A forum for van conversions, van living and travel

The vanlife => Van Conversion => Topic started by: Matn4201 on June 01, 2017, 04:04:59 PM

Title: Advice needed!
Post by: Matn4201 on June 01, 2017, 04:04:59 PM
Hi all,

I was hoping to take up a conversion task and make myself a campervan from something like a vivaro or something Of similar size. The thing I've come to realise is all the regulations that need to be met for this to happen.

I don't have a massive budget (4,000) so I was hoping to ask if it would actually be worthwhile taking on these costs as I have no idea how much it would cost to meet certain regulations for gas registration, electrical tests etc...

Is there any alternative? I didn't really want to buy one premade I was actually looking forward to completing it myself.

Any opinion would be greatly received

Title: Re: Advice needed!
Post by: sparkyboy on June 01, 2017, 05:45:34 PM
Hey man, welcome to the forum! Great place to get advice on vanning. I just started van life myself, and live in an old chevy g10 that looks smaller than a vivaro. I googled some pictures as we don't have that particular make here in the states. (as far as I know). But the cargo one looks cool!
You think your budget is small? I was on a budget of $1000! Although that doesn't count actually purchasing the van as we have had her in the family for 35 years! :-)
Where are you from? I'm in Boulder, CO. Great place
If you can get an older van that runs and drives well for say, 2500 of your 4000 then you are off to a good start. Then you can spend the rest on tires, registration and insurance and what not.
A $7 air matress on a wooden frame ($45 hand built from 2x2s) is what i sleep comfortably on,
$10 solar shower for warm water showering and dishes, single camp stove for cooking (free from a friend)
I will be working on wood paneling for the walls soon, but I think I can do it for less than $100.
I say do it! I am living in a city where average rent is about $1200 a month. My gf and I got into a fight and she threw me out, thinking I would come begging for her to take me back, instead I dug the old van out of the yard she was sitting in for 5 years! No rent! No way I could afford it anyway!
You can see in the pics how I built my bedframe, it's nice because now there is lots of storage underneath :-)
Chicks dig vans!
I am sure you are already thinking this, but spend your money now for how the weather will be in the next few months, I will also be trying to build a homemade air conditioner because it is about to be summer here. Then once I am nice and super comfy, the winter stuff should be at a discount!
(http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn161/kukubirda/WP_20170502_09_58_23_Pro_zps1vfc70wu.jpg) (http://s304.photobucket.com/user/kukubirda/media/WP_20170502_09_58_23_Pro_zps1vfc70wu.jpg.html)
(http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn161/kukubirda/WP_20170502_09_59_05_Pro_zpsawtygp0p.jpg) (http://s304.photobucket.com/user/kukubirda/media/WP_20170502_09_59_05_Pro_zpsawtygp0p.jpg.html)
(http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn161/kukubirda/WP_20170521_18_35_50_Pro_zps86uh7wae.jpg) (http://s304.photobucket.com/user/kukubirda/media/WP_20170521_18_35_50_Pro_zps86uh7wae.jpg.html)
(http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn161/kukubirda/WP_20170521_18_35_05_Pro_zpsmviriusn.jpg) (http://s304.photobucket.com/user/kukubirda/media/WP_20170521_18_35_05_Pro_zpsmviriusn.jpg.html)
(http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn161/kukubirda/WP_20170521_13_29_26_Pro_zpsvjiojrhq.jpg) (http://s304.photobucket.com/user/kukubirda/media/WP_20170521_13_29_26_Pro_zpsvjiojrhq.jpg.html)
Title: Re: Advice needed!
Post by: Matn4201 on June 01, 2017, 06:54:38 PM
Hey dude I appreciate the length you've gone there to help me out. I'm actually from the United Kingdom so I'm not sure if I'm in the right place as I'm sure our motoring laws probably differ. Nevertheless your van looks sweet and if I could get one of those here I think I would.... but not on my budget😫

I wanted to actually spend about 2000 on a cooker, pull out bed, sink and worktop. The timber I could do myself. Obviously being I would need some sort of insulation too.

If you can help then I'm all ears otherwise let me know if I'm barking up the wrong tree 😂

P.s sorry to hear you got kicked out but at least you can do what you want nowtight ? Lol
Title: Re: Advice needed!
Post by: NickJ83 on June 01, 2017, 06:59:07 PM
Again not sure if you 4k is $ or

But in the UK a self build doesnt need to be certified for gas and electric etc. You just need to take recomended precautions.

I decided not to use electric hook up. So no need for 240v. I run off a leisure battery with a big chunky switch for a split charge. The switch key is on a lanyard so I cant forget it.

