buying van vs conversion

How to choose the right campervan conversion company: 17 tips

Deciding to convert a van into a campervan is an exciting time! There are so many benefits to converting a van, including exercising your freedom, meeting like-minded campers along the way and having a vehicle that suits your lifestyle.

But picking a converter isn’t a decision you should take lightly; you need to ensure you get a converter that can deliver the van of your dreams.

Fortunately, we have plenty of experience converting vans over the years, so we’re in a pretty good place to advise you what to look for. Here are our top tips for picking a campervan converter:

 

1. Check their reviews

When browsing for a converter, we stress that you always check their reviews. There’s nothing more concrete than customer reviews. After all, you’re hearing from people who have used the service.

Try to read between the lines and have legitimacy in mind. If a company’s last review was four years ago that would ring alarm bells. Likewise, having ten five-star reviews with no written feedback or images would raise suspicion. You’ll usually be able to tell who’s legitimate and who isn’t.

 

2. Look at their previous work

Any campervan converter worth considering will have a portfolio of work you can look at to get an idea of how well-presented their conversions are. You can usually find it on their website, but if they don’t have a site, you can have a look on their social media or Quirky Converters page. We have a gallery with some of our latest conversions.

 

3. Visit their social media pages

While you probably won’t find anything significant on a company’s social media page, it’s good to know they’re active. It at least shows you that they’re a legitimate business, and you can usually see reviews on Facebook pages, as well as any work they’ve done or content they like to post. See what the company has been posting recently and get to know the brand.

 

4. Are they Quirky registered?

Another way to check whether a converter is legitimate is to check the Quirky Campers converters directory. The converters directory shows companies that either have a listing on the site or are Quirky-approved.

Being Quirky Approved is a paid service, so you can be certain that these converters are trustworthy and legitimate. You’ll also find details about the price and be able to view the converter’s work. You can view our Quirky Converters page to find out more.

 

5. Understand what you want from the build

Before you commission any van build, you need to know what you want to achieve. You don’t necessarily have to know exactly what you want when you reach out to a converter as they can help you decide.

But you need to know before they start to do any work on your van. If you and your converter aren’t clear, then you could end up with something you don’t want, and an unwanted bill on top. It’s best to get everything in writing and signed off, then nobody is going to end up disappointed.

 

6. Check if their service offering matches what you want

All converters aren’t the same. Each converter will have a particular set of skills that makes their vans unique. Whether that’s experience in a particular field like design, or a diverse set of packages.

For example, our Bhode One and Bhode Two builds give you the option to keep costs down as we standardise the parts while giving you creative freedom with styling and finishes. Contrast that to our bespoke builds, that give you complete creative control.

Some converters specialise in certain tasks, like pop-top roofs or working with specific vans like the Volkswagen T3. Check that what you want matches up with their service offering, so you can get the best converter for your project.

 

7. Look for prices in advance

If you don’t have a budget in mind, we’d advise you to do your best to get a figure. Even if money isn’t a problem for you, it’s still good to have an idea. The last thing you want is to get a proposal that doesn’t match the price you want to pay.

Once you have a budget in mind, you can start to look for a converter that can work with it. It’s always better if a converter can give a ballpark figure, so keep an eye out. It can be difficult for converters to give a price if your project is bespoke, so consider the complexity of your project.

Blog: How much does it cost to convert a campervan?

 

8. Ask them how they communicate

A good converter will be open to using your style of communication. Some people are happy with a few photos every now and again, while other people prefer email updates or weekly phone calls.

Either way, communication should be a priority for your converter, and if they try to dodge questions about communication, that’s a bad sign. You could even ask for some examples of how they communicate, a trustworthy converter will be happy to oblige.

 

9. Get a clear idea of the process

Getting a solid understanding of the process is one of the key considerations when undertaking a van conversion. If you don’t know what’s happening over the duration of the conversion, you’re going to end up confused and stressed. A converter having a good line of communication will help to alleviate the stress, but you still need to know what the process is before the build.

This will involve things like the timeline, duration of the build, any input needed from you, communication frequency, deposits, paperwork, guarantees and warranties, and final bills. Anything you feel you need to know that will happen over the course of your build. A good converter will be able to explain the process with ease.

 

10. Evaluate their qualifications and experience

The more qualifications, the better! Our key considerations would be anything to do with gas and electricity, as any problems with them could cause serious damage to you and your van. But you can also look out for other skills like plumbing, joinery or mechanics.

Pay attention to what they did in their previous job as well. For example, someone who’s worked in the creative industry as a designer will probably have a flair for the interior design of your van.

 

11. Ask yourself if location matters

While it’s more convenient to have a converter that’s close to where you live, it’s not always the best option. If you don’t have the right feeling about that converter, it’s probably best not to go with them and look further afield.

With the introduction of WhatsApp, email, and video calling, it’s easy to keep track of what’s happening with your conversion. You’ll need to ensure you get a converter that’s a good communicator, you don’t want to be left wondering what’s happening for weeks. Reviews will usually give some indication of communication.

 

12. Check your timelines match

There’s nothing worse than finding a converter you love, only to discover that they can’t carry out the work on your timeline. If you check a converter’s Quirky Converter page, they’ll usually give you an indication of when they’re available. Always make sure you ask about timelines early on, that way you won’t end up disappointed.

 

13. Ensure your converter is budget-conscious

There’s nothing worse than commissioning a build on a budget only to find out your converter hasn’t priced things properly, which results in additional costs. Most people are working to a particular budget, and you need a converter that can stick to it. That’s why we offer our signature package at £21,999 – so you don’t get any unwanted extra costs.

 

14. Talk to a few converters before you commit

As with any purchase, it’s worth shopping around before you commit to anything. You wouldn’t walk into the first car dealership you see and buy the first car they offer you, and van conversions are no different.

Get a feel for the company and whether you think they can deliver what you require. It’s more than likely you’ll get a feel for the right place, but make sure you have answers to all the questions you need to ask before you commission your build.

 

15. Ask about any guarantees or warranties

When you’re spending such a large amount of money on a conversion, it helps to have some peace of mind should something go wrong after you receive your van. You don’t want to be left thousands out of pocket and must have more work done to your van.

When it comes to warranties and guarantees, the more protection the better! Be sure to read the fine print and get as much information from your converter as possible.

 

16. Get a converter that knows the law

When converting a van, you need to ensure it meets the requirements set out by the DVLA. Now, if a converter’s reviews are good this would indicate that they know how to convert a van that’s roadworthy. But it’s always worth asking the question. There’s nothing worse than receiving your van, only to find out you can’t drive it!

 

17. And finally… Trust your intuition!

As with most things, we always advise people to trust their intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably best not to go with it. If you do all the relevant research and get a good feeling about a converter, go for it!

 

Are you ready to start your conversion?

There’s only so much research you can do before you have to take the plunge. And if you follow this list, we think you’ll be able to pick a suitable converter for your dream van. Submit an enquiry below and we’ll kickstart your journey!

 

 

converted campervan sheffield

17 benefits of converting a van into a campervan

Are you thinking of converting a van into a campervan? Whether you’re using it for weekend getaways or living out of your van full-time, it’s an exciting yet daunting idea. And it takes bravery and commitment to see it through.

If you’re considering converting a van and you’re wondering what the benefits are, look no further. We’ve got 17 benefits of converting a van into a campervan. Here’s the list:

 

1. Converting is cheaper than buying a motorhome

Motorhomes and purpose-built campervans don’t come cheap, with a new one setting you back at least £50,000. Of course, you can pick an older model up for cheaper if you shop around. The question you should ask yourself is do you want something ready-made? Or do you want something you can put your stamp on?

