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Camper Van Conversions

It's never been easier to build your own camper van. With the reduced cost and increased availability of parts, tools and used vehicles you too can make your own dream camper van, at a fraction of the cost of buying a professional conversion. Our comprehensive guide helps you through every stage, from planning, buying an empty van, sourcing parts, choosing layouts , fitting furniture and the legal paperwork required.

More and more people are converting their own camper vans. With the reduced costs of second hand vehicles, especially panel vans, and the increased availability of the parts required, it has never been easier.

Building your own camper van can be a hugely rewarding project. It can also be a lot cheaper than buying a camper van. If you build your own camper van you can also have a vehicle that exactly meets your needs, especially useful if you are using your vehicles for sports, such as motorcross or surfing.

If you are a competent DIY enthusiast, then you should have few problems building you own camper van. You can expect to build a good looking vehicle. See the list of self built camper vans.

You can even aim for a professional looking conversion. If you have limited DIY skills, then you should not be put off. Very little is required to make a liveable vehicle. Building a basic camper van just takes a little money and time. See the list of self built camper vans for ideas and inspiration.

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Comments (54)

  • SHAUN's picture

    This comment has been moved here.

    Nov 17, 2008
  • Darren's picture

    Hello and welcome. What size is your vehicle. Short, Medium or Long wheelbase. Also what height is it. Regular or high-top?

    Mar 23, 2010
  • Dan's picture

    Hey,

    I am part way through converting a Mercedes 814, it is seperated into two halves. The back half has back opening doors but no windows.
    Do you think the dvla will have a problem with the beds being in the back half with no windows?

    Apr 21, 2010
  • Darren's picture

    I dont think there will be a problem. Lots of people have done this and had their vehicle re-registered as a camper.
    The DVLA are generally looking for at least 1 side window, but they don't stipulate where the side window should be, or what type.

    Apr 22, 2010
  • Dan's picture

    Thanks for help, I'm also looking at fitting a 3 way fridge running on gas when stationary and 12v when moving. Would you think it safe to put it a kitchen cupboard if ventilation holes were made?

    What alternatives can you think of?

    Apr 27, 2010
  • Darren's picture

    You need to be careful when fitting a gas fridge. You need to allow cool air to the bottom, and hot air to escape from the top. Hence the 2 vents (upper and lower) you see on the side of campervans. More importantly you need to allow the burnt gas to escape, as it's toxic. Most campervans have the exhaust built into the upper vent. See this guide
    http://www.obrienscamping.co.uk/articles/FridgeInstall.htm

    A 12v compressor fridge doesn't require exhaust vents, but runs only on 12 volts (or mains at a campsite). They are more expensive (£400+ new) but cool to a lower temperature.

    The cheap 12v cool boxes use lots of power and are really unsuitable for long term camping.

    Apr 27, 2010
  • sharonsj's picture

    I bought a 1990 Ford F-150 caravan that came with a solar conversion. In fact, the entire top of the van is this solar add-on. Inside is a large panel with a lighted list.
    However, the van came without any instructions or paperwork or even a name of a company that made the solar add-on. Does anyone have any suggestions on where I can go for info?

    May 13, 2010
  • Fran's picture

    Yesterday I took delivery of a professionally converted campervan from a well known firm of converters. When I got it home I found the passenger seat several inches higher than the example I was shown when I placed my order when I made a point of sitting in all the seats to check comfort, visibility, etc. My head now touches the roof of the vehicle and I am a very short person.
    Is there a minimum health and safety rule about headroom in vehicles?

    I am very disappointed and the firm concerned is not prepared to talk to me about it.

    What would you advise me to do?

    May 19, 2010
  • Darren's picture

    Hi Fran

    Sorry to hear of your problem. The company won't speak to you about it? This is very bad. What have they said?

    May 20, 2010
  • Anonymous's picture

    Ermm...I'd guess that they haven't said anything

    Jun 01, 2010
  • Anonymous's picture

    well that wasn't helpfull bruv

    Jun 01, 2010
  • Anonymous's picture

    ....sorry bruv, fair point bruv

    Jun 01, 2010
  • Darren's picture

    Chances are that they said at least said something

    Jun 01, 2010
  • Alex's picture

    Has anyone info on fitting a T4 side elevating roof with an electrically powered raising mechanism (manual lift at the moment)

    Jul 16, 2010
  • Sandy Durward's picture

    How much will it cost - roughly - to kit out an old panel van, from scratch to a reasonable standard? There are kids involved! Looking for cost for basic van, electrics, joinery, plumbing and materials. Will self build interiors and get someone to do the electrics?

