for signs of corrosion induced by salty air.
And if you’re going for an older unit, you really need to check the steelwork and supports thoroughly before parting with your money.
Follow this advice and you should be confident that your park home is on a firm foundation for years to come.
Holiday and residential home chassis construction and treatments
We asked some of the major park and holiday home manufacturers to explain how their chassis are made and treated.
Omar Park and Leisure Homes and also Wessex Unique Lodges (pictured) and Park Homes, a division of the Suffolk-based Omar Group, for example, treat chassis with a highly protective alkyd anticorrosive coating, which has a corrosion protection that meets international standards.
“The chassis is constructed of two main beams that run the entire length of the home with outriggers to provide support and structural strength. The chassis are fully welded in construction.”
This group’s chassis and sub frames are an enhancement of designs that were developed and computer-modelled in conjunction with Anglia Ruskin University. “The principal longitudinal members are constructed as a two-tier hot rolled steel channel beam frame 300mm deep. Hot rolled steel angle ladder frames are welded above and braced to the channel beam. The longitudinal steel angle components of the ladder frame provide additional support to the floor joists.
“Steel members of the ladder frame are located adjacent to and bolted to several of the floor joists. The structure includes siting wheels, levelling supports and detachable telescopic towbar. All subframes are manufactured in Omar’s own workshop.”
Willerby explained to us that its chassis have been specifically engineered to cater for the rigours of transportation, prolonged usage and withstanding extreme weather.
“We have the standard steel chassis with protective coating; entry-level holiday homes are built on a conventional steel chassis, supplied with a protective coating, to ensure durability. We also have the fully galvanised chassis. This chassis is produced from fully galvanised pressed steel sections that are mechanically fixed together to ensure there are no breaks in the coating that may allow corrosion to form. These are recommended for estuaries, coastal regions and areas with high salinity.
These chassis are supplied with an anti-corrosion 12-year warranty.
Tingdene’s ‘StrongBox’ chassis are produced from Tata prime steel, degreased and painted with a British-made paint/coating system that has been identified as being ideal for this market sector.
Prestige Homeseeker explained that the chassis for its park and leisure homes are coated in an anti-corrosion protective paint.
“The chassis are fully welded using rolled steel channel 175mm by 50mm main longitudinal beams with 175mm by 50mm cross members and 95mm by 44mm end bearers.”
... All fascinating techy stuff! Whatever the type of chassis on the home you opt for, it will need some maintenance and regular checks over its lifetime, and that process starts right from the moment your home arrives on site.
As well as the regular inspections for signs of rust, it is recommended you have the chassis thoroughly checked if your home is over 10 years old or has undergone any major refurbishment or had significant additions. Basically, anything that has altered the weight distribution of the home could have an impact on the chassis.
Likewise, if the floor feels bouncy, you have creaky floorboards or gaps appear below the skirting, or the floor doesn’t seem to be level, you should have the chassis and supports examined.
A park and holiday home chassis service
Also if you plan to have substantial work done, such as the installation of underfloor insulation, this might be a good time to have a chassis service carried out as well. While regular visual checks should be enough to keep on top of corrosion issues, a full chassis service and refurbishment will require professional assistance and there are numerous companies that carry out this kind of work.
But before any work gets under way it’s advisable to ask for a full underfloor survey and a written report detailing exactly what work will be needed. This is essential as you will want to avoid any nasty surprises – and costs – once the refurbishment starts.
A typical refurbishment will see the removal of rust and flaking paint with a wire brush followed by a thorough clean before the metal framework is covered with zinc oxide paint to prevent rust. The support jacks will also be checked for corrosion and treated if necessary.
The experts will then make sure that the supports are still in the correct position to provide optimum load bearing and fit any additional support stands that might be required. The home can then be relevelled if necessary, bolts tightened and air vents cleared.
Fully galvanised chassis
The best way to ensure your home’s chassis remains in good condition from the start is to have the steelwork construction galvanised. There are several ways this can be done and you will have to consider which is the best option for your home and, importantly, the area in which it will be sited. Each galvanisation process performs differently in different environments so, for example, if your home is to be located on a park by the sea it will require a different treatment than if it is inland.
A fully galvanised chassis is the type recommended for use in estuary and coastal areas. It will reduce the potential of rust and corrosion from sea salt in the air. Units that are sited near the sea without a galvanised chassis are more likely to deteriorate quicker and this general wear and tear could leave you with an expensive repair bill in years to come.
Some manufacturers, including Swift Leisure, build their new homes with a fully galvanised chassis. In fact, Swift includes the acclaimed Fusion galvanised chassis as standard on all its models. It comes with a 10-year anti-corrosion warranty and is offered as an option by other manufacturers.
The fully galvanised process involves the chassis being completely coated, either as an entire unit, or by individual components. The beauty of this option is that it means that maintenance is kept to an absolute minimum.
A pre-galvanised chassis is another option to consider when you are deciding which home to buy.
This involves galvanised sheets being connected together to produce the chassis. The production process means that the edges of each section won’t have the same level of protection as the faces so, without regular maintenance, the edges could show signs of corrosion after a relatively short period of time. Initially at least, this is more of a cosmetic issue than one of structural integrity.
Chassis of this type wouldn’t be advisable for homes destined to be sited on coastal or estuary parks. No matter where your home is sited, periodic maintenance will be required, including the regular recoating of ends and the application of grease or oil.
This system involves the raw steel of the chassis being treated with protective paint at the end of the manufacturing process, and offers the least amount of corrosion protection.
A painted chassis could show signs of surface rust relatively quickly without proper maintenance.
This type of chassis will need to undergo annual maintenance checks and may require regular repainting. It’s essential that any damage is spotted as early as possible and treated straight away.
And to find your ideal park or holiday home have a look at our reviews section here.