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Frequently asked questions & advice about converting & maintaining a campervan
Right from the start, we do things differently.
And it starts with a good chat about your ideas, wants and needs so we have a good understanding of your build.
When we quote, you get much more than an email with a list of parts and a price at the bottom.
Every quote clearly explains what we’ve recommended and why, what products we use, and the price and fitting cost. You can easily see what’s an optional extra and change the quote to suit you.
Here are some common answers to questions we get asked about how we work and some of the things you need to consider when converting your van.
We can do your van in stages
Did you know you don’t have to get everything done at once?
You can convert or upgrade your van in stages; we like to see it as your van build journey.
We’ll help you work out your overall design depending on how you want to use your van and then prioritise what you need and when so you get things done most cost-effectively and safely.
This way, as you start using the van more, you realise what you do and don’t need as time goes on, allowing you to adjust your build as you go. This is great if you’re on a budget or not quite sure what you want.
Our payment plan means you pay a small deposit and then pay in stages as your build progresses.
We work with self-builders
We know that some people want to hand over a key and come back to collect a completed project, while others quite fancy doing some of the work themselves.
We help you work out what you have the skills, time and patience to do yourself, and recommend which aspects of the build should be done by a professional.
We’ll do a quick assessment of your van and recommend what we can and can’t help with. If you’ve already got gas and electrics we may charge you for an electrical inspection to understand the state and safety of the installation and make a recommendation of what needs to be done.
Above all we want you to end up with a van that’s safe and fit for purpose. Often we’ll suggest letting us to the technical bits such as roof and window fitting, gas and electrical work.
Our work is built to last
Everything we do is safe, high quality and built to last. We guarantee our workmanship for a year.
Our products come from reputable suppliers with good warranty terms and customer service.
We’re transparent with our methods and always honest about what you do and don’t need to achieve what you want from our conversion or upgrade.
There are some things in life that are never worth compromising on, such as cheap vehicle modifications.
Your pride and joy deserves to come to us.
Our methods mean you get the best quality finish
We use cold cutting whenever possible. This takes longer but reduces the risk of damage to your vehicle.
When we do have to hot cut, we use 1000 degree weld blankets in addition to spark blankets and other covers in our multi-layer masking processes
We mask off and protect vehicles far more extensively than some other less experienced converters.
We use specialist automotive tapes with low adhesion to vehicle paint and surfaces to limit the risk that old, damaged, or poorly finished paintwork will lift off when removed.
Modern vans have extensive safety and fault reporting systems, and depending on the manufacturer, model, and age of your van, this can include sensors in systems such as seat belts, the front seats, internal lights, elements of the dash and other areas which will be removed and refitted as a part of your build.
Any time a monitored item or system is disconnected there is a chance that the van’s computer will interpret this as a fault. Some of these will just be logged, others may cause the van to take action such as turning off systems or even immobilising the vehicle.
We run a full diagnostic check at the start and on completion. This is an essential process that is mandatory for manufacturer-approved repair shops, and which we believe is critical for anyone who is modifying modern vans.
HOW TO CHOOSE A CONVERTER
Because build quality and safety is our priority, we may not always be the cheapest converter around. And we’re OK with that.
It’s important to us to do a great job and get your build right because anything you do to your van is an investment and often it’s a passion project too.
That’s why we spend time working with you to design a van build journey that allows you to do a bit at a time and choose from a range of options and materials that get you what you want on your budget
We also help self-builders with the difficult bits so they can focus on the elements of the build that aren’t likely to become a safety risk or cost money down the line.
We want safe self-builders so come and talk to us if you’re worried. We also suggest you get a Habitation Check on any work you carry out so you know you’re safe.
But if you do decide to go somewhere else, then make sure you follow these tips.
We can’t tell you how many customers come to us to fix poor quality and unsafe work.
Always visit the workshop if you can. Then you know where your van will be kept and how the team work with you. We have customers travelling from all over the country to see us before they trust us with their pride and joy.
- Ask them how they protect the vehicle during painting and if they use anti corrosion treatment which stops rust.Check the beds and roofs they fit are from a reputable brand and crash tested.
- Check that they are using branded electrical and solar equipment
- Ask if they do a computer check before and after working on your vehicle. This is important to avoid any faults.
- Ask if they have a Habitation Check service to ensure your van is safe.
- Check what experience and qualifications they have with structural or mechanical vehicle modifications.
- Check out any customer reviews and ask to see examples of their work.
You’ll know when you go in whether it feels right. A messy unprofessional environment is probably an indication of how your van, and you will be treated throughout your build.
REGISTERING YOUR CONVERTED VAN WITH THE DVLA
It’s a legal requirement to let the DVLA know about the changes you’ve made to your van. This information is shown on your V5C document, and is stored in the DVLA’s database, which is used by the police, emergency services, and other agencies.
The DVLA will usually classify a converted van as a “Van with Windows” or a “Modified Van”. As a rough guide, if your van primarily has rear seats and windows, you’ll be a van with windows, and if your van has things like a side kitchen, pop top, etc, you’ll probably be a modified van.
Insurers don’t mind what classification the DVLA puts your van in, so long as you’ve told them about the changes you’ve made.
Go to the government website for more info:
If you’re unsure, give the DVLA a call, they’re very helpful and just want you to have the right classification.
INSURING YOUR CONVERTED VAN
We’re often asked about how to insure a van during or after its conversion. Normal insurers sometimes lump converted vans in with modified cars and want to charge a premium for each modification.
There are insurers who have chosen to specialise in converted vans, though. The most popular of these is A-Plan, who many of our customers rate really highly. A-Plan can cover your van before, during, and after its conversion, with an agreed value for replacement which includes the conversion modifications.
A Plan will also offer mixed use policies, for instance where you use your van as a daily driver and campervan.
Most importantly, as we’re registered converters with A-Plan, if you mention that we referred you they’ll offer you a discount on your policy!
Visit A-Plan online or call them on 01635 874 646
HABITATION CHECKS AND WHY YOU NEED ONE
A habitation check is a very thorough inspection of the conversion elements of your van. They’re often required for motorhomes and caravans but aren’t mandatory under law for campervans.
It’s like an MOT but for living quarters and appliances.
We believe that a habitation check should extend to campervan conversions because they are often carrying your most precious cargo – your family.
All of our conversions that include either gas or mains electric are habitation checked by an independent MCEA (Motor Caravan Engineer Association) engineer.
We recommend that a follow-up check is done each year, and some insurance companies now require it. They can also both increase and then help maintain the value of your van over time.
The checks include:
Electrical systems – lights, sockets, wiring. Fridge operation, the consumer unit, the TV socket, the battery and anything that requires electricity
Gas systems – gas appliances, heating system and the water heater including a CO room test.
Water systems – taps, waste-water outlet, toilet & any wet heating system.
Bodywork – doors, windows and blinds, and a visual inspection of the roof. An internal damp check is carried out.
Ventilation – rooflights and fixed vents.
Fire and safety – The smoke alarm, CO detector, fire extinguisher and fire blanket housing are tested.
What’s not included?
In-depth servicing for individual appliances, such as the oven & fridge
A solar panel service
An air-conditioning service
If you’d like to get your existing conversion checked over give us a call and we’ll book you in for a Habitation Check.