Our conversions start at £21,999 (not including the van), meaning you’ve already saved yourself 20-30k – which is a lot of money! It all depends on whether you want to pay for convenience and a quick sale at a premium, or save money by contributing to the conversion and waiting a little longer to get your van.

Blog: How much does it cost to convert a campervan?

 

2. You can choose the size of your van

The great thing about vans is that they come in all shapes and sizes, from the small Citroen Berlingo to the large Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. And this means you can choose a van that best suits your lifestyle. If you’re a solo camper, you probably don’t need the space a Mercedes Sprinter offers, but if you’re living out of your van full-time you might like the extra space.

For example, if we look at the Sprinter there are so many different options to choose from, including:

  • Three wheelbases
  • Three transmission layouts
  • Seven load volumes
  • Three load heights
  • Four load lengths
  • Four van door height

You’ll need to do your research into the van, its dimensions and how it translates into a conversion. Use your converter as a sounding board and ask people on forums and Facebook groups to get more information.

Blog: Best large vans to convert into a campervan

 

3. You can roam wherever you choose!

The beauty of having a campervan is you can travel wherever you want, hitch up and enjoy the scenery. There’s nothing quite like packing up your van and driving off into the sunset knowing you’ve always got somewhere to rest your head and enjoy your travels.

There are so many beautiful spots in the UK, but if you’re more adventurous you can take ferries over to mainland Europe or Ireland.

 

4. You have a valuable asset

The price you can sell your vehicle for depends on many factors, such as the make and model, mileage, age of the vehicle and its overall condition. But if you look after your van and ensure you keep its service history and MOT up-to-date, there’s no reason why you won’t be able to get some cash for it – perfect for your next conversion! Vans often hold their value better than cars, too.

 

5. You can adapt the van to suit your lifestyle

Every van owner has a unique lifestyle that they want their van to serve. Some people want a comfortable seating area where they can soak in the view, others need storage for outdoor activities or their family belongings, and some people just need somewhere to rest their heads at the end of a long hike.

Whatever purpose you need your van to serve, converting a van means you’re more likely to achieve your goals. You can work with your converter to get a layout that’s tailored to your needs, and you won’t have to compromise too much to get your dream campervan.

You can also build the van to serve multiple purposes, like taking the kids to school on a weekday, going to work in your van and then using it to get away for the weekend.

 

6. You can personalise the van to your taste

One of the main benefits of converting a van is the ability to personalise it so it reflects your style. Whether you’re into something more contemporary, something more shabby chic or you’re into your nautical décor – using a converter means you can stamp your style on your van and create something unique.

If you’ve ever decorated your house, you’ll remember the feeling of accomplishment and comfort at creating an environment that’s an extension of yourself – and it’s the same with your campervan.

 

7. You can make the van your home

Many people convert a van to make it their home. It offers a more unconventional way of life that has many benefits. Firstly, it’s cheaper to convert a van than it is to pay a mortgage electricity, gas and other bills. A van also gives you the freedom to move location, so many people that work remotely can get the best of both worlds, as long as there’s an internet connection nearby.

There’s also the benefit to the environment as you’re forced to live with less. We accumulate so much stuff we don’t need throughout our lives, and living out of campervan forces you to decide what matters to you. You’ll also meet like-minded people on your journey, so there’s the social element of living in an RV. And one more thing, no annoying neighbours!

 

8. Vans tend to have good mileage

While we can’t speak for every van, as vans do have problems like other motor vehicles – vans do tend to have good mileage. Let’s remember that vans are the workhorse of society. They need to be able to travel short, medium, and long distances often bearing heavy loads and carrying specialist equipment.

There’s a reason vans are used by public services like the NHS for their ambulances, they’re reliable and customisable. It’s common to find vans with over 150,000 miles on the clock that still perform well, so you know that when you’re buying a van to convert, you’re getting something that has longevity.

Blog: Most reliable vans to convert

 

9. There are plenty of converters in the UK

Van conversions are becoming more popular as people seek to live simpler lives, holiday in different ways and avoid the large costs of motorhomes. As a result, there are plenty of campervan converters all over the UK, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one within a reachable distance.

Living in a digital age allows you to reach out further as well, with many converters offering UK-wide services where you can communicate over a video call, email, or messaging services. Some converters will deliver to source a van for you, meaning you won’t have to travel to drop the van off.

You can use the Quirky Campers directory to find a reputable converter. And of course, Bhode Vans is on there.

 

10. Cater to individual requirements

Just because you have a physical disability or you aren’t as mobile as you once were, it doesn’t mean you can’t convert a van. While it may be more difficult to find a converter who can work with your needs, it isn’t impossible. Converters will know van dimensions and their customisable capabilities, so if you need a van that has a low access level, they should be able to recommend a van for you.

 

11. Have as much creative control as you desire

When converting your van, you can have as little or as much creative control as you need. Many converters will offer different packages. At Bhode Vans we have two signature builds called Bhode One and Bhode Two, where we standardise parts of the process to reduce time and cost while giving you creative freedom with the décor and interior finishes. We also offer support with DIY conversions and complete creative control to people who want something bespoke.

Blog: Campervan conversion specialist vs DIY conversion: What should you choose?

 

12. Rent your van out to make extra cash

Providing your van meets the DVLA requirements and you have the correct insurance in place, you could use your van to make a little extra cash on the side when you aren’t using it. With people looking to take alternative holidays, especially since COVID hit, campervan rental is a quirky holiday that gives people a chance to connect to nature and a simpler way of life. Who knows, you might even convert a few people on the way!

You can also use the Quirky Camper site to register your van for rentals.

 

13. Create deeper bonds with your family

We all remember those trips in the car to various holiday destinations around the UK. “Mum, she’s on my side of the car” for three hours straight. But they were also very rewarding, and fun. I think most of us would love to go back to those times. A campervan lets you relive it all again! Except it’s like being on a permanent holiday because the journey is a part of it. If you have a dog, you can take it with you in your campervan as well, which saves booking any kennels or pestering family members before you leave.

 

14. You have everything you need to survive on the road

If you get a full conversion, you’ll have all the amenities you need to survive on the road. Such as a toilet, kitchen and sleeping area. Reducing your dependence on third parties means you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to stay as much, and you can often find a secluded spot and sleep there (just be careful not to break any laws in the process).

 

15. A conversion van is more like driving a car than a motorhome

To put it simply, motorhomes aren’t built for driving urban driving, they’re long-distance vehicles that travel on motorways to various holiday destinations. As a result, they can feel quite clunky and can be difficult to drive even if you have experience. On the other hand, even large vans are designed for busy city driving and compact roads, meaning you can jump in a van much like a car, so it’s a convenient way of getting around.

 

16. Great fuel mileage

While a van won’t have as good fuel mileage as most cars, it will have better mileage than a motorhome. It’s smaller, lighter, and more compact – and because they’re often used for business purposes low fuel mileage is a priority for business owners. While it’s not going to save you thousands, it’ll bring down the price of your trip, and you can save some cash.

 

17. Easy to access maintenance and repairs

If you have a motorhome, you’ll need to find a specialist who can service or repair your vehicle. However, with vans, there will be plenty of mechanics in or close to your area that can service and repair vans. Making repairs and servicing more accessible means you won’t have to worry as much about keeping your van in top condition and can spend more time driving it.

 

Ready to build your dream campervan?

If you’re convinced you want to convert a van into a campervan, we can help get you started. All you need to do is fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch to discuss your project.

Campervan conversion specialist vs DIY conversion: what should you choose?

Converting a campervan is a big project and there are several routes you can travel down to get your dream vehicle.

Making the wrong choice could leave you unhappy with your van, and you don’t want to spend your money on something you don’t like – especially when campervans aren’t cheap.

