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Sandycove Holiday Homes Ltd

Buyers Guide

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Buyers Guide - Sales Yard

Choosing your caravan – what to consider

The most important thing to remember about the time you spend caravanning is ‘that you get out of it what you put in’. There are several factors to consider in order to help you have an enjoyable, safe and worthwhile time caravanning.

The Park

The location, facilities and management of the park on which you place your caravan plays a crucial role in your usage and enjoyment of your caravan. The distance from your house will also affect the cost and how often you go caravanning.

Is the Park Owner a member of the Caravan Park Trade Associations?

The British Holiday and Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) and the National Caravan Council (NCC) are the only recognised caravan trade associations in the UK. Your park owner should be a member of, at least, one of these trade associations. In being a member, your park will have criteria to which it must adhere (such as minimum period of tenure, maximum commission rate on reselling etc.) and access to the most up-to-date information required to run a holiday park. You should be very cautious if a park owner chooses not to be a member.

Does the Park Owner issue a written Pitch Licence Agreement?

In Northern Ireland caravan park owners must offer you a written Pitch Licence agreement by law. This should outline which pitch your caravan will be placed on, how long your static caravan is allowed to stay on the park, your pitch fee (annual charge) and what is included and how it is reviewed.

The Caravan

There are many different factors to consider when buying your caravan – where to buy, what size, how many bedrooms, do you need central heating, double glazing or galvanized chassis, is there a warranty or guarantee.

Buy a New or a Used Static Caravan Holiday Home

The advantages and disadvantages of buying a new static caravan are similar to that of buying a new car.

With a new caravan you choose the exact specification and any optional extras that you require, and the caravan is manufactured according to your instruction. You will receive a manufacturer-backed warranty and should receive the caravan in perfect factory condition. It will be unused and will be gas-water-electric tested to the latest standards. Details of the warranty are to be found on the corresponding caravan manufacturers’ website. You can find links to these websites on www.sandycove.co.uk in the Sales & Support Section.

A used caravan is more of an unknown quantity and very much depends on where and from whom you buy it. You must remember that if there are any problems with the caravan, it may not be possible to fix as components become obsolete.

Where to buy a Caravan

If buying a new static caravan you can buy from the following:
• An NCC and Manufacturer Approved Caravan Holiday Home distributor
• A Manufacturer Approved distributor
• A Park Approved Dealer
• The park on which your caravan will be placed

If buying a used static caravan you can buy from the following:
• An NCC and Manufacturer Approved Caravan Holiday Home distributor
• A Manufacturer Approved distributor
• A Park Approved Dealer
• A Caravan dealer
• The park on which your caravan will be placed
• A private caravan owner

An NCC and Manufacturer Approved Caravan Holiday Home distributor

Buying from or through an NCC and Manufacturer Approved distributor is very often the best way to buy a static caravan. They must adhere to the NCC Code of Practice and submit to regular assessments of compliance. They are also an invaluable source of impartial advice.

Details of the Approved Distributor Code can be found here.
Checking on both the NCC website and the caravan manufacturer website will allow you to find the NCC and Manufacturer Approved Caravan Holiday Home distributor in your area and remember those distributors who can adhere to the strict conditions are approved. Those who cannot may not be good enough.

A Manufacturer appointed distributor

Caravan manufacturers may appoint distributors in different areas. Such distributors may differ significantly as there are few or no criteria by which they are appointed.

Manufacturer appointed distributors will have a representative range of the manufacturers’ models. They will also have direct contact with the manufacturer of the caravan; they should administer any warranty and should offer many of the services required, such as transporting, siting, repair and servicing. They will ensure that every caravan they sell will be legally compliant and in working order, detailing any faults or problems. They may also offer warranty on used caravans. They are not required to be a member of either of the Caravan Industry Trade Associations and are not subject to any complaints or arbitration procedure.

A Caravan dealer

This is the caravan equivalent of a car dealer and can vary greatly as to the services and stock. They are not appointed by a caravan manufacturer and may choose not to sell new static caravans. If they do sell new caravans they may not be able to offer the same level of service as a manufacturer appointed distributor. This may affect warranty, supply of spare parts, product recall or safety appliance tracking. Check to see if they are a member of the National Caravan Council (NCC) or the British Holiday and Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) if they are not exercise caution.

A Park Approved Dealer

Caravan Park owners may decide to appoint ‘Approved’ Dealers to sell caravans onto their parks. The Parks Owners determine their own criteria for approving Dealers and may require the ‘Approved’ Dealer to pay them a fee for the right to sell a caravan onto a defined pitch on their park. Please see above for general descriptions of Caravan Dealer. These ‘Approved’ Dealers do not administer the Pitch Licence Agreement.

The Park

The Holiday Park where you want to have your caravan may also sell caravans although they may not have as large a selection as distributors or dealers.

Parks who purchase their caravans directly from the Manufacturer, NCC Approved Distributors or from Manufacturer Appointed Distributors will be able to offer a warranty and many of the services required to ensure safe and trouble-free caravanning. Again checking to see if the park is a member of the NCC and BH&HPA is worthwhile as this will help to determine if the services, such as commissioning, siting and winterization, provided by the park are in-line with industry guidelines and best practice.

A relatively new practice is starting to take hold in Northern Ireland where a park will allow you to purchase the caravan at a distributor or dealer; the park will then charge the caravan owner for bringing the caravan onto the park. This scenario allows the caravan purchaser to buy the caravan direct from the distributor or dealer and have a separate deal with the park owner to bring the caravan onto the park. Talk this option through with the park owner first and get a price for bringing the caravan onto the park.

There are a couple of things to remember if you choose this option. Firstly, you will need to determine who will be siting and commissioning the caravan on the pitch and secondly your warranty will be administered through the approved distributor or dealer, so you must have confidence that they will sort out any problems you will have.

A Private Owner

When buying from a private owner asking the right questions at the right time can save a lot of money. The following are a few questions which will help ensure that you get what you think you are going to get.

Is the caravan being sold on a pitch on a caravan site? Ask to see the sellers pitch licence agreement to determine how long the caravan can stay on the park, if unsure check with the park owner.

Is there any warranty left on the caravan?
Check with the manufacturer or approved distributor in the area, quoting the chassis number.

How much is the pitch fee going to be?
Ask to see the seller’s most recent pitch fee notice AND check with the park owner. Pitch fees can vary depending on the park, location of pitch (sea-view, close to amenities etc.), rate of commission (amount payable to park for assigning the pitch licence agreement if you sell privately) and length of tenure (how long you wish to keep your caravan on the park)

Is the caravan in good working order?
There are many things to check and it is better to be as thorough as possible. Check the floors for soft spongy areas (signs of water ingress), check windows and wall-boards. Ask the seller to:
• Turn on the water and check outside for signs of burst pipes
• Run the central heating if applicable
• Run the hot water
• Show any Gas Safe Certificates for the cooker, gas fire and water heater
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