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Please <<First Name>>, don't make the same mistakes others have

Too many times we have a new owner who has worked so hard to get their conversion looking tip-top and 'ready' for hire only to find they hit one of our two major stumbling blocks. These are gas and weight. Or more specifically: 
- They are unable to get the gas sign-off they need to be able to hire out their vehicle (and have to spend a lot of money getting their gas works redone)
or
- They are either over the weight limit (MAM) of their vehicle or so close to it that it would be impossible to carry customers and their stuff without going over.

Don't let this be you.

There is no need to re-invent the wheel on this stuff, just follow this guidance.
 

Gas Safety

If you are renting out your campervan then you must have a Gas Safety Record with annual tests, and ensure this is kept up to date in accordance with the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (GSIUR).

The importance of having safe gas appliances is obvious but the process for achieving this legally, is not so clear. Why is it so difficult? The challenge with achieving sign off is that different engineers interpret the regulations differently and they are all very hesitant to sign off work carried out by someone else (Gas Safe Registered or not). 
The best approach therefore is to find an appropriately qualified Gas Safe engineer early in the process. They can either install it for you or advise on exactly what you need to do to enable them to sign it off. There are several routes to arrive at the point of needing a Gas Safe certificate and the needs for each are slightly different:
  1. Self-conversion from scratch: Find an engineer before you start to build and get them to do the work, or advise and then sign off.
  2. Commissioning a conversion from scratch: Make sure you have in writing that the conversion will come with a Landlord’s Gas Safe Certificate when completed. Many converters will not be familiar with the requirements for rental vehicles.
  3. Buying a finished self-conversion: Before you commit, ask to see a Gas Safe certificate, if it is not a landlords certificate this may still be possible to obtain. If there is no certificate at all you will most likely need to do some work.
  4. Buying a professional conversion: This should come with a Gas Safe certificate but it will most likely not be a landlord’s certificate. As above, it should be possible to find an engineer to give this to you but it might be a good idea to get an engineer’s assessment before you buy.
No Portable Hobs

We cannot accept campervans with portable gas hobs as the van simply will not pass a gas safety test.

A lot of people try to get around this by saying the hob is only for outdoor use. The problem with that is if it’s awful weather your hirer is not going use it outside – they will bring it inside and that’s when it gets incredibly risky. If an accident happened with that hob and there was no gas safety in place then worst case scenario you could be up for a prison sentence. It’s just not worth the risk for the cost involved in installing a permanent fixed hob or oven.

If you are not keen on gas appliances then there are diesel hobs available on the market. We do not recommend installing electric induction hobs unless your battery and electrical set up is very high powered to cope with the amount of power they need to run.

Click here to read the rest of this detailed blog, including how to find an engineer with the correct qualifications. I suggest you bookmark this blog.
 

Vehicle Weight

Every vehicle has a legal permissible maximum weight limit. If a vehicle is driven when over this weight limit, it can be taken off the road and the driver fined. It is a lot easier than you might think to go over the limit with a self conversion and it happens all the time. So you need to be thinking about weight from the outset.
 

Terminology


Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM):
The weight of a vehicle or trailer including the maximum load that can be carried safely when it’s being used on the road. This is also known as gross vehicle weight (GVW), permissible maximum weight or revenue weight.
Unladen Weight:
The unladen weight of any vehicle is the weight of the vehicle when it’s not carrying any passengers, goods or other items. This includes the body and all parts normally used with the vehicle when it’s used on the road.
Payload:
This is the difference between the unladen weight and the MAM. In the case of a campervan it is the maximum allowed total weight of passengers and all their baggage. For more info in this gov.uk/vehicle-weights-explained
 

It's never too soon to think about weight

If you haven’t started your conversion yet then now is the perfect time to think about weight. The importance of weight depends on the type vehicle you are going to convert:
  • Not likely to be an issue:
    • Super compact eg Berlingo
    • Compacts eg VW transported/Bongo etc
    • Short wheel base
  • Worth being aware of
    • LWB or fixed high top VW Transporter
    • Any MWB
    • Hightop SWB
  • Critical
    • Any LWB
    • Any Luton
    • Box van or Horsebox
    • Ex Municipal Minibus
    • Ex Ambulance, Riot Van etc
    • Vans with an MAM of 2800kg (rather than the usual 3500kg)

Estimating the final weight

For vehicles falling into the ‘critical’ category I would recommend you put together a full list of all the materials, appliances and items you intend to include in your conversion and estimate the weight of each. This obviously won’t give you a precise final weight but it should give you an indication of whether you will end up with enough payload for your intended use. It may well be that you can’t have the hardwood floor AND the shower…but it’s much better to find that out before it’s too late to make the choice. Note: 1 litre of water weighs 1 kg but diesel is a bit less at 0.85kg/l
An easy save on weight is not installing massive water and waste tanks which when full can weigh a huge amount.
 

Usage vs Payload

The conundrum with any conversion is that if you want the vehicle to be suitable for more people it’s going to weigh more (more beds/seats etc). However, you’ll also need a larger payload for the additional passengers. It is possible, even likely that if you are doing a conversion for 5 people and don’t pay close attention to the weight that you will end up with a vehicle that can only legally carry 3. You should be aiming for a payload which would allow normal reasonable use with the advertised occupancy.

At Quirky Campers, we use the following as a rough guide to what a hirer might reasonably expect the payload to be for different capacity vehicles:
  • 280kg for up to 2 people (1 driver + 1 passenger)
  • 370kg for 3 people
  • 460kg for 4 people
  • 550kg for 5 people
  • 640kg for 6 people
NOTE: These are not legislated figures, but merely our guide. There are other factors that might imply a larger payload for example roof rack, large storage areas or a tow bar. You need to exercise your own common sense.

Click here to read the rest of the blog including how to get your vehicle weighed.

We hope you've found this useful and sincerely hope that you won't allow these common but surmountable barriers to get in your way.


This is the penultimate email in the series. Next week we will be signposting you to loads more useful resources.
If you missed any of the previous emails you can view them all here
You can also find the FAQs we sent when you first signed up here.

Let me know if you have any other burning questions that we haven't yet answered.
All the best
David

P.s. Next week we'll be sharing a comprehensive list of further resources.
 
 
 
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