There are three routes you can take when converting your van, which are:

  1. Buying a new campervan
  2. Renovating an old camper or converting a van yourself
  3. Using a campervan conversion specialist to renovate a van or old campervan

In this article, we’re going to compare renovating a campervan yourself and using a specialist to convert your van.

You can also read our article comparing buying a new campervan vs using a campervan conversion specialist.

We’ll look at the key factors throughout, including:

  • Cost
  • Time frame
  • Quality
  • Length of use
  • Type of use
  • Laws & regulations
  • Pros and cons

 

Campervan conversion specialist vs DIY conversion: factors to consider

Let’s get started! We’re going to list all the key factors to consider when converting a campervan. We’ll take a deeper look at each factor, summarise the pros and cons and give you an alternative solution at the end.

 

Cost

Cost is one of the most important factors when converting a campervan. While you can convert a campervan on a budget, you don’t want to cut corners as it can make your costs spiral. To ensure you work within your budget, it’s important to determine the rough cost of each method.

How much does a professional campervan conversion cost?

As a rule, most quality campervan conversions start around £7000. While it’s possible to get a cheaper conversion, you need to ensure your camper meets regulations and offers you the experience you want.

Visit websites like Quirky Campers, which has a van conversion directory with listings, prices and services from various campervan conversion companies in the UK, including us.

There are usually three service options converters offer:

  1. Stock conversions – ‘stock models’ allow converters to keep the cost of parts down and production times quick by creating similar vans like our Bhode One and Bhode Two builds.
  2. Bespoke conversions – the sky is the limit with a bespoke conversion, and it’s more about giving you the van of your dreams, like our Bhode Bespoke build. Make sure you choose a converter to help you determine the budget to avoid any nasty surprises.
  3. DIY support – some converters will offer you a basic package of support for tasks you can’t complete yourself, like our Bhode Artisan build. They can help with jobs like electrics, cladding or solar panels, which allow you to keep costs down. You can also find tradespeople with specific skill sets if you only need one or two jobs.

Read our blog for a comprehensive look at how much it costs to convert a campervan, which includes a breakdown of pre-build costs, build costs and post-build costs.

How much does it cost to convert a van yourself?

It’s difficult to say, as it depends on the state of the van when you buy it. If it’s partly converted, you could save yourself some cash. If you’re starting from scratch, then it’ll be more expensive.

You also need to consider your skill level and what tools and materials you have at your disposal. If you have to buy tools and or get professional help for certain jobs, you might think about outsourcing the whole job.

If you’re able to budget accordingly, perform most or all jobs yourself to a high standard and get the correct tools and materials to build your van, you could save money (we’d estimate you could convert a van yourself in the region of £1500-3000.

As you can see above, we offer a DIY support service which allows you to outsource jobs you can’t or don’t want to do. So you get the best of both worlds.

 

Time frame

Another important factor is the time frame. When do you plan to hit the open road in your van? Is it a matter of urgency or do you have time to plan?

While it can be urgent, you still need to do your research. If you rush your decision you could end up making the wrong one.

Use the converter or an expert to bounce your ideas off, it’ll help you come to the best decision.

If you’re looking to get on the road quickly, a DIY conversion isn’t the best choice. Most people work and have financial and family commitments.

Converting a van is a project that is going to take over a part of your life, so you need to ensure you have time to do it.

Most converters have space within a few months, and some immediately. So if you want to get on the road fast, a converter is your best bet.

If you’re looking for a long-term project where you can learn on the job and invest bits of time and money over a long period, a DIY conversion could be for you.

Think about when you’d like to get on the road and go at your own pace. Making rash decisions won’t do you any favours.

 

Quality

The quality of the build will depend on two things. The reputation and skills of the converter and the skills and abilities of yourself.

If you find a converter that has plenty of work examples and positive reviews, you can rest assured that the quality will be there if you commission the build. Although, it’s still worth asking questions. Have they worked on your van model before? Have they got any warranty or guarantee?

If you’re considering a DIY conversion, you need to consider your own skills and abilities. And it’s better to be realistic when it comes to this. Saying you can fit a full insulation system when you never have could leave you in a pickle.

Conversely, if you already work in a trade or you’re a confident DIY person you may find it easier to transfer your skills into other areas of a van conversion.

If you’re honest with your abilities, you’ll make the right choice. As we’ve mentioned before, you can use a converter for jobs you aren’t comfortable doing while still being involved in the build.

 

Length of use

Length of use relates more to the age of the van as opposed to the conversion, but it still plays a role in your decision. If you’re planning on travelling through Europe with your campervan, it wouldn’t make much sense to get an old campervan with 150,000 miles on the clock.

However, if you’re new to converting vans, it probably wouldn’t be your best idea to buy a brand-new Mercedes Sprinter to hone your skills. You’d be better with an older van that you don’t mind making a few mistakes on. The cheaper the van the older it is, and older vans don’t tend to outlast newer vans.

On the other hand, if you’re using a converter, you can use whatever van you like, new or old. If you want to get the most out of your van and retain some of its value, you’re better off with a new van.

 

Type of use

Think about what you want to use your van for, and whether you or a professional converter is best suited to creating your dream space.

If you want a bespoke build to store outdoor equipment in, can you create that yourself? If you want a microvan with a simple bed frame for one-night stays, is that out of your skill set?

What you use your van for will depend on the complexity of the build. If you plan to live in your van full-time, you’ll want to make sure every aspect of your build is suitable for your lifestyle. You then must ask yourself if you can create that space.

If you’re renting out your van, you need to make sure that it meets your expectations. If you cut corners and don’t do a proper job, you could end up handing a lot of refunds out or be on the end of some scathing reviews.

There’s no right or wrong answer here, it depends on what works best for you, your time frame and your budget.

One thing that most converters focus on whether they commission a build or do it themselves is the personality, style and uniqueness that a conversion offers as opposed to a build. It’s almost an extension of their personality. So think about what you want your van to represent.

Once you’ve figured this out, you’ll be better placed to make the right decision.

 

Laws and regulations

You’ll need to ensure your campervan meets all the necessary rules and regulations whether you decide to convert the van yourself or get someone to do it for you.

It’s also worth checking if your van has had any previous work done to it that could compromise its road legality. So ensure you speak to the current owner and ask how many owners the van has had previously.

If your van doesn’t meet regulations, you could end up having to make expensive modifications and could even end up in trouble with the law depending on the severity of the offence.

If the van isn’t road-legal, you’ll have to find a safe place to store it as your road tax will be void. Not what you want when you’re trying to enjoy your new vehicle.

If you’re confident you can meet the criteria you can go ahead and make the modifications. However, if you aren’t it’s worth getting a professional with experience to make sure the van meets the relevant criteria.

You’ll need to let the DVLA know about your conversion and ensure it meets their criteria.

 

Pros and cons

When you’re converting a van, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each option. Here are a few to consider:

 

Using a converter pros

  • Saves time and gets you on the road quicker
  • Converters will work with you to deliver your brief
  • Converters can source a van for you
  • You get access to expertise in various areas
  • Converters can source the best materials for the job
  • Less room for error
  • May get a warranty or guarantee

Cons of using a converter

  • It will be more expensive than a DIY project
  • If you don’t pick the right converter you could be disappointed
  • You won’t have that feeling of self-accomplishment

 

Pros of converting a van yourself

  • There’s nothing like completing a project yourself
  • You have complete creative control
  • You can go at your own pace
  • Less expensive (if you know what you’re doing)

Cons of converting a van yourself

  • Mistakes can be expensive and damaging to the vehicle
  • It can take over your life and become a burden
  • If your life changes you may have to put your project on hold
  • You may not have the skills required to complete the job
  • Could be a steep learning curve

 

Alternative solution: buy a second-hand van

diy campervan conversion

If converting a van sounds too daunting for you, you could explore buying a second-hand van. Plenty are on the market, but you must be diligent and ensure you ask the right questions and do the proper checks.

