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To ask if anyone has turned a van into a camper?

(28 Posts)
Whatsername17 Fri 20-Oct-17 09:32:02

DH and I are seriously considering this. We have two young children and we've just been on a short break for half term and we've been inspired. Dh is ploughing full steam ahead into looking at vans to buy and I'm being a little more cautious. How cost effective is it to have your own accommodation as oppose to hiring a static caravan? Do you use it as much as you planned or intended? Are there any 'must have' features? Where is the furthest you've travelled? Also, if you don't mind answering, how much did it cost to convert?

araiwa Fri 20-Oct-17 09:32:49

why not just buy one already done- far more cost effective

Worriedobsessive Fri 20-Oct-17 09:52:52

Oh oh oh!!! Mine is going off to be converted TODAY! Pop top roof, sink, hob, custom fit bed and roof bed, lights, electrics. I hardly slept last night I'm so e cited!!!

ZeroFuchsGiven Fri 20-Oct-17 09:55:25

I haven't actually done it myself but my job involves this. It has become a lot more popular over the last 3/4 years.

Goldenbug Fri 20-Oct-17 09:56:46

Loads of people do it. I window-shop camper vans far more than is healthy and have seen loads. Also quite a few YouToob videos to watch.

Whatsername17 Fri 20-Oct-17 10:05:12

Oh worried that is so exciting! My dh has form for needing/wanting a project. I'm trying to be a bit more sensible and think of all of the bases before we jump feet first.

HelloSunshine11 Fri 20-Oct-17 10:05:20

I've just been looking at my friend's converted VW transporter this morning. It's awesome, I have mega envy. It's got a fold down bed, swivel front seats, sink and hob etc and they're getting the roof popped next spring. They got it this spring and have used it loads.

SharkiraSharkira Fri 20-Oct-17 10:10:38

Dp and I are doing this! I'm very excited too grin

You can buy pre-made units off eBay for about £200 that have cupboards and the housing for a cooker thingy and sink but you have to pay extra for the cooker and sink. You can buy pre-made beds that change into a sofa for about the same price.

In our case though dp is custom making all of the interior. We've lined the whole thing with insulation to try and keep it as warm as possible, and we have a full size (very comfy) foam mattress so it's really cosy.

It's well worth doing in my opinion, there's looooads of blogs and forums about it so have a look about to see it anything takes your fancy. Loads of different vans you could do it with too just depends on how much you want it to look like a 'campervan' and how much space you want.

Money wise you could spend thousands converting it but I think we are at about £600 all in.

Feel free to PM me if you want any more info.

OSETmum Fri 20-Oct-17 12:47:13

We finished ours just before summer and use it every weekend. We’re heading into Europe for half term next week. We had to do it custom because dh and ds ride motorbikes so we need to get them in as well. We have a bed about the ‘garage’, sofa where ds (8) sleeps, kitchen area with a oven, hob, sink and fridge, bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower and wall mounted tv. It’s a squeeze to get it all in but it’s fine. Oh we have hot water and blown air heating too. I agree that insulation is really important we have some sort of foil insulation and sheeps wool and we’re still able to use the van comfortably. It’s a Citroen Relay and cost a lot to build both in terms of money and time but it was a lot cheaper than buying one.

Usernamegone Fri 20-Oct-17 13:22:37

DH and I bought a T5 van in May to convert. Due to finances we haven't converted it yet. However, it has still been fab as - it has six seats not five, fab for going to B&Q/putting lots of shopping in the back, good for weekends away at relatives houses as don't need to worry about boot space. Also can still use it for a weekend away as we just put a blow up bed in the back!

Drivemecrazy1974 Fri 20-Oct-17 14:18:30

We've done this - actually bought a Ford Transit minibus and my husband has converted it into a camper van - we've been on many holidays and weekends away in it - this year alone we've been away for 2 4-5 night breaks and at least 10 weekends or just Saturdays away.
We paid £2,500 for the van in the first place and have spent around £1,500 doing it up - we have a bigger bed in it than we do at home! One thing I would say is that we have found this to give us enough room more than we would have had if we had got a smaller van.

Obviously, you find things you want to add all the time - we're currently thinking about different ways to store things while we're away. We decided to convert a minibus because it gave us more space than a traditional sized van would have

You might want to check on the rules now though because things seem to have got a bit stricter since we did ours in 2014 - apparently you have to make the van look more like a motor caravan on the outside than it might have done originally (this is something we found out earlier this year, IIRC) - I think you also have to definitely have to have certain features such as removeable table, a sink and a cooker if you are going to officially change the usage of the van into a motor home/motor caravan - and some campsites will only let you on if you made this change....
I'd definitely say go for it though - we've had so much fun in our van one of the best things we ever did smile

LBOCS2 Fri 20-Oct-17 14:22:49

I’m obsessively pinteresting this project at the moment. There are five of us so we’re looking at a LWB Mercedes Sprinter to convert. So I’m also following with interest 😁

Whatsername17 Fri 20-Oct-17 16:43:54

These sound Amazing! Would anyone be willing to share pictures?

