Damp Caravans, Motor Homes & Campervans
Damp caravans are a curse in the UK and potentially dangerous.
For health reasons as well as safety on the road.
I had not heard of damp in a caravan before and so stepped into a minefield it seems when deciding to buy a small caravan to tour around Europe and the U.K. Classified ads gave an inkling of the problem, a few vans were described as having damp issues.
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In Australia, we tend to say it how it is – Water Damage.
When I found a small 2 berth van that was fairly local to where we were based and listed as being totally damp free and in good order, I eagerly went to see this amazing little abode and bought it in good faith as being as described. Error No. 1.
During the latter part of our European adventure the first problem surfaced, the bed frame broke from the wall when our daughter was sitting on it. After a quick inspection under the base I could see the outside wall had ‘historic damp’ as an estate agent might say. What had been a soggy mess at some time was now a brittle, crumbling wall.
OK. so, let’s buy another van to continue with the remained of the trip. This time a little wiser and not intending to be cheated again.
Error No. 2 – Believing a delightful, retired couple from near the New Forest region of England. Believing them that their beloved van was ready and rearing to go and that it had no damp that they knew of.
A little damp was seen in the en suite, but did not seem too bad. It can be an invasive procedure to poke and prod at someones precious van that has given them years of service and a pickle in that it is basically saying one does not believe their story that it has no damp issues.
The van was bought, as we were only going to use it around the U.K. for a few more months, it seemed a good buy – until a bit of probing of the front corners showed a lot of damp – wet damp. Not dried out timbers. Fragrant cloths had been put throughout the van to disguise what they knew full well – that it had major damp issues. Once the fragrant smell dissipated a couple of days later the smell of damp was alarming.
Damp certainly can bring out the worst in folk. Why not simply own up to a damp issue in a caravan and sell it to someone honestly. Receive less money that desired, but be able to sleep easy at night!
We sold this van, after considering the possibilities of fixing it up and getting a few months use whilst touring the UK. The caravan was sold with complete transparency and a small financial loss. The upside of the experience though did lead us to enjoy a fabulous week at the Woodlands Adventure Park, near Dartmouth in Devon. Recommended by the previous owners of the caravan as a good place for kids.
Finally. Third time reasonably lucky. We spotted an ad for a good clean caravan near Guildford, in Surrey. The seller was a dealer who only traded in caravans that were in reasonably good condition. This van had a small amount of damp that was removed by the seller and new timbers inserted. We replaced the tyres, made some new curtains and now had a tidy little van that will easily give us the accommodation, cooking facilities and a little place to call home for the next few months or so.
Timber frames that have had some water ingress can be salvaged and dried out, as long as it has not been left too long. If the timber is still solid, it ought still be safe to use. It is when they are crumbling and fragile that the alarms bells sound loudest.
It has been a learning curve, and an eye opener, into a huge problem in the UK. Caravans are being dumped by the roadside and not being taken to disposal facilities, as well as sold off dishonestly to unsuspecting buyers.
They do not have to be registered/taxed or go through any safety inspections. Apparently, there was a plan to licence approved dealers to perform annual inspections of caravans for safety reasons, but this fell by the wayside for some reason.
Dishonest sellers of various goods are prevalent in most countries, the UK is not an exception nor is Australia.
Buying a car and caravan, campervan or a motor home is an ideal way to save on accommodation costs and be independent when travelling.
Having the ability to stop whenever and wherever is awesome. Brewing a cuppa and enjoying some jaw-dropping views can add immeasurably to any journey.
We have learnt a lot and enjoyed some unforgettable trips around the most inspiring countries in Europe.