 

Campervan conversion specialist vs DIY conversion: what should you choose?

We hope you have all the relevant information to make a decision, but if you need any advice Bhode Vans are here to help. We offer various conversion options, which include a DIY support package. Visit our enquiry page to submit any questions you have.

large van campervan conversion

5 best large vans to convert to a camper

When converting a campervan, your needs will determine what type of van you need – and size is one of the most critical deciding factors.

There are three types of vans you can convert – a small or microvan, a medium-sized van or a large van.

For a solo traveller on a tight budget wanting to spend the odd night or two in a camper, a small or microvan would be ideal.

For someone spending a lot of time in their van or wanting to live in it full time, a large van may be most suitable. There will be more room to create a space that compliments that lifestyle.

A medium-sized van offers the best of both worlds, with plenty of space to create the van of your dreams. The van will be more budget-friendly, but you may have to make a few compromises with space and design.

Before we look at the best vans to convert to a camper, let’s look at some potential considerations.

 

Key considerations

Before you make a choice, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why are you converting a van? Do you want to live off-grid? Drive into the wilderness and be at one with nature? Ditch your car and use your van for everyday life and weekends away?
  • How much time will I spend in your van? If you’re using the van for the odd weekend away, it might not be a good idea to spend your cash on a top-of-the-range Mercedes Sprinter conversion. You could find yourself with an unused depreciating asset.
  • Who will use your van? If you’re a couple with a small child, a small van could cause some practical problems, and you may need an upgrade before you’ve got the most out of your van.
  • Where will you drive your van? If you do a lot of off-road camping, you need a van with 4×4 capabilities. You wouldn’t want to spend your trip looking for a farmer to pull you out of the dirt!
  • What will you use your van for? If you’re an avid cyclist, rock climber or kayaker, you’ll need plenty of space for storage and a decent shower facility to get clean after you’ve been out.
  • What’s your budget? Even with a small budget, you may be able to convert a large van. But you may have to compromise, such as buying an older van.

Learn more about costs in our blog how much does a campervan conversion cost?

Determining these factors will lead you to the type of van you require and the size of the van. If that deliberation has led you to a large van, we’ve listed some of the best large vans to convert to a camper.

 

Advantages and disadvantages of converting a large van

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages you may encounter when converting a large van:

Advantages of converting a large van

  • Easier to live out of a large van than a small van
  • More space to fit furniture and other amenities
  • More customisable than small vans
  • Closer to a motorhome than smaller vans
  • Better suited to off-road driving

 Disadvantages of converting a large van

  • Running costs will be higher
  • More difficult to drive and park
  • Conversion will be more expensive
  • May struggle to enter areas with restricted access

 

5 best large vans to convert to a camper

Large vans offer the most space, which gives you plenty of possibilities to be creative and get everything you need to suit your lifestyle, such as fixed beds, a shower room and plenty of storage.

With that in mind, we’ll focus on load space (back of the van) as that’s where you’ll create your living space. However, remember you can change the seats and the roof of a van to create more space.

There are also other factors you may want to consider, such as running costs, driveability, aesthetics, reliability and safety.

Here are our top five large vans for campervan conversions, we hope it helps you decide what large van to pick for your project!

 

1. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

We’re huge fans of the Mercedes Sprinter, as you’ll see in our blog post 10 most reliable vans to convert into a campervan.

The Sprinter is simply a great van. You’ll find vans with over 100,000 miles that are in great condition, and there’s a reason these vans are popular courier vans and are even used by ambulance services.

The main downside is the cost, as quality comes at a price. And if you do have any problems with your vehicle, parts and repairs will be more expensive than lower-end vans. However, if you look after the van and get it serviced, you shouldn’t have too many problems.

If you want a cheaper van but your heart is set on the Sprinter, you could buy a smaller model, although you’ll have to compromise on space. The Sprinter is also more accessible on the used market than the Crafter, the next van on our list.

Maximum load space dimensions

Load area length: 4.81m

Load area height: 2.24m

Load area width: 1.78m

 

2. VW Crafter

The VW Crafter also appeared on our most reliable vans list, making it one of the go-to large vans for a camper conversion. Its body is like the Sprinter (as you can see in the dimensions), meaning these two vans are exchangeable when you’re converting a van.

The Volkswagen has a more practical feel than the Sprinter, with Mercedes going for the classy, premium look that’s synonymous with the brand.

The Crafter is also known for its driveability and doesn’t feel like driving a large van around, so it won’t feel that much different from the smaller vans on the list.

Like the Sprinter, the Crafter is made by a reputable, high-end van manufacturer. As a result, the parts and performance are superior to other vans, but repairs and parts will cost more.

The Crafter has plenty of space and is the most spacious van on this list with the Sprinter. If you’re looking for a van with a maximum amount of space, the Crafter or the Sprinter are ideal.

Maximum load space dimensions

Load area length: 4.85m

Load area height: 2.19m

Load area width: 1.83m

 

3. Peugeot Boxer

peugeot boxer

At Bhode Vans, the Peugeot Boxer is one of our most popular conversions, and it’s easy to see why. While it isn’t as long as the other vans on this list, it has the greatest width. The enhanced width gives it a ‘boxy’ feel, which makes it feel more like a functional room.

Its height nearly matches the Crafter as well, so most people can stand up in the van without any trouble. And while it may not be as long, it adds more to the ‘boxy’ feel that many of our converters love.

The Boxer is also lightweight, which makes it ideal and flexible when making adaptations to the body and installing equipment inside the van.

While the Boxer isn’t the most easy-on-the-eye van, it’s ideal for those more focused on interior design than the exterior.

There will be plenty of affordable, second-hand Boxers on the market, so it’ll be easy to pick one up. Repair and parts won’t cost as much as premium models either.

Maximum load space dimensions

Load area length: 4.07m

Load area height: 2.17m

Load area width: 1.87m

 

4. Renault Master

renault trafic

The next three vans are a little smaller than the Sprinter and the Crafter but still offer plenty of space. And if the larger Sprinter or Crafter is out of your budget, these vans are a perfect option if you need to downsize while saving money.

While the space isn’t as large as the Sprinter or Crafter, there’s still plenty of room to make a liveable space with all the storage and amenities you need.

The Master hits the spot in terms of performance, practicality and value, noted for its strong diesel engine, cost and practical cab.

As one of the older vans on this list, the Renault Master lacks the technology and safety features you get with other vans. However, it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth considering.

Maximum load space dimensions

Load area length: 4.38m*

Load area height: 2.04m*

Load area width: 1.76m

*max length and height for the van, but aren’t found on the same model.

 

5. Ford Transit

Like the Master, the Ford Transit comes with the lowest load height space on this list, so if you’re tall it might be worth considering another option.

However, a van is a compact space anyway, and it isn’t like you’ll get another metre in height added on top, so don’t discount it.

The Ford Transit sits in the middle ground, a versatile van that provides an excellent driving experience while being affordable. It’s no wonder you see so many of them on the road.

And because there are so many Ford Transits, repairs and parts won’t be hard to come by and shouldn’t be too expensive. So, if you’re on a budget, this van could be ideal. The Transit has been in production since 1965 as well, setting the benchmark for large vans in the UK.

Maximum load space dimensions

Load area length: 4.21m

Load area height: 2.02m

Load area width: 1.78m

 

Want us to source a large van for you?

Not only do we convert campers, but we can also source the van ourselves. If you’re worried about picking the wrong campervan or don’t have the time to find your van, we can work with you to ensure you get the right van.

