Guide To Buying A Motorhome

You’ve made the exciting decision to buy a motorhome. But where do you even begin this journey? There’s a whole new world of terminology to get to grips with and so many choices to make; from new or used motorhomes to layouts. We get it, it can seem a little daunting at first

But we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re considering upgrading your current motorhome or starting your motorhoming journey, there’s something here for you. By the end of this guide you will know your coachbuilt from your class A motorhome, and your over cab from your low profile. With our guide to buying a motorhome you will be clued up on when is the best time to buy a motorhome, through to what type of layout is the best for you.

Types of Motorhomes

There are a number of different types of motorhomes, each with their own unique qualities. Which one you decide on will depend on how you plan to use your motorhome. There are several options when it comes to body types:

  • Coachbuilt
  • A class
  • Campervan

What is a coachbuilt motorhome?

A coachbuilt motorhome is one which is built on a van cab chassis. It’s the most popular type on the market and tends to be available in two types: over-cab and low profile.

In an over-cab motorhome the body tends to sit quite high, with a space above the cab which is usually utilised for either storage space or as an additional sleep space. This type of motorhome is perfect if you’re planning on using your motorhome to travel with family or friends. However, you do have to be mindful of the height which can restrict what roads you can use and makes the motorhome less aerodynamic.

A low profile motorhome is much more aerodynamic and fuel efficient. They may offer less in height, but some low low profile motorhomes can measure over 8 meters in length. This body type is more suited to couples or small families.

guide to buying a motorhome - coachbuilt motorhomeBailey Coachbuilt Motorhome

What is an A class motorhome?

An A Class motorhome is considered the crème de la crème of the motorhoming world. It is built from the chassis up, with no clear separation between the cab and living area of the motorhome. An A Class motorhome is generally well suited for longer journeys away, and you’ll usually find them full of luxurious touches. They tend to be more spacious than a coachbuilt motorhome, so if you’re thinking of using your motorhome for long haul trips, or longer trips exploring the road then an A Class motorhome is going to be most suitable for you.

What is a campervan?

A campervan is generally built within the body of a panel van. They’re somewhere between a car and a coachbuilt motorhome. They tend to offer less in the way of space and often there is no distinction between the cab and the living space of the campervan. Facilities are usually pretty basic within a campervan, but generally enough to get by on a shorter trip. A campervan could be the perfect option for you if your budget is limited and you only plan on travelling as a couple on short trips.

Types of Motorhome Layouts

Now that you’re familiar with the different types of motorhomes available, you can turn your attention to the exciting part. Motorhome layouts.

There are so many options when it comes to motorhome layouts, and each manufacturer will have their own preferred style. When it comes to thinking about what kind of layout is right for you, ask yourself:

  • How many travelling seats do you need?
  • Would you like a fixed bed, drop-down bed or twin beds?
  • Do you want a large washroom?

As we go through the options below start making a list of your must-haves and negotiables. It’ll help narrow down the options once you start actively looking for your motorhome.

guide to buying a motorhome - motorhome layoutsBaily Motorhome Twin Rear Bed Layout

What are travelling seats?

When it comes to motorhomes a travelling seat refers to a belted seat that is suitable to be used whilst the motorhome is in motion. Not all motorhomes come with the same number of travelling seats as it has berths, so it’s important to make sure that there are four belted seats if there are going to be four people travelling in the motorhome at the same time. There will always be a least two travelling seats, in the front cab, some motorhomes come with up to six travelling seats.

How many berths will you need?

A berth is a bed in a motorhome. Some have as many as 8 berths in a single motorhome. Before you start shopping around it’s important to think about who you will regularly be travelling with. If there’s just going to be two of you, then a two berth option is perfect, but if you’re planning on regular trips aay with your family then a four or six berth motorhome is going to work better for you.

When it comes to the types of bed, think practically. If it’s just two of you are you happy to make and pack away a bed every morning and evening? If not, then stick to a fixed bed motorhome layout to save yourself the faff. The compromise here will be space. If you’re travelling with your family, would you like the kids to have their own room so they can sleep soundly whilst you unwind from the day in the living space? If that sounds like the dream, then look for a layout that offers a twin rear bedroom.

What facilities are best in a motorhome?

The best facilities in a motorhome depend on what type of trips you’re planning. If you fancy the sound of off-grid motorhoming, or want to be pretty self-sufficient, then look for a motorhome that offers a full bathroom with a shower and working, as well as a fully equipped kitchen. If you want to whip up meals as you would at home, make sure the kitchen offers an oven, grill and hob, as well as a sink. Some come as standard with a microwave too.

But you may prefer a simpler layout. For example, if you’re planning on staying at campsites then you may not actually need a full bathroom and instead use the facilities on site. Equally, if cooking isn’t your forte and you’re likely to be eating out most nights, then a basic hob and sink are all you need really.

Buying a Motorhome

Now we’ve covered the basics, and, hopefully, you’ve got yourself a list of must-haves, it’s time to talk budgets. Buying a motorhome is a huge investment and should be approached with care and consideration.

