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Subject Topic: Help/Advise on a campsite
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Message posted by mwooly1026/8/2014 at 5:34pm
Outfit:  Nothing at the moment     Location:  Manchester
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Hi All

After having so many great replies on my other thread in the General Life section, i was told it would be better for me to post in here to get more advise.

My names Mike, and its been my dream to build my own house and run a small campsite from there. After enjoying the first part of life (like you do). I have been working hard for the last 15 years or so and moved a couple of times to help raise funds(get the mortgage down), and now with the job i do and with the lad getting older, feel its time to start looking at this properly.

I have no pension and i have an online plumbing shop which is slowly getting there so i have a little income to help when im older.

I have tried to look for info on the internet and there isnt much about campsites and their running costs. I have seen that an EHU would cost between 500/1000, Although not sure if this could be done cheaper, I was looking at starting small but after comments on here my small became smaller to begin with and would start with 10 pitches to get me started.

Are there any owners that would be willing to share and info on running costs at the start, or any tips they may have for someone that wants to start from scratch.

Don't forget to leave a review of the campsites you have visited this year or last!


Message posted by Jakers26/8/2014 at 6:12pm
Outfit:  Pili Pala Pod     Location:  West Wales
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Hi
We are owners and have developed our current park ( 40 pitches) from scratch all bar the site licence which was in place when we purchased it.

Getting planning is VERY tough especially in 'popular' tourist areas, many of which are saturated with existing caravan sites.

Not sure where you have your estimate for EHU but here we ended up having to up the supply to 3 phase to cater for an 'average' supply to the pitches. The transformer alone cost 12,000 plus 1000 per pole for every pole we needed to go back to the main supply ( 5 poles in our case). Then there was the installation of the hookup boxes and cabling themselves which amounted to about 5000-6000 plus annual testing. We didn't get much change out of about 25,000 for the electrics to site admittidly we do give 16 amp EHU to 40 pitches but it largely depends on the supply to site. This was 7 or so years ago.

On top of this just talking on ehu, you need to factor in for the meter itself which on many sites is classed as commercial so there is a daily standing charge just for having a meter whether you have anyone on site or not...! or in our case can actually prove we close for 5 months and no supply is used - it matters not the the electricity supplier they charge you!

Personally I would think starting completely from scratch would be extremely tricky - dependant on area. I would look to buy existing - have done both and in hind site would buy and existing and adapt to 'your way' if possible. That or run a 'small' cl or ccc but that won't IMO sustain an income for one person - my hubby worked for the local council for the first 4 years we were here and to this date are yet to earn enough to pay us a wage - it's a lifestyle choice rather than a profit making choice if you are looking at a small scale park.

Hope that helps a bit


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If you can't beat em, join em, so we did! And then we sold it for a holiday let & Glamping pod instead 😁

Message posted by mwooly1026/8/2014 at 6:42pm
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Thanks Jaker's.. Yes thats very helpful.. as i said there isnt much on the internet with how much stuff costs, so your info is great, just the sort of stuff ive been looking for, the info i got was from a company that installs them, so that may only be for the pole itself, judging on your info, but it doesnt tell you that of course :)

I did have a little look at campsites for sale but they are out of my league, unless i got a loan (which i was trying to avoid). will wait to see what other info comes in, and in the mean time carry on looking and finding out more info on the net, now i have a little more to look for..

Thanks again :)


Message posted by Jakers26/8/2014 at 8:39pm
Outfit:  Pili Pala Pod     Location:  West Wales
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No problem at all, all I can really say is if you want to do it and do it well then it costs money ( a lot of money) whichever way you do it. We've done both, brought an existing site in Scotland ( stupid amounts of loan eek!) and developed this one. It's a question that gets asked a lot as many people like the idea of doing it and indeed we were those people but maybe if we'd have realised back then what we know now we maybe would have stopped in our respective professions, certainly would have earnt more, but then again you don't have the perks of working from home or in our case working for yourselves and raising your children in a relatively safe environment :) this is from an email I wrote to another who was looking into site development, the costs are over a period of 10 years... enjoy and good luck:

1. Whilst we were digging up the ground for ehu we opted to install Serviced pitches ( hardstand, water, electric and drainage) onto the pitches of which we now have 20 total cost of labour, connections, materials etc approx 16,000

2. We realised that we had no where for customers to be received and that camping was changing, customers were calling for upgraded facilities they wanted a campers kitchen, laundry area, play room, play park that wasn't just swings so we installed the reception/laundry ( approx 7,000) gamesroom and sauna (approx 4,000) and the play area ( approx 3,000) the ride on mower also packed up ( it was very old!) so an investment of 4,000 was made for a second hand ride on that 'mulches' - we have no where to store grass cuttings

3. The major investment was the toilet block, much needed once the electric to the site was at the capacity to take it, designed by us with the help of customers,   at a total spend of 50,000, it is the biggest feature of the site and what on this site keeps the customers retruning to us.

