Here at DCCampers we are here to help you with what ever you need. We fully understand there will be those of you who wish to work on vans them selves and maybe get elements worked on by a company or even just purchase the parts required and there are those of you who just wish to leave the van with the pro's to do it all. Either way we are here to help with what ever your requirments may be.
On this page we hope to answer some of the most common questions asked about converting vans.
The first thing to note is there is many different forums and facebook pages that specialize in each individual make and model of van, you will get lots of varied opinions on these forums and sometimes some very biased information which is more damaging than those that give it care to beleive. The thing you need to watch on forums is why those are giving the advice, I would love to say that mostly it is due to the love and passion those giving the advice have for the vehicle etc but sometimes this is not the case. All we can advise is be careful what you listen to on forums, and most certainly gain a second opinion on most information given. Thankfully most are honest enthusiasts of their chosen van who will pass on valued advice about their own experiences, we are here to hopefully make sense of and advise on what is the correct information you need.
Paul built the business on the very same philosophy throughout "i'd rather give the correct information to ensure that those who wish to do the work themselves can carry the work out safely and correctly and to the highest standard possible they can manage" Paul has often offered to help out with advice throughout DIY builds, "if someone wishes to work on their own van who are we to stand in their way, we are here to help if it is needed, thats how the old forums used to work so thats how I wish to work now"
Anyway enough of that!! if we miss anything....and we absolutely will! don't forget to pick the phone up and ask us advise, happy to help or better yet pop along for a chat.
"what van is best for converting"
There is no right or wrong answer here, its without question that the VW vans are the most common you could argue that this is due the following behind the manufacterer and the scene that comes with it, since the 1950's the VW van has been the common choice of van for campervan conversions, however these days there are many great vans just perfect for converting. A van is a van and we have converted Ford Transits, Vauxhall Vivaro's, Fiat Ducato's, Mercedes Sprinters, Mazda Bongo's all very successfuly and loved equally by the owners.
Go out and drive the van's be sure you are happy with the base van, if you don't enjoy or feel comfortable don't forget that won't change no matter how good the conversion is! every van drives differently and have different costs attached. Do your research as you would any car you would buy.
"DIY or Converter?"
This is something that only you can decide, we have seen lots....too many bullied into doing the job themselves on forums unfortunately it doesn't turn out well in many cases and lots of people feel herded into doing what some "enthusiasts" feel is best. Just because others have done a job well doesn't mean to say its a simple task. There is nothing wrong with taking a van to someone to do the work for you. The only ones it will ultimately effect is yourself.
Conversions take time, if you choose to do it yourself and want to achieve a professional finish I can comfortably say it will take you a few months to achieve......we know we have done it how else do you think we started! working a full time job and having family and then giving time to convert a van to a high standard.
Paul started the business whilst working a full time job (40-70hours weekly) having just had a baby also time was prescious, so having worked on over 10 vans in the first three months and converting 2 vans in the same time was something of a miracle, so if anyone can advise on converting a van in spare time Paul certainly can.
The great news is that for those who wish to DIY build there are loads of options available out there for you. You can get furniture kits that are flat packed and comprehensive enough to give most options of a layout. One point to note is that the furniture that is bought online is often smaller and more compact and does not fit as well as a converters conversion as the tolerances have to suit many different styles of build and beds etc etc.
Our biggest advice is to listen to more than a couple of opinions on most items, advice from forums can often be very mis-leading and dangerous. We often have to correct people on matters such as gas installations and its scary what those on the forums are advising.
"Elevating roof or not?"
One of the most common questions when converting a smaller or medium sized van is whether to fit an elevating roof or not!
The answer often comes down to budget.To be entirely honest it is not a cheap option, this is typically the most expensive part of any conversion and for good reason.
Without getting into which roof, the elevated roof allows a higher standing height, and most will allow you to stand at the most walked area of the van conversion. The vans that you normally find elevated roofs on are very low, and if you are spending any amount of time in the van then they are a useful addition purely just on being able to stand up.
One key element is that most roofs come with an option to create a bed space above at roof level when the roof is elevated. This can raise the berth of the camper van to 4 berth which can be essential for small families.
If you are unsure the best way to answer whether or not you can justify the cost of an elevating roof is to go and take a look at a van with one fitted and get inside get a feel for the space it creates, it does change the feel of any conversion.
"Elevating roof - Which one?"
So you have decided to go for an elevating roof, but with the choice out there which one do you go for?
This is something I have many conversations with customers and my simple answer is you get what you pay for.......most of the time!! But the best advice I can give is go and actually see a van with the particular roof you are looking at and take a close look, make sure you see the roof fully elevated, get inside and have a look at the space, how high it goes, what the bed space is like, how it looks inside when the roof is down, how much space there is when the roof is down, how easy it is to lift and pull back down.
Aside from the obvious points above the roofs not he market all look different and make sure you are happy with the one you choose, some have nose cones at the front others don't, some are so slim you can't see them when down others stick up a lot. This is often something you may just deal with based on the price of the roof.
One of the most common oversights is the way the roof is secured when down and in "driving" position. A lot of roofs simply pull down and rely on straps much like on a rucksack which I will warn having seen many fail can course issues with holding the roof down in the future and will require maintenance to ensure the roof stays secure throughout the camper vans life, some with bolt down with large bolts that stick though the headlining and others use a door latch style click and secure style system similar to car door catches. Which ever the roof you choose has it is important you are happy you can secure the roof safely each time yourself.
We have fitted a few different brand roofs from premium to budget roofs and you mostly get what you pay for, there are a few on the market that are hugely over priced for the quality of roof, unfortunately the quality of the roof is more often than not overlooked.
Which roofs do we fit? SCA, its as simple as we have yet to see a roof (and we have seen most) that can compare to the build quality, finish and fit of the SCA roof. They look as VW intended the roofs to look as the design follows that of the California roof. They are German built roofs and also have a strengthening frame that has been VW approved which means VW are happy that should the van be in an accident the roof will withstand the same as the standard roof would.
We are happy to provide advice on any roofs!
"Elevating roof - before or after conversion?"
We are often asked if an elevating roof can be fitted after a full conversion is complete as budgets don't currently allow for it.
Simply put yes it can be done, however it is not something we would recommend. The main reason is due to the necessity for any fitted furniture to be removed to allow access for a strengthening frame to be fitted to the roof area. The time taken to remove the furniture would need to be accounted for when pricing the work and can often be £100's especially if the roof fitter did not build or fit the furniture. It is also often the case that the gas lines and electrics need temporarily repositioning, as well as the re-certification of the gas system once put back together.
Another consideration is how the van is lined i.e. if the van has been carpet lined it can often be damaged during the fitting due to metal being cut so close.
We have fit roofs to fully converted and carpet lined vans in the past and it is vastly time consuming to ensure there is no damage done when fitting a roof. What would be a 4 day job in an empty van turns into a 2 week job. So we can carry out the work but there are cost implications which would need a good amount of consideration.