We venture behind the scenes for a catch up about what’s happening in the park and holiday home manufacturing world with Chris Ramsden, managing director of Gateway Chassis Solutions…
With bases in Hull and Northampton, Gateway Chassis Solutions designs and manufactures a range of chassis for residential park homes, holiday caravans, leisure lodges, and modular buildings.
Q Many of us don’t think about the chassis under our home, and we’ve been amazed to find out how much they vary. Why are there so many types?
Chris says: With chassis’ one type doesn’t really fit all, and that wouldn’t be the most cost-effective way of working. For example, a chassis in a coastal location would benefit from being fully galvanised. A number of our chassis’ are relatively simple, designed to take the lightest of holiday homes or modular units, and others are designed to load bear, sometimes in different places such as tech-heavy kitchens and bathrooms. This is where our value-added engineering is vital in building in additional strength in the areas where that’s needed most. It’s not always a question of throwing more steel at it as that might add cost where it could be saved; it’s about strategic engineering to ensure the chassis will do the job it needs to, without adding unnecessary cost for the end-user.
In terms of our heavy-duty options, our Park Home I-Beam was designed as a cost-effective fully galvanised option with the strength to support luxury lodges and park homes as they become bigger and heavier, while the Strongbox can cope with large models and more unusual constructions – it’s more than capable of holding each model it’s created to support.
Q Obviously the past 18 months has been unusual to say the least, with UK staycations now the easiest option for many looking to take a break. We know that many manufacturers’ order books are quite full as they work as hard as they can to get holiday homes out to parks. Have the pandemic or Brexit presented additional supply chain issues?
Chris says: The price of steel has risen considerably, so that has impacted us, but we feel that this is where our value-added engineering can sometimes give us a solid edge, particularly with the heavier and more challenging holiday lodges and homes. Availability of some steel has also been challenging and in some cases very difficult to acquire, even with pre-ordered products. I think it’s fair to say we’re not alone though – most of the supply chain has been hit one way or another and it’s created a few nightmares for manufacturers to work through as there are so many component elements to homes. They are doing remarkably well under the circumstances to keep production going at such a pace, especially when they may have also experienced staffing issues.
Q How would this impact those thinking of buying a park home, holiday caravan or lodge?
Chris says: Well, the wait could be a little longer as build slots are in high demand, so buyers might perhaps want to consider snapping up a show home already on a park, as that’s probably the quickest route to being able to use it. That said, if someone wants a bespoke lodge built with a few touches of their own, the wait will be worth it. Prices have inevitably gone up as manufacturers have battled supply chain issues, but we know having worked with many of them how hard they have worked and are working to minimise the impact to both parks and holiday home owners. It’s definitely a great time to own a holiday home in the UK at the moment and if you’re thinking of buying a holiday home to rent it out, then the potentially solid occupation levels may well help offset the purchase price. For those who may have been unsure if holiday home ownership is for them, they may feel safer to take that leap of faith now. If you find yourself paying a little more to buy one than you would have done this time last year, there’s a strong argument that you’ll get it back if you are thinking of subletting it. Many owners find that having their own escape to head to without battling booking systems or travel restrictions is well worth it, and it can also be great for mental health and wellbeing in stressful times. We love that aspect of our work, that the chassis bases we build for holiday homes are probably the basis for so many happy holiday memories of the future, making a real difference to the quality of life for so many families.
Q Can you think of anything else that has helped you during these most difficult of times?
Chris says: We invested in our own lasering facility in-house, and that not only saves us time in production and transport, streamlining our process considerably, but it’s meant that we are less reliant on outside sources and influences for these parts.
Q If a buyer is working with a park to buy a bespoke park or holiday home, can they ask for it to be galvanised, or is that down to the park or manufacturer?
Chris says: Most manufacturers are happy to offer that as an option, so all you have to do is ask. All our chassis’ are robust and built to last, but this does add another level of protection against corrosion, so if you’re in a coastal location it’s definitely worth considering.
Q Do you also work on modular projects?
Chris says: Yes, we manufacture modular base frames for a range of structures and are working with several parks and manufacturers to create quite unique spaces. Our expertise can help maximise land use, giving structures a solid base and in many cases helping from a planning perspective, supporting planning objectives and compliance in the transportation and build process. We are quite happy to get involved with projects early on where this could be helpful.
These are not ‘just’ modular. Where a level of innovation is needed to unlock a potential project we are often in the background somewhere supporting our manufacturers from a design and engineering perspective.