• This topic has 26 replies, 22 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by Tracey.
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  • Buying a Motor Home
  • NJA
    Full Member

    My wife has just inherited some money, which means that she can now fulfil her long held ambition of buying a mobile home.

    I approve of this wholeheartedly, we have a wish list – Fixed rear bed over large garage to keep the bikes in. 4 berth so the kids (both adults) and grand kids (eventually) can use it. Budget is up to £40k. The issue I have is the huge discrepancy of buying privately and buying from a dealer from what I can see similar motorhomes are around £7k to £10k more expensive when buying from a dealer.

    I understand that there is additional security when buying from a dealer, warranties, service, habitation check etc. But is it really worth an additional 20%+ on the price compared with a private sale.

    Any advice or experiences welcomed. Also essential things we should be looking out for when buying.

    Thanks
    Nick.

    simon_g
    Full Member

    There are mobile inspectors who’ll come and check over a potential purchase for you. Back of the magazines or a google search throws up plenty. Of course, if it doesn’t work out you’re still paying for an inspection but even a few of those would be far less than dealer markup.

    My parents bought one a few years ago. The old advice of looking at lots of layouts and ideally hiring something similar was good for them – they totally changed from what they were planning. Sacked off the idea of a 4-berth like they hired for a shorter 2-berth that uses two long benches behind the front seats that converts into a double bed, then end kitchen/bathroom. They’re really happy with it. They figured if they did want to go bigger for the extra berths later (taking grandkids away, etc) that buying and selling used wouldn’t lose too much money.

    tillydog
    Free Member

    Also essential things we should be looking out for when buying.

    1) Payload

    If you’re restricted to a 3500kg licence, the payload for some of the larger / more luxurious conversions can be dismal – a minimum of ~400kg seems to be recommended for a couple:

    https://www.motorhomefun.co.uk/magazine/understand-motorhome-payload

    2) Damp

    Once water gets in, it can rot away the structure with minimal outward signs. It is difficult / time-consuming / expensive to repair water damage. Needs careful checking.

    Motorhome Fun is equivalent to STW in terms of knowledge (and opinionated discourse) but I think you have to pay to join.

    NJA
    Full Member

    Thanks for the Tip on Motorhome Fun, I will register and have a look around there.

    steveh
    Full Member

    The more you kow and the newer the van you’re looking at the less point there is in dealer protection, at £40k you should be in to some pretty new vans so subject to normal checks I wouldn’t worry buying privately if you can find them (they aren’t super common as dealer part ex prices are good and they’ll be scouring the same places as you for stock).

    argoose
    Free Member

    Check reviews on dealers, a good dealer will be worth the increased cost over private sale. Like these videos link

    Davesport
    Full Member

    You’d definitely recoup the annual fee from getting yourself on somewhere like Motorhome Facts. Lots of experience on there & long term owners.

    A few things to think about in no particular order.

    Layout. Look at as many vans as you think will fit the bill. It’s easy to buy the wrong one & end up wishing you’d bought something else or gone bigger. A fixed transverse rear bed over garage & a drop-down at the front for the kids would be a great starting point. Finding one with 4 belted seats should be straightforward.

    Not all vans are created equal. I’m preparing to get flamed but quality German vans are exactly that & sell for a premium for good reason. In addition to the above, if you buy something by Hymer or Niesmann amongst others you will be able to get parts for a long time without difficulty & built to last.

    The majority of motorhomes will be built on a van base with chassis extensions bolted to the back to support the habitation. Popular makes are Merc & Fiat on bigger vans. Both good despite what you might hear, can’t comment on other makes. Premium vans will probably ride on something like an Alko aftermarket chassis which is galvanised. whatever you look at take overalls & a torch, get underneath and have a look at the front part which is inherited from the van. Anything that’s been used during the winter will have more corrosion obvs than something that’s only been used during the summer.

