The park home lifestyle

Park Homes are a unique lifestyle choice and provide an idyllic residential option for nearly 200,000 people in England, Scotland and Wales. The vast majority of park home residents are retired, or semi retired, and are over 55 years of age.

Park homes are regarded by insurers as ‘non standard’ construction properties simply because they are not constructed in the traditional way - out of bricks and mortar. They are built in a factory and based on a steel chassis which has wheels and a tow bar - which is why they used to be called ‘Mobile Homes’, the remainder of the construction is essentially timber and plasterboard with a tile or tile effect metal roof. They are manufactured to BS3632 for residential occupation and are built to a very high standard in terms of design, materials, décor and insulation.

The homes are delivered to their final destination on a residential park where they are sited, the tow bar removed, utilities connected and usually a brick or timber skirting is applied - job done - they are unlikely to be moved again.

Your home is your most valuable and important asset so it makes sense to keep it in tip top condition, not only will this help protect the value of your property it will extend its life expectancy too.

It should also be remembered that your agreement with the park owner will include a requirement to keep your home, and plot, in good condition. One of the few grounds upon which a site owner can remove your home from the park is if it becomes dilapidated, and even then he will need a Court Order.

And it will also be a condition of your park home insurance, whoever the insurer, that you maintain your home in good condition at all times. In any event claims for loss or damage caused by a lack of maintenance, weathering wear and tear are generally excluded.

Looking after your home - 10 top tips

So what are the areas you should be checking:

1. Manufacturers generally recommend that the home is repainted two years after purchase as new and every three years thereafter. Remember though that due to the construction of park homes you should use a specialist paint which flexes with the movement of the homes, something that does not apply to bricks and mortar properties.

2. We would suggest purchasing your paint from suppliers to the industry like Protective Textured Coatings Ltd on 0121 749 5088 - www.parkhomepaints.co.uk or Resitex on 01226 242322 - www.resitexcoatings.co.uk

3. You should also regularly check that your gutters and downpipes are clear, particularly if your home is sited on a wooded park as many are. Blocked down pipes and gutters can lead to water overflowing and penetrating the home through the facia boards or small cracks in the textured finish.

4. Check that the window and doors seals are watertight and reseal them if necessary. Leaks arising from the failure of seams and seals will not be covered by insurance.

5. If you have a pitched tile or tile effect metal roof check that there are no loose or broken tiles which could lead to serious water ingress damage. And if you have a flat roof it is very important that this is checked regularly for signs of cracking, wear and tear.

6. It is very important to check the underside of your home from time to time, the chassis and jacks are effectively supporting the home, rusted or broken jacks or a rusted chassis can become a serious problem meaning that the home is inadequately supported. This can lead to the home becoming unstable. We recommend that if you have concerns or if you own an older home (more than 10 years old) you should engage a specialist like Park Home Chassis Services to do a survey - call 0118 984 3107 or visit www.parkhomechassis.co.uk

7. Salt - if you live near to the sea - lucky you - remember that salt can play havoc with your metal chassis and jacks as it oxidises metal much faster causing premature rust and corrosion. If you live within 5 miles of the sea you should consider more regular inspections. Salt will of course have a detrimental impact too upon your timber facias, skirtings and paintwork so washing down from time to time is probably a good idea.

8. Check too for leaking taps, sanitary fittings and washing machines, remember your home is built with a lot of wood and whilst this will no doubt be water resistant to an extent water and wood don't mix well !

9. Steps and ramps, most homes will have external steps and ramps, check these from time to time for stability, you are responsible for the safety of visitors to your home and whilst you will have liability insurance the last thing you want is someone being injured because the bannister is loose or the steps are rotten or dangerous.

10. The base, whilst you do not own the base and it is not your responsibility, it is very important needless to say ! When checking the underside of your home check the base too looking for cracks or failures in the concrete and report them straightaway to the site manager/owner.

A lot of maintenance issues are common sense but it pays to check your home regularly, small amounts spent from time to time are far more preferable than paying for extensive repairs if problems are not nipped in the bud. And if you are unable to check your home yourself please ask a friendly neighbour or relative to do so for you, good maintenance is time and money well spent.