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What is a van converter and how do you find the best campervan builders?
Expert advice from Daniel Lopez-Ferreiro, author of Camper Van Life.
There are a number of factors that you will need to consider when buying a van conversion. Our free download – The Essential Campervan Buyers Guide – explains these in detail, but in short, safety should always be your biggest concern.
When you’re looking for a camper van conversion – whether brand new or what we call a “brand new, second hand camper van” – you will come across a lot of people claiming to be great campervan builders, but many won’t be the experts that they claim to be.
Some people like to challenge themselves by converting a van themselves, however, if not done properly this can create future problems, such as damp and breakages. Luckily, some van converters offer a "built to order" campervan service who are able to add design features to distinguish your camper from others to suit your style and practical needs. At Sussex Campervans my team will craft furniture and upholstery by hand to create fantastic modern, luxurious conversions. We offer a rainbow of upholstery colour swatches for you to choose from, as well as many furniture finishes to make the interior design of your campervan uniquely yours.
We buy the van and manage your project from start to finish
We take nearly new vans that have had one previous owner – we like to call them “brand new, second hand campers” – usually they will have been used commercially by a company with a good track record of looking after its vehicles – and create a camper van, based on one of our current models, tailored to meet our customers’ exact specifications. They are less expensive to buy than brand new ones and are more reliable and cheaper to maintain than old, second hand vans.
When it comes to conversions, some campervan builders buy in old vans to convert which makes the price lower for you but gives the van a shorter life and puts you at more risk of breakdowns and engine problems. This can be a disaster when you’re away from home or abroad in your camper. Look for a good warranty and that the vehicle is correctly registered with the DVLA.
Reputable campervan converters should source new or nearly new vans on your behalf, then work closely with you throughout the project to ensure that you are fully satisfied with the design and layout of your finished camper.
At Sussex Campervans we look after the whole project, from buying the van on your behalf, to full conversion into a complete campervan, so you are guaranteed a personalised outcome with all the facilities needed to suit your lifestyle. We don’t work on customer’s existing vans.
Designed and built in Sussex
Our beds, swivel seats, pop-top roofs and furniture are all designed right here at Sussex Campervans, and we don’t install them into other people’s campervans or self-builds. Our designs are just part of the mix of ingredients that make Sussex Campervans unique and special.
Good campervan converters will maintain all functionality, while providing the luxury of home comforts. Seats and seatbelts should not only be fitted for safety but also to prevent the aches and pains caused by long journeys. Having comfortable furniture will make rainy day activities inside your camper more of a joy!
Beds and other furniture, such as kitchen cupboards, should be fitted to allow for a spacious living area. This will optimise comfort and allow you to carry out every day activities such as eating around the dinner table with your family.
Previous customers have been delighted with the standards of our materials and fittings and have described our service as “extremely professional, friendly and personal”.
Check your van converter’s credentials
As well as knowing what needs to go where, how best to make the most space in a small area and the best equipment to fit into a camper, campervan builders should have the relevant qualifications for fitting gas and electrical installations.
Gas installations should be installed by a GasSafe registered technician and should also comply with the Gas Safety [installation and use] Regulations. Electrics should comply with BS7671:17th Edition wiring regulations. At Sussex Campervans, we take pride in providing you and your family with a luxurious and safe living environment.
If you are unsure that your campervan builders hold these qualifications simply ask to see their certificates – especially in the case of camper van conversions.
Seatbelts must be worn if fitted
If you’re looking at an older camper van or motorhome, ensure that the campervan builders have installed seatbelts to all of the seats that you wish to use while the vehicle is in motion. While it is still legal to drive in the UK without seatbelts on all the road seats, it does put passengers in danger. And when it comes to driving on the Continent you may get pulled over by police, as the laws are different in other countries.
After-care and warranties
Once your campervan is ready, it’s good to know that you have a good after-care service and a comprehensive warranty in place. This will give you peace of mind when you’re out and about with the family. At Sussex Campervans our team of campervan converters will give you superior after-care. It starts right from the handover, when we’ll explain all your new gadgets and facilities, so you can take ownership of your lovely new campervan and get on the road straight away!