    Damp & rot. This can for some makes be a common problem not long after they’ve left the factory. The tales of tormented people trying to get resolution to major water ingress in certain makes of motorhome built in the UK were very disturbing. The method of construction counts for a lot. Plenty of M/H’s are built like caravans. Frame, outer skin, insulation & inner plywood fascia. Water ingress can go undetected for a long time without penetrating the inner ply. By the time this is detected expect a fair bit of time, effort & money to resolve. Composite panels on Hymer, Niesmann and some other makes are built using pre laminated alu/foam/ply sides, floor & roof. These units are glued & clamped to form a structural box. Do a bit of research on this.

    Heating & Hot water. Several established makes use a combi which either produces blown air/HW or wet heating (rads) & HW. Alde & Truma. Make sure these can be demonstrated to be working on gas & whatever additional electrical functions are fitted.

    Water tanks are self explanatory. Premium vans will have the tanks inside the double floor so that they don’t freeze. These are heated using the vans heating system to keep them above freezing in all climates. My own van is tested down to -25 deg. I’ve used it in -10 without any problems. Water tanks on the outside will need consideration if you’re camping in the winter. When camping with 2 adults & two children 150 litres lasted us 4 to 5 days.

    Gas. Some still use bottled gas that need to be swapped out when empty. Look for something that’s fitted with a refillable system like Gaslow. Fill up at any garage with LPG. Most vans will have a 3 way fridge which will run on gas whenever the van is stationary & not on electrical hookup. During the summer 45 litres of gas last us getting on for a month. Winter use with the heating on 24/7, 8 days.

    Ebay is a good place to look at what’s available in terms of layout & budget. Some vans for same will have genuinely have had little use for their age. check the mileage against the MOT’s

    I could go on at length, but the take away is do your homework & know the pitfalls & known problems for anything you’re viewing.

    The best holidays we’ve had as a family have been in our motorhome. Used every year for wild camping & MTB trips. For 40k you’ll get something a few years old with not too many miles on. Good luck.

    alpin
    Free Member

    My sisters in laws recently bought one.

    Then found out it didn’t fit on their drive. Spent a few grand widening the driveway.

    Bought an inflatable awning for it. Plus a bike rack.

    Went away in it for two weeks. They ended up hiring a car because they found packing the van to pop to the shops was a PITA.

    They’ve now sold the van and are buying a caravan. Several thousand pounds gone.

    jam-bo
    Full Member

    And parking by the side of the road is not wild camping….

    julesf7
    Free Member

    I have nothing really to add in terms of the questions you ask, but I am considering the same ones myself. My wife and I have converted vans in the past, and would like to go down the motorhome route again. However I would add one caveat on timing, and this was reinforced by the company from whom we hired in October. 2020 has seen huge demand pressure on motorhomes, and the 2021 models are pretty much sold out. By the end of next year most suppliers expect a glut on the second-hand market, with associated price softening. Our budget is similar to yours and we are thinking that we would have a couple of nice of trips away in plush hotels for the amount of depreciation a purchase now would cost relative to this period next year.

    mrsheen
    Free Member

    Don’t get hung up on having a huge bathroom as many sites have decent facilities.

    Buy a few editions of the motorhome magazines just to get a feel for things and maybe hire one for a few days.

    Think about how easy/difficult things could be to fix even if its temporarily if you’re in the arse end of nowhere miles from a decent garage. My parents have had doors broken on remote Scottish islands and even the local garage couldn’t properly fix it.

    Things like fuse locations too. If you can get a map of them so you can see how easy or difficult they are to access.

    Habitation checks.

    Collapsable and rotating – tables, chairs etc.

    Check even the most mundane things like handles and storage as bad design will annoy you.

    thegeneralist
    Full Member

    My sisters in laws recently bought one.

    Then found out it didn’t fit on their drive. Spent a few grand widening the driveway.

    Bought an inflatable awning for it. Plus a bike rack.

    Went away in it for two weeks. They ended up hiring a car because they found packing the van to pop to the shops was a PITA.

    They’ve now sold the van and are buying a caravan. Several thousand pounds gone.

