Your campervan’s interior layout can really make or break your home on wheels. So do you go for a readymade furniture kit or flex your DIY skills and create your own design? Here we take a look at both options to help you decide which is best for you.
Embarking on your very own campervan conversion project can present one of the most exciting challenges for anyone dedicated to the van life dream. And just like any big undertaking, you’ll need to answer a lot of important questions before you can get started - such as whether to opt for a campervan furniture kit or a DIY van build.
As well as helping you with the answers to such tricky questions, the team at Motorhome Protect also know some of the best campervan insurers around. Talk to us today and let us help to keep your cherished home on wheels protected.
CAMPERVAN CONVERSION OPTIONS – WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
For those who want to get out on the road quickly, buying a new or second-hand van that’s already been converted is a very popular choice. But if you want something more personalised to your needs and wants and are happy to put in a bit more time and effort then converting your own campervan really can’t be beaten.
However, converting any vehicle into a campervan fit for your grand adventure can require a wide variety of DIY skills. As well as planning the van design and layout you’ll need to be able to choose the right tools and materials for the job, work with both wood and metal and have a decent knowledge of plumbing and electrics (although we’d always recommend getting a qualified electrician or gas safe engineer to do the tricky bits for you).
Unfortunately, when it comes to such essential work there’s no magic wand you can wave. And if you don’t have a good grounding in these skills, a campervan conversion could prove to be far from straightforward.
But don’t despair, when it comes to campervan conversions there are plenty of options worth considering requiring varying degrees of DIY knowhow. They all have their own pros and cons, and it’s up to you to decide which is best for your needs and budget. Let’s take a look at your three options:
1. Campervan furniture kit
Rather than having to design and build your own interior from scratch, simply pick your perfect layout from a variety of flatpack kitchen, wardrobe and bed units. Depending on the base vehicle and kit you’ve chosen these are relatively straightforward to install, and still offer plenty of scope to put your own unique stamp on the project.
2. DIY van build
You’ll need the time, space and knowledge to complete a full DIY van build, but this option can definitely save you money and gives you more control over the end product. And because you’ve done all the hard work yourself, if something goes wrong further down the line, then it’ll be much easier to fix.
3. Campervan conversion company
If you’ve got the money but don’t have the time or DIY skills to take on a campervan conversion yourself, then there are plenty of companies out there that can do it for you. And when the day comes to sell on your beloved camper then a professionally certified conversion job could mean a better return on your investment.
In these times of financial pressures, two of the most cost-effective conversion options are campervan furniture kits and DIY van builds. Let’s take a closer look at which one might be the best option for your project.
CAMPERVAN FURNITURE KITS VS DIY VAN BUILD: WHICH IS BETTER?
Just as with comparing campervan insurers, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether a campervan furniture kit or a DIY van build is better for you. Both will have their pros and cons, depending on your needs and budget.
Campervan furniture kits
There are a wide range of campervan furniture kits available on the market today. Not only can they save you time and money on your conversion project, they’re also invaluable if you don’t have the necessary technical experience to build your own van.
Rather than having to construct everything from scratch, a kit could already include the major parts such as flooring, panelling and insulation, bed, seating area, table, shelving, storage spaces and kitchenette. All you need to be able to do is follow the installation instructions.
But not all campervan furniture kits are created equal and they can vary hugely in terms of quality, components and cost. Some are designed with no specific base vehicle in mind and just contain a simple series of components that might require some modification when being installed into your vehicle.
On the other hand, some kits are specially designed to fit the most common vans like the Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit or Volkswagen Transporter. Companies providing such high-quality, bespoke kits pride themselves on including everything you could need to convert your van into a camper – often enabling installation in just a few days.
Be aware, conversion kits can be more expensive than doing it yourself from scratch and might not include every feature you want. Indeed, there’s often much more to a campervan conversion than just the furniture.
Depending on your needs and the kit you’ve gone for, you might need other complementary kits to make your van liveable. These could include:
- Electrical kit - Installing an electrical system into your camper that’s fit for purpose is one of the more challenging and important elements of the entire build. A kit that includes all the key components you need will take a lot of the effort out of the job – although you’ll still want a qualified person to do the installation.
- Mains hook up kit – When staying at a campsite you’ve got a great opportunity to take advantage of mains electricity by charging the leisure battery in your camper. We like this complete kit from Wired Campers for £749.
