Hi there Jim - I agree with Kev, always take a damp meter and rempember you have to push it through the paper - we bought a van from a private seller and although we got a very nice van all the accessories you require incl awning all the way to salt, tea and coffee!!!! and at a good price it has shown to have faults we were unaware of which would have been detected by a damp meter and is going to cost us more to get them fixed. We decided as this is all very new to us we would learn from our mistake and get them fixed asap so it is going in tommorrow and hopefully get it back next week or the week after. This way it won't worry me so much and we know we can take it back until it is repaired properly.
When we were looking we looked at both private and dealers and you could not compare the prices so I do feel that although it is going to cost us more than we originally thought, it is still going to be cheaper than it would be buying from a dealer.
Write down your requirements and the layout of vans you like and take a list of questions, make sure you are shown everything working both on the battery and with the electric attached and the switch put to 'caravan'. We were shown everything working on the battery not the electric and when this ran out we discovered the transformer in the van was broken.
- we went to see loads and not one we were told had damp but you could not miss it in most of the vans.We even found mushrooms growing in one which I was assured was completely dry - fairly amusing though as my husband said he was nearly knocked out by the perfume the woman was wearing and had not realised she had sprayed the van with some pretty pungent stuff before we arrived.
------------- If you hear - you forget, if you see - you remember but if you do - you understand.
I would start looking around the 'end of the caravanning' season.
About September - October time, as some maybe calling it a day making this year their last caravanning holiday (which is where you may see vans sold with all the kit - awning, water barrels, battery etc.
Or maybe they want to up / down grade in size, and are wanting a better price by selling privately, giving them better 'ammunition' when negotiating a better deal at the dealers.
Bargain off ebay. Only 2 miles away, had a good look at it, talked to the seller, popped back a couple of times. Had everything included, it was a divorce sale, quick, for a settlement. We were lucky. Bought out folding camper off ebay too, bargain with it as well.