If you decide on a budget early on, this can help simplify the rest of the process when it comes to deciding which motorhome is best for you. Your budget will likely decide whether you’re going to buy new or used.

Should I buy a new or used motorhome?

The question of whether you should buy a new or used motorhome will ultimately depend on your budget. If you’re a first-time motorhome buyer you may be better off investing in a used motorhome to start with. This is because there is less of an investment here, and it gives you a chance to find out what works for you. When it comes to upgrading you have more experience with motorhomes, and have learnt what you need and want from your motorhome. Once you’re in this position, you may feel more confident to invest in a new motorhome.

How to finance a motorhome?

Thankfully today, you do not need to pay for your motorhome upfront. Many dealerships now offer attractive financing for your motorhome purchase, so this might make more options available to you than you initially thought. These usually come with a lovely deal too, such as free servicing and MOTs for a couple of years. Motorhome finance is available in different optins, including Hire Purchase (or HP), and Personal Contract Purchase (or PCP).

When is the best time to buy a motorhome?

It’s common to wonder when the best time to buy a motorhome is, luckily for you there is a better time to make your motorhome purchase. Generally you will see the best deals at the end of the season, this fall between October to November.

If you’re buying a used motorhome the end of the season will be when people look to upgrade their existing motorhome, so you will find more available on the market at this time. If you’re buying a new motorhome you may need to speak with the dealer a year before you’re looking to make your purchase, as you may have to wait up to 8 months for the model.

Where to buy a motorhome?

If you’re a first time buyer then the best place to buy a motorhome from is a dealership. Buying from a dealer provides you with more security should something go wrong. When buying from a dealership the motorhome you’re purchasing should be in the best condition with a fresh service, habitation service and possibly an MOT too.

Once you have gained more confidence and knowledge through experience, you may feel more comfortable buying a motorhome from a private owner. However, you would be missing benefits such as a new service and warranty.

Try Before You Buy

When you do start on your motorhome-buying journey we would recommend trying out motorhomes through a few different means:

  • Hire a motorhome: it’s one of the best ways to work out what you need from your ideal motorhome. Use this time to get a good idea of what features you like and dislike. For example, are there enough appliances for your needs in the kitchen and the bathroom? Do you want a fixed bed or does converting a lounge area in the evening work for you? It’s also the perfect opportunity to get to grips with driving a big vehicle, changing gas bottles, disposing of waste water and emptying toilets safely.
  • Visit motorhome shows: they’re a great place to take a look at a huge range of different makes and models available. You can talk to dealers and get some impartial advice, as well as explore a lot of the motorhome accessories you can get to support your new hobby. Just don’t get carried away and make your purchase there!
  • Visit a dealer: a good dealer will be happy to show you some different models and talk through your needs and what might work best for you. Ask for a test drive too, get a feeling of what a motorhome is like to drive. So go and talk to some local dealerships and build a relationship, find out who you trust and who you may end up making your big purchase with.

What to Look for When Buying a Motorhome

Whether you’re buying a used motorhome from a dealership or a private seller there are some things to look out for though, especially if you’re considering buying from a private seller.

  • Do a HPI check to check that the motorhome hasn’t been stolen or written off, just as you would with a car. It’s also a good idea to view the vehicle at the seller’s home so you can check the details on the documents match up.
  • Visual checks of the exterior and interior, when doing these you’re looking for any obvious signs of damage. Keep an eye out for any bumps, scratches or cracks in the exterior which could cause damp issues. Be wary of stickers in strange places, they may be covering up some damage.
  • Test everything when you view the motorhome. Check all of the appliances in the kitchen and bathroom, try out the bed and make sure it’s comfortable, and sit down on the sofas. If there are any beds that are made up from the seats then put them together and check nothing is damaged, open up and check all of the storage areas. Take a good look at the sealant around the windows and in the kitchen and bathrooms, and if there is an awning make sure to try that out too.
  • Ask what work has been done on the motorhome and who carried out the work. They should have kept records of this just like you would with a car so ask to see the documents.
  • Go for a test drive before you make any decisions. Make sure you can adjust the cab seat, you’ll be spending a lot of time in it so it’s important that the driving position is comfortable for you. Make sure you go for a drive on a variety of roads so you can test how it feels at different speeds, on bumpier surfaces and on hills.
  • Get a professional to look if you’re buying privately. The seller shouldn’t have a problem with you getting a professional to check things over.
  • Consider a damp test, damp can be a real issue for both motorhomes and caravans. If you’re looking at a used motorhome, especially one that’s more than a couple of years old, a professional damp test is a good idea. If the motorhome smells musty, that’s a sign that quite a lot of damage might already have been done.

If you have more questions about buying a motorhome, whether you’re a first time buyer or upgrading your existing motorhome, please feel free to get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to help you on your motorhome journey, call us on 01454 318374.

Contact Us