For gas I use an 11kg propane tank. Carried inside my van. Its suppose to be in a gas cupboard with a 50mm lip at the bottom of the door and a floor vent. Propane is heavier than air and will poor out the vent. I'm trying to run my 11kg bottle down so I can get a smaller one that fits. So at the minute I sleep in the same place as an unvented 11kg gas bottle. I turn it off everynight on its main valve.

By all means read regulations. Mirror the standards but unless your planning on hiring out your van or making them for sale all the time you dont need any certs etc.

Buy your van and have fun converting it. Then come here for advice on your build. 😊

For information my van is a SWB transit. Similar to a vivaro. I've lived in it for 8 months.

Sent from my SM-N910F using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Advice needed!
Post by: Hendo on June 01, 2017, 07:55:51 PM
As Nick says you don't need certificates for personal use, only for trading.  But I strongly advise you to follow the standards, and def get a CO alarm.  I'm on my third conversion now and I'd allow about 1K for basic hardware, eg. cooker, sink, battery,  split charge stuff, fuses, lights, etc. and you should have enough for furniture materials, like hinges, catches, sheet material etc. etc.  Allow extra if you want a cassette toilet, gas or diesel heater, fridge and other luxuries.  You can price all this up easily online.  Once it's finished get the V5 changed to Motor Caravan so you can run at car speed limits and keep yourself legal with insurance etc.
Title: Re: Advice needed!
Post by: Camper_Dan on June 01, 2017, 09:55:15 PM
Greetings & Welcome Matn4201 !

We have people from all over, so you're in a good place.

I would start by finding out if there is a bare minimum to be legal.  If there is a bare minimum, does it only cover built ins, or can keeping everything portable bypass those regulations.  Regulations can vary by area, so if you're doing much traveling, things can change. 

When traveling Europe, I bought a cheap passenger van, removed the seats, and treated it like a tent on wheels, not actually building anything in, or making any modifications to the vehicle at all.  Everything, including my power system was totally portable and independent from the van itself.  I had no problems anywhere.  When I returned to the USA, I did the same thing, and it has been more comfortable than any of the vans I've had that stuff was actually built in.

Comfort, functionality, and practicality are frequently the exact opposite of fancy looking.  The only person I need to impress is me.  It may not look fancy, but it is much more comfortable than the pretty ones I've had.

Good heating, cooling, and ventilation will go a lot further than any amount of insulation, along with parking in the shade during the summer, and in the sun during the winter.  If it's cold enough, just run your heat all night and stay comfortable.  That extra heat will cost you far less than insulation in the long run, plus you can pay for it in tiny installments instead of an up front cost.  You won't have to worry about all the moisture problems that go along with insulation either. (Insulation and vapor barriers of any sort trap moisture.  All moisture must be wicked from the skin to the interior so it can be evaporated out.)

A camp stove can work for both heating and cooking, an ice chest for refrigeration, and plastic dishpans for sinks, along with trigger spray bottles for water delivery.  A portable toilet can be as cheap and simple as a bucket with a plastic bag liner, or a store bought portable toilet.  Use a hula hoop for a great circular shower curtain rod, and a weed sprayer for a shower.  All of this can be used either inside the van or outside as weather and circumstances permit.

Cheap, portable, and simple, doesn't mean you need to compromise on comfort or convenience.

Good Luck!
Title: Re: Advice needed!
Post by: Matn4201 on June 02, 2017, 12:10:07 PM

I'm extremely amateur and have never taken on anything like this but I will have help from someone that has had experience in this sort of thing.

Reading up there are no regulations for DIY conversions in the UK as long as it's not used for business / rental purposes. I think having certificates may provide insurance companies with extra comfort when providing insurance, leading to a potentially cheaper premium however I'm not going to focus too much on that at the moment.

I only intend to use it a couple of times a month really for me, my girlfriend and our new pup. My budget for van and conversion is approximately 4500-5000. I've looked in to leisure batteries, how to store gas canisters etc. I am thinking about insulating it though to be honest. I've added a very quick sketch that I am hoping to achieve (feel free to laugh!!!). It's mean to be looking through the rear of the van! I plan on making a 'to-scale' plan once a van has been purchased and I have exact dimensions to work with.

If you think this isn't achievable please let me know I'd love to hear more tips :) Thanks for all the help so far.
Title: Re: Advice needed!
Post by: sparkyboy on June 02, 2017, 06:10:31 PM
Hey, no worries mate! (I actually say that to people, it's not a common phrase in the US)
Sounds like you have a good plan, you just need to keep browsing vans for sale until you find the one perfect for you!
I think you guys will fall in love like I did. I wish I would have done this years ago, soon enough for you too!
Road trip!
A dream of mine would be to ship my van to Europe and cruise around there! Gotta see more of north America first though!
Cheers man, good luck with your project!
Btw your sketch looks just about right for a cool, comfy ride!