Jargon and Terminology Used in the Static Caravan Industry

The holiday park industry is rife with jargon!

Teams of people who work on holiday parks have often done for a long while, so it becomes second nature for the lingo to come out of their mouths without second thought.

In this article, we translate and expand on some of those holiday park specific terms! But we do have one thing to say:

DON'T WORRY!

It's not vital that you know all of this information before looking at buying a caravan, a good park will explain everything that impacts you. Consider this a dictionary you can refer back to if you ever hear a term used you're not sure about!

Static Caravan Jargon is Confusing!

You can guarantee sublet income because of an increase in owners and therefore have a fleet to holiday maker deficit?! HUH?!

Account

This will normally refer to the account that you have with the holiday park.

This is NOT a bank account or something with any credit or interest facility - more just an account on a park computer system in your name when you join. The park will bill items and services that you use to this account, such as gas bottles, site fees, repairs, etc.

This account can also be used to credit people who have earned money by subletting through the park.

Bookings

A ‘booking’ is a period of time when a person has rented a caravan to stay in.

Some parks will refer to people who use your holiday via a subletting service as bookings - for example; "Good news! There's a booking in your caravan for the weekend you're not here".

British Holiday Home and Holiday Park Association (BH&HPA)

The British Holiday & Home Parks Association is an organisation and network set up to work alongside and represent holiday park operators.

They represent the holiday park industry when lobbying park operator's interests at a government level.

Chassis

This is the metal frame upon which the caravan is constructed.

Usually made from 'mild' steel - you can expect them to last a long time even with minimal care. However, it is worth checking the chassis for any obvious signs of severe rust damage on pre-owned holiday homes as knocks and scrapes can speed up rusting.

Manufacturers sometimes use 'galvanised' steel on higher specification holiday homes, this is steel coated in zinc (which offers a robust rust-proof coating) which significantly prolongs the life of a chassis.

Caravan park next to the beach - lovely!

The salty seaside air! Perfect for ice-creams, donkey rides… and a rusty caravan chassis!

Connections

This is usually a one-off cost that relates to connecting the caravan to the pitch.

Strictly speaking the term 'connections' relates to the gas, electric and television connections made by qualified professionals between the static and the base, however, parks often use it in a more broad sense to also include the costs relating to moving the caravan onto the pitch and the hardware used to secure it - such as axel stands, blocks and chains.

Decking/Verandah

This is the wooden or UPVC plastic elevated deck that can be constructed to surround a part of the caravan.

A huge selection of designs are available along with accessories like lights, storage, gates and locks. Decking can be used to provide vital access for holiday home owners who use wheelchairs, walking aids or have reduced mobility.

Most parks will have some guidelines when it comes to decking as there are a number of important safety aspects to consider. Some operators will insist that you use an approved contractor to build the decking, again normally relating to their own health and safety considerations.

There is normally some element of 'ground work' to be done on the area a decking will be placed to ensure it stays safe, even and no damage is caused.

Drain Down

This is the process of removing water from the caravan to prevent frost damage in instances of cold weather.

In non-central heated caravans, it normally only applies to the toilets, water pipes and the hot water heater, in which it will be replaced with anti-freeze.

Centrally heated holiday homes will normally have sealed heating systems that already contain adequate levels of anti-freeze.

You can find step-by-step guides for how to drain-down on the internet, however, some insurance companies do require you to have it done professionally, so check your policy and don't worry if they do, most parks can do it for you and will charge a fairly modest amount (we've never seen an amount more than £90) for doing so.

Caravan - Frozen Pipes

Sub-zero temperatures and pipes can be a bad combination!

Fixed/Free Standing Furniture

This is the difference between traditional caravan furniture that is fastened to the inside of the caravan and often more expensive models where moveable furniture is added after manufacture.

Fleet

Caravan jargon at it's finest!

Park employees with often refer to company owned holiday homes that are exclusively used to provide holiday makers with holiday accommodation as 'fleet', normally short for 'holiday fleet' or similar.

Fold-out Bed

This is a hidden bed!

