While converting a van yourself can be very satisfying and allow you to create exactly the layout you want, some aspects can be quite difficult, too. Most obviously, creating high quality, well fitted and finished furniture. That’s why I paid for furniture to be built for my van – to get the professional look and finish I wanted.
However, there is another way, as a well-known high street bank likes to boast!
The answer is – a caravan. Second-hand caravans, particularly if they have minor crash damage or are over 10 years old, are very cheap to buy. Yet they tend to contain almost everything you will need for a comprehensive motorhome conversion – especially expensive heating, cooking and refrigeration equipment. They also contain professionally-made cupboards, foam cushions, beds and tables.
For example, I owned a caravan for a short while a few years ago. It was bought from a small dealer who had taken in part-exchange. Although it was 12 years old, it had been very expensively specified when new and was top of the range for its size (about 15ft). It contained:
- Gas/240V blown-air heating
- Gas fire
- Gas/240v hot water
- Three-way fridge
- Thetford cassette toilet with electric flush
- Shower and basin
- Hob, grill and cooker
- Numerous double-glazed windows and two rooflights
- Well-made furniture, including a double sofa/double bed and good quality foam cushions (these are expensive)
- Folding table
- Kitchen sink & taps
- Twin gas bottles
- Leisure battery (less than one year old)
The price I paid for this was £1,400 – everything was in excellent condition and full working order, there was no damp and no leaks and the tyres were good. It had lots of life left in it and is still in use by the person I sold it to. If you can’t fine one locally, eBay is a good place to find a cheap caravan.
However, had I been inclined to, I could have stripped out the interior and reused most of it to form the basis of a smart motorhome that would still be well specified by today’s standards. Although windows, rooflights and cupboard carcasses may not all have been reusable, pretty much everything else would, including the cupboard doors, which would have helped provide a professional look.
Some adaptation is required when reusing caravan furniture in a van conversion, but it is possible at a relatively low cost.