Ready-built campervans don’t come cheap, which is why many people have taken the initiative to design their very own classic campervan. In this guide, we shed some light on how this can be achieved, and reveal some key factors to consider.
Finding A Suitable Vehicle
Here’s a list of the most popular vans that are often converted into campers:
- Volkswagen Transporter
- Fiat Ducato
- Ford Transit
- Renault Trafic
- Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
- Vauxhall Vivaro
Set a Budget & Design
The upfront costs of converting a van into a campervan don’t come cheap, though it should be a more cost-effective alternative to buying a ready-built one.
As a starting point, you should set yourself a budget to make sure you don’t overspend. Ultimately, even the simplest conversion could cost you between £6,000 and £12,000. Having said that, converting your van to a high standard would be a worthwhile investment. This is because campervans are highly sought-after, meaning you’d easily be able to put it up for sale in the future.
Insulation and Ventilation
Insulating your campervan is crucial, as it helps to maintain a desired room temperature and protect you from the cold during winter.
There are various methods of insulating your camper, one way is to sound deaden. You can achieve this by using closed cell, foam-based products that can be applied to your metal panels surrounding your campervan. This behaves as a moisture barrier, insulator, and possesses soundproofing qualities – all in one.
For anyone who is considering converting a panel van, the first thing you’ll need to do is fit windows – otherwise it’ll be too dark inside. Where you decide to install your windows is entirely up to you and depends on your layout plan. A skylight is an excellent way to make your campervan feel more open and less confined too.
Electricity & Gas
Converting a campervan is a fun DIY project to get stuck into. However, when it comes to setting up electricity and gas, it’s best to leave this to a professional. Try contacting a local, Gas Safe registered engineer to help with the gas fitting, that way it can be done safely and efficiently. It may even be a good idea to get multiple quotes from various engineers and electricians, that way you can be sure you’re getting a competitive price.
It’s also a good idea to carry extra power management equipment to make life easier when visiting campsites, such as mains hook-up cables and extension leads.
Clean Water Flow
Ensuring your campervan has a clean water flow is another basic necessity to think about. To do this, you have two options to choose from: either an external portable container or a fixed internal tank. The latter being the most popular and convenient option. These tanks tend to be found underneath the van.
When you’re filling up the tank, make sure you’re using a clean water supply. Often campsites won’t provide you with a clean water hose, so it’s best to double check beforehand. Additionally, clean water can be transported using freshwater water jerry cans, Aquarolls or collapsible water carriers.
Toilets & Sanitation
Having a toilet onboard your motorhome is essential if you are wild camping or parked a distance away from campsite toilets, and can provide a bit more privacy than shared facilities. A popular toilet solution for campervan owners is to use a Porta Poti. These are free-standing which means they avoid any permanent plumbing connection and can be easily and cleanly emptied using campsite waste disposal facilities.
Showers & Pumps
Easy-to-use, affordable, and portable, a manual pump is an excellent way to operate your shower in a campervan. By simply administering a few foot pumps, water is able to run from the shower head without the use of electricity. On the other hand, there is the option of fitting an electric shower. Despite being more costly, they are convenient during a long outing or if you’re travelling a long distance.
Interior Furniture & Equipment
As we move our attention to the kitchen area, there are several important kitchen appliances you’re going to need. A microwave is convenient for on-the go meals. A stove is a versatile appliance that’s a must-have for your campervan, making everything from morning fry-ups to soup dishes.
A sink is another key piece of equipment for the kitchen. There are space saving designs that have a sink and a hob combined with a cover for when not in use to create more worktop space. And don’t forget a fridge or cooler to keep food and drinks chilled.
The next appliance is a kettle, where you have the choice of using either a whistling kettle or a travel electric kettle. A whistling kettle is used on a camping stove, whereas a travel electric kettle requires a 12V plug (or UK power plug via an inverter).
Finally, don’t forget additional kitchenware essentials such as, plates, pans, cutlery, pots, and glassware.
Bedroom-wise, you need to ensure that there’s plenty of space to fit in a bed. That means you’ll need to know the exact specifications of the bedroom area and the size of the bed you require.
The design and layout of your bedroom is completely up to you and your preferences. A fixed bed means you don’t have to keep putting it away each time, but a fold-away bed creates more space during the day. If you’re interested in bunkbeds for the family, then these are most commonly located at the rear of the campervan, against a wall.
Make It Road Legal
Re-registering your vehicle isn’t as difficult as it may sound. All you have to do is find your V5 registration document from the DVLA and fill out the blue section that reads ‘Changes to current vehicle’. On top of that, you will need to print out and fill in the DVLA’s ‘Motor caravan conversion checklist’. In this document, you’ll find a list of photographs you need to take, which should then be sent to the DVLA, this includes shots of the interior and exterior of the van.
Generally speaking, insurance for motorhomes tends to be cheaper than van insurance. The reason for this is because motorhomes and campervans usually do fewer miles and are not used for commercial purposes. That means insurance companies can expect fewer claims.
For safety, both the driver and any passengers on board a motorhome or campervan must wear designated seatbelts when the vehicle is in transit. It’s worth noting that side facing seats cannot be used as a designated travel seat.
It is compulsory for all motorhomes – including campervans – to carry a fire extinguisher. The most suitable extinguisher is known as a water mist extinguisher. Compact, safe to use, and easy to operate, this type of extinguisher can tackle ABCF fires and leaves no mess or residue once it’s been used.
Finally, before you hit the road for your first roadtrip, ensure you carry out the essential checks to the vehicle including ensuring the tyre pressure is optimal, topping up fluids like screenwash, engine oil and coolant, and testing the battery. For full details of key checks, read our blog on 7 Essential Car Checks Before a Long Drive.
Whether you’re converting a van from scratch or looking to replace any items in situ, you’ll find a range of industry-leading motorhome products right here at Euro Car Parts.