- Heating & ventilation kit – Good ventilation will help stop condensation and dampness in your camper. While a decent heating system will help keep your van warm and comfortable even in the coldest of spots.
- Plumbing and bathroom kit – If you’re planning on spending longer than the occasional weekend in your van then having an adequate plumbing and bathroom kit will make the experience a lot more pleasant. The benefits of hot and cold water, a kitchen sink, shower and even an on-board toilet cannot be overstated.
- Kitchen kit – A well-equipped camper kitchen will make a world of difference to camp life.
Providing such onboard amenities will lift any van from just a place to rest your head into a cosy home on wheels. If you dream of living permanently in your van then you’ll want to get the right kit for the job.
Something worth considering if you don’t fancy a full conversion are so-called weekend camping modules. Ideal for weekend camping trips or short-term touring, these pre-configured kits can slot into virtually any good-sized people carrier or small van.
They provide a quick and easy transformation into a comfortable, high-spec campervan. And one that can be removed just as quickly when not in use.
One of the most popular companies making these at the moment is Slide Pods. They can supply an all-in-one, fully removable rear pull-out kitchen unit, bed and storage system that slots into most medium size vans.
But whichever vehicle or conversion kit option you choose, make sure to adequately research campervan insurers and what they provide. There are few things more stressful than to be involved in an accident and to only then find out the campervan insurers you’ve chosen won’t cover your bespoke vehicle!
Speak to the team at Motorhome Protect to make sure this won’t happen to you.
Pros of campervan furniture kits
- Great way to quickly customise a van for your needs.
- Often faster than a DIY build.
- Looks smart and professional when installed correctly.
- Lets you easily add or take away features in the campervan as your needs change.
- Can include easy to follow instructions.
- Everything is designed to fit together.
- Cheaper than a professional campervan conversion company.
- Often includes all the components you need for the conversion, so you don’t need to worry that you’ve missed something.
- Can add value to your van if ever you come to sell.
- Many companies offer an after-sales service to help if you get stuck.
Cons of campervan furniture kits
- Not as customisable as a DIY build.
- Needs some DIY skills, tools and equipment for a successful installation.
- Installation can be time consuming.
- Making a mistake can be costly.
- Not all kits are high quality and durable.
- More expensive than a DIY build.
- If something goes wrong with the installation, fixing it can be a challenge.
Keep these factors in mind when shopping for a campervan furniture kit, and you’ll be sure to find one that meets your needs and budget.
DIY van build
When it comes to exciting but daunting projects then designing and building your very own campervan from scratch has to be right up there. But if you want ultimate control over your conversion project and relish the challenge of a bit of carpentry, then a DIY build could be the option for you.
From finding the right van, choosing the perfect features and layout for your needs, keeping that all important budget under control and doing the conversion work itself, there’s a huge amount to juggle. A DIY build can be a time-consuming project indeed, so it’s always wise to get some good advice beforehand.
As well as giving you access to a great range of campervan insurers, the team at Motorhome Protect are always coming up with ideas to help. If you’re thinking of a DIY build then read our ultimate guide to converting your campervan now.
The guide includes the best vans for DIY campervan conversions, a step-by step plan for a DIY build, and how to stay on the right side of the law with a campervan conversion. Don’t start your DIY build without it!
Pros of a DIY van build
- Most affordable way to create your dream campervan.
- You can start your build as soon as you’re ready. No waiting months for a build slot to come around.
- The budget is yours to control. You can spend as much or as little as you want and can tweak the build depending on funds available.
- Opportunity to learn new skills. From plumbing and carpentry to project management and graphic design, who knows where your DIY build may take you.
- Flexibility to make changes as you go.
- Sense of accomplishment. You did it all yourself!
- You’ll be the proud owner of a unique and one-of-a-kind campervan.
- Easier to change parts of the build at a later date.
- You’ll be more familiar with how everything works. So, you’ll be more able to make repairs later.
Cons of a DIY van build
- Can take longer than expected. If you need a campervan in a hurry then this may not be the option for you.
- More challenging than installing a pre-made furniture kit.
- Need a suitable place to work on the van. A garage with a power supply and lighting is ideal.
- You’ll need to be willing to learn new skills.
- Needs specialist tools to make the build easier, quicker and to a high standard. These can be expensive if you don’t already own them.
- Installing electrics, gas appliances and other specialist work might require professional input.
- The resale value may not be as high as with a professional conversion.
- Not all campervan insurers will cover a DIY build.