Yoursincerely Fri 20-Oct-17 17:36:57

We bought a vw t4 that already had an elevating roof and conversion. Ripped everything out and paid some one to re do (neither me or my husband have any practical skills). Cost far too much money to do it this way however we got a very high spec van exactly how we wanted it. It's actually having a respray as we speak.

We do not plan on selling it ever do should recoup money back in cheaper holidays over the next decade. Only been away in UK but planning a European trip next year.

As for essentials... Good electrics and hookup. Solar panel for the short trip without hook up. Tv\dvd a god send for travelling there and back if you have little ones. If you are having people in back whilst driving then a proper crash tested bed is a must. We have a RIB Rock and roll bed with isofix - well worth the money. Smart beds are also good. We had a water tank put in but never use it so I wouldn't bother with that.

Fridge and rings also, we don't really use rings when camping but good for days out for tea\coffee.

Diesel heater however we mainly use it for days out in the winter. Good to leave on and come back to a nice toasty van.

That's all I can think of for now.

Yoursincerely Fri 20-Oct-17 17:37:20

Will try to get some pics up later

LBOCS2 Fri 20-Oct-17 17:41:21

Has anyone got electric underfloor heating? I’ve seen quite a lot about it but can only imagine that if absolutely eats battery life...

CanIBuffalo Fri 20-Oct-17 17:42:17

Watching with interest.

Worriedobsessive Fri 20-Oct-17 20:47:49

Mine was picked up and taken away today! Squuuuuueeeee!!!!

Cath2907 Fri 20-Oct-17 21:05:42

We did it to a Reanault Traffic. Firstly check on the known issue with injectors on that van model!!! We did it almost all ourselves but didn’t put a pop roof on which was a bad decision. The extra 5k would have been well spent.

Yoursincerely Fri 20-Oct-17 21:38:49

Our baby.

Whatsername17 Fri 20-Oct-17 21:57:08

That is gorgeous, Yours!

Yoursincerely Fri 20-Oct-17 22:25:44

Yes, we love it. Our DD is 3 and she loves camping too.

As for costs, we go to small scale campsites toilets shower, small shop, playground and pub within walking distance. Summer hols we spent £150 for the week. Haven type site with all the entertainment, pools, activities would probably cost about £350 for the week in summer.

Sarahrose21 Fri 20-Oct-17 23:11:03

We have a Vw T4 that we're doing up, don't worry about changing the v5 we aren't planning on as we don't want a cooker in the van (don't want stale cooking smells as she's carpet lined) never had a problem with any campsite, I can wholly recommend good insulating and if you really want to camp all year a cab heater is a must, it's expensive to get one converted professionally but as long as the van itself is sound mechanically and not need welding it can be relatively straightforward to diy and you can customise it to what you want/need from a van, with children a pop top will probably be a must (we plan on getting ours done ready for kids to sleep up there) and we have found the best thing we have bought so far is thermal window covers and an airbeam awning as it gives some privacy and much more room, especially on wet days, my DH and I both kitesurf and cycle so we usually have ALOT of stuff with us.
Maybe try going to a camper weekend, or a vw bus fest, even if you don't decide to go vw you can get alot of ideas and inspiration from what others have done and see what works for you and what doesn't, in the whole the people we have met and spoken to have been friendly and welcoming and have plenty of advice.
As with anything you can spend a small fortune on campervans or have a relatively tight budget it depends on what you want to do

Yoursincerely Fri 20-Oct-17 23:21:33

Busfest is a good one to go to as all the traders are there, good for inspiration. My little one loves the VW shows, watching live bands.

We haven't changed our v5 either but that does mean we are limited to 60 mph on motorways as it's classes as a commercial vehicle.

An awning is a must, we have a khyam motorhome but sooo want one of the new airbeams.

Corcory Fri 20-Oct-17 23:25:21

Sounds like you all have some great projects. I would caution about the practicality of spending a whole holiday in such a confined space. I would suggest you also look at older motorhomes. We were holidaying next to a couple in a camper and it was interesting to see how the coped. They opened the side door of the van and all we got a view of was their bedding and bed there was no floor space once the bed's down. Not sure how you would cope with two little ones as well especially if the weather turned/rained. Storage would also be a factor.

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