Avoid a caravan catastrophe

Monday, June 17, 2024

The TDCA has seen some sights in its time as part of our Inspection and Expert Witness Service – but none so bad as this recent raised deck at a mobile home park. 

The tell-tale sign that something was very wrong, was when the lodge owner noticed rainwater pooling on a section of the deck. Suspicions triggered, the owner accessed the underdeck area and was immediately struck by the poor quality of the sub-frame construction. 

Some support posts appeared to be floating - unconnected to the uneven ground, there was a haphazard mix of timber joist off-cuts and non-durable plywood was being used as packing material.

This deck was a deathtrap.  In my twenty plus years at TDCA, this must be one of the worst cases of poor workmanship I have witnessed.

TDCA Chairman, Mr Steve Young

The statutory rules for building decks on permanent buildings is covered in UK planning and building regulations. Planning consent is required for decks more than 300mm from the ground and where planning consent is required, so too is compliance with Building Regulations.

Technical plans and details of component products and methods of construction must be submitted and approved by Building Control officers – to ensure the construction will be structurally sound and safe during its service life.

However, holiday caravans and lodges are generally exempt from compliance because they are deemed as ‘moveable structures’. As such, any accessory like a timber deck that adds to the amenity value of the pitch must also be considered moveable.

The requirement for the structure to be ‘removeable’ at the end of its service life is not a licence to ignore established good building practice – quite the contrary. The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 states that all persons having control of a caravan site have a duty to look after the health, safety and welfare of their employees and the health and safety of residents and others on the site.

Mr Steve Young

Legal obligations of Park Owners

Thankfully the problem deck was replaced on TDCA’s recommendation but how many more are out there with similar issues. Caravan parks need to have systems in place to benchmark the quality of contractor workmanship and verify the fitness for purpose of deck structures to fulfil their legal obligations under health and safety regulations. 

Accredited Installers

DeckMark accredited installers Deckbuilders and London Decking Company are audited annually by TDCA to ensure best practice workmanship. Look for the DeckMark badge when sourcing your next decking or cladding contractor and products – and avoid a decking catastrophe as illustrated in these photos!

Deckmark Cladmark Quality Assessed (1) (1) (1) (1)

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