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Author Topic: Considering Purchasing RV for First Time - Questions  (Read 1784 times)


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Considering Purchasing RV for First Time - Questions
« on: May 17, 2015, 06:02:42 PM »
We are considering purchasing a RV and have some questions and was hoping we could get some advice.  First, I will explain our situation.  I recently accepted a job in Tampa, FL, and we will be relocating there within the next 3 - 4 weeks.  We previously lived in Florida for about year (2013 - 2014) in Grand Ridge, FL (which is about an hour west of Tallahassee).  We are a family of four - my wife and I and two children ages 8 and 11.  Our primary concern is finding a safe area in which to live, and we do not know much about the area in that regard.  I did look around somewhat when I was in town for the interview, but there is only so much you get come away with from that.  We do not want to buy a home at first, since, for one, we do not know the area.  At first we were looking at finding a rental house or an apartment for at least the first year.  The only way we can really do this where we can first see what areas are like would be to stay about a week in a hotel, maybe work with a realtor, and hopefully find a place to rent that would be in a safe area.  We still are concerned if we could be able to do that in a week's time.  However, as another option, we have considered buying a RV/motorhome (class C or A), and living in it at a RV park for maybe 3 - 4 years.  At least then we would be "mobile", where if we found an area not to be safe, we would just move.  We have thought about and looked into RV living before but our situation has not been such that we could do it.  This is not where we would be traveling the country in the RV.  It would primarily be at a RV park.  However, we would use it for when we did take vacations, visit family, etc.  Our plan would be to eventually buy a house, and then keep the RV for when we travel.  We would have to purchase a used RV.  Given that we do not have a vehicle that would tow a trailer type of RV, we would have to get a motorhome.  After researching class A and C RVs, we are thinking that a class C would suit us best.  We would have to finance the RV and are looking in the price range of < $25,000 (assuming we would qualify for that financing).

We recently found what at first appeared to be a nice class C RV.  It is a 2002 Minnie Winnie 31C.  I checked the value of this type of RV online and compared it to the listed price, and the listed price is about $2,000 less than the lower end of the suggested retail price.  All we have done thus far is looked at it and went inside it.  We have not tested anything about it.  If we were to try to buy it, our plan is to pay a RV inspector to check it for us and to get a mechanic to check the motor, transmission, etc. From what I have found, RV inspectors do not check/inspect the motors, etc. (at least the ones I found do not).  The RV has been listed since February.  When looking at another dealer, I mentioned how class C RVs in our price range seemed to be hard to find.  He told me it was because they are in demand right now.  My concern then is why has this RV we are looking at not been sold yet given that it appears to be a good price given the apparent condition of it.  I expressed this concern to the dealer.  He said he had two people that tried to buy it but could not get financing. 

The dealer claimed he had driven the RV (I think 50 miles) without issue, that he had tested all workings and found no problems, etc.  He did however point out two issues, one of which I noticed.  You can see in the back right hand corner that it has been repaired.  It looks as if something was hit when making a turn.  The dealer then showed me on the right sidewall where it has delaminated.  You can press the sidewall and feel where it will push in and then contact the inside wall.  It appears to be a large area that does this.  I, however, am new to this; thus, I do not know what is "common" for when there is a delamination issue.  I asked about this (as I did not know anything about this).  He explained the wall's construction and said it is where the interior wood part separates from the outside material.  He said he did not see any signs of water damage (as far as water possibly causing it).  After this, I researched about delamination.  Thus far, I found that it can be caused by a manufacturing defect (where sometimes over time it will separate), or it can be caused by water leaking.  If from water leaking, what I read said that if the leak was found and stopped early, no further damage may occur and it could be okay.  However, it also said that it could be as bad as the wood rotting, which would be a major problem.  It talked about a rubber mallet test that could be done where the sidewall is hit with the mallet to check for rotted wood.  It said that this is an accepted test that a dealer should not have a problem with.  We certainly would not want to purchase an RV where one of the walls has dry rot.