    Wowsers. That is funny and worrying in equal measures.

    myti
    Free Member

    +1 on motorhome fun and payload!

    We bought our 1st motorhome about a year ago and learned heaps on MHF with really helpful members willing to talk us through issues that arise from time to time. (complicated things MH’s!)

    The European brands like Hymer etc come highly recommended over uk stuff for quality and practicality. We wanted rear bed over large garage too and ended up going for a Dethleffs pulse 7m, we’re living in it full time, 2 plus the dog so needed good payload. Which is around 600kg and we’re right on the limit when fully loaded with kit, water, fuel and supplies.

    If you’re going to use it abroad then look into the gaslow, refillable system as much easier and cheaper to source gas in different countries than bottles you have to switch out.

    DavidB
    Free Member

    I bought a Cia Carioca 656 with that exact spec from a dealer 8 years ago. I paid £25k and we got our money’s worth out of that van. Damp got in and caused issues as did every little bump. Webb’s motorhomes were brilliant in warranty even sorting one of the damp issues 4 years after we bought it. I sold it back to them eventually.

    They are very fragile. The depreciation on them is horrible but as this is a legacy you can park that one. If you ski then they are amazing. We did so many Alps holidays with the kids in ours. Lots of good advice on this thread. And if anyone tells you the story about their mates getting gassed and robbed in a French Aire they are lying.

    bri-72
    Full Member

    Re damp and rot, an important point. We had a lucky escape as first time buyers and had shook on a £20k+ private purchase when someone recommended a habitation inspection.

    So glad we did. Riddled with damp and ok £200
    Spent on an inspector but avoided £20k error.

    Or buy a moisture meter and don’t be afraid to check into every nook and cranny. Roof seams windows etc obvious areas.

    For all tales of woe, we did then buy private another one. Best Buy ever glad we did it.

    trail_rat
    Free Member

    The depreciation on them is horrible

    Really ? It’s not nearly as bad as the cars most folk drive unless you must have a new strange specced camper every season

    NZCol
    Free Member

    Agree with all that. Layout is key and even renting a couple to try is a good way in to work out what you need.
    We’ve just upgraded ours (swift escape 695 to a Chausson 720) so looking forward to some more luxury and a bigger garage ! Best thing we ever bought by miles but we like simple holidays and hate hotels.
    Edit: do be careful though, lots of demand and little supply esp for new as Covid has slowed down supply chain.

    Tom-B
    Free Member

    Just back from the first trip in our new Rollerteam TLine 590…..had an awesome time.

    On the whole ‘buying advice’ thing, I think that there’s so many different options/ways of using them etc….there really isn’t a one size fits all approach.

    spooky_b329
    Full Member

    The depreciation on them is horrible

    Only if you do a shocking DIY repaint or its visually falling to bits. Just look at the price of 20 year old motorhomes even before Covid. Still fetching big prices whilst 20 year cars are fairly rare as they are worthless and get scrapped for the want of a new clutch.

    *Or sell it back to a dealer in your example…they’ll want a good few thousand profit when they put it back on the forecourt unless you part exchanged it for a new £50k motorhome.

    intheborders
    Free Member

    I looked at them a while back.

    £40k is the best part of 40 weeks away in either a hired van or a decent hotel. We went with this option, the 2nd part.

    poolman
    Free Member

    Good advice on here as usual. Best speak to as many owners and ex owners as possible. I am always looking but my friend had one, asked me what my best holidays were and told me a motorhome wasn’t the solution, then I d be miffed the expensive m home was sitting at home.

    Someone said on here on a separate thread the annual m home cost pays for a lot of hotels and flights. I still really like the idea but will rent first.

    myti
    Free Member

    I looked at them a while back.

    £40k is the best part of 40 weeks away in either a hired van or a decent hotel. We went with this option, the 2nd part.

    But at the end of the 40 weeks you still have something worth a lot of money instead of nothing to show for it. If you’re into hotel type holidays though then obviously motorhoming is not the thing to go for.

