Buying a caravan or mobile home
Please note that these guides do not constitute legal advice and any information provided in the guides should not be construed as legal advice or legal interpretation. We do not accept any liability for any loss caused by your reliance on this guide.
The DoneDeal guide to buying a caravan or mobile home
- Caravans can sleep between 2-6 people.
- Sleeping arrangements vary with bunk beds and fixed bed options.
- If you’re looking for more living space or a bigger cooking/dining area, a larger caravan is advisable – even if only two people intend to use it.
- It’s advisable to do some research on makes and models.
- German and British-built caravans have a reputation for being better made.
- Cost depends on a number of factors including size, year and condition.
- Prices range from €1,000 - €10,000.
- If a deal appears too good to be true, it usually is. Walk away.
- In terms of insuring a caravan, a lot of insurance companies include it under your home insurance policy. Enquire about increases to your premium.
- Check that the tow hitch is in good order and that the chassis and the floor underneath appear to be in sound condition.
- Don’t be afraid to get underneath the caravan and check the floor for rot in the woodwork.
- Check that the sides and roof of the caravan are in good condition, as damage to exterior panels can be expensive to repair.
- Check that the external mouldings and seals are in good condition as this can cause leaks.
- Check the condition of all the tyres.
- Always check that all the lights are working, as when you go to tow the caravan home this is the first problem you may encounter.
- Check that windows and skylights are all in good condition and don’t have cracks, as these can be expensive to replace.
- Make sure keys are present and working for all external locker doors and the habitation door.
Inspecting inside the caravan
- The key problem to check for is dampness.
- Each section of the caravan should be checked for softness and sponginess on the side walls and floor. These should all be solid.
- Check especially around windows and skylights for any dampness.
- Also check along the side wall where it joins to the floor, as this can also be a problem for dampness. A thorough check in these areas is of the utmost importance.
- Ask the seller to demonstrate that all gas appliances, taps, water system and electrics are in good working order.
- Bring along your own cylinder of gas, in case sellers say they don’t have one.
- If appliances don’t work they either have to be repaired at your cost, or – at worst – replaced at even greater expense.
- It’s worth bringing along someone with you with some experience of caravans.
- At present there is no roadworthiness test for caravans, but it’s something that could be brought in over the next couple of years.
We spoke to Derek Walsh of Derek Walsh Camper and Caravan Centre, Limerick, who specialises in caravan repairs.
- A reasonably good mobile home, in good condition, would cost from €10,000 up.
- Mobile homes are insured in the same way as houses, with contents insurance, etc.
- Annual fees for a pitch in a caravan park vary from €1,800 to €2,500, on average. Upmarket parks may be more expensive. Electricity charges are extra.
- It’s worth bringing along someone with experience.
- If you are buying from a private seller you no comeback if anything goes wrong with the mobile home.
- Always shop around and buy off a reputable person.
- A huge benefit of buying off a dealer is transportation costs.
- You’re better off going for someone who can deliver it on site to you.
- Most dealers offer a package deal: buy it, transport it, site it, plumb it and gas certify it.
- In addition, a good dealer should also cover any damage caused to the home while in transit.
- First and foremost, make sure the mobile home you’re buying is the year the seller claims it is.
- They do not hold their value. The best value homes would be between four and ten years old.
- Mobile homes have a badge plate on the front chassis rail, or near the boiler, that gives the year of manufacture.
- Homes parked for long periods in coastal areas can suffer erosion.
- You can always have the chassis greased for protection, but check for damage before you buy.
- Check for softness in the floor, around the base of windows and in the front and back corners as this indicates water damage.
- Always check the roof lights/windows for any signs of damage.
- Let the seller know that you want to see everything working: shower, taps, grill, heating, lights, etc.
- The plumbing is prone to frost damage, so an experienced eye is vital. Patrick warns that English fittings are used in mobile homes and can be costly to replace. Most reputable dealers should have spare parts.
- Also check that window, door and unit fittings are working.
- Before occupancy, your mobile home has to be pressure tested and certified for gas safety by the Register of Gas Installers of Ireland (RGII).
Patrick Rochford of Mobile Homes Repair and Servicing, Dublin, gave us some advice in relation to mobile homes.