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First Time Caravan Buyer’s Guide

Tuesday 15th August 2017
By Kay Knight
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By Kay Knight
There’s a lot of research you need to do before you buy a brand new caravan - our biggest piece of advice is DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Can your car tow a caravan? caravan


Firstly you’ll need to check whether your car is even able to tow a caravan or if you are limited to a certain weight because of the car you drive. The VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) will tell you the weight of your car, you will need this later on.

Your new caravan weight should not exceed the recommended 85% of your car’s weight and you can’t exceed a combined weight of 3500kg if you passed your driving test on or after 1st January 1997, so note down your maximum combined weight before you get your heart set on one you can’t have (or you could always fork out on a bigger car too!). Once you’ve compiled a list of caravans you like you can match your car against it with Tow Safe’s caravan matcher.

Set your budget


Give yourself a budget as it’ll help give you a starting point for your search. If you can afford to, we’d suggest going for a mid-range model because there’s a much wider choice. They are in higher demand which means more are manufactured each year and it will be easier to get parts for if necessary. This potentially makes it cheaper to fix and maintain which in turn means that your caravan could hold its value for much longer (after the initial depreciation).

Find out how much your caravan can earn you


So how far does your money go?


Remember that with new models, driving off the forecourt means an instant depreciation of thousands of pounds, so you can afford to be picky! Its value will even out after a couple of years as long as you look after it.

  • £7500 – £10,000 will only buy you the most basic of caravans from European manufacturers or you might find a great one-off special at a dealership if you’re lucky.

  • £10,000 – £12,500 could get you a compact, lightweight caravan, but it won’t be as luxurious as you might expect.

  • £12,500 – £15,000 gives you more options to scope out budget family caravans and mid-range 2 berths.

  • £15,000 – £20,000 will afford you a choice of suitably equipped family touring caravans with the latest layouts and preferable towing weights.

  • £20,000 – £25,000 could buy you a desirable twin-axle luxury tourer from one of the big manufacturers that offer high levels of equipment and furnishings.

  • £25,000 and above will allow you to treat yourself to a bespoke luxury caravan from smaller volume caravan specialists or a manufacturer of your choice.

Pick your ‘must haves’


caravan plan

Decide your personal ‘must have’ specifications i.e. minimum and maximum berth requirements, separate shower and washroom, bunk beds vs pull out/convertible, alarm, air con, heating, awning. As this is your first time buying a caravan you won’t know what is available to you so make yourself a list of the things that you can’t live without on the road.

A good thing is that many dealers will provide you with a basic starter pack that includes the essential items such as a fresh water carrier, waste water, gas bottle, mains lead, a 12v battery, towing mirrors, wheel clamp and a hitch lock. If you’ve already got all this separately and the starter pack is offered to you, the dealer may take its combined worth of the final price – one to ask about!

Look at the reviews


When you have your list of potential favourites, take a look at the reviews online. It will help you identify any common issues that people come across and may make you re-think your choices. The last thing you’d want is to find out later that the caravan you just spend £15,000 on really isn’t right for you. You’d be losing a lot of money right off the bat if you had to trade in for a better model within the first 2 years – the depreciation is just too great during this time.

Where to buy


Go through an NCC approved dealer as this could go towards reducing your insurance premium. Dealerships on this scheme adhere to a code of practice that gives consumers peace of mind that they are treated fairly and better protected in terms of your consumer rights. Our advice is to buy as close to home as you can, just in case you have a problem with your new caravan and you have to get it back to the dealership quickly. A 200 mile round trip for that reason is not going to be a fun journey!

When to buy


If you’re looking to hang around for a particularly good deal you may want to take a look at The Caravan & Motorhome Club’s graph below. According to them the most advantageous time to buy ‘brand new’ is in the winter months when dealerships are experiencing a lull in sales – they may be keener to cut a deal with you.

new caravan sales

Always check your new caravan before you put down a deposit


So you’ve found your perfect family caravan and you’re ready to sign on the dotted line, have you forgotten anything? Probably! Even though you’d expect a brand new caravan to be in immaculate working order, you’re spending a lot of money, so best double check you’re completely happy to avoid any disappointment. A few of the important ones are: checking your caravan is watertight, water is the biggest risk to your caravan and can cost you big to set right; check for scratches or dents on the bodywork as you could get some money knocked off if you’re happy to deal with; make sure all of the gas and electric safety certificates are present and handed over to you, although this should be standard practice.

If you’ve decided to buy a used caravan, you’ll need a more comprehensive list of checks that you will undoubtedly need to carry out. Here’s one we made earlier! – Used caravan buyer’s checklist.

Things to consider after you’ve bought your caravan

Storage


If you’re going to store your caravan somewhere safe when you aren’t using it you have a few options. If you’re concerned about weather damage, you’ll want to keep it under shelter. This will be your most expensive storage option however it could help reduce your insurance premium because of the added security it provides. Open air storage options can be more cost effective initially but if your caravan is damaged from adverse weather you’ll end up paying to fix it anyway. A middle ground would be to invest in a breathable cover to help avoid those issues. Find a CaSSOA (The Caravan Storage Site Owners Association) accredited storage site near you.

You could always store your RV at home in your garden or on a private driveway; your neighbours might not like it but you should ask them as it could really solve your storage dilemma. But be sure to check the deeds of your property or check with your local council as occasionally it’s just not allowed.

Insurance


It’s actually not a legal requirement that you have caravan insurance but would you really want to risk something that’s worth is way beyond money? These are your family memories you’re risking here too.

There are different levels of protection to choose from but you can save yourself some money by installing an alarm or other anti-theft devices (if it doesn’t already have them) and store in a high security site; the more security measures the better. Be sure to do your research and compare quotes to get the best deal.

Prepare to make caravan holiday memories


Although your new purchase will have all the mod cons and amenities for you to enjoy your family touring trips you’ll still need to put together the finishing touches. Stock your caravan with all the crockery, cutlery, towels and bedding you and your family will need to make journeys more comfortable and accessorise to make it feel more like a home away from home. Don’t forget to carry out the usual checks to your caravan before a long trip!

Consider hiring out your caravan to help offset the cost


If you want to avoid storage fees and earn some extra money to help offset the cost of your new caravan then hiring it out could be the right thing to do. You could be earning up to and beyond £10,000 each year depending on what make and model you have and how much of the year you’d be happy hiring it out, so don’t allow this to be just a passing thought.

Camplify can give you with all the advice and information you’d need to start hiring out and also provides you with the link between you and approved customers all over the UK. Check out our blog ‘Why the sharing economy and your caravan make complete sense’ to see how you could start seeing the benefits of hiring out your caravan.

So what is Camplify?



We are the UK's fastest-growing peer-to-peer caravan hire and RV sharing community. Camplify is just like Airbnb, but for caravans, campervans, motorhomes, trailer tents and lodges. We connect RV owners with holidaymakers in a safe and secure sharing environment. It's free to list and we take care of insurance and breakdown cover while your RV is out on hire.

Curious to learn what you could earn hiring out your RV on Camplify? Try our free hire income calculator via the button below.



Find out how much your caravan can earn you

To find out how Camplify can work with you and your RV, register today here.

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