Born Wild Vans is a venture born out of the owners passion for the great outdoors and wild unspoiled places. A comprehensive conversion of an ex Scottish Water fleet Ford Transit van was the first project we undertook. We took such a huge pleasure in designing and creating our own handmade, comfortable, and beautiful space in which to explore and enjoy the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, it became clear to us that we'd like to turn this passion into a full time endeavor and the rest, as they say, is history.
Our main area of work is the conversion of panel vans into bespoke, warm, and technologically equipped handmade campervans born for wild adventures, in which anyone can live comfortably and have unlimited access to the great outdoors.
We are often approached to help other self-builders with their projects in a more specialist capacity. Whether it's installing a wood-burning stove or comfortable bed inside a vehicle; we are proud to offer experienced consultancy to the vibrant self-build community.
As well as the types of 'full' conversion we take on, we also love taking unusual commissions for handmade and specialist carpentry or joinery projects, no matter how big or small. Commissions past and present include, (among others) a king size bed made from mild steel and rescued Victorian pine floorboards, all manner of fitted furniture, cabinets and shelves, and a complete bedroom fit out inside an empty Dutch barge hull. We really do enjoy a challenge so don't be shy in asking us if we can make your own ideas a reality, no matter how strange they may appear.
Whilst offering extensive panel van conversion services, we don't offer any mechanical services relating to the road-worthiness or propulsion of the vehicle.
To see some of our work and for answers to frequently asked questions please explore the site, watch our YouTube video (link below), and like us on Facebook and Instagram for regular updates of our wild adventures.
For more bespoke joinery and carpentry projects check out our sister company Meakin Joinery
I'm interested in a Bornwildvans bespoke campervan conversion - so what's the process?
As a first port of call we'd advise anyone interested in a conversion to read through our FAQs below. This will hopefully answer most of your burning questions, and give you an idea of what we can and can't do and what sort of budget you'll need to start with.
The next step is for you to gather all your ideas and van inspiration together. The more information you can provide us with about exactly what you want, the better. This could take the form of photographs of van interiors and exteriors you've seen with elements that you really love, your own drawings and scribbles, spreadsheets, Google docs, Pinterest boards, saved Instagram posts, whatever it is, we'd like to see it.
Once you've done this, and you have a rough idea of the budget you're working to, please contact us and we can have a chat about turning your ideas and inspiration into the real thing! We'll also be able to give you a rough idea of the wait time you might be looking at before we could start on your project. This is important because it's then up to you to find a suitable base vehicle for the conversion if you don't already have one, and you might need that to coincide with our availability.
In order to secure your start date we'll then take a deposit which will cover the minimum labour charge associated with your project, and any associated costs, such as travel or consultancy in the lead up to the start date.
From then on its all systems go and we'll be completely at your disposal as we work on your live project. You'll have access to our live budget planner to work out what's achievable within your constraints and enable us to steer your conversion towards completion. We'll also provide you regular updates on progress as often as required.
You can be confident that we'll work tirelessly to achieve a result that you'll be over the moon with, until finally all that's left is to collect your shiny new campervan complete with a manual tailored to all your gadgets and gizmos, and our quality guarantee. And then it's off into the sunset to start your next big adventure!
Okay, so where are you based?
We are based about 20 minutes drive from Glasgow in East Dunbartonshire, South Scotland (just south of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park). We prefer all work to be completed here. We may be able to work away on some projects pending negotiation, and are always looking for exciting new projects. We do enjoy having visitors but please note this is strictly by appointment only. Please don't turn up unannounced as we wont be able to give you the attention we would like and we may be in the middle of something dangerous!
Do you have a stock of campervans for sale? Where can I buy one?
At present all our conversions are commission based. Our conversions are bespoke, and are as individual as the people we make them for. As well as not having had the time to build a stock of vehicles, we genuinely prefer to work in the manner that we do. Building a campervan from scratch is an extremely immersive and creative process and we invest a lot of time with clients to ensure they get exactly what they dream of. We feel if we just 'bashed out' a bunch of them at once to a generic design, then our work would lose a bit of that soul that makes each of our builds so special.
Can I rent a campervan for a holiday stay
At present none of our campervans are rentals but there are companies who do hire out beautiful rustic style converted vans like ours a week at a time. It's an excellent idea to try a campervan out before you start your conversion journey with us, that way you have more of an idea of what you do and don't want in your own. Take a look at quirkycampers.com if you're after a rental.
What type of vehicles do you convert?
Whether you want a custom large 'off-grid' type vehicle conversion for full time living, an extra special van for weekend adventures, or a customised garden office come guest-room; with clever design, the right materials, and a bit of creative know-how, anything is possible. We specialise in converting panel vans or similar vehicles with a payload of up to 3.5 tonnes.
Do you source the vehicles you convert?
In short, no. Whilst we are happy to advise on the suitability of a van for converting, we do not sell vehicles, or offer any mechanical diagnosis. Our specialities lie in converting and creating interesting and functional bespoke spaces to clients specifications. Providing you're happy to cover our time and travel costs, we can be available to come and view prospective vehicles and help advise on the pros and cons for a conversion but you'll need to find your own mechanic who could look over the engine and working parts of the vehicle for you. It's naturally of paramount importance to make sure that the base vehicle is in good condition before spending lots of your hard earned money on a project, having said that even engines can be replaced, so don't worry too much about finding something brand spanking new!
Will I save money of I help you with the conversion?
