What you need to know before you start

Summer 2021 in Ireland looks like the ultimate travel season. Airbnbs are booked, hotels have wait lists and it looks like we’re all determined to vacation this year, even if it’s only three miles down the road.

There has also been a huge boom in motorhomes. They have that idyllic, open look, you can take them anywhere and the fact that you don’t have to worry about the quality of cleaning between guests is very appealing at the moment. Factory conversions and already converted vans have skyrocketed, meaning many are turning to DIY conversions, my partner and I included.

We spend every spring weekend working on our van to get it ready for some road trips this summer. However, there are a number of steps (read: hoops) that you will need to go through to get your new motorhome on the road.

Unfortunately, the actual conversion process is really the easiest. As long as you have the space to do it and an idea of ​​what you want, you can get stuck. You will inevitably make mistakes, but these are all learning curves and if you have the time to devote to them, it is a very rewarding experience.

However, when you really start to pull your hair out, that’s when you get to the paperwork. Between officially converting your van with Revenue and getting a new logbook and applying for insurance, there were a number of things we wish we had known earlier.

We quietly kept track of the many “oh I wish we had known this then” throughout the conversion in hopes of saving the next person from heartache (and many a lot minutes of waiting).

Read them before you start converting your motorhome.

Requirements of the motorhome owner

Insurance and taxes for motorhomes are generally reasonably priced – € 350-500 for insurance and a flat rate of € 109 for taxes. This is because you are not expected to use your motorhome as the primary mode of transport, which is fair enough.

However, if you are not over 25 with a 5-year no-claims bonus and an existing primary vehicle insured in your name, you will be really hard pressed to get any kind of insurance quote, even if you have a whole new factory. motorhome built. So think about this before you decide to invest. It seems cold but trust me I’m saving you a lot heartache.

Choose your vehicle wisely

When looking for a van to convert into an RV, unless your budget is unlimited, think twice before converting a utility vehicle.

First of all, in order to officially convert any type of van to motorhome, you will need to get an engineer report to approve the conversion and they are less eager to approve utility vehicle conversions than minibuses.

Second, a utility vehicle is typically windowless and Revenue requires a side window and skylight to accept a motorhome conversion. So unless you have the skills and more importantly the tools and shelter to install windows on your own, beware of that. This is Ireland it will rain for sure the day you decide to cut the skylight hole and all the work you will need from the pros will add a few thousand to your budget.

So look for a van with all its windows, it is much easier to block a few than to put them in. Also look for a van with a very high roof that you can stand in. a more comfortable space to live and move around, many insurance companies require a minimum standing height of 1.8 meters before insuring it. Insurance companies have a lot specific requirements, but this is not something you can do when converting. Not all insurers require it, but without the height, you will limit your options.

First steps

Now that you’ve bought your van, you’re probably eager to get stuck in it. However, you will need to fulfill two different sets of requirements – revenue and those of your insurers.

The official first step in converting your van to an RV is to get an engineer report to approve the conversion for income (usually a CRVT center will do this type of report). You then send the report and a set of required photos to Revenue to request a change in details. These requirements tend to change from year to year, but at the moment it’s pretty straightforward. You need a fixed dining area, a bed and a table (the table can be portable). You can find more information here.

However, this step should be straightforward, especially if you checked the minibus box and Basic Income requirements. Then the tricky part – the insurance requirements. You don’t need the insurance before you start conversions (in fact, you can’t get it as a camper until the revenue department signs you up and sends you an updated logbook. day), but knowing their needs in advance is essential.

You would think that whatever income it takes to validate your conversion as a camper would be enough for insurers – but you would be dead wrong. As the owner / driver you may have whatever they need (no bonus claims etc.) but your van must meet certain criteria as well.

So, before you break the puzzle, call your insurer. Ask them what they need to quote a motorhome. Some will need a functional sink, others will have a minimum height, others will need a specific stove, some will need a walkway clear of the cabin aft. There are a myriad of requirements and it differs from insurer to insurer, you may need to call and find the one that best fits your van and then design to those specifications. This will make it much easier to get started, rather than trying to reshape the job you just did.

Beware of hidden charges

If you buy a utility vehicle, you will have to pay VRT if you convert it to a motorhome. This is basically a tax that is written off when the van is used as a commercial vehicle, but is required once it is registered as a private vehicle.

The VRT is 13.5% of the value of the motorhome and the value is determined by income when you request the change of details, they will base it on the photos you send. You can appeal the appraisal but you will have to pay the VRT first and then they will reimburse you if your appeal is successful.

If you’re not sure whether the pickup truck was purchased as a utility vehicle or not (it’s pretty hard to tell if you didn’t buy it new or from the first owner), a good rule of thumb is to look at the number. . of seats. No seat in the back means it’s probably commercial. If it is a minivan and has eight seats or less, it may be a private vehicle, in which case the first owner has already paid VRT.

However, if he has more than eight seats so it would take a special driver license and it was probably bought as a taxi or school bus (i.e. for business purposes) and you will need to pay the VRT.

If you were wondering if anyone had 12 kids and needed a van to haul them all, I was thinking the same. But considering what a nightmare it is to get private insurance for it without seats, you’d better buy two seven-seater, which makes a private 14-seater minivan very rare indeed. In this case, it is better to budget for this VRT charge.

Advice

Motorhome insurance woes

If you’ve already made the conversion and now find yourself in the insurance hole, don’t give up on hope.

You can always reshape yourself to meet the requirements and, as car insurance is a legal requirement in Ireland, if you have been rejected three times you can appeal for a quote from your current insurer or the first insurance company. to reject you. You will need to provide three rejection letters (called declination letters) and they will review them and appoint an insurer to provide you with a quote.

Now it is not entirely clear if this applies to RVs as they are not a necessary vehicle, but it is worth a try if you are already in that depth. It’s also important to note that they need to give you a quote, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be cheap. However, you might be ready to pay for whatever you need to have it on the road.

Weight

Whether you buy a commercial van or a van, your basic driver’s license has a weight limit. Your van cannot exceed 3.5 tonnes, otherwise you will need to apply for another license to drive it. So even if you feel like you need the big fridge, oven, and that giant metal water tank, think about the weight. This is even more important if you are converting a van with existing heavy equipment, such as an electric ramp or fixed metal roof racks.

Paperwork

The income conversion request process can take up to six weeks after all documents have been submitted, so keep this in your schedule. It’s best to check off the Renevue requirements first, submit your engineer report, and continue working on the interiors while you wait for your new logbook. Otherwise, it will take weeks for your adorable motorhome sitting in the driveway before you can spin it around.

The perfect motorhome conversion

I’m only telling you because you got to the bottom of this article so you have to be dedicated enough … and also because we just finished our camper and I’m ready to share some secrets, at least until whatever we decide we’re ready for the next conversion.

The ideal van for the conversion is a wheelchair accessible van. They have the windows and head height you need (and that’s a luxury you’ll appreciate the more you get out of the van), they have plenty of space but usually have less than eight seats as they need to. space to put a wheelchair and ramp equipment, which will appeal to insurance companies. And finally, many wheelchair accessible vans (not all) have been purchased privately and therefore VRT has already been paid.

Win-win-win. You’re welcome and good luck!

The information in this article is correct as of June 2021.


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About Juana Renfrow

Juana Renfrow

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