We’ve got plenty of experience helping our customers find vans, and go ahead when you’re happy. If you’ve already got a large van, what are you waiting for? Head over to our enquiries page and tell us about your project.

 

most reliable vans to convert into a campervan

The 10 most reliable vans to convert into a campervan

It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying a car, motorcycle, or van – everyone wants a reliable vehicle they can trust. And while no vehicle is immune to breakdowns, you want a campervan that isn’t going to leave you waiting at the side of the road praying for breakdown assistance to turn up.

If you’re going to spend money to buy and convert a van, you’ll be extra focused on the van’s reliability. Before we look at the most reliable vans to convert into a campervan, here are a few methods you can use to maximise your chance of buying a reliable van.

 

Study in-depth reviews

Our list will give you a brief overview of each van, but it’s important to do more research beyond what we recommend. You can use sites like Whatcar to get expert reviews which usually cover reliability.

Check the MOT history

While we can generalise a van’s reliability, it’s important to remember that every vehicle is different. Two vans with the same make and model can have different histories. There’s an element of luck attached to owning a vehicle, as you’ll know if you’ve owned or own one. You can build up a picture of a van’s reliability by looking at its MOT history. The DVLA provides a simple MOT history tool, all you need is the vehicle registration plate.

Check the service history

Unlike an MOT, servicing isn’t a legal requirement so it can be a little harder to obtain if the current owner has none or only part of the service history. While it’s advisable to buy a van with a service history, it’s down to you whether you think it’s essential. You may be able to knock a bit off of the price, which is appealing to some buyers. It’s also possible to track down the service history if you speak to the manufacturer, so it isn’t always a lost cause.

Check social media and forums

You can use Facebook groups and forums to ask questions about the campervan you want to buy. Some of the members may have years’ worth of experience buying, converting and driving campervans and their advice could be invaluable.

Should I buy new or used?

While a new van is more likely to be reliable than a used van, you’d have to buy the van outright or take a loan if you want to convert it. You won’t be able to convert a van you lease and hire purchase vans usually have strict rules about any adaptations before you own the van. You could explore buying a brand new campervan that you don’t need to convert, but that’s the most expensive option.

Further reading: Campervan conversion vs buying a campervan

 

10 most reliable vans to convert into a campervan

Thanks to the Fleet News FN30 list, we’re able to help you decide what the most reliable van to convert is. The survey asks 50 of the biggest leasing companies in the UK to rate their best commercial fleets on warranties and breakdown issues. There’s also a separate part of the test, where leasing companies answer questions about who they rate as the best manufacturer.

You can use this knowledge and combine it with the methods listed above to ensure you get the van you need. Let’s get started!

 

1. Mercedes Sprinter

mercedes sprinter van

The Mercedes Sprinter has become the gold standard of work vans over the past 25 years and sets the pace for reliability. You’ll find many older models still on the road as well as newer ones and it’s known for its reliable diesel engine. However, all vans have problems and Mercedes parts are expensive. You’ll often have to use the dealer for newer vans due to their complex computer systems.

Is it convertible?

Mercedes Sprinters are one of the most popular vans for conversions because of their durability and versatility. The space in a Sprinter is highly customisable due to its use as a cargo van. The Sprinter has a great reputation among campers, and you’ll only have to ask around to find out why. And their popularity means it shouldn’t take long to find a van. The main downside is the price tag and any potential repairs. It’s a big van as well, so while that makes it ideal for some, others won’t enjoy driving such a big vehicle.

Generations: 3
First production year: 1995
Engines: Petrol, diesel, electric
Body style: Large van

 

Further reading: 5 best large vans to convert to a camper

 

 2. VW Transporter

vw transporter

The VW Transporter has been in production since the late 1940s, so that should tell you something about how reliable they are. If you look around while you’re out you’ll see plenty of older vehicles, adding to their dependability rating. However, no van is immune to problems so if you do have to get any repairs done it could be expensive. If you maintain the van properly, they have an extraordinary shelf-life and can do 200,000 plus miles. They’re also great to look at and still hold their value if you look after them.

Is it convertible?

If you’re using your van as a rentable asset, the Transporter is ideal. The van is an iconic part of Western culture and has something of a cult following. Because these vans hold their value you could still have a valuable asset if you do want to sell it. There’ll be plenty of converters who specialise in Transporters as it’s such an iconic camper.

Generations: 7
First production year: 1949
Engines: Petrol, diesel, electric
Body style: Medium-sized van

 

3. Nissan NV200

nissan nv200

The Nissan NV200 is a reliable van and is ideal as an alternative to a Ford Transit. It’s a compact van that’s known for its fuel efficiency and The NV200s overall compact length, short wheelbase, extended legroom, and affordability make this an ideal choice if you need to get in and out of tight spaces, are very tall, or have a small budget.

Is it convertible?

The NV200 is being discontinued, so if you want to get your hands on a potentially rare van and build something unique, it could be the van for you. Its low-loading floor means it’ll be easy to access when you need to get in and out of your living space, so if you have physical difficulties or you’re tall it could work for you. It’s fairly cheap as well, so you can spend more money on your conversion.

Generations: 3
First production year: 2009
Engines: Petrol, diesel, electric
Body style: Medium-sized van

 

4. Mercedes Vito

mercedes vito

The Vito is a medium-sized van known for its dependability and is a popular choice for people that value Mercedes’ reputation for making quality vehicles. The Vito also comes with a 12-year anti-corrosion guarantee, so your van won’t rust easily. While it isn’t as popular as the Sprinter, it’s still a great alternative. You’ll also have to factor in the cost of parts, which are expensive so any repairs could be costly.

Is it convertible?

The Mercedes is a popular van for conversions, which is largely down to the Mercedes brand building vans that have superb engines and performance. It’s a lot easier to drive around than a Sprinter and is closer to driving a car. The width of the interior is also generous for a smaller van, which makes it ideal for maximising your living space. The main factor to consider is the price of the van and the price of replacement parts, you don’t want to price yourself out of converting before you’ve started.

Generations: 3
First production year: 1996
Engines: Petrol, diesel, electric
Body style: Medium-sized van

 

5. VW Caddy

vw caddy

The Volkswagen Caddy has a great reputation for being reliable and Volkswagen has an excellent reputation for building light commercial vehicles. However, Volkswagen isn’t known for being cheap, but that’s because they use quality parts. It may be more expensive than some other small vans, but it might be worth the extra cash. A Caddy can do anywhere between 100,000 and 200,000 miles if it’s maintained and driven properly.

Is it convertible?

If you aren’t planning to do too much off-road driving, the Caddy could be for you. While it doesn’t excel in comfortable driving, you can create a comfortable space when you convert the van. Its main competitor is the Citroen Berlingo, which you should be able to get cheaper. However, you know you’re converting a robust van when you choose the Caddy, and some drive well after ten years plus.

Generations: 5
First production year: 1980
Engines: Petrol, diesel
Body style: Small van

 

6. Vauxhall Vivaro

vauxhall vivaro

As a British-made van, you can expect the Vivaro to be well-built, especially models built in 2014 and after. Their partnership with Renault allowed them to rectify some problems that surfaced with older vans, making it one of the best mid-sized vans for reliability. Vauxhall engines are built to last, and some can go up to 300,000 miles. Plus, the 1.6 diesel engine is known for its performance.

Is it convertible?

As a mid-sized van, the Vivaro is ideal for people who want to mix work and pleasure. It’s big enough to be comfortable but small enough to drive to work or do your shopping. It’s also big enough to do longer trips without feeling claustrophobic or uncomfortable.