Its hard to phrase this tactfully but in 99% of cases it’s a no. Let us explain. Building a home (albeit in a 'small' space) demands a myriad of skills across many disciplines. As a comprehensive build can be a substantial investment, we schedule our labour input very tightly in order to offer maximum efficiency and value for money. In our experience, the more people we have building in one area, the more time we spend guiding them, consequently ending up with less time for building ourselves, so this becomes a false economy. We do encourage maximum involvement from clients throughout the process, especially with design, and if people really want to get their hands dirty then there are always as handful of jobs that could use a not-so-skilled hand, but such volunteering wouldn't be a full time job for somebody throughout the build and more often than not it would add to the overall cost of a project.
How much does a full conversion cost?
This is another area that is really hard to approximate for as there are so many variables. It's the question we are most commonly asked and doesn't have a straightforward answer.
For instance for one project all the door hinges and handles could come to £40 for off-the-shelf items, and for another, the bill could be upwards of £500 for hand forged items. Now consider hinges and handles are only one item on a list of around 1000 things we have to consider when estimating prices and you'll start to see how complicated it is! As with most things in this world, the more you can afford to throw at a project, the more time can be spent on it and the higher the quality of materials that can be used.
The off-grid 'systems' (electrics/water/sanitation etc.) used in a comprehensive 'full-timing' conversion are similar in one way; they are expensive. The core components required to have home comforts are the same in a small space as in a large 'eco' home. With all this in mind here is a rough guide:
A decent used long wheel base high roof van with sub 100k miles on the clock, will set you back 8-16k. A higher milage (+100k) is fine as long as you're happy the vehicles been well looked after and is in good condition. A good model such as a Mercedes Sprinter, a favourite among converters, or a newer van with low milage will be at the upper end of this price bracket. Equally an older van nearing the end of its life might cost much less but isn't necessarily worth the investment.
If starting from scratch a complete build would take a bare minimum of 8 weeks depending on the size of the van, which is a labour cost of around £8k. You'll then need to add materials costs to this figure.
As already explained the materials bill depends on a number of factors such as the size of the van, your choice of layout and equipment, the spec of the electrical system, and the type, price and availability of the other materials used.
As a rough ball park figure, from experience, a basic conversion in a beautiful bespoke rustic style for weekend trips will cost around 10k in materials with a more comprehensive conversion with a very high system spec costing anything upwards. For a DVLA approved campervan you would need to add an awning and additional side windows on both sides, and to be fully off grid, solar, an additional one or two leisure batteries, underslung gas and water tanks and a power inverter. These extras would be around 4-5k on the total including labour. Quirky details such as wood burners can be anything upwards of £1.5k fitted. Remember the vehicle cost is not included here.
So going by this guide, if you buy a used van for £8k, add our base labour charge of £8k, and materials of £10k, you're looking at around the £26k mark as an absolute minimum for your beautiful bespoke campervan conversion.
We appreciate these can be quite substantial amounts by most peoples standards, but please take into account that a 'normal' boring off-the-shelf campervan of a similar spec would set you back £40k+ so we're confident we offer excellent value for money.
The figures mentioned above are very very approximate and are gathered from experience. We love what we do, and we work tirelessly to try and keep costs as low as we possibly can so that we can make this dream accessible to as many people as possible, and in return we get to do something exciting and creative day after day for lovely people who really appreciate it.
How long does a full conversion take?
As you may have already guessed, there are a million variables involved in building a bespoke space, so it's really hard to give even a ball park figure on the duration of a build. For a basic but complete conversion the minimum time would be between 1-2 months. To make a comprehensive space for full time living; including wet-rooms, sanitation, advanced renewable electrical systems, kitchen, stove, beds etc. would take upwards of this.
Can my 'off grid' electrical system run everything it would in a house?
We design and install systems designed around the clients personal needs to ensure you don't have to compromise on the day to day things you enjoy and are used to at home. Some people may be happy with candlelight, whereas others must have 50" flat screen TVs and Hair Straighteners (and we fall into both of these camps so no matter what you desire - you wont be judged!) All sorts of modern technological luxuries can be used in a conversion. With the use of a power inverter, you can use nearly any appliance you would in a house. The only limitations within a mobile application are restrictions imposed by weight and space. Because of weight and space limitations it is impractical to carry excessive amounts of solar panels and batteries. This means you cannot generally use anything that requires hard, fast concentrations of heat for extended periods of time (unless you are connected to a powerful mains hook up) This may include electric cookers and electric heaters (and for those that may be panicking at this point, don’t worry, most hair straighteners are fine!) In light of this we use liquid petroleum Gas (LPG) or Diesel to run cookers, water boilers and fridges. All these appliances are very economical on fuel and a full-timing user can expect to spend approx £10-20 per month on gas as possibly their only utility bill. We recommend woodburning stoves for heating, and these can also be used for cooking if you wish.
Can I leave my project at your workshop and just get you do bits as and when I can afford it?
At present our workshop space is limited to one vehicle for conversion at any one time. Consequently we can only accommodate vehicles at our premises whilst we are actually working on them. Occasionally we may be able to take a smaller project alongside for a day or two. Any vehicle bought to us must be roadworthy, legal, insured, and be able to be moved around our workshop safely by any competent member of our team.
What's your availability
Bornwildvans is David and Lil and occasional friends. We're always super busy but we do work on a first come first served basis, so don't be shy, get in touch today to start your next big adventure!