Self build for 6, need a little guidance!

AdamSiddle

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May 27, 2019
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So I’m about fed up of looking, thinking and considering. I think it’s time to begin!

There is myself, my wife and our 4 children (ages 6,5,4 and 2 so they don’t take up a vast amount of space.. yet).

I’ve watched an insane amount of YouTube videos, read countless news articles on conversions and peoples story’s etc and found one thing in common with them all. Everyone’s needs are different!

The big thing for me is the starting point, I cant decide on the base vehicle. Obviously we are going to need a large size van but I can’t decide on a LWB HI Top van such as a crafter, Iveco daily, sprinter or a Luton Van (transit, Iveco or sprinter again)

Does anybody have any pros or cons, anyone converted the above themselves for a similar amount of people?

Would be great for a little guidance off of some knowledgable peeps!

Thanks in advance!!
 

DBK

Jan 9, 2013
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Welcome! Caravan and a people carrier is my first thought. :)

I'm not up on the legalities but you are going to need 4 seats with belts/seat fittings for the nippers and they will need to be forward or rearward facing, not sideways - the seats that is, the kids can look anywhere. This will constrain your layout so I think you are looking at a biggish vehicle if you also want somewhere to sleep. :)
 

icantremember

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For a growing family of six you will need a fairly large motorhome which will almost certainly be over 3500Kg GVW ..
do you have category C1 on your driving licence?
 
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AdamSiddle

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Thank you!

We have a people carrier (2016 Citroen C4 Grand Picasso), I think it runs on a 1.6 blue HDi engine. I’m sure it would pull a caravan but I don’t have that on my licence so I’d need to take a test to enable me to tow but to be honest I’m not overly keen on the idea of towing.

I don’t have C1 on my licence unfortunately, I missed out on grandfather rights by a lot of years! A lot of the vans I have been looking at specify 3500kg, am I right in thinking that converting it will take it over that weight or would I be mistaken?
 
Mar 11, 2019
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You can buy these-rather nifty put up bunk beds off eBay. Effectively making the 2 front swivel chair cab area into bunk beds for 2 little ones.

You can be creative and make a crafter size work well. Friend had double bed at the rear and 2 kid pods underneath !
 
Sep 26, 2013
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I doubt very much if a converted Crafter size vehicle when loaded will be under 3.5 tons, my own 6m long van is close to 3.5 tons and I used all lightweight boarding and there are only the two of us.
You may have to stop feeding the kids.
 

hilldweller

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I cant decide on the base vehicle.
Thanks in advance!!
You could do worse than a double decker bus. They will grow up, remarkably quickly. And statistically you'll be hard pushed to finish the build before the next one arrives.
 
Reactions: DBK
Apr 13, 2012
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You have to consider how you will all live and sleep on site apart from needing 4 passenger seat belts.

I can't imagine any motorhome being big enough without a tent or awning, you might be better with a 6 seat car and a large caravan........ and you have to (try) and understand Hilldweller's humour....

to be clear........ I can't imagine that a motorhome could ever be built to accommodate 2 adults and 4 children.................but good luck
 
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Mar 11, 2019
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A large awning would be the day area and all kip in the van. Go for it.... kids will always be running wild and having fun
 
Oct 2, 2008
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You have two options to start , either take a test to tow a caravan , or get a licence for over 3500kg any thing else is pretty well a non starter . Other than say a landrover 130 with 3 roof top tents :)
 

Hollyberry

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The children might not be very big yet but the amount of stuff they want to take with them , added to the stuff the actually need, will quickly start to fill a Motorhome.
My daughter, husband and kids have had a caravan for nearly 10 years. Friends of theirs had a Motorhome, which lasted one year. They found packing everything away to go out for a day, or move on, was time consuming.
I think you’ll need a very large Moho for 6, whereas a caravan with an awning ( step granddaughter ( eldest) used to sleep in a pod in the awning) might make for a more relaxing holiday.
 

pappajohn

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Six travel seats and sleeping space for six in 3500kg.....thats a challenge.
With a bit of planning a dinette could be configured as a 2 down 2 up layout if you could find storage for the extra bed board and mattress.
A Dinette being the ideal layout for travel seats having two forward and two rearward facing seats and the table dropping to infill the lower space between seats for the lower bed.

If you passed your test pre 2013 you can technically tow a caravan.
Your car licence allows up to 3500kg so a 2000kg car and 1500kg caravan is still within your 3500kg technical gross limit.
The towing vehicles train weight is the deciding factor though, not its ability to tow a given weight.
My 18hp ride on lawn mower can tow a Land rover on level smooth tarmac but it isn't designed to do it.
 