4. After the big investment of the toilet block we thought we'd ease up a bit on the spend ( yeh right), alas the children had used the play equipment so well on the play park that that became a desperate need to replace, so we did another spend of 2000 for a commercial grade modular climb around. This was also our wettest season ever and whilst other parks were literally closing the gates to customers we opted to stay open, but in order to get folks onto pitches it was necessary to put a hard surface round one field which we did at a cost of material and labour of 1,000. Customers also wanted the internet so we took the opportunity to install WIFI approx 600.

5. When in wales you'll appreciate it can be very wet and we were finding that our picthes for campers were becoming water logged and the grass was bear where tents had been, swen in groundsheets really don't agree with grass!, so again, reacting to customer need and to keep folks camping we installed 10 All weather pitches - ( cost to install approx 2,500)

and so it goes on, at the moment the entrance to the site need resurfacing - but that and expense we have to judge carefully as it is costly to do, the wifi needs upgrading as the technology over the 4 yrs has changed considerably, the outside of the reception and games room needs a repaint...

The best way is probably to think of a site and then look at everything, literally everything done onsite costs money from the buildings, to the ground thats walked/driven on to each flush of the toilet it all costs...

-------------
If you can't beat em, join em, so we did! And then we sold it for a holiday let & Glamping pod instead 😁

Don't forget to leave a review of the campsites you have visited this year or last!


Message posted by mwooly1027/8/2014 at 12:45am
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Thanks again Jakers :) great info, not something that you would find on the net. It probably helps me being a bit handy so i could save a bit doing stuff myself, water and drains (although i'd leave connecting to the mains to someone else) building, hiring a mini digger, as they say every bit you do yourself helps.

You must have an exceptional toilet block, i had to read that bit twice Apart from the obvious electrics cost which doesnt have to be to every pitch they are expensive but are doable if you can plan and save a little doing things yourself. but i suppose if you start small and have enough funds to support yourself for a few years whilst you build it up then it doesnt seem as daunting, rather than jumping in trying to do everything in one go and then find out you've ran out of cash..

Well thanks again and nice meeting you, hopefully we'll chat again sometime :) Even if i decide not to go for it, i do camp once every blue moon, so will stay around and pop in from time to time, very good place for information about everything.

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Message posted by chappers234127/8/2014 at 7:19am
Outfit:  helsport Kongsvold     Location:  Oxford
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Some really good points from Jakers there, we are heading into the start of a campsite purchase, something that has taken us nearly 5 years to get to the point where we are ready. I have spoken to many local authorities and the concensus seems to be that creating a new campsite licence is virtually impossible. Lodges yes but campsites no. The finance side of things is also very tight now, with first timers being lucky to raise anywhere near 50% LTV, with 25% being more normal.
Our personal choice is to find something basic and develop it as Jakers has.

Message posted by Jakers27/8/2014 at 9:37am
Outfit:  Pili Pala Pod     Location:  West Wales
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Hi Again

Yes we did a awful lot ourselves, my hubbys a civil engineer so plumbing and much of the building work he did and luckily had a basic structure in place so for example no need to renew things like septic tanks they were here already.

You will be dictated to largely by what the local council gives you on your site licence if you are lucky enough to get one, planning, site licence are all 'set' by the local council on any site. The licence dictates how many toilets and showers you need what minimum space you need between pitches for the land space, so becareful when thinking you can 'fit' 20 pitches on this piece of land as the council may say you can only fit 10!

The reason for the HUGE spend on the loos were it actually turned out cheaper to have a external company design and build the block and the have it brought to site - we were working around an operational site and actually had to close for the month of may to fit it in, you carn't run a site of this size without loos and showers to suit I'm afraid..... we had to get planning but don't forget building regs that you HAVE to comply with and that ramps up your costs. Hence our toilet block is actually like a twin unit park home - no building regs need to be adhered too as technically it is a 'caravan' :)

Also don't forget that if you are operational, campers don't want you bashing and crashing around during the season, which tends to mean the winter months are what you are left with to develop - ice, freezing cold conditions were when we put down some foundations!!! Had to invest in a pump another winter to get the water out of the trenches!!!! You absolutely need a decent contingency........... again from an email I have done previously there's more to think about if your doing it properly ( in the customers eyes).....

