Motorhome or campervan owner? Worried whether a motorhome habitation check is a legal requirement, if you need a certificate and how much it costs? Here’s everything you need to know
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What is a Motorhome Habitation Check?
A habitation check is an in-depth inspection of the living area of your motorhome, campervan or caravans. It is a series of checks which tests all the systems in your van and makes sure they are working well and safe to be used.
It includes things like:
- checking the gas system, pipes and associated applicance
- checking the water system and tanks
- full check of the electrical system and motorhome leisure batteries (although not solar)
- safety gear checks
- bodywork of your motorhome
- many other things!
They are carried out by qualified personnel- think of it as a house survey for your van (although it is NOT the same as an MOT- a habitation check does not look at the engine or general roadworthiness of the vehicle, JUST the living (habitation) areas.
Is a habitation check a legal requirement?
No, a motorhome habitation check is not legally required unless requested by your motorhome insurance company OR you hire it out to other people using a company like GoBoony.
You do NOT need to have a habitation check before you can drive or use your vehicle (unlike an MOT, which you need before you can drive it.) It’s perfectly ok to drive and use a motorhome that hasn’t had a hab check for years, as long as you have in-date insurance, MOT and tax.
We always recommend getting a habitation check done when you buy a second-hand motorhome and, of course, if your motorhome insurance company requires one or you need one to maintain a warranty, then you will need to get one done. But, technically, you do not legally need to do a hab check at all.
Might I suggest that you do.
Why motorhome habitation checks are important
You’ve spent a lot of money on your motorhome and campervan. It’s an investment. Sure, it’s an asset which can (and probably will) depreciate, but it doesn’t have to depreciate a lot. With proper care and maintenance, you can sell a motorhome for not a lot less than you bought It for (especially if you’re not like us and don’t spend most of your time touring around Europe!)
Even more important, regular habitation checks keep you and your family safe. If there is a potential or existing problem with your gas or electrical system, a habitation check can unearth it (pun intended!)
Watch the video about Motorhome Habitation Checks here:
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How often should you have a motorhome or camper habitation check?
Some people advise getting a hab check done every year and there’s nothing wrong with this. Personally, we get the gas system checked by an approved engineer, but only get a full habitation check done every couple of years, unless we spot a potential problem area, like a damp spot or water ingress.
If you have a vehicle with a wooden frame then you might wish to get a check done more frequently (perhaps twice a year), just in case there is any damp discovered- rot can be lethal to a wooden frame, so the quicker you discover it, the quicker you can fix it.
If you're new to motorhomes, you might find these posts useful:
- Your first motorhome trip- step by step guide
- Essential motorhome tips and tricks for beginners
- Motorhome Departure Checklist and pre-trip checks
Alternatively, these guides might answer all your questions (and more!)
How to book a motorhome habitation check
You can request a habitation check from an appropriate garage at any time. Most people choose to do them at the start of the year or after a period of disuse, like after winter storage. If you’d like to do the same, book in as far in advance as possible- they can get booked up months in advance.
Again, you are free to use your vehicle without a habitation check as long as you are insured, so don’t worry if you can’t get it booked in before your first trip.
You can either take your vehicle to a service centre, or you can book a mobile engineer to visit you. Bear in mind, if you store your motorhome at a yard, you might not be able to use a mobile engineer as they will need access to 230v and water.
Where to find a motorhome habitation check near you
You can get a hab check done in many places. Many motorhome dealers offer the service (for a fee), as do some bigger garages. It works a bit like an MOT- you drop the van off with them and they’ll do a thorough inspection, highlighting any issues to you. This is usually done the same day as you drop it off- ours took around 4 hours.
There are places which are ‘Approved Workshops’, a group of independently assessed workshops, regulated by the NCC (National Caravan Council), The Caravan and Motorhome Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club.
There are currently over 500 fixed and mobile Approved Workshops across the UK. In order to be accepted on to the Scheme, workshops must pass an annual inspection by a team of independent assessors and must comply with the Scheme's standards. You can find out more here
How much does a motorhome habitation check cost?
The price of a hab check for motorhomes can vary greatly. Our last one cost us around £290, which included a gas safety check. This is quite expensive, but it was on the south coast of England and was done by a dealer. Previous ones have been around £200.
What does a motorhome habitation check involve?
What to expect from a hab check:
- The engineer will need access to everything in the van, so have keys for all lockers and the garage etc.
- Clear out as much personal gear as possible. They need to get everywhere to check for damp or areas of ingress, especially in garages or lockers, and not having to move things around will make it easier to spot problem areas.
- They will usually drain your water system, so don’t bother filling it before the check
- They will need gas in the bottles to do a gas check (some centres can provide their own bottles if you don’t have one, but check in advance)
- If they are coming to you, they will need a mains electric connection going into the van so they can check the sockets and other electrical systems. They’ll also need to see and check your leisure battery
Motorhome habitation check list
Here’s a list of things which will be checked during your motorhome habitation check:
- Underbody- including underslung tanks and pipes
- Electrical system- including plugs, road lights, leisure batteries, fridge, lights, wiring, RCD, boiler and 230v fitted appliances (NOT solar panels)
- Gas system- including regulator, hoses, gas leak checks, tanks, flame failure, vents and all appliances which use gas
- Water system- including pump, switch, taps, valves, pipes, filters, tanks, seals and the toilet.
- Safety equipment- including smoke and CO alarms, extinguishers and fire blankets (if fitted)
- Bodywork- doors, windows, roof vents, seats in cab, floor, walls, damp test, blinds/ fly screen, ventilation
At the end of the habitation check, you will receive a certificate, which should be kept with your paperwork. You might need to forward a copy to your motorhome insurer.
Can I do my own motorhome habitation check?
Absolutely. If you know enough about the systems on your motorhome, campervan or caravan, you can certainly do the majority of the checks yourself- we do. The only one we are wary about is gas, because it can be so easy to miss something which can have severe consequences.
Motorhome habitation check list/ sheet
If you are confident enough to do your own checks, start working through the habitation check list- you can see an example here. If you see anything suspicious or worrisome, you can always take it to a service centre for them to deal with. You will need to purchase a damp meter so you can check the walls and surfaces- although please be aware that consumer units are rarely as accurate as professional ones.
Of course, if you are preserving a warranty or needing a motorhome habitation check for insurance issues, you’ll need to get a professional one done so you have the certificate, but otherwise there’s nothing to stop you doing it yourself- you’ll get to know your van so much better too.
Want more tips for motorhome life?
Here are some more ideas you might find useful:
- Essential Motorhome accessories every van should have
- Best Sat-nav for motorhomes or campervans
- Motorhome Security– tips for at home and on the road
- How to get Internet & wifi in a motorhome
- Europe- essential gear for travelling to Europe
- Best gift ideas for motorhome and campervan owners
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