Dec 18, 2010
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If you start with an old minibus you will have the basic legal seating and work the rest round that.
 
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AdamSiddle

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4 kids and relaxing definitely can’t coincide with each other lol, It would be unfair to completely rule out the not feeding the kids idea :LOL:.

I passed in I think 2008 so coming up 11 years. The awnings not a bad idea, I’ll have a look at the crafter bunk beds and the dinette idea.

I did see a programme George Clarke’s amazing spaces, a couple converted an old ambulance and that kept 2 adults 4 kids and a dog!

Would nobody entertain the Luton idea? I’ve seen a few people put a fixed double bed above the cab section to utilise space
 

pappajohn

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Would nobody entertain the Luton idea? I’ve seen a few people put a fixed double bed above the cab section to utilise space
Yes, that was a given with the dinette idea. Mum & Dad up top and the kids in the dinette 'bunk' beds....or mum and dad in the bottom bunk and the older kids in the Luton.
 
Mar 11, 2016
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I doubt very much if a converted Crafter size vehicle when loaded will be under 3.5 tons, my own 6m long van is close to 3.5 tons and I used all lightweight boarding and there are only the two of us.
You may have to stop feeding the kids.
Yes, our LWB Ducato is on the limit at 3500 with just 2 of us.
 

Terry

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Hi and welcome (y)
Right thinking cap on --3 seats across front = standard for comercal vans :) 2 rear facing seats behind driver seat and 2 forward facing behind them to make a dinette and double bed when table drops -that should use about 7ft of your 16 ft rear VW/MERC/IVECO 3ft for shower/loo cubicle leaving 6 ft for a pair of longtitude beds/double--oposite the shower you can get a kitchen/ fridge pod---Above the rear bed you can make a pole bed that attaches to the walls either side and folds out of the way during the day leaving you lots of space to fit a heater/water heater and tanks /gas bottle cupboard under the rear bed ---ooops forgot a kids bed :D place a board across front seats (y) Thats it all six in and overhead lockers for storage along with soft bags to throw on rear bed/s for clothes Would all need to be in lightweigt furniture ply or with a little extra thought 3/4 inch sq timber frame lined with 3 mm ply
edit forgot to say you would have to get out of front doors to get into the back through side door --This layout would also work for a Fiat stable van but would need a 4 ft double in rear giving less space under the bed but they are also a lot wider 6 ft 2 ins wide SQUASH THE FRONT DOUBLE UP allowing more room
 
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hilldweller

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.. and you have to (try) and understand Hilldweller's humour....
As the saying goes "many a true word" etc.

Unless looking very short term, which considering the work involved is a bit daft, two adults and 4 growing kids need a whole lot of space. Not every day is hot and sunny and play outside.

The most compact sleeping would be 6 adult sized bunk beds. Could be fold down. But still a vast area.

It's a challenge for sure.
 

Minxy Girl

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The Amazing Spaces ambulance 'looked' good but I bet it was well overweight and to be honest not that practical in reality, they spent way too much on it but it made a good TV programme which, unfortunately, people are influenced by without the practicalities/legalities being considered.

Being realistic, no matter how clever you are with the layout you are NOT gonna stay under 3500kg, if you want a cooker, fridge etc and especially a toilet something which I would say is definitely needed with kids.

Taking your C1 licence would sort out the issue of driving vehicles over 3500kg but that will cost over £1000 for each of you. Not sure what the trailer/towing licence costs (if you need it) but likely to be a lot cheaper.

IMV a camper (or MH) doesn't really work well with young kids as they need play spaces and as they grow need their 'own' space too, not to mention all their chattels. As you are a large family I'd go down the caravan route, especially as I imagine you'll stay on sites for a week or two at at time, so once set-up it's always ready for you to use, whereas with a MH etc you'd have to pack away just to go out to get some shopping, have a day trip etc, not ideal.
 
Feb 16, 2019
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Tricky, maybe van= “mothership” with travel, cooking and washing kit, and all of you sleep in an awning. Parents as well for peace of mind and security.
As kids get older maybe you move into van to sleep. Definitely travel safety biggest problem. Not going to be an off the shelf product .
 
