First Time Buyers
Over the last ten years, motorhomes have made significant strides in many areas, such as construction, insulation, heating and interior design. All of these combined mean that it really can be your home from home with all mod cons, giving you warmth and comfort wherever you are. You’ll find handy features, such as USB charging points for all of your gadgets, right through to fully-equipped kitchens and bathrooms.
Improvements in technology and design over recent years have meant that motorhomes can easily accommodate a modern kitchen. Making best use of all of the space available, most motorhomes now feature built-in microwaves, cookers with hobs, ovens, fridges, freezers and large sinks. All of this, while leaving room for a large amount of storage space in the cupboards for utensils and supplies and a generous amount of workspace, which can sometimes be extended. Bathrooms have also been hugely improved, containing quality sanitaryware and cleverly designed showerheads which provide a powerful shower while being economical with your water tank.
As a first-time motorhome buyer it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the different options. So, where do you start? Before you decide on your dream motorhome you’ll want to know which type is a good match for your family and lifestyle. Here we cover some key questions to help you get on the road.
Types of motorhomes:
Panel van conversions
These are motorhomes which have been built inside the shell of a standard panel van. This means they are among the smallest on the market and can be a practical option for those who don’t have a lot of space to store a motorhome. They can also be more versatile and some use a panel van conversion as an everyday vehicle as well as a motorhome.
These motorhomes are built on a van chassis and offer good internal space for couples or larger families. There are a wide range of coachbuilt motorhomes on the market with varying interior layouts and specifications. Coachbuilt motorhomes can generally be categorised as one of the following:
As the name suggests, these motorhomes feature a streamlined front overcab pod which usually houses a storage locker.
A high-line motorhome will have a raised overcab pod, sometimes called a luton, that houses a double bed.
These motorhomes have a slightly elevated overcab pod that usually allows for a clever drop down bed at the front.
What driving licence do you need to drive a motorhome?
- If you passed your driving test before 1 January 1997 (and you’re not 70 yet), you are likely to automatically have a category C1 licence which entitles you to drive a vehicle of up to 7,500kg.
- If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 you are likely to have a category B licence which means you can drive a vehicle up to 3,500kg. There are many motorhomes which fall within this category, however, if you want to drive a larger motorhome, you’ll need to take an additional test to add the C1 category to your licence.
- If you are over 70, you need to renew your driving licence and if you use the standard renewal procedure you will lose your C1 entitlement allowing you to drive a motorhome between 3,500kg and 7,500kg. To avoid this you will need to ask your GP to fill in a medical report form D4, for which you may incur a charge.
Key considerations when buying your first motorhome
Will your motorhome be your only vehicle and be used as a car replacement?
- If your answer is yes, then a van conversion is probably best suited for you.
Where will you store your motorhome?
- Consider the height and width and any restrictions you may have at your home.
- Pay close attention to on-street parking restrictions.
Will you do full-timing, weekends only, wild camping, campsites only, lots of rural driving, lots of static camping?
- If you plan to stay mainly on dedicated camping sites, you can get away with a basic motorhome as most sites have excellent onsite facilities.
- If you plan to roam and stay in more remote place, you will want a greater degree of comfort and facilities on board.
Will you travel all year round?
- If you plan to travel all-year round you will want to make sure your motorhome has excellent insulation.
Does your driving licence cover you to drive a motorhome?
- Depending on when you passed your driving test and the size and weight of the vehicle you may need to take a separate licence. (See the Driving licence section)
How many people will you usually take on holiday with you?
- Consider if you need rear seats with travelling belts
How many berths (sleeping accommodation) will be required?
When thinking about the travelling, seating and sleeping configuration, consider:
- What are the number of adults and children staying in the motorhome?
- Do you need a double bed or two single beds?
- Do you need the bed to be fixed or pull-out?
- Do you require bunk beds for children?
- How many people will be seated around the table? Do you need two separate areas or one main area?
- Will you prefer an end or side kitchen?
- Will you want a layout with an ensuite washroom or a centre washroom easily accessible to all?
Storing your motorhome
Another key factor to consider is storage, for when your motorhome is not in use. If you have space and want to store your motorhome at home things to consider are:
- Check that there are no obvious height problems.
- Check your local bylaws because there may be restrictions.
- Think about the security of your motorhome if it is parked on a driveway.
If you are not fortunate enough to have space at home things to consider are:
- Cost-effective options, such as finding a local storage centre. It would be worth having a look in your local area to identify who offers a motorhome storage service. We recommend that you check where it will be stored and check that the area is secure and what security measure they have in place. Find out what their policies and procedures are, for example, can you access your motorhome at any time or are there closing hours, or do you need to contact them in advance to access your motorhome. You would also want to know about insurance and costs.