Electric and daily meter charge ( this includes running the outside lighting, the toilet block, the lights in the reception, laundry, over the dog walk, playroom)

Water, to pitches, to toilet block etc

Gas - the toilets are heated via gas - we have no choice! at the rate of 65 per 47KG bottle - we can get through 2 per week when busy.

Septic tank emptying - we have 3 tanks onsite

Rates - here in our county that includes business rates AND council tax - we actually get nothing for this as we do not use the library, have no street lighting and rarely see a policeman

Waste ( huge cost) - we have 2 x 1100 litres wheelie bins onsite we buy tags from the council at 35 plus VAT per tag eg: PER EMPTY and in the height of the season will have the bins emptied 2 times a week. We also have to pay 1.10 per bag for recycling and have kick out on average 6-10 bags per week when busy. We had to buy the bins to begin with at a cost of 500 per bin!

Insurance - a biggy for the buildings/contents and public liability.

Marketing and advertising - it costs to be graded by tourist boards - never did understand that you pay them to tell you what to install, it costs to have a david bellamy award, its costs to be part of the AA, RAC, Caravan Club, CCC or BHHPA it costs additionally to advertise with these organisations. Websites and printing also cost for example for every booking form we write out it costs us 58 pence, that isn't accounting for the glossy brochure to be produced and printed!.


Phone line - we have no choice in our area but to pay a business rate phone line, plus internet cost to keep the broadband line for the WIFI.

Electric testing - yes all park electric HAVE to be tested each year, likewise both boilers require gas testing and service each year....

Banking - as a business you get charges when you put money in the bank and when you take it out and if you use any of there facilities like statements - they charge you. We carn't take credit cards as it simply costs too much for the terminal and processing..

Repairs and maintainence - like broken toilet seats, when the belts go on the mower, fuel for the mower at the current rip off rates, fuel for the strimmer, hand mower, tubs and plants to make the site look nice, toilet rolls, cleaning products to clean the loos/showers, a computer to process bookings, luckily we have our own system but other sites have to pay for the booking system, grass seed and weed kill, WIFI cards, hooks for the toilets...........

I think the best way to look at it is think of something you do on site and I'll guarentee it costs the site money, despite popular belief and whilst it is most definitely a lifestyle choice for the little uns' like us it is NOT a money for nothing job by any stretch of the imagination. We do not pay ourselves a wage, in terms of finance actually both myself and my husband would be 'better off' in our respective professions.... hope this helps a little to see the other side of the coin.

Feel free to email/visit etc always happy to chat about what it REALLY takes we are very proud of our site and our customers do mostly appreciate our efforts :)

Post last edited on 27/08/2014 09:48:32

-------------
If you can't beat em, join em, so we did! And then we sold it for a holiday let & Glamping pod instead 😁

Don't forget to leave a review of the campsites you have visited this year or last!


Message posted by mwooly1027/8/2014 at 11:51am
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Great read Jakers, Thank you very much for taking the time out to type it :)

Message posted by eskdale27/8/2014 at 1:53pm
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   Hi,

  We own and run two campsites in the Lakes.....cash in and then cash out ! whats left is very little......profit I think its called,we reinvest all the time ..new WiFi,drains,electric,play park gear.....ground works,paths ,roads,gates,fences.....dont get me wrong I LOVE MY LIFE/WORK/JOB/LIFE STYLE.....you need some cash behind you,we were very lucky and got into this trade 10 yrs ago when the banks were lending. I am working every day with the family..no commute..

Its a massive  jump.....pick your area well,somewhere local to you !


Message posted by chappers234127/8/2014 at 5:28pm
Outfit:  helsport Kongsvold     Location:  Oxford
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That's a very comprehensive list and very useful Jakers.
Just a couple of ideas, by the way your trade waste is very reasonable a friend of mine pays nearly double that for his shop here in Oxford, but have you considered using a skip which may be cheaper if you have the space.

Also you say you don't take cards I have started using paypal for my card payments, their fees aren't too bad at all, no contract and the reader is just a one off 50

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Message posted by Jakers27/8/2014 at 8:16pm
Outfit:  Pili Pala Pod     Location:  West Wales
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Quote: Originally posted by chappers2341 on 27/8/2014
That's a very comprehensive list and very useful Jakers.
Just a couple of ideas, by the way your trade waste is very reasonable a friend of mine pays nearly double that for his shop here in Oxford, but have you considered using a skip which may be cheaper if you have the space.