Usually included as part of the base of one of the front room sofas, chances are it'll be covered by a board and will fold out with a light pull on the handle. These come as a standard part of around 90% of caravans and means you can fit a couple of extra people in without compromising on comfort.

Funding/Finance

Most parks will have a relationship with a bank or other money lender that specialises in finance packages for static caravans.

Although it's not something you'd see advertised in a local branch, a lot of high street lenders also have products specifically designed for buying holiday homes.

There are a lot of factors that are taken into consideration when applying for finance, including the applicant's personal status, financial status, the age of the holiday home and the amount of money that is being applied for in relation to the value of the caravan. The person you talk to on the park about the different ways of funding your purchase will be able to go into a lot more detail - and will always have access to an account manager from the lender should they be unable to answer your question.

We receive a lot of questions about financing holiday homes so will be dedicating an article to the subject in the near future.

Guaranteed Letting

This is something offered by a handful of the bigger park operators.

Large parks who invest heavily in marketing can attract hundreds of thousands of holiday booking enquiries in a season - but they're sometimes restricted by the amount of holiday homes they have available for people to book.

This means parks can sometimes offer to guarantee you an amount of money based on you picking out some periods of time that you'd be happy to allow them to let on your behalf.

This money can often be used to go toward the purchase cost of your chosen caravan, or can be deposited into your park account for a point further down the line when there are bills to be paid.

The park takes something of a risk offering you this money in advance of the booking actually being made, so you might not reap quite the same amount as you would with their standard subletting service, but can be very useful if you like to know that money is there for you.

We'd recommend talking to a park in more detail about guaranteed subletting and being very careful that everyone is 100% clear which dates are being allocated to the park before signing to confirm.

Holiday Makers

In caravan holiday park terms this would be someone who's paid to stay at the park but does not own a holiday home there.

Insurance

As you would insure your home, most park operators will insist that you also insure your caravan.

This protects you and your holiday home from a huge number of potential issues (think about some of the weather that's hit recently!).

Most parks will have a relationship with an insurance provider and will be able to do a lot of the leg work on your behalf, however, there's nothing to stop you looking around and finding a different policy if you're unhappy with the price or level of cover.

Lodge/Double Unit

These are often considered the ultimate in holiday park accommodation.

A lodge will be of such a size that is contracted in two separate parts which are then fitted together by the manufacturers staff or approved contractors when it gets to its location.

Lodges start at 16 feet wide and can go up to 20 feet plus. As lodges are at the very top end of the market you can expect to find them loaded with impressive features and decorated to a high standard.

Luxury lodges

A 16ft wide 'double-unit' - as well-equipped as most homes!

National Caravan Council (NCC)

The National Caravan Council is a not-for-profit organisation established over 70 years ago. They're a trade body who represent virtually all elements of the caravan and holiday park industry. The NCC offers accreditation to park operators who agree to deliver high quality products and services while working in way which treats customers fairly.

Owners

This is how caravan owners are usually referred to on a park.

For example, when speaking to a park they might say they have "four hundred owners", meaning they have four hundred caravans that are owned by private individuals.

Pitch

A pitch is small piece of the park allocated for a caravan.

Pitches usually make up a large portion of the park area and will include an area that the caravan will be parked over and some surrounding space.

There are a variety of bases including grass, gravel, paving slabs and concrete. Some parks will keep all their pitches uniform, on others it will vary and could include a patio area, parking, hard standing for storage boxes, etc. The pitch is the part of the park you effectively rent by paying your site fees.

Ramtech

This is an alarm system favoured by some park operators.

Motion sensors cover access points in the caravan and send an alert to a dedicated pager that is held by park staff.

It can be easily turned off with a small key that is carried by the caravan owners, just a half turn in a discreet box on the wall of the caravan - the alarm normally allows an owner around 30 seconds to do this upon entering.

There is generally an installation charge and yearly maintenance cost associated with the alarm. Some insurance companies offer a discount if an alarm of this kind is fitted.

Rates

A holiday park often uses some provision from the local council.

Most commonly this is the use of their water or sewerage services but can extend to a variety of other things depending on the park and its location.

A park will be billed a large amount each year by the local authority and will often absorb a large part of this cost. Caravan owners will be billed a small fraction of the cost related to their use of the same services. It's important to note that this is not 'council tax' and will be paid directly to the park, rather than the local authority.

