What Is A Habitation Check For Motorhomes & Do I Need One?

Everything you Need to Know About Habitation Checks

What is a habitation check, are they important, and do you need one?

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about habitation checks for motorhomes. So let’s jump right in:

Section 1

What is a Habitation Check?

A habitation check is an important inspection of the living area of your motorhome or caravan.

Habitation checks for motorhomes are carried out to make sure everything is safe and to identify problems early on. Think of it as an MOT for your living area.

Regular motorhome habitation checks will help to:

  • Keep everyone who uses the motorhome safe
  • Discover & fix any issues before they develop into large and costly repairs
  • Help to keep your warranty valid
  • Retain the value of your motorhome or caravan — a recorded history of habitation checks will also make it easier to sell your vehicle later on

A habitation check for motorhomes is carried out by a professional engineer. It involves sticking to a set procedure and plan.

After the inspection, the engineer will compile a report with all of the observations and problems they’ve identified, along with the recommended actions to take. You will also receive a motorhome habitation certificate.

Section 2

Why You Need a Habitation Check for Motorhomes

Just like with a regular car or house, there are components that you should have inspected regularly. 

By not getting them looked at, you could be putting yourself and others in unnecessary danger. You also run the risk of not noticing issues until they become very large (and expensive) problems later on.

Section 3

How Often Should I Have a Motorhome Habitation Check?

It depends. A lot of manufacturers will expect you to have one at least once a year.

Annual habitation checks for motorhomes are a great way to keep your vehicle in check. And by following the manufacturer’s guidelines, you will also be keeping it under warranty (if it is under warranty).

If you don’t check it as often as the manufacturer recommends, your warranty might be void.

If your vehicle has a wooden frame, you might want to get it checked twice a year — as damp can ruin a wooden frame.

If for whatever reason you don’t NEED to carry out yearly habitation checks, it’s still good practice to get it done once a year. This will help you protect your motorhome and keep on top of any issues.

Buckets and cleaning items placed on the floor beside motorhome

Top Tip

It’s important to get the gas system looked at by a professional every year. But if you don’t want to — and don’t think you need to — you could potentially only get a full habitation check every couple of years.

Just make sure to keep an eye out for damp, however. Click here to read our article on how to check for damp in your motorhome or caravan now.

Section 4

Is a Habitation Check a Legal Requirement?

It depends. If your insurance company demands that you carry out frequent habitation checks, then you must do so — otherwise, you run the risk of voiding your insurance.

Likewise, if you’re planning on hiring out your motorhome for an extra source of income, there might be rules that expect you to perform a habitation check before doing so. Especially if you are using a third-party company (like GoBoony) to do so.

But aside from that, a motorhome or campervan habitation check is NOT legally required.

If you’ve just purchased a motorhome, you don’t need to carry out a habitation check before driving or using it (unlike with a car MOT).

It’s also OK to drive around and use a motorhome for years without putting it through a habitation check. As long as you are fully insured, the vehicle is taxed and has had an MOT recently.

Of course, all this is as long as no one (insurance company or manufacturer) is asking you to do so.

Top Tip

We would always recommend getting a motorhome habitation check after purchasing a second-hand model so that you can get a clear picture from the get-go of the condition it is in.

Motorhome owners hand holding and checking fuses within their motorhome

Section 5

What Does a Motorhome Habitation Check Involve?

A typical habitation check might go something like this:

  1. At the start, your engineer will do a walk-around video. They’ll check the bodywork for dents or scratches or anything that could become a problem. Then they will check the seals around the doors, windows, and lights.
  2. Then they will check the water system by draining and refilling the tank and monitoring how the water is supplied and pumped through.
  3. Then the gas systems will be checked. If the engineer suspects any pipes have corroded or damaged, they will be replaced.
  4. The leisure battery will be looked at to make sure it is connected properly. Then all the sockets will be looked at.
  5. Finally, a damp check will be carried out.

What a Habitation Check Doesn’t Check

A motorhome habitation check is not an engine service. It does not look at the engine, or change the oil, and it does not consider the brakes or the chassis.