    Thanks

    Jul 29, 2010
  • Darren's picture

    Doing it all yourself, to a reasonable standard I would guess £1,000 - £2,000, not including the vehicle.
    If you take a long time and spend lots of time sourcing cheap or used parts you can do it for £1,000.
    Obviously everyones taste and needs are different.

    Jul 31, 2010
  • Graham Biggs's picture

    Hi i have an ex AA t4 swb and i would like to convert it to a camper myself im pretty good at diy wood and metal but would like to get some plans i.e for rock and roll bed and the furniture anyone got any ideas many thanks...
    Graham

    Aug 02, 2010
  • hayjoe's picture

    can you please tell me wot this is

    Feb 12, 2011
  • warren's picture

    looks like some one fitted an RS Components two pin socket to power up something neat and flush the on line catalog would be my first starting point for the plug you will need.Then a test to determine voltage and if is powered with the ignition on or off fuse rating and where that is located if it needs replacing sorry i cant do it for you good luck.

    Oct 02, 2011
  • marshall's picture

    hi folks,
    I went to france last year and it went fine but when using the fridge on lecky was ok nice and cold but when using the gas when we were wild camping it did,nt go cold and its a pest .My van is a vw t4 and the fridge is electrolux 3 way, can anyone help me or point me in the right direction to getting it fixed yours Marshall Mackenzie

    Mar 11, 2011
  • Anonymous's picture

    I have heard that you need to have your fridge on the complete level for it to work properly on gas.

    Mar 29, 2011
  • mauro franceschelli's picture

    the kind of cooling circuit doesn't matter how you are heating the fridge.
    is because of the coolant system you want to precise levelling the unit.

    Aug 29, 2013
  • Bob N's picture

    Your site is fantastic. I have done two conversions.In process of finishing second conversion. I am so pleased I found your site. At present am looking for second hand good condition 3 way fridge. Price range 200-300 pounds. Incidentally have top loading fridge. Anyone interested for a awap or want to sell fridge/freezer. Size H- 617 W- 401 D- 460 (approx or near dimensions). Please respond. Thank you

    Apr 16, 2011
  • Bob N's picture

    Your site is fantastic. I have done two conversions.In process of finishing second conversion. I am so pleased I found your site. At present am looking for second hand good condition 3 way fridge. Price range 200-300 pounds. Incidentally have top loading fridge. Anyone interested for a awap or want to sell fridge/freezer. Size H- 617 W- 401 D- 460 (approx or near dimensions). Please respond. Thank you

    Apr 16, 2011
  • nigel vetch's picture

    Any ideas on who on how to obtain insurance for a UK converted ford transit campervan for expats living in france?

    May 15, 2011
  • Anonymous's picture

    Can anyone help us with the idiots guide to wiring our vw transporter. We are converting it ourselves and can't seem to get much detailed guidance on how to install the electrics (as at the minute it is just a normal van).
    We wanna have a couple of sockets for kettle etc... and run a few led lights with switch.
    We have some information on the leisure battery but not much.
    Please help,

    Jul 11, 2011
  • Anonymous's picture

    Need help ! Books, photos and especially way to find Bongo kitchens in USA.
    Also, a great Convertible (to bed) chair for cerebral palsy adult. The while works here: massage--comfort to the max. Needs to fit Class 1 ambulance.

    Aug 06, 2011
  • Anonymous's picture

    cab light and cd plauer not working after short circuit in dodge sprinter 2005. how to solve the problem"

    Aug 11, 2011
  • Darren's picture

    You need to check the fuses. They are underneath the steering column inside the cab. The back of the cover will show you which fuses to check. Replace any that are burnt out.

    Aug 11, 2011
  • Anonymous's picture

    I seek to find a supplier of roof tops for conversion - side/ front or rear lifting.

    Aug 11, 2011
  • WOOD's picture

    GOOD DAY SIR/MADAM ,,we have roof tops for conversion for sale we are based in the UK this is our official email address if you still to buy roof tops for conversion..
    thanks ..

    May 05, 2012
  • Anonymous's picture

    I seek to find a UK supplier of roof tops for conversion - side/ front or rear lifting.

    Aug 11, 2011
  • ronnieplumber54's picture

    Does anybody no if anybody would do a part conversion to my campervan around the edinburgh area thanks

    Aug 30, 2011
  • Aido's picture

    Hi, I am moving to spain. I would like to buy a camper. Should I buy one here, with Irish motor tax and Camper insurance, and take it to spain, (Is this legal on a long term basis, or at what point do I need to change / reregister it?,)
    Or should / can I buy one in spain. Is it possible / easy to buy one there, and insure / tax it there, whilst not being a spanish resident?
    Do you know of any website where I can get a handle on the practicalities of what I should do.
    Thanks so mucho!