Generations: 3
First production year: 2001
Engines: Petrol, diesel, electric
Body style: Medium-sized van

 

7. Ford Transit

When it comes to reliable vans, the Ford Transit must be the most well-known. And it’s no surprise, the van has been produced since 1965. These vans are known for their reliability considering their size, and complaints are lower than other models. However, watch out for the 2015 and 2016 models as they’re the most troublesome. We’d advise anything from 2017 and beyond for the most reliable van, as previous engine problems were rectified.

Is it convertible?

Ford Transit camper vans offer tons of space, comfy seating, and great fuel economy. Plus, they handle well and are more affordable than Mercedes Sprinters. It has a square shape which makes it ideal for conversions, and it’s one of the most reasonably priced vans on the market. Not to mention, any mechanic can work on a Ford Transit, so you’ll be able to get repairs done quickly.

Generations: 4
First production year: 1965
Engines: Petrol, diesel, electric
Body style: Large van

 

8. Renault Trafic

renault trafic

The Renault Trafic is a reliable van, particularly the 2015 model which took the award for the best medium van at the What Van? Awards. When looked after properly, some report that the van can last beyond 300,000 miles.

Is it convertible?

The Renault Trafic is lightweight, fuel-efficient and has a spacious interior, which is everything you want in a campervan. If you aren’t used to driving large vehicles, the Trafic is perfect because it’s so easy to drive. The room in the back is ‘boxy’, so it’s ideal for creating storage solutions and extra space. Overall, the van is flexible and you can get creative with the space. Renault Trafic vans are a solid, dependable and spacious option for your conversion.

Generations: 3
First production year: 1980
Engines: Petrol, diesel
Body style: Medium-sized van

 

 9. Volkswagen Crafter

vw crafter

Volkswagen is known for making reliable vehicles, and the VW Crafter is no exception to the rule. The van is also known for its comfort and design, making it one of the most popular large vans in the UK. Volkswagen takes pride in the Crafter by using superior parts, and the 2011 reboot gave it better fuel economy. A more reliable van comes at a price, and you’ll expect to pay more for a Crafter.

Is it convertible?

The Crafter is ideal if you’re factoring reliability into your camper conversion as its high-quality parts minimise the chance of something going wrong. It’s also spacious and has a high roof, so space is at a premium with this van. It drives well too, with a modern driving assist system, an 8-speed automatic option, and FWD, RWD and 4WD. And we don’t need to mention VW’s history-making campervans.

Generations: 2
First production year: 2006
Engines: Petrol, diesel, electric
Body style: Large van

 

10. Citroen Berlingo

citroen berlingo

The Citroen Berlingo is well-known for its practicality and how easy it is to drive, and it’s also a reliable vehicle too. The Berlingo is one of the most popular vans in Europe and has received international awards. While the first generation Berlingo had some trouble with its turbo engine, newer models have fixed this problem and newer models are more reliable and perform better – so you can expect some models to go 100,000 to 150,000 miles.

Is it convertible?

The Berlingo is one of the most popular vans to convert into a camper due to its affordability and availability. It’s a popular choice among traditional campers as it offers enough comfort without being the most comfortable campervan to sleep in or drive. Maintenance costs are lower than bigger vans, and it’s an ideal van for your first conversion.

Generations: 7
First production year: 1996
Engines: Petrol, Diesel, Electric
Body style: Small van

 

Case Study: Transforming a Peugeot Boxer into Ophelia

 

So there you have it, the most reliable vans for campervan conversions. We hope you leave feeling more positive about buying your van and are always here to offer advice if you need it. Happy van hunting!

 

Want us to source your van?

At Bhode Vans, we know sourcing a van can be stressful and confusing, so we offer to source a van for you. We’ll work with you to discover what van suits your needs and find some options for you to consider. Plus, nothing gets done without your say-so. Save yourself time and energy by using us to source your van. If you’d like to know more visit our enquiry page.

Campervan conversion vs buying a campervan: what should you pick?

If you want to embrace freedom and hit the road in a campervan, you need to consider how to get the campervan that suits your needs.

There are several factors you should consider before jumping in and spending your hard-earned cash. After all, campervans aren’t cheap, so making a mistake could leave you out of pocket and unhappy.

When you’re deciding how to buy your campervan, there are three options you can choose from:

  1. Buying a new campervan
  2. Renovating an old camper or converting a van yourself
  3. Using a campervan conversion specialist to renovate a van or old campervan

In this article, we’re going to compare buying a new van to using a professional to renovate a van or campervan for you.

We’ll look at the key factors throughout, including:

  • Cost
  • Time frame
  • Quality
  • Length of use
  • Type of use
  • Laws & regulations
  • Pros and cons

 

Campervan conversion vs buying a campervan: factors to consider

Get your pen and pad ready, we’re about to go into the key factors you need to consider before buying your campervan. We’ll take an in-depth look at each factor, summarise the pros and cons and then provide you with an alternative solution at the end.

Cost

Whether you’re buying a campervan or doing your weekly shopping, everyone considers their budget before they go out and spend their cash. And while you might not regret buying that extra packet of biscuits when doing your shopping, buying the wrong campervan can hurt your finances.

How much does a professional campervan conversion cost?

As a rule, most quality campervan conversions start around £7000. While it’s possible to get a cheaper conversion, you need to ensure your camper meets regulations and offers you the experience you want.

Visit websites like Quirky Campers, which has a van conversion directory with listings, prices and services from various campervan conversion companies in the UK, including us.

There are usually three service options converters offer:

  1. Stock conversions – ‘stock models’ allow converters to keep the cost of parts down and production times quick by creating similar vans like our Bhode One and Bhode Two builds.
  2. Bespoke conversions – the sky is the limit with a bespoke conversion, and it’s more about giving you the van of your dreams, like our Bhode Bespoke build. Make sure you choose a converter to help you determine the budget to avoid any nasty surprises.
  3. DIY support – some converters will offer you a basic package of support for tasks you can’t complete yourself, like our Bhode Artisan build. They can help with jobs like electrics, cladding or solar panels, which allow you to keep costs down. You can also find tradespeople with specific skill sets if you only need one or two jobs.

Read our blog for a comprehensive look at how much it costs to convert a campervan, which includes a breakdown of pre-build costs, build costs and post-build costs.

How much does it cost to buy a new or second-hand campervan?

When buying a ready-to-use campervan, there are two options: buy a new campervan or a second-hand campervan that’s roadworthy.

A new campervan is going to cost more than a second-hand campervan, so have a look around and get a ballpark figure for how much each one will cost. Some converters may even stock converted campervans, so it’s worth enquiring.

One of the cheapest options on the market if you’re buying new is the VW Caddy California, which is a small, compact campervan – prices start around £32k. However, this vehicle is unique, and most other small vans are conversions.

If you want a pop-top camper or a proper motorhome, you’ll be looking at £50k plus, and some even cost as much as a house.

If you’re buying second-hand, you can pick up vans such as the Mazda Bongo, Ford Transit conversion or VW T4 for between £5-20,000, but do your research so you know you’re buying a reliable van that suits your needs.

If you’re thinking of going electric or hybrid, it’ll cost more. For example, the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Life starts at £58915, and will only get more expensive with extras and add-ons.

 

Time frame

Before you go out and buy your van, think about when you’d like to be sat behind the wheel driving it.

Buying a campervan isn’t a spur-of-the-moment buy, and you’ll need to do plenty of research on whatever option you pick. It’s good to go in with knowledge of what you want, as you’re more likely to get it.

Use the expertise of the sales staff or converter to guide you, but don’t let anyone push you into something you feel unsure about.

When you’ve done your research, you can decide which method to use. And buying new is the quickest way to get on the road. After all, you can walk into a dealership and get your van on the same day. There’s also an element of security, as you’re covered by a warranty.

