We’ve all had the urge to pack up and hit the open road for a while to see where we end up, but if you ever want to do it quickly, easily, and legally, then converting your car into a caravan could be the perfect way to do it. You have the freedom to come and go as you please, all with your trusty car to get it done with ease. Caravan conversions are ideal for travellers relying on convenience. Doing it, however, isn’t quite as simple as it sounds.
Anyone can turn their car into their new mobile home if you think about it. As long as you can fit in it and relax in it, that’s all there is to it… or is there? As it turns out, there are actually some great guidelines about what it means to convert your car to a caravan for real, and they’re a useful guide and starting point to making sure you do it well. View how to buy a good camper or motorhome.
The first step in converting your car into your new caravan comes from gutting it and starting fresh. You need to space to work after all, and whether you have a spacious van for a caravan conversion or even an estate car, you need to be able to get it done. That means taking out the inside and replacing it with the features you need. Knowing what that is and what classes as a caravan, however, is where you need to start paying attention.
All 4 of these things need to be met to be legally classed as a converted caravan:
Seats and table
You need to have a fixed apparatus for seating and a tabletop. It doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture as it can be mounted, folded or just about anything else, as long as there is a permanent space for it to be fixed.
It does make sense too. Laying down all the time is awful for your health, and you need to be able to sit with proper posture. It’s better for hygiene too so it does pay off. You can still make it your own, just get it done.
Next up, you of course also need a sleeping area. This one is where you can be a little bit more creative though. You can have a folding bed, a sofa bed, or even a cabin bed like in the old school camper vans. It really doesn’t matter as long as you can sleep comfortably.
It’s also a great idea to think about the weather where you’re thinking about travelling at this point, too. Heating a converted caravan can be a difficult thing to do. With that ebbing said, you don’t want to be travelling in Europe in the summer with a thick winter bedding set either. Plan ahead and make sure you’ll be able to enjoy your climates.
Stove or Microwave
Sleeping and sitting aren’t the only things you need to be doing either. A properly converted caravan needs to be something you can stay in for a while after all, and that involves you eating too. For that to happen, you’re going to need cooking apparatus, and that’s category 3 of the checklist.
Luckily, your caravan conversion doesn’t just have to have an oven or stove (although camping stoves can be a great touch). It can also be a much more accessible and easier to transport microwave too for you to use, but again like all of these things, it does need to be fitted. You can’t just take a microwave with you; it needs to fit correctly and for the long term.
And finally, we have your storage situation. That’s not only convenient but safe too. You need to have something with you to keep your things in, especially when you’re actually on the road. You don’t want things to impair your driving ability or the safety of you, passengers or other road users either.
It can be anything from a locker to a cupboard in this sense as long as it again is there for the long haul. It’s actually a great way to hit two things at once here if you make half of this space where you’ll put your microwave, but each to their own.
After you have all of the internal car to caravan conversion boxes ticked, you’ll all done as far at the department of travel are concerned. To get seen as a converted caravan by the DVLA however, things are flipped on their head completely. That’s where you need to start looking at the outside and your converted caravans’ appearance.
The first place to look here is at your V5. To be classed as a caravan in the eyes of the DVLA, you need to look the part above all else. That means you need to be a large enough vehicle to be considered. It can be anything here from a retired ambulance to a van, or even a livestock carrier. If it is a car you’ve converted into a caravan, the DVLA aren’t too interested since the internal aspects don’t affect speeds or legalities.
After you have that, you need to meet the rest of the checklist requirements too:
- 2 or more windows on at least one side of the main body (this does not include windows on the driver or passenger doors) to provide a reasonable amount of daylight into the living accommodation
- a separate door which provides access to the living accommodation of the vehicle (this excludes the driver and passenger doors); a window on this door counts as a separate window on the main body
- motor caravan-style graphics on both sides of the vehicle
- an awning bar attached to either side of the vehicle
- a high-top roof (this does not include a pop-top elevating roof)
These are direct from the government site seen here, and all of them need to be met for the DVLA. Once met, these things also need to be proven and sent in too, with the use of section 7 of your V5 form in addition to photographs that can confirm your caravan conversion efforts.
One last HUGE point for you to remember after you’ve done all the hard work here is that you’re making sure that your car so legal too. The last thing that you need after all of this work is to have an uninsured vehicle after all, and that’s exactly what’s likely to happen unless you do this. See how to select insurance.
Always remember to check that your insurance is going to cover your converted vehicle, even if the original was covered. It is no longer the same vehicle after you have modified it in such a way. You may well need specialist insurance for your converted caravan, whether it was a car, a van, or something else entirely. Get it!
Ultimately, converting your van or car into a mobile home has to potential to change your life. It can help you see part of the world and even your own home in a totally different light, proving a real sense of freedom and opportunity. Make sure you do it right if you are going to do it and always put your safety first. See how to inspect one.
Get the right car or van for the job depending on what you want to end up with and ensure that you do anything you want to do properly and securely. If you need any advice on your vehicle before or after you go through with it, don’t forget to check in with our vehicle inspections services either. Happy driving!