Mar 11, 2019
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Hi and welcome (y)
Right thinking cap on --3 seats across front = standard for comercal vans :) 2 rear facing seats behind driver seat and 2 forward facing behind them to make a dinette and double bed when table drops -that should use about 7ft of your 16 ft rear VW/MERC/IVECO 3ft for shower/loo cubicle leaving 6 ft for a pair of longtitude beds/double--oposite the shower you can get a kitchen/ fridge pod---Above the rear bed you can make a pole bed that attaches to the walls either side and folds out of the way during the day leaving you lots of space to fit a heater/water heater and tanks /gas bottle cupboard under the rear bed ---ooops forgot a kids bed :D place a board across front seats (y) Thats it all six in and overhead lockers for storage along with soft bags to throw on rear bed/s for clothes Would all need to be in lightweigt furniture ply or with a little extra thought 3/4 inch sq timber frame lined with 3 mm ply
edit forgot to say you would have to get out of front doors to get into the back through side door --This layout would also work for a Fiat stable van but would need a 4 ft double in rear giving less space under the bed but they are also a lot wider 6 ft 2 ins wide SQUASH THE FRONT DOUBLE UP allowing more room

This needs a drawing being sketched out and uploading ! Love the creative space use :)
 

Lenny HB

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:welco:
Sorry today but there is no way I can see it working at 3500kg, you are going to need at least a 4500kg van to carry all your family and equipment you will need.

Another problem is fitting travel seats as the the seat belt fixing will need to meet the standards and will need to be inspected by DVSA or an IVA test centre ( not sure which is correct ?).

It's hard enough to find a 6 berth Motorhome with 6 belted travel seats & enough payload to be useable with 6 on board.
 

Terry

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Not on here to argue but I know a place in Carlton who can and does fit aftermarket seats with certificate As to the rest lightweight ply is 20 kg per sheet not 50 ish for normal ply. You would need about 5 to 9 sheets depending on how you make your van. Add in approx 10 sheets of 3mm ply then your cooker /fridge, sink,loo,small water tank,etc All comes in under 750 kgs . Leaving you approx the same for people, clothes etc.
Travel with little water and fill up on site if you are close to limit,you can always dump the water while you are following old Bill to weigh bridge :D
 
Apr 13, 2012
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Travel with little water and fill up on site if you are close to limit,you can always dump the water while you are following old Bill to weigh bridge :D
.....or the wife and kids......;)

:D
 
Jan 28, 2008
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Not on here to argue but I know a place in Carlton who can and does fit aftermarket seats with certificate As to the rest lightweight ply is 20 kg per sheet not 50 ish for normal ply. You would need about 5 to 9 sheets depending on how you make your van. Add in approx 10 sheets of 3mm ply then your cooker /fridge, sink,loo,small water tank,etc All comes in under 750 kgs . Leaving you approx the same for people, clothes etc.
Travel with little water and fill up on site if you are close to limit,you can always dump the water while you are following old Bill to weigh bridge :D
seats that dont make a bed are going to use a lot of space even six bunks going three high will fill half the van two rows of three seats the other half now wheres toilet and kitchen going?
 
Mar 11, 2019
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It might be there will be no loo or bathroom and sites are used ? Or a night loo in the awning ???I guess we all have different needs and making do could be part of the deal to not have to become a tugger ?
 

Terry

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seats that dont make a bed are going to use a lot of space even six bunks going three high will fill half the van two rows of three seats the other half now wheres toilet and kitchen going?
Hi Steve, I think you have misunderstood my post on page 1 if you read it again you should be able to understand what I mean?(y)
 
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AdamSiddle

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There are some very interesting ideas there terry! Apologies for the late reply my email is receiving no notifications what so ever I only came on to write a reply and ask a question and noticed there were several more comments!

I’ve seen a Mercedes 814 bus for sale, apparently it comes in at 7.5t. The seller told me if you convert it to a camper/motor home it’s class can be changed to a “class 4” and it can be driven on a standard car licence?

I can’t find any info to substantiate this, the only reference I can find is to do with grandfather rights driving up to 7.5t.

Also regarding the caravan, it really isn’t an option for me at this moment in time. I’d like to not have to rely on camp sites etc, understandably whatever we end up with won’t be at all “stealthy” but I want something a little more portable and I just feel a caravan limits your options!

Class 1 and a heavier vehicle may end up being the only Option!
 
Apr 13, 2012
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Converting a bus might be the right choice - enough space and 'proper seats' for seat belts.

Anything smaller will be a mistake, in my opinion

Imagine turning up at a site, it's raining, it rains the next day.........

At best you will need an extra tent or an awning room...

Not on a site?......... water?....... how many cassettes for the toilet?

How much electricity needed?

I have a 3.85t A class.............not big enough for 5 or 6

Yes it has enough beds - but that's all
 
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