Residential/Live-ons

Some parks have 'residential status' and allow people to live on the site.

These parks will make it clear that being a permanent resident on the park is allowed by both the park operator and the local authority.

The vast majority of holiday parks do not allow people to live on the site - although that is not to say that some people won’t try – especially seeing the caravan is a cheaper alternative to bricks and mortar accommodation.

This can be dangerous for both park and 'live on' guest, as parks can have their license to trade taken away by the local authority and the owner (who will often be in breach of a signed agreement with the park) can quickly find themselves with no place in which to live.

Residential parks

Sadly, even laying your hat there doesn't legally make it home

Season

This is the amount of time that the park is open during the year.

Traditionally holiday parks have opened around March and have stayed open until just before Christmas, however, local authorities have extended seasons for a number of parks, meaning now some can be open for 11 or even 12 months.

The season during which holiday makers can make bookings on the park still tends to be shorter - often from Easter until October, but many parks will offer longer seasons to the people who own caravans there. Be careful though, because a park is open 12 months of the year doesn't automatically mean you can stay there for all of that time.

Local councils grant licences to the parks based on a number of conditions relating to the services they offer, therefore park operators often stipulate that you must leave the park for 24 hours during a period of time, for example, once every 60 days. They might also ask that you can prove you have permanent residency elsewhere - this is to make sure they differentiate themselves from true 'residential' parks, where pitch rental agreements and local authority permissions legally differ.

Site Fees/Ground Rent/Pitch Fees

This is the money paid to a park for the rental of the small piece of land on which your caravan is kept, along with access to the facilities and services the park provides.

This figure can vary hugely from park to park and is normally reflected in what is provided by the park.

For example, a large park with a swimming pool, security, entertainment facilities and bars will generally cost more than a smaller park without any facilities who offers just a warden and a grass cutting service. For more details you can view our article on calculating the costs of owning a static caravan.

Where in a rented home you would sign a tenancy agreement, on a holiday park you will normally be expected to sign a 'pitch license agreement' or similar. This is a document explaining both the parks and your own set of agreements that will be upheld by both parties and will normally be signed just once, at the start of your time on the park, with amendments confirmed in writing from park operators.

Static

Short for 'static caravan'. They're termed static as they rarely move, unlike a 'tourer' which can spend significant amounts of time being pulled by car up and down the country.

Other terms, such as 'holiday home', 'caravan' and 'mobile home' and ‘park home’ are frequently used.

A static caravan will spend most of its time on one holiday park and will be plumbed in to mains water and electric - with a gas supply either from bottles of piped from a supply on the park.

Most static caravans made in the last twenty five years have most of the comforts you'd expect from a home, including a good hot water supply, some form of heating and a properly plumbed toilet.

Static caravans tend to be more spacious than a touring caravan, sleeping either six or eight people (two of three bedrooms with a fold-out bed in the lounge) in most.

Caravans can widely range in size and the dimensions are usually indicated in a 'length x width' format, with feet as the preferred unit of measurement - starting at ten feet wide and around twenty-eight feet long and going up as large as fourteen feet wide and forty-two feet long.

The larger and more highly spec'd holiday homes have some impressive features and can often include central heating, double glazing, washing machines, dishwashers, French windows, spa baths and lots more.

Wide range of static vans

There's a huge range of static caravans available on most parks, both new and pre-owned.

Subletting

Subletting is the process of allowing other people to use your holiday home in return for some financial gain. Some parks allow this, others don't.

It can be a useful way of off-setting some of the running costs of your holiday home.

Some parks have managed services that take the effort out of subletting for you, parks inevitably charge a fee for this service but this fee is normally taken as a deduction from the money the guest pays to use the holiday home. You might find your park operator offers simple account system, meaning the money earned is deposited throughout the year, with your running costs charged to the same account.

Tourer

Short for touring caravan.

These are the kind you tend to see on the backs of cars on bank holiday weekends! Usually significantly smaller than a static caravan although do still range in size to comfortably accommodate four or five people.

Goodbye

Come back soon!