1.  Is the information I found about sidewall delamination correct - causes of it; manufacturer defect not a concern VS water damage is a concern, etc.
2.  Is a used RV with a delaminated sidewall worth even considering for purchase?
3.  Is sidewall delamination something that would be checked for by an RV inspector (by the rubber mallet method or some other method)?
4.  If it is checked for, then how conclusive would the results be from the test as far as the integrity of the wall?  We probably would not, for example, want to pay for an inspection of this RV, if the results of the test would not be conclusive enough where there would be a high certainty that the wall was OK.  In that case, we would just not want the RV.
5.  Is $350 about average for the cost of a RV inspection?  That is the price I have found thus far for this service.

Another topic question regards RV parks.  The first RV park I called in Tampa had an age restriction on RVs of 10 years, which would eliminate this RV.  This was a RV resort.  When I asked why there was an age limit, the person told me it was due to maintenance issues with older RVs (older ones requiring more maintenance).  How common is this?  Is this usually just RV resorts that have this rule?  Would a RV park "non-resort" most likely not have this rule?


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Re: Considering Purchasing RV for First Time - Questions
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2015, 07:06:35 PM »
This time of year in Florida, there are a lot of rental apartments or condos which sit empty because their "season" is December through March.  You ought to be able to find something relatively inexpensively for a few months, maybe even month-to-month, that would give you a lot more room for growing kids than an RV.  Not to say that living in an RV with two kids isn't doable, but unless you get something quite large, you will be tripping all over one another.

Another issue is that Florida is very hot in the summer and RVs are notoriously poorly insulated.  Your AC will be running constantly when the temps are over 90 degrees, which will be several months during the summer, and still have trouble keeping you all cool.  I left Florida last month because I had trouble keeping my motorhome (Class C) below 85 inside! 
Full-timing for over six years in a
2012 Fleetwood Tioga Ranger 31N

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Considering Purchasing RV for First Time - Questions
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2015, 07:09:41 PM »
1.  Yes &  maybe. Delam can be either a defect or water intrusion, but in a 2002 I would sooner suspect intrusion. Most of the manufacturing issues occurred in the mid 90's and the manufacturers had solved their problems by 2002. But a water leak that has been fixed should not be a issue either as long as it was fixed soon. If the wood substrate behind the loose skin still seems solid and there are no signs of rotted wood or mold, I would not worry.
2. Yes, per above
3.Depends on the inspector and what you asked him to do. Most would just include it on their report, and probably recommend against purchase, just to be on the safe side.  Nobody ever got sued for recommending against a purchase, but they go out on a limb if they say OK.
4. The inspector can't see inside any better than you can.

A 31 foot Class C for a family of 4? You are a braver man than I!  Small bathroom, little space for play or storage, poor tv viewing angles & seating, etc. etc.etc.
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL


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Re: Considering Purchasing RV for First Time - Questions
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2015, 08:48:45 PM »
A lot of people think an RV is the answer to their housing problems but it's seldom the best answer.  One of the things you need to learn about is that motorhomes need to be exercised.  Frequently.  They are meant for driving, not sitting for months at a time.  When motorhomes sit, things stop functioning and you don't know it until you try to start it up and it won't start.  Sitting is more normal for a trailer which doesn't have all the mechanical issues of a motorhome.

The person who suggested an apartment probably is on the right track for a family such as yours.  Living in a campground all the time may or may not be a good idea for the kids.  You might want to check the Fulltiming board to read about other families who live in RVs.  Or use the Search button above left and search on Fulltiming with children.

:D :D


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Re: Considering Purchasing RV for First Time - Questions
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2015, 11:58:16 AM »
4 people in a class C throughout the summer in Florida does not seem like a good idea. Its going to be too hot and muggy to spend time outside, and the A/C, which would be laboring under normal conditions, will be overworked in a small RV with 4 people generating even more heat and humidity. At most, I would only stay in it for the short term until I found something to rent.

If youre worried about getting into a bad area, talk to some realtors. They could tell you everything you need to know about any neighborhood. That's their job. If youre still worried about the area, try a short term lease
Caryl- Pilot
Mister Hank - Co-pilot and homeland security

1997 Holiday Rambler Endeavor
2010 Jeep Liberty

May the Llama of Happiness forever spit in your direction


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Re: Considering Purchasing RV for First Time - Questions
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2015, 05:55:48 PM »
Although- you will make memories talked about for years, especially to your grand kids. ::)