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Editor’s note: Dave is an unbiased party and in no way gives his opinion on whether or not to buy a vehicle. He simply presents the data to clients to help them make their decision. Please enjoy Brian’s interview with Dave below!
In my last article, I explained the need to have an RV inspected by a trained professional before making such a large purchase and in this article I’ll share some information I learned when I interviewed one of the National Recreational Vehicle Inspectors Association (NRVIA) certified inspectors who currently works out of the Fort Myers, Florida area in the winter and the Holland, Michigan area during the summer season.
Recent retiree Dave Kuiper is a NRVIA certified level two inspector that I spoke with during a brief interview I had with him recently.
When asked why he became an RV inspector and started his own business “DJ’s RV Services LLC”, Dave told me, “DJs RV services came into existence based on the desire to maintain our own trailer and save money. Our family has camped since 1986 in various units beginning with a popup, to a travel trailer to a fifth wheel which we keep in Florida. I decided to take control of normal routine maintenance tasks by taking a course at the NRVIA in Athens, Texas. I really enjoyed the class and saw an opportunity to help others get into the right RV and to be able to enjoy the great RV experience. I took the second class and have since become a level two RV inspector. This past fall (2019), I took classes to become a registered RV technician with the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) after which I took the exam and passed. I now hold that credential as well.”
“What are your ultimate criteria’s when inspecting an RV?” I asked.
“I want my inspections to be as thorough and accurate as I can supply to my customers. So, I am looking at three criteria. These would include endorsing the price, meaning I would approve the price the seller is asking and then recommend to the buyer that it is worth the money to purchase the RV. My second criteria would be to determine whether the buyer should negotiate a lower price because of issues I have detected during my inspection. These may include poor fluids analysis, water damage and many other problems associated with the age, mileage overall wear and tear of the RV. And the final criteria I am looking for is whether the buyer should exit the sale because the cost of repairs would far outweigh the value of the RV.”
Related: RV living cost
When asked how many inspections he performs annually, Dave answered, “I do between 45 and 50 inspections and these inspections are almost evenly split between towable RVs and motorhomes.”
“Between your two seasonal office locations, which one generates more business?” I asked.
“Definitely the Florida location,” Dave replied. “I have a lot of clients that are from other areas of the country and they are shopping for RVs here in Southwest, Florida.”
“On average Dave”, I asked. “What is the cost of an RV inspection?”
“There are a lot of variables per inspection, but for a towable RV the cost would be about $300 to $450 dollars. For a motorhome you can probably expect to pay $500 to $650 dollars and it would be best to have all of the fluids analyzed as well.” Dave told me.
Editor’s note: These prices are set by Dave and not standard by NRVIA. Each inspector sets their own pricing and is based off a Points of Inspection checklist. Customers should compare the list of inspection points and services provided to truly understand the value of the service.
Fluid analysis is an important thing to consider when purchasing a new or used RV, especially if it’s a class A, B or C motorhome. Most NRVIA inspectors offer this option when inspecting any RV but you will incur additional charges. Fluid analysis includes the engine motor oil, the coolant system, transmission fluid and an analysis of the fluids in the onboard generator.
What should I do to have an RV properly inspected?
According to Mr. Kuiper’s website, the process of a thorough inspection could take anywhere between five to eight hours and the RV should be presented as follows:
The RV inspection process
In order to give a customer, the most thorough inspection, it is better to have the unit hooked up in a campground or on a level place where full-service hookups are available. The area around the unit should be clear of any obstructions that would prevent access to anything on the roof, sides, end caps or underneath the RV. For a proper and thorough inspection to take place please follow these instructions:
- Sign the pre-inspection contract and pay for the inspection.
- The RV needs to be hooked up to power, water and sewer with the gray and black water holding tanks empty. The refrigerator should be turned on at least 12 hours prior to the inspection to allow it to get cold.
- All the aisles, appliances, furniture, doors and RV related systems should be clear and easily accessible. Ideally all owner possessions should be removed.
- The on-board water tank should be at least 1/3 full of water.
- All RV keys, remote controls and manuals should be made available.
- The propane tanks need to have propane in them so that they can be evaluated properly.
- The batteries need to be charged.
- If a generator is installed, it needs to have fuel in it so that it can be tested.
- Ideally the slides need to be extended or there needs to be room to extend the slides as they will be tested.
- The client needs to be present at the beginning and end of the inspection process. They will be contacted via text or phone call towards the end of the inspection to give you time to come back
Would I hire an inspector if I were to buy another camper?
Of course! I’d also do some due diligence and I’d research the purchase and the inspector. That said, I would absolutely hire NRVIA inspector Dave Kuiper because he is an excellent representative of what that organization represents. I would also recommend using an NRVIA inspector wherever you may be located.
As always folks, thanks for following my column here and safe travels to you all.