Likewise, buying second-hand can be quick as well. All you need to do is message the seller, view the van and sort the paperwork and payment out. You could have your van in less than a week.

A van conversion will take longer, especially if the converter has a waiting list. Converters will try to book work in advance, so they’ve always got projects to rely on for income. A waiting list isn’t a bad thing, it shows that people are willing to let the converter work on their van.

Remember, it’s your timeframe whichever option you choose. Go at your own pace and ensure you’re happy with how things are proceeding.

 

Quality

campervan buying

If you’re buying a van new, you expect it to be in excellent condition. And even if you do have problems with it, you’ll be covered under your warranty.

Buying from a company like Volkswagen, you know the company has a history of making quality campers, so it’s not something you’d need to be too worried about.

Buying second-hand is a little different. There are so many factors that determine the shape the van is in, such as mileage, service history and the number of owners. If you don’t do your research, you could end up getting stung.

You need to make sure you research the van and look into the owner or dealer selling the van. There’ll usually be some indicator of whether you can trust them, like reviews.

Apply the same logic when working with a converter. Research the van you want them to convert, look at previous examples of their work and read their Facebook or Google reviews. You’ll soon get an idea of their service quality and whether you should use them.

You can also ask them about any warranties or guarantees they offer post-service, so if things do go wrong, you’ve got some cover.

 

Length of use

It all comes down to common sense. If you’re planning to get 20 years’ use from your van travelling throughout Europe, it wouldn’t be a good idea to convert a second-hand van with 80,000 miles on the clock. You could end up calling out your breakdown insurance more than you’d like!

If you’re buying a new campervan, you’ll get a few years’ warranty anyway and there’ll be some resale value if you want to sell your van and upgrade in the future. So while the initial outlay will be more, you’ll be able to retain some of the cash in the future.

Buying second-hand will mean your vehicle is cheaper, but it can still be quite expensive. We found a 2014 Transporter on Autotrader with 45,000 miles on the clock for £25,000. If you rack up a lot of miles, you could hit 100,000 and knock more value off the van.

If you’re considering converting a van, you can pick up a van with less than 20,000 miles on the clock for £6000+. When it comes to value for money, it’s the best option. Plus, it opens more customisation options and you can personalise your camper.

When it comes to convenience, buying a new van is the best option for getting longer use from your van, but from a cost perspective it’s converting a van.

 

Type of use

camper converter vs buying a new on

When buying your van, think about what you’re going to use it for. If you’re a family of four using it for occasional holidays, then a Citroen Berlingo is out of the question. You’ll need more space, and space means spending more cash.

Plus, if you’re only using it sporadically, is it worth splashing out £50,000+ on a brand-new motorhome or camper?

If you’re renting out your campervan, you’ll want a reliable quality van. But will buying new or converting a van give you the best return on investment?

There’s no right or wrong answer here, everyone uses their van for different reasons, and yours will be unique as well.

For example, many people who live out of their vans choose to get conversions because it keeps costs down and allows them to personalise the van to their lifestyle. And campervans are a way for many people to express their style.

Think about what you want to use the van for and base your decision on that.

 

Laws & regulations

If you’re buying a new campervan, you have the assurance that it meets the laws and regulations that allow you to use it on British roads. Most manufacturers sell vans in other countries as well, so they should meet their regulations. But it’s worth checking with your dealer.

If you’re buying second-hand or going for a professional conversion, you’ll need to check if it’s had any work done to it and whether it meets regulations or be confident that your converter can deliver a van that meets regulations.

If you don’t get a van that meets regulations, you could end up in trouble with the law, which can be expensive and damaging to your driving record. You’ll also have to get the van repaired and find somewhere to store it if you keep it on the road. Plus, there’s the added stress that takes away the joy of owning a campervan.

You’ll need to let the DVLA know about your conversion and ensure it meets their criteria.

DVLA requirements for van conversion: How to make your van road legal

 

Pros and cons

When you’re buying a campervan it’s important to think of the pros and cons, so you can come to a decision. Here are a few for each method of buying:

Buying new pros

  • Warranties give you peace of mind
  • Lots of customisable options
  • Convenient and quick
  • Other extras like servicing
  • Satisfaction of owning a new van

Buying new cons

  • Costs can spiral out of control
  • Failing on payments could cause problems
  • Isn’t as personal as a conversion

Buying second-hand pros

  • Cheaper than buying new
  • Could get a converted van
  • Plenty of options
  • Fairly quick

Cons of buying second-hand

  • Do you trust the seller?
  • Less chance of a warranty/guarantee
  • Higher mileage
  • May not meet regulations

Pros of conversions

  • Cheapest option
  • Create a van that suits your lifestyle and personality
  • Plenty of van options
  • Work at your own pace

Cons of conversions

  • Do you trust the converter?
  • Higher mileage
  • Less chance of a warranty/guarantee

 

Case Study: Transforming a Peugeot Boxer into Ophelia

 

Alternative solutions: renovating a van or camper yourself

buying van vs conversion

If you’re interested in converting a van, but you have some or all the skills required to do it (or you’d like to learn how!), a DIY conversion could be the route for you to take.

 

Campervan conversion vs buying a campervan: what should you pick?

While you may not know what route to go down yet, we hope we’ve given you the information that will help you make a decision. If you are thinking about converting a campervan, you can visit our blog for more information or get in touch with us to discuss your options.

campervan conversion cost

How much does a campervan conversion cost?

If you’re considering a campervan conversion, there are a few things you need to know. Campervan conversion cost depends on a few factors, including the make and model of the van you choose, the size of the van, and the options you choose.

In this post, we’re going to look at the costs of a campervan conversion and give you an idea of the materials and equipment you need for a conversion.

So, whether you’re looking to take your camping adventures to the next level or want to enjoy your travels in a more comfortable setting, read on to learn more about the cost of a campervan conversion.

 

What is a campervan conversion?

what is a campervan conversion

A campervan conversion is a process of turning a regular car or van into a campervan. Converting a van may involve changing the vehicle’s bodywork, installing a campervan conversion kit, or converting the engine.

There are many factors to consider when converting a van, such as the size and type of the van, the cost of the conversion, and the availability of specialist resources.

Should I buy a new campervan?

While owning a brand new, shiny campervan is desirable to many people, it isn’t cost-effective. The cheaper campers start at around £35,000 and only go upwards. You could buy second-hand if you’re happy to take on someone else’s van; it all depends on how much creative control you want when you buy the van.

Blog: Campervan conversion vs buying a campervan: what should you pick?

 

Who can convert a campervan?

DIY or professional?

who can convert a campervan

How valuable is your time? If you choose to convert your van yourself, it could take years depending on how much time you’ve got to do it.

If you have a lot of time to dedicate, you can reduce time and costs, but if you don’t it could take a while.

Conversely, a professional could get you up and running in 6-8 weeks, but it will cost more.

Campervan conversion specialist vs DIY conversion: What one should you choose?

 

Driving license requirements

If you’re going to drive the van, you need to have a valid driving license. Consider the maximum authorised mass of your van, as your license requirements may change:

  • To drive a motorhome of up to 3.5 tonnes, you only need a category B or B1 license.
  • To drive a motorhome with a MAM of 3.5-7.5 tonnes, you need a category C1 license.
  • To drive a motorhome with a MAM of over 7.5 tonnes, you need a category C license.

A campervan conversion can be expensive, but it’s not impossible. Having said that, be realistic. Don’t attempt to convert a van without the financial resources and experience you need to do it.

Reclassification

Like a house, making changes to a van means you need to inform the authorities so they can identify the vehicle. You have to apply to the DVLA to reclassify your van. Reclassifying your van is free, but you need to ensure the van meets the DVLA requirements.

