So you bought a Sprinter van. Hell yea. Welcome to the van life community. Now you have some big decisions to make, the first of which is, are you going to build it out yourself? Or are you going to hire a Sprinter Van conversion company to build it out for you?
I went the later route with my Sprinter Van. I’ll be posting another article soon about the pros and cons of hiring someone vs doing it DIY, but first I want to talk about how to properly vet the builder you are considering and their experience.
There’s a ton of new conversion companies popping up all over the country, and the experience between them varies widely. Unfortunately, I’ve found that many of these Sprinter Van conversion companies know how to build pretty cabinets, but they lack the necessary experience with electrical and plumbing systems…which I have since realized should take precedence over woodwork.
If you’ve been following along on my Instagram stories and YouTube, you may have picked up on the fact that I’ve had a few issues with my Sprinter conversion. My shower was leaking and my solar panels had to be replaced…to name a few of the problems. In the process, I learned a big lesson in that I should’ve done a lot more research and asked a lot more questions before signing the dotted line with the Sprinter conversion company I chose to build out my van. If I had taken the time to educate myself and do some more thorough background digging on the company, I probably could have prevented a lot of the problems that I’ve dealt with post-conversion.
Here’s the 10 questions I wish I’d asked before deciding on a company to do my Sprinter Van conversion.
**Whether you have a Sprinter or a different type of van (Ford Transit, Dodge Promaster, etc), these tips for interviewing your potential builder apply!**
10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Sprinter Van Conversion Company
Watch my YouTube video for a run down of these tips for choosing a Sprinter Van Conversion company.
1) How many Sprinters have you converted?
Building out a Sprinter is very different from building out an Airstream or a Vanagon. You should make sure that the Sprinter Van conversion company you hire has experience in your type of vehicle.
2) What’s your design style?
Do you want industrial style, rustic, or modern? Every Sprinter Van conversion company has a style, and you want to make sure you know that their style and vision is in line with yours.
3) What are my options for a custom Sprinter floor plan?
Some Sprinter Van conversion companies have pre-designed floorpans to choose from. Others will work with you on a fully custom design. If you need something custom, make sure that’s an option.
4) What ideas do you have for a Sprinter van that meets xyz needs?
Before approaching a professional Sprinter Van conversion company, you need to think about how you use the van. Are you a weekend warrior? Do you need a gear hauler? How much storage do you need? Are you living and working in it full-time? Are you warm or cold weather based? Will you be driving on rough roads? Do you need a bathroom? How tall are you (that affects bed placement)? Have a clear vision for your van’s purpose and ask the company what ideas they have to make your van awesome. Are they innovative? Do they seem familiar with different products to outfit your van with right off the bat? Do they have good ideas that you haven’t thought of or seen before? You want someone who is extremely knowledgeable, creative, and going to build you a better van than you could have thought of yourself. A detailed conversation here will also give you an idea of their personality and whether or not they are someone you want to work with.
5) How long will it take to convert my Sprinter Van?
You want someone who is going to be honest about the timeline. Do they have other jobs already in line ahead of yours? And once they start working on it, how many weeks or months will they be devoting your vehicle? Be aware that full conversions do take time…but you also want to make sure that yours is delivered in a timeframe that works for you and your upcoming plans. Make sure the dates you agree on are written directly into your contract.
6) How much will it cost to convert my Sprinter Van?
The Sprinter conversion company might not be able to give you an exact price, but they should be able to give you a general range with an absolute maximum based on the floor plan, materials, and products you agree on. Most conversions will require some sort of down payment. Ask that the payment schedule be written into the contract, and be wary of anyone who asks for full payment prior to the van being delivered. I’d recommend getting multiple quotes and compare each of those quotes against the experience of each campervan conversion company.
7) Who decides on the exact products that will be installed in your Sprinter?
You should be included in every step of the decision-making process. When it comes time to choose a fridge, your Sprinter conversion company should tell you your options and the pros and cons of each. When you are deciding on an electrical system, the builder should educate you on the difference components, how they work, and your options for meeting all of your needs as the van user. Then once you have been informed of all of your options, you should have the final say in what is purchased and installed.
Once your conversion is done, if the builder purchased the products, make sure they provide you with hard copies of the instruction booklets for each product. I didn’t receive copies of these, and when I was on the Olympic Peninsula with no internet service, my solar system stopped working. Without internet service, I couldn’t download the instructions off the internet, and it put me in a real pickle.
8) What kind of electrical systems have you worked on?
Your electrical system and wiring should not be an after thought. Instead, it should be one of the first things you decide on, especially with the limited space in a Sprinter van. This includes the solar system, the heater, water heater, and other electrical components. If you want a roof rack, this will also need to be considered when configuring your solar system. Before you hire a Sprinter conversion company, you need to figure out exactly what you want your van to do and make sure that the builder has experience with those components. An RV company, for instance, may have zero experience with solar, as many RVer opt for generators instead. If you plan on using your van in a cold climate, you’ll also want to consider a heater. There are pros and cons to each type of heater, and depending on which one you choose, you need to make sure that your conversion company has experience with that specific part and is qualified to install it. Webasto heaters, for example, requires all installers be certified by Webasto, otherwise it voids the warranty. With it being such an expensive part, voiding the warranty could result in high unforeseen expenses if something goes wrong.
9) Can I contact your references for previous Sprinter conversions?
If they’ve been successful in their past jobs, they should have at least 3 former clients who are willing to chat with you about their experience. One is not enough because they could have 2 out of 3 jobs that went sideways, and that one build might not be an accurate representation of the quality of their work.
10) Do you provide a signed contract, and is the work guaranteed?
This may seem obvious, but with the amount of money you are spending, you absolutely are entitled to have a proposal and final agreement in writing. If the builder isn’t willing to provide a signed contract, then you may want to think twice about working with them. Furthermore, you’ll want to confirm whether or not they are providing a guarantee for their work. If so, do you have to drive the van all the way back to them to have the work done? If your builder is in southern California and you are based in New York, that’s something to consider. Or will they cover the expense of having their work repaired by someone else?
I hope these questions provide a thorough guide for those of you who are considering hiring a professional campervan conversion company. A final piece of advice: I’d recommend interviewing a number of companies before settling on the one you want to work with. Don’t be swayed to hire someone just because they make beautiful cabinets and have a nice Instagram account.