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How Much Does it Cost to Convert a Van to a Camper?

Jun 12, 2023

What could be more rewarding than taking an old van and converting it into a luxurious campervan for a lifetime of fun and adventure?

In this post, we’ll explore how much you might expect to pay to convert a van to a camper. We’ll also discuss some other things you may need to think about, including registering your campervan conversion, and getting adequate campervan insurance cover.

Want to discuss your campervan insurance needs with an experienced expert? Our friendly team is always on-hand to find you exactly the cover you need at a price you can afford. Call us on 0208 290 9086 or email us at personal@anthonyjones.com.

How Much to Convert a Van to a Camper?

A campervan conversion could cost you as little as £500, and as much as £50,000. And this isn’t including the cost of the original van, which might itself range between around £500 and £15,000, or maybe more.

There’s no single answer, as it depends on a number of factors:

  • What sort of vehicle are you aiming to convert, and what sort of condition is it in?
  • Do you want a basic conversion, or something more luxurious?
  • How much work are you willing to do yourself?

Let’s break this down a little.

Can I Really Convert a Van Into a Campervan For Just £500?

It depends! The more you do yourself, the less your campervan conversion will cost you.

If you:

  • Buy a cheap (yet roadworthy) second-hand van.
  • Source all the materials yourself.
  • Prioritise recycled and second-hand materials.
  • Do everything yourself – including fitting the electrical systems, water tanks, plumbing, and gas and heating systems.
  • Aim for moderate levels of comfort, instead of high-tech bijou luxury.

Then yes, you might not spend much at all on your conversion.

However, your conversion may take months, or even years. You may have to learn a lot of new skills as you go. And when working with gas, plumbing, and electricals, you’ll have to take great pains to ensure that everything you install is safe, as well as functional.

So this DIY approach is not for the fainthearted. Unless you’ve a lot of time, energy, and patience, you might be better paying others to help you with your conversion – or even to carry out the whole conversion from start to finish.

This is where the costs will start to ramp up. But if it means less work for you, a more professional and luxurious finish, and peace of mind that everything will be fitted to the highest possible safety standards, then it will certainly be money well spent.

Breaking Down The Costs of Campervan Conversions

The good news is that converting a van to a campervan is almost always cheaper than buying a new campervan outright.

Below is a basic breakdown of how much you might expect to pay for the various components of your conversion. Please bear in mind that these are all approximate figures:

Insulation £300

Standard transit vans are not insulated. If you want to be able to comfortably sleep in your campervan in all seasons, you’ll need to insulate it!

Flooring and Cladding – £1,000

Commercial vans have cold metal interiors with lots of awkward bumps and dips. Adding plywood flooring and sides can make the interior more uniform, and more inhabitable.

Windows – £1,000

You need to let the light in! And depending on the size of your campervan, you may also want to add a skylight or roof vent. The more windows you add, the more you’ll have to pay.

Electricals – £1,000

When it comes to electricals, you’ll have to budget for a battery (most campervans run on a 12v battery), wiring, connections, cables, split chargers, and lighting.

If you intend to stay at campsites, a 240v electrical hook-up will give you all the power you need without draining the battery. You might also budget for solar panels, so you can generate your own energy.

But your biggest expense when it comes to electricals should be labour – for safety reasons, this is one part of the conversion you have to get right!

Fittings and Furnishings – Up to £5000

Think about what you want in your campervan. The more you add, the more you’ll pay.

A simple seating area that converts into a sleeping space could cost as little as £500. But things like fixed seats and beds, tables, shelving, storage, kitchen units, and other features will drive up the price.

Plumbing – £500

You’ll need to budget for a water tank, a pump, an accumulator, and various pipes and connectors.

For off-the-grid living, you should consider installing a toiler and a shower. For this, you’ll need to budget for a water boiler, a wastewater storage and disposal system, and extra ventilation.

Budgeting For Your Campervan Conversion

So as we’ve seen, there’s no simple answer to the question of how much it costs to convert a van to a campervan. But you should work with a budget and a timescale in mind.

A budget will help you make decisions about parts and labour and will prevent your costs from spiralling out of control. Meanwhile, working with a timescale in mind will help you manage your expectations, and will help you decide between taking the DIY approach and asking professionals for help.

So here’s a few things that will help you set your budget:

  • Choose your vehicle carefully. The older your starting van, the more work it’ll likely need to make it roadworthy and inhabitable. Also remember that the bigger the van, the more it’ll cost to convert.
  • Decide what you want. At minimum, you’ll want somewhere to sleep, somewhere to sit, and somewhere you can prepare food. But if you intend to effectively live in your campervan, then you’ll also need to think about toilets, showers, and other extras.
  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Ideally, you’d be able to do everything yourself, which of course would help you make huge savings on the cost of your conversion. But do you really have the time, the patience, and the capabilities for this DIY approach? Also, there are some areas where you shouldn’t take any risks, such as with gas, electricals, and plumbing.

Want a ballpark figure to work with? The AA advises that “even the most affordable and simple conversions can cost around £6,000”. And that’s without accounting for the cost of the original vehicle. So take that as your starting point, decide on what you want, what you need, and what you can do, and you should find it easier to budget for your conversion.

Registering a Campervan Conversion

There are benefits to registering your campervan conversion with the DVLA. For example, it may help you save money on the cost of insurance, as campervan insurance can be cheaper than standard van insurance.

Read our full guide to registering your campervan conversion.

Want to discuss your campervan insurance needs with an experienced expert? Our friendly team is always on-hand to find you exactly the cover you need at a price you can afford. Call us on 0208 290 9086 or email us at personal@anthonyjones.com.


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