    It’s more about opening up a whole world of flexibility for holidays or longer trips where you don’t have to book everything in advance and go to the obvious locations where the hotels are based. Also once the van is paid for the rest of the holiday can cost peanuts as you have a kitchen with you wherever you go and outdoor activities can be enjoyed for free.

    It really depends what type of holidays you enjoy. If you aren’t going to leave the uk and just want to park up at a campsite for 2 weeks then a motorhome is pretty pointless and a tent or caravan would be better as most uk campsites aren’t that close to the things you want to visit but if you want to explore Europe using the multitude of free or cheap aires or wild camp in the UK it’s a brilliant way to holiday. Don’t need to book a thing or have a plan just see what takes your fancy on the day.

    thegeneralist
    Full Member

    or wild camp in the UK it’s a brilliant way to holiday

    Wild camp <> motorhome.

    tjagain
    Full Member

    parking at the roadside is not wild camping and is rapidly becoming antisocial and IMO will not last much longer

    tjagain
    Full Member

    I have hired a good few different styles of camper / motorhome. None of the interior layouts really suit me and what i want so i have ( in my head) designed what I want.

    However we have pretty much decided against buying one for two reasons. We do not wish to be part of the problem of roadside campers in scotland and for european tours its better to hire as you get the steering wheel on the right side

    if we do go for one it will be a MWB high top panel van and a DIY interior

    lowey
    Full Member

    Real shame the exhibitions and shows are cancelled at the moment. they are a great opportunity to go and see what’s what.

    I had done a lot of research as to what I wanted, then went to the Exhibition in Birmingham and Manchester, spent a lot of time in the actual vans and came away with a completely new choice which I hadn’t even considered. There is no substitute for actually sitting in a Van and thinking about how you use it.

    Best purchase I ever made. I dont go to a single site and stay for weeks, I tour or use it a great deal for weekends. Its in storage 5 mins drive from home, finish work on Friday dinner, put the bike on the back and beer in the fridge and spend the weekend away.

    Gutted that Covid has ruined this year however. Apart from about 8 trips and lending it to a friend, the van has sat in storage doing nothing. Will be for the forseeable until we are out of tier 3.

    Things to look for. I wanted a fixed bed, with big garage. I really didnt want to be shuffling cushions around every night and morning converting seats. Drop down beds are brilliant but very delicate. You can pop a fuse in the drop down bed motor really easily. Payload can be an issue, however you can up plate a Van without structural alteration but you need a C1 license. Remember doing so may affect your second hand value as you could be restricting your buyer base.

    Consider air suspension upgrade. Much smoother ride for not a lot of money. If you are touring then an LPG conversation will make life a lot easier. Roll out awnings are really useful but don’t use them if there is any slightest chance of wind.

    [url=https://flic.kr/p/2hfK6wW]IMG-20190913-WA0006[/url] by Dave Lowe, on Flickr

    Tracey
    Full Member

    We bought one from new at the NEC show 6 years ago, the deals available from the manufacturers and dealers were that good it was a no brainer. Was cheaper new than the same vans that were 3 years old.
    Had a list of musts and a list of what would be nice.
    Musts were large garage big enough for 4 29ers without taking wheels off, rear island bed, 4 berth, under 3m and 3.5t
    Would be nice, large fridge, oven, pull out barbeque, diesel heating and auto.

    Got everything we needed except auto with a 7.5m Chausson Welcome 718eb on a Ford chassis.
    Done just under 40,000 miles since getting it and have been all over Europe and the UK in it, it gets used throughout the year. Had to cancel some trips this year due to COVID

    Upgrades have been the largest solar panel we could get on the roof 360W, twin AGM 100ah leisure batteries and 2 Safefill 7.5kg refillable LPG bottles which allows us to be off grid with no worries.

    Best thing we have ever bought and don’t have any regrets, I’ve seen the same models selling this year for more than we paid for ours but not tempted to sell it.

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