To get those parts looked at, you’ll need a motorhome service. A habitation check is only a check of the motorhome’s “back end”.

Section 6

Motorhome Habitation Checklist

A habitation check for a campervan or motorhome will look at the following:

  • For damp issues & sources of water ingress
  • Electrics
  • Leisure batteries
  • The gas system is working properly
  • Water systems & tanks
  • Ventilation
  • Window & door security
  • General bodywork (externally & internally)
  • Safety gear checks
  • The underbody of the vehicle
  • Road lights
  • Smoke alarms & fire extinguishers

Solar panels are not examined.

Woman holding checklist and working through questions and answers

Section 7

Doing your Own Habitation Check

Some have argued that the main value of a habitation check is the piece of paper that you get at the end (the motorhome habitation certificate).

There is some weight to this, as your insurance company may demand to see it. And proof of having the certificates will increase the saleability of your vehicle when you want to move on.

However if your motorhome’s warranty has already expired and your insurance doesn’t demand a motorhome habitation certificate, you could probably do most of it yourself.

The temptation is that most of the habitation checks are indeed relatively straightforward — some are even easy to do by yourself. The trade-off is that if you ever want to sell your motorhome privately again, it might be less appealing to private buyers if there isn’t a concrete history of habitation checks for you to draw on.

Warning!

Never attempt to do the gas checks yourself. A professional will have to correct tools to test the gas system. You won’t.

A deadly carbon monoxide leak or gas build-up is just not worth the risk. At a minimum, have the gas checks done professionally. By all means, have a shot at all the rest by yourself if you feel confident. But don’t touch the gas.

Other features, such as checking the connectivity of the leisure battery, testing the smoke alarms, and checking the door and window seals are all relatively straightforward.

A good time to do a habitation check yourself is at the start of the season during the big pre-season clean before you hit the road.

Another good thing about the DIY approach is that you can do a little checking often. For example, like keeping hinges working well by lubricating them with grease or WD40 spray.

Ultimately it’s your call, though.

Man standing within a motorhome checking the AC unit

Section 8

Frequently Asked Questions

3-hours and perhaps a little longer. A proper inspection will take a minimum of three hours.

Anywhere form £100-£400. It depends on the mantime involved, the cost of the tools used, and the seasonal nature of the work. Always get a price up first and shop around for the best deal. Be weary of prices that seem too good to be true.

You don’t need to empty it completely. But do keep in mind that the engineer will need to be able to freely move around and access parts of the living space in order to carry out the check thoroughly.

Ask your engineer if they are a member of the National Caravan Council’s Approved Workshop Scheme (AWS). That’s usually a pretty reliable sign.

Looking to sell your motorhome or caravan without a recent habitation check? Then we can help.

Selling privately can be hard work at the best of times. It’s can be even trickier without a consistent habitation check history to win over dawdling potential buyers.

So if you’re wanting to make a quick sale — sell it to us!

Because we operate within a large network of buyers, we’re able to offer great value prices to our customers. Just check out our five-star Trustpilot reviews.

We’ll come and collect your motorhome or caravan personally from a location of your choice, and pay for it INSTANTLY via an instant bank transfer.

There are no call-out fees or hidden charges. And unlike private Internet listings, you won’t have to pay for advert listings or worry about dodgy buyers, time-wasters, or inconvenient viewing times.

All you have to do is tell us about your vehicle on our respective motorhome and caravan pages, fill in a few details, and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

Either way, I hope you found the information in this article useful. Thank you for reading.

A Note from the Author — Shane Malpass

In the last 10 years, we’ve helped hundreds of happy customers to sell up their caravans quickly, without a fuss and no matter what the condition — for a great price in return.

So if you want to simply sell your caravan and move on, or are looking to upgrade to a newer model or motorhome — we’re here to make you happy and keep you satisfied. Your opinions matter to us. Just check out our five-star TrustPilot reviews!

You can give me a call directly on 07879 816463. In the meantime, find out more about me here and follow our YouTube channel for all the latest caravan and motorhome reviews, tips, and tricks.