Also you say you don't take cards I have started using paypal for my card payments, their fees aren't too bad at all, no contract and the reader is just a one off 50



Thanks for this yes campsites are classed as domestic waste rather that commercial at the moment so is a little cheaper. STILL expensive if people as has happened this week fill the bins with tents/camping chairs & tables/fan heaters and general camping gear it is dependant on area too...

We have looked into card payments via all sorts of methods and all are pretty expensive when your earnings are not that much, it sounds daft prehaps but paying for example 10 per night by card would mean even with the most reasonable a 1.40 deduction, the bank charge for entry to the bank, then VAT off that (not that we earn enough to be VAT registered BUT it was of benefit when developing - you can voluntary register), then the expenses from the pitch not much room for any profit I'm afraid.

It costs us 26p per cheque to cash, and they even charge for putting cash into the bank or bank transfer! EVERY transaction in or out incurs a bank charge...

As eskdale rightly says, it costs money and you need lots of it behind you, no offence to anyone but without at least a couple of hundred thousand behind you ( house sale maybe?) it is not a business that is on a small scale profitable, like eskdale says it does have it's 'perks' and is very much a lifestyle we like but thinking that it comes 'easy' or 'cheap' is a very false perception. We too were 'lucky' and purchased 12 years ago when the bank were favourably lending then we got a lucky break with our park we sold in scotland, without that we simply wouldn't have been able to afford to stay in the industry.

-------------
If you can't beat em, join em, so we did! And then we sold it for a holiday let & Glamping pod instead 😁

Don't forget to leave a review of the campsites you have visited this year or last!


Message posted by mwooly1027/8/2014 at 9:42pm
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thanks all for the info and insight so far, i am a little short on the "couple of hundred grand bit though"
maybe as said with selling up i could get near half that, but thats about it..

On another note, you've probably looked or checked but as i have an online shop, my bank doesnt charge me any bank charges, cheques in, transactions online, anything.. Could you not get an account like that and then just transfer to your main account at the end of every month, least that would cut your charges down a bit.

Message posted by mwooly1028/8/2014 at 5:33pm
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To help me with trying to work out what would be needed on a monthly basis, would you be willing to give me a rough estimate on monthly costs, as im sure most would be classed as business, it would give me and idea of what i would to make at least..

im guessing that you have your bills/food paid for by the campsite with not getting a wage? Which i could probably live with doing, as you say its a lifestyle thing not a money making one..

do you get campers every weekend or mainly every weekend in the holidays?

If im not being too nosey i saw you shut for 5 months, what do you do for the 5 months when your not building/upgrading

Totally understand if you dont want to disclose any of that but if want to do it by email, its my mwooly10...at...gmail...com

Message posted by Jakers28/8/2014 at 6:22pm
Outfit:  Pili Pala Pod     Location:  West Wales
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just quickly as it's still busy here :) work on 800 - 1000 per pitch turning over and you'll not be far wrong, expenses equate to approx 35 - 45 % of the business excluding the VAT bill and not forgetting any loan/mortgage only the interest on the loan can be paid via the business expenses, you have to pay the rest from the elusive 'profit'.

The type of campers you get largely depends on area, the scottish site has a different client base to this one it REALLY varies on your area, we HAVE to shut for 5 months the licence states that, the first few years we worked as well as ran the site and developed - VERY hard going, developed each year then last year started our little family, this years close will be park maintainance and second child being born :)

No line of bentleys or fancy holidays I'm afraid anything made goes back into improvements/maintainance there is ALWAYS something to improve or maintain which takes up much of 'winter'!

Hope that helps

-------------
If you can't beat em, join em, so we did! And then we sold it for a holiday let & Glamping pod instead 😁

Message posted by mwooly1028/8/2014 at 7:02pm
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There was no rush if you are busy im in no rush ..

I take it that per pitch was per season or monthly?

Yeah i think i forgot to mention that i know it would vary a lot depending on where you were.. but now i have a few figures, and costs, gives me a much better idea of what im up against, and more than i had a few days ago

Thats probably the one thing i wouldnt like, being told to shut for basically half the year, although most of that is winter i presume, but still bad..

I have one myself although he isnt so little anymore.. as hes just turned into a teenager

Luckily for me a dont like Bentleys anyway more of a van man..

Thanks again for the much needed advice and help, hope all goes well with the extra addition :)

Message posted by AlisonBob28/8/2014 at 7:33pm
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Hi mike

No idea of your budget but found this on the net. Having built you own house think you might have the skills to take it on. Was thinking you might be able to turn the chalet housing around to apartments so they could start bringing in an income, then look at expanding to a campsite subject to planning.



4 bedroom farm house for sale

Quite fancy doing something similar myself - I wish I had building skills

Bob


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