DVLA requirements for van conversion: How to make your van road legal

 

How are you going to use your campervan?

Before converting your van into a campervan, consider how you’re going to use the van.

Some people live out of their van permanently or semi-permanently, while others only use a campervan for leisure.

There’s also the possibility of putting your van out for hire, which is a potential income source if you only use your van every so often.

What you use your campervan for will affect the build you require, so get an idea before you commission a project.

 

How much does a campervan conversion cost?

Generally, costs start at £7,000+, and any costs after that will depend on what you want to achieve with your build. Bespoke builds will be more expensive, whereas a packaged build will be cheaper.

When calculating your costs, think about the money you need before the build starts, the conversion cost and the cost of running the van. It would be devastating to convert a van only to find out you can’t afford to run it.

Here are some of the things you should consider:

 

Pre-build costs

Van price

 

Remember to consider the price of the van before the conversion and whether you want the van price to factor into the cost. At Bhode Vans, we can even source the vehicle for you, saving you time and ensuring you get a quality, reliable vehicle.

Deposit

Employing a van conversion company to modify your van will require a security deposit to secure your booking. At Bhode Vans, we take a £1000 deposit, and the fun starts!

 

Build costs

As with most products and services, there are usually lower-range, middle-range and high-range price brackets. The price will reflect the quality and reliability of the materials. However, if campervan conversions are new to you, speak to a professional to specify what build type you like.

At Bhode Vans, we offer three builds:

  1. Bhode One and Bhode Two – standardised builds that allow us to keep costs down
  2. Bhode Artisan – help for DIY converters who want crucial jobs done professionally
  3. Bhode Bespoke – vans tailored to your exact style, needs and budget

Tools

Undertaking a self-build or doing parts of the project yourself will require access to some tools. You could try to save money by borrowing tools from friends and family, buying second or renting. Here are some examples of the tools you may need when converting the van yourself:

  • Workbench
  • Drill
  • Jigsaw
  • Circular saw
  • Glues and tape
  • Pipe cutter
  • Handsaw
  • Screwdrivers and other handheld tools
  • Toolbox
  • Spirit level
  • Screws, nuts, and bolts
  • Clamps
  • Safety equipment

While this is not an extensive list, it gives you an idea of what self-build tools are required to begin.

Security equipment

Living out of your van will mean installing higher levels of security as your safety is paramount. Conversely, staying on secure campsites over a weekend and storing your camper in a secure location when you aren’t using it may lower your safety and security concerns. Here are a few items to consider for security purposes:

  • Immobilisation system
  • Fire blanket
  • Jump leads
  • Snow shovel
  • Anti-slip mats
  • Deadlocks
  • LPG detector
  • Blinds and curtains
  • Tracker
  • Dashcam
  • Steering lock
  • Clutch lock
  • Gear clamp
  • Gear stick lock
  • Motion sensors
  • Safe

How to keep your campervan safe

Kitchen

campervan kitchen cost

Using your campervan to travel means you need a method to store food, cook it and keep the area clean. Various options are available when converting a van, from using a simple bowl to installing a sink. Here are some of the items needed for a functional kitchen:

  • Fridge/coolbox
  • Stove
  • Kitchen units
  • Worktop
  • Water containers
  • Water pump
  • Sink and waste
  • Pipes and connectors
  • LPG kit

Flooring and lining

Flooring prevents wear and tear in your van and makes it feel more homey and comfortable. Various flooring options are available, from real wood flooring to click tiles.

Consider what option suits your needs. For example, hiring your van out may require hardwearing flooring, whereas using it for weekend trips may mean lino can do the job.

Gadgets and electrical equipment

Electricity is vital when converting a van. Electricity allows you to charge any devices you require, and power any electrical equipment you use in your van. Here are some of the electrical items you need to buy for your van:

  • Leisure batteries
  • Leisure battery charger
  • Fuses
  • Master/kill switches
  • Insulation tape
  • Battery indicator
  • Switches
  • USB/12 v charging port
  • Smoke alarm
  • Hook up cables
  • LED light bulbs
  • Fuse box
  • Ring DC to DC charger
  • Inverter generator

Off-grid capabilities

If you want to cut costs or lower your carbon footprint, you could consider off-grid capabilities for your van, such as:

  • Solar panels
  • Water tank
  • Water filter system
  • Electric van

Bed

campervan bed cost

You need somewhere to sleep in your van, so consider what bed you want and how much it will cost. You need a structure for the mattress to fit into, plus the mattress itself. Think about the type of mattress you want as well; you could end up with a bad back if you buy cheap! Here are some options to consider when picking a bed:

  • Fixed platform bed
  • Drop down table bed
  • Couch slider bed
  • Bunk beds
  • Fixed bed with incut extenders
  • Lifted bed

Ventilation, insulation, and soundproofing

You need to ensure your campervan is well-ventilated, to keep the van smelling fresh, and to prevent condensation and humidity, which cause mould. Insulation is important for both hot and cold weather, so you need something versatile, and soundproofing is useful if you want a peaceful, quiet van. Here is some of the equipment you may wish to consider:

  • Roof fan
  • Vent
  • Air heater
  • 4-season insulation
  • Ceiling
  • Window covers
  • Sound deadening mats

Bathroom

There are lots of options when it comes to installing a bathroom. If you don’t mind braving the outdoors, you can use an outdoor solar shower. However, if you prefer something that resembles a bathroom, you could get a proper shower and toilet installation. Here are some items to buy for a proper installation:

  • Showerhead
  • Shower tray
  • Boiler
  • Toilet
  • Shower mixer

 

After costs

While these are all costs you incur after the build, always research them before you commission your build. There’s nothing worse than getting a nasty financial surprise when you’re trying to enjoy your new camper.

Soft furnishings

Pillows, blankets, artwork, and kitchen utensils. There are plenty of items you need to buy to make sure staying in your van is a pleasant experience, so think about what you need and what would be ‘nice-to-have’ to get an idea of how much you have to splash out on functional and decorative items.

Insurance

While insurance isn’t a direct cost of a van build, you should consider how much your insurance will cost.

For example, if it’s only you driving the van, your insurance will be lower. If you’re renting your van out, you’ll need to cover yourself and third-party drivers, as well as potential theft or damages, which will increase the cost.

Breakdown cover

Like insurance, you’ll want to consider what level of coverage you need for your campervan. Different people will need various types of cover.

For example, if you’re travelling to a local campsite, you may only need breakdown insurance that gets you home.

If you travel abroad, you need to ensure you have the right cover and look for cover that gives you alternate accommodation.

Maintenance and running costs

You can factor all the usual maintenance and running costs into your purchase, such as petrol, tax, MOTs and servicing. It’s worth getting an idea of how much you’ll pay to figure out whether running a campervan is affordable.

Rental agency fees

If you decide to rent your campervan, there are costs involved. For example, if you rent your campervan through Quirky Campers, they take a 21% cut of what you make from your rentals. However, you get benefits like a listing on a trusted site and a dedicated point of contact to manage your listing.

 

Can you start a business with a campervan?

Campervan conversions are a great way to make money on the side. If you want to start a business, you’ll probably need at least a few vans. When you convert a campervan, you get a vehicle you can use for business, leisure, or both.

At the very least, you should be able to make back the money you spent on the van. Here’s a graphic showing how much people make from campervan rentals per year:

campervan rental yield

 

Case Study: Transforming a Peugeot Boxer into Ophelia

 

Estimate your campervan conversion cost with Bhode Vans

If you decide you need a professional to convert your campervan, Bhode Vans can help you kickstart your journey. We’ll work with you to determine your budget, timeline and what build best suits you. We’ll even help you source a van. Visit our enquiry page to get started!