    Sep 02, 2011
  • Darren's picture

    I suspect that you can take a vehicle to Spain for 1 year. Longer than that and you need to export it to Spain.
    Spain doesn't have a very good used vehicle market. So, vehicles are expensive.
    Insuring one would probably be difficult whilst in Spain, especially if you don't speak Spanish.

    If you intend to stay for longer than 1 year definitely keep your vehicle registered in Ireland.

    Sep 04, 2011
  • edward stewart's picture

    Hi I recently moved from London to reside in Australia and just found your great site. At present am in the process of purchasing a Mercedes Sprinter LWB HTop with low K's.and am appealing for some specific info.....does anyone know if there is a workshop manual as I would find it invaluble especially regarding the electrics and plumbing.Thankyou

    Apr 02, 2012
  • Darren's picture

    Hi Edward

    Are you after a workshop manual for the Sprinter? Are you looking how to tap into the Sprinters electrics?
    I found it quite easy without any sort of manual. The wiring was quite obvious.
    There are a few workshop manuals options, but none great. There is a official Mercedes manual which I can help you get hold of. What year is your vehicle?

    Apr 02, 2012
  • andy1962's picture

    can anyone tell me if it is ok to feed gas pipes underneath my campervan fastened to the chassis and would it be part of mot thanks

    Nov 22, 2012
  • Paul and Kim's picture

    Hi guys, new to the scene.
    We are refurbishing a 1971 T2. We are about to fit the new head lining. I'm looking to use Triiso 10. Does anyone have any experience of this product?

    Feb 11, 2013
  • Kris's picture

    Hi Paul and Kim
    I dont have a great deal of experience with conversions but on both my conversions I used some cheap stuff on ebay. I went for it again because it seems to do quite a good job for the price, but my van isnt going to be used in peak winter. Brilliant stuff to handle.
    sorry I couldnt give you the answer you were after lol.
    should upload some pics of your conversion if you get a chance.
    All the best

    Kris

    Feb 15, 2013
  • sarahcurtin's picture

    Hello all

    My first post on this fantastically useful website :)

    We have just purchased a converted Ford Transit 1997 LWB (high roof). Two kiwis - soon to be headed off from London on our European summer travels, very excited!

    It has two single beds fixed to the floor of the van. At times, we are going to have up to four people living in it, and thus need to build a double bed above the two singles (there is plenty of height for it).

    We are not sure on the logistics of this and really want to ensure that whatever is built is very safe and steady. Unsure on attaching frames to the side of the van - and where support would be needed to ensure safety.

    Ideally we are looking for someone to help us build this.

    Does anyone have any useful thoughts or recommendations?

    Your help would be very much appreciated!!

    Thanks
    Sarah

    May 02, 2013
  • DrummerSi's picture

    Hi, I'm currently in the process of doing a fairly simple conversation to a Vauxhall combo and I rather wanted to put a leisure battery in the void under the loading bed behind the passenger seat just to power a little led lighting and hopefully a couple of cigarette lighter sockets in the back for charging phones and powering other such appliances. I was basically wondering if anybody could advise me as to whether I will need to add some ventilation within the void to vent the gases I've heard that are created when charging the battery, I'm absolutely clueless about it. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Si

    May 17, 2013
  • Darren's picture

    Hi Si

    Yes you should ideally vent the gases that will build up when charging the battery. Will the battery be in the sleeping area?

    May 17, 2013
  • DrummerSi's picture

    Hi, thanks for the response, no, it would basically be underneath it in a void behind the passenger seat, although the void is far from air tight and basically directly beneath the head of the bed, I was wondering if perhaps I might be best off to more or less seal the battery in a box and vent that to the outside to ensure the gases go the right way rather than risking them leaking into the rest of the van. Or would that be a bad idea?

    Cheers,
    Si

    May 17, 2013
  • Darren's picture

    You've got the right idea. I would seal the battery in a box and vent that box to the outside.

    May 18, 2013
  • DrummerSi's picture

    Ahh good, I shall do that then, thankyou for your advice, it's much appreciated!! I'm looking forward to getting it done so i can upload some photos and show it off a bit!!

    Cheers
    Si

    May 18, 2013
  • Arthur Kennedy's picture

    Am looking for advice on what I need to do in relation to fitting battons on the floor sides and roof prior to putting in insulation and sheeting. Just not sure where to start. Anyone with experience to advise please.

    Jun 19, 2013
  • Nobby's picture

    Hi all,
    Have owned a few campers before ranging from bay window vw's to the big ole motorhome. Currently converting an old transit swb low roof on a tight budget and loving it.

    Feb 22, 2014

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