Photo credit @olive_and_oz
Converting a panel van into a campervan is one of the best investments you can make.
Whether you’re simply upgrading your existing conversion to add features like seat swivels, door storage or bathroom facilities, or creating a brand new campervan conversion from scratch, it’s vitally important that you do your research beforehand and find the right campervan converter to perform the work.
We spoke to some experienced trade van converters and here are the points you should consider in order to make the right choice.
- Get quotes that cover everything and establish a payment plan beforehand
- Check out their experience, customer reviews and accreditations
- Is there an after-build guarantee/follow-ups?
- Visit the premises and make sure you’re comfortable with the team
Keeping these points in mind can really help you focus on what to look for when you’re meeting with converters and getting quotes for the work.
So where do you begin?
When researching the right campervan converter for you, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of companies on the market.
As well as the van make, model and interior options, one of the most important decisions is choosing the right company to undertake your aftermarket campervan conversion build.
Think of it like building a house. You have a clear vision of what you want your conversion to look like, but selecting the right builder can be the difference between a good and a bad experience.
The average cost of a van conversion ranges from £500-£40,000. Up to £25,000 for a self build conversion and anywhere up to £40,000 for a professional conversion…gulp!
Of course, when considering a campervan conversion, it’s best to do as much as possible yourself if you’re on a budget, but outsourcing the conversion is often the simplest option if you have the money.
Undertaking a self build conversion will be no mean feat, but investing in quality products from the outset and following online ‘How to’ installation videos will enable you to convert your van with greater ease and confidence. What an achievement you will feel at the end of your conversion journey when you can finally go on adventures in your home away from home :)
Photo credit @retrofitted
Get an accurate quote
It’s always best to meet with and get quotes from at least three van converters. The detail and scope of each quote can really tell you a lot about how they work and their process. It’s really important to make sure that each quote is ‘like-for-like’ and they include all products, materials, labour, any subcontractors and VAT etc. This is the only fair way to accurately compare quotes and see the true value of the work. If one quote is much cheaper than the others, it could be a sign that they want to win the work, but make sure they will not add on extra costs during the conversion process!
The cost and timeline of your conversion will of course depend on the scope of the job. If you’re looking for a design layout as well as the conversion, it will be considerably more than a simple product installation project. The cost will also change depending on whether or not you buy the products yourself or whether you can get the converter to buy the products on your behalf. In some cases, this can work out cheaper, as tradesmen are likely to have trade accounts and relationships with manufacturers, and can therefore pass on their trade discounts to you. This can minimise the risk of buying elements yourself, only to find they are substandard, or don’t fit your space. If you do choose to make the purchase yourself, it is important that you communicate with your converter to make sure they are familiar with the particular brand and comfortable with fitting the products you supply.
Photo credit @outandaboutcampers
Agree a payment plan
Once you’ve chosen your van converter and after agreeing the price through a free, written quote, make sure you have a payment plan in place that you are comfortable with.
Different converters have different payment options, so best to choose a converter which suits your payment requirements.
Most converters will generally not ask for the total value of the conversion upfront, however, a deposit is commonplace. Usually, the final payment will be deferred until the build is complete, and some converters will even accept monthly payments.
Look for experience and accreditations
An aftermarket campervan conversion takes a standard production vehicle (usually a panel van) and modifies it to become a campervan.
Photo credit @sunset.campers
There are many companies out there able to convert vans, but we understand that it can be very difficult for buyers to know what sort of reputation or experience these companies have, and what quality of conversion you can expect.
Due to the pandemic and a huge increase in the interest of campervans and motorhomes, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has recently launched a Motorhome Qualification Scheme which is designed to give buyers greater confidence in aftermarket, converted VW vans.
The new scheme aims to make sure that aftermarket conversions meet Volkswagen’s own exacting standards.
That’s not to say you should expect them to be built to quite the same level of quality as a factory built camper, but the scheme ensures converters that qualify have a number of things in place to support customers – including matching the warranty of the underlying Volkswagen van. Qualifying converters are required to meet stringent criteria set by VW and once the criteria is met they will receive ‘official certification’ from Volkswagen which they can use on their website.
Ford Transit campervans are also highly popular and the gold standard of quality for these conversions is the Ford QVM Certificate. This means that the converter is a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier.
Of course, there are also many converters out there who are not yet accredited to these new schemes, and it is not a reason to rule them out. We supply products to many reputable van converters including VW, Ford Transit and other van models, and we are proud to work with them.
You can also look for campervan converters that have won awards. For conversions, look for winners of the coveted Campervan of the Year award. Also look for those that have won business awards – it is a great indication that they are a professional outfit.
The difference between a good and bad converter is huge, so go with someone with experience, and lots of it! Asking for recommendations and advice on social media forums, researching website reviews as well as finding out local knowledge and word of mouth, will help to make your decision clearer.
A good converter will solve any problems you may encounter with your conversion and offer proper advice on what you need to do… and don’t need to do, depending on your requirements and budget.
The job of a good campervan converter is not just to deliver the campervan of your dreams, but to make the whole experience as enjoyable and stress free as possible! Reputation is essential and it’s always sensible to speak to ones who have performed similar jobs to the one you have planned. Ask to see their portfolio of their previous work and they should be more than happy to put you in touch with previous clients so you can discuss their experiences.
Check out their references and don’t be afraid to ask them questions as well.
Photo credit @motioncampervans
Make sure you’re comfortable before you commit
We always advise on a face to face meeting and it’s best to visit the workshop that will be carrying out your conversion. It’ll let you get a real feel for the set up, their capabilities, the team and will give you the opportunity to see how invested they are in their business and your campervan build.
A good campervan converter should actively encourage you to visit them and will want to show you around their premises and present to you the quality of their product samples and a tour of any camper conversions in build for other customers. This is an invaluable experience because it enables you to touch, feel and experience the products first hand. Pictures only tell half a story and, when making a significant investment in a campervan conversion, you want to be sure you have got the best quality for your budget.
Photo credit @novacampers
After build service
With an expensive project like converting a campervan, make sure you know what warranty the converter offers before you commit. Most converters will give at least a year’s warranty and some even longer than this.
A warranty guarantee will give you peace of mind and most professional converters should naturally offer one as a testament to the quality of their work and commitment to their customers.
The converter’s warranty covers the work done by the conversion company. Exactly what’s covered may vary from company to company, so always check the small print. Is there an excess to pay for any repairs done under warranty? Are there any exceptions? Good questions to ask the conversion company.
Some products are expected to naturally deteriorate over time, such as window seals, so make sure you get a full breakdown of what is and isn’t included in the warranty.
Also, depending on the term of the warranty, the longer the warranty period the terms may differ, perhaps covering fewer elements or a higher excess.
A final quality check…
Summing up all the points above, you need to look for the overall quality of the converter in as many aspects as you can. This encompasses everything from how they deal with your enquiry, their advice, their customer ratings, their premises, the quality of build you see in their campervan conversions and after build service.
We hope you found this guide useful but please drop us a line if you need any more advice.
Remember, there’s always the option of converting the van yourself. We have supplied conversion products to thousands of happy customers who give it a go themselves and swear by our useful ‘How to’ installation video guides :)