POPULAR CAMPERVAN FURNITURE KIT COMPANIES
With furniture kits available to fit everything from small vans to large RVs, there are many companies offering products and services to the campervan conversion market. Here are four worth checking out:
- Cambee has over 10 years of experience converting campervans. It now sells complete pre-built furniture kits just like you would get with one of its professional conversions. They can be shipped to your door and installed in a weekend.
- Campervan Furniture is a family run business based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire specialising in supplying campervan furniture kits. The kits are made to order and are made to your own custom measurements and design.
- Clearcut Campervan Design is an excellent source of help and information for campervan conversion projects. It stocks a wide range of ready to go kits for campervans and other leisure vehicles.
- Regal Camper Conversions sells a wide range of high-quality, flat-pack campervan furniture kits.
While many of these kits target the VW Transporter-type van, you can also get ones to fit Ford, Vauxhall, Citroen, Toyota, Peugeot and Renault vans.
We always recommend checking out the quality of the kits and getting testimonials from other buyers before committing.
Many companies supplying campervan furniture kits also offer a range of extras such as a fridge, cooker, campervan ovens or roof vents.
If you’re considering going down the campervan furniture kit route with your build then you’ll need to answer the following questions before making the final decision.
- What’s the best kind of conversion kit to suit your campervan and your lifestyle?
- How much will the kit cost? Depending on the materials used and the complexity of the design, kits can vary widely in price.
- What’s the quality of the kit? Steer well clear of flimsy materials and fittings. Try to find reviews of the kit from previous customers.
- If you’re planning on travelling to colder climes, is the insulation or heating system sufficient? For more tips on how to keep your campervan warm read our guide.
- Is the kit compatible with your van? If you need to make significant modifications to the kit or your van then it can take time, effort and money.
- How easy is it to install? Some conversion kits are trickier than others and might require some professional help.
- What kind of warranty does it come with? It’s always worth checking to see what kind of support is available in case of any difficulties.
- Does the company have a good reputation? Are they recommended by other owners?
HOW ABOUT HIRING A PROFESSIONAL CAMPERVAN CONVERSION COMPANY?
For those with limited time or DIY skills, there is a third potential option. Outsourcing the whole project to a professional campervan conversion company.
Provided you’ve chosen the right company for the job they should be able to advise you on what you can achieve on your budget. And the best way to achieve a high-quality finished product that meets your specifications.
But there’s a lot you’ll need to weigh up before choosing this option. On the one hand, you won’t have to do any of the work yourself.
So, the company will take care of everything for you including sourcing and fitting the right quality materials and components. And handling any paperwork and DVLA requirements for your van conversion.
On the other hand, you’ll have less control over the whole process and the finished van. The company might not be able to accommodate all your specific requests or needs within the budget, the project might go over time, and you might have to compromise on some aspects of the design or finish.
Fortunately, if something goes wrong with the conversion, then the company should be able to fix the problem for you. And you may be able to get a warranty from the conversion company for the work carried out.
Professional campervan conversion companies include:
- Specialising in VW Transporter conversions, CamperKing claims to be able to convert a van in as little as four weeks. Winner of the Campervan Converter of the Year Award by Campervan magazine, the team converts up to 35 vehicles a week at its workshop near Banbury.
- Based in Portland, Dorset, VanWorx specialises in converting existing T5 or T6 VW Transporters into vehicles fit for adventure. Using only the very best products available with VW Approval, it offers a full range of styling, lining, leather and tuning options.
- One of the very first Volkswagen certified converters, family-run Hillside Leisure in Derby designs, builds and sells a great range of campervans.
- CMC Reimo specialises in VW, Ford and Renault-based campervans. From full conversions to pop-top roof fitting, it offers a wide variety of services to the van life dreamer.
Be warned, you’ll probably need deep pockets to hand over the entire project to a campervan conversion company. But if you’re looking for a trouble-free, high-quality conversion then a campervan conversion company could be the answer.
CAMPERVAN INSURERS PERFECT FOR CONVERSION PROJECTS
While converting your campervan you’ll still want to be insured. That’s why it pays to visit a specialist like Motorhome Protect who can find campervan insurers to fit your needs.
No matter how well you’ve researched what’s involved in a campervan conversion, the right insurance policy will give you that extra layer of protection against theft, accident and so much more.
Motorhome Protect is one of the most experienced campervan insurers in the market today. Give us a call for a quick quote now.