Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some FAQ to help you along your way.
- It's about the freedom to express, in a wild world of expectations there's something beautiful about getting in a van and winging your next vacation. Having your vacation home with you where ever you go. We're all trying to run away from real life because sometimes real life sucks! Freedom is what it's about, choose your own adventure!
I’m new to this. Where do I start?
- Great question! The best way to start is to have a look at our website. Once you’re acquainted with those, peruse this handy dandy FAQ for answers to some of your burning questions. Should you have more questions or want to speak with us directly, by all means, send us an email at email@example.com.
Do you sell vans or do I have to purchase my own van?
- Sometimes we sell vans. However, as we’re not a dealership, we cannot sell many vans today. Our clients must purchase and bring in their own vans for us to build them out. That said, we can certainly connect you with local partners who can source great new and used vans.
How do I get my van to you?
- There are a few good ways to get your van to us. 1) you can purchase your van wherever you live and take a road trip to Boulder; 2) you can hire someone else to drive your van to Boulder; or 3) you can work with a local new or used dealer in the Denver metro area and have them deliver your van directly to us (we can connect you with the local partners we work with).
What kinds of vehicles do you build out?
- We mainly build out high roof cargo vans, like Mercedes Benz Sprinters and Ram ProMasters. Here’s a blog we wrote that describes what to look for in cargo vans.
What 4x4 vans are available? Do I need one?
- Today, there are only a couple of good options for true 4x4 cargo vans: 1) the Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 is the most popular of these...and also the most expensive and hard to get; and 2) Quigley, an aftermarket 4x4 company, will convert just about any cargo van to a true 4x4 version.
Now, whether you really need a 4x4 is perhaps a better question. If you live in an area where you regularly utilize 4x4 or AWD just to get around, then a 4x4 or AWD van is probably worth it. However, if you think you need 4x4 because you’re going to be doing a lot of camping or driving to ski resorts, you might instead consider a Ram ProMaster conversion, which is the only cargo van that comes with standard front-wheel-drive, which puts all of the weight directly over the front wheels, giving you way more traction than other 2WD vans. We have many clients who own Ram ProMasters and regularly take them to the snow and dirt trails (not truly off-roading) without issue.
How much do van build outs cost?
- It depends on what you are looking for in your van! We offer The Bivy as an affordable van conversion, which starts at $25,000 (not including the van), and is an amazing build. Completely custom designed vans, where the layout and features are totally unique, are typically upwards of $100k. In all cases, we will work with you to stay within budget and get exactly what you want and need. After all, we’re in the business of creating freedom and delight!
How long does the process take?
- Our backlog is typically 3-4 months and most vans take 2-3 months to build out, depending on how custom they are.
Do you offer financing or payment plans?
- We have partnered with Hearth to offer financing to our customers. While we don't have a say in how much you can get or what you are approved for, we hope it can at least help!
What are the payment terms?
- For full access to our team and to secure a spot on our build calendar, we require a non-refundable $2,500 deposit. For full payment schedule please reach out to our sales team at Sales@thevansmith.com.
Do you offer different layout and design options?
- Of course! And...having built many vans for many amazingly happy clients, there are a couple of layouts that we stick to pretty regularly because A) they work; and B) they’re super space and cost efficient. Within these layouts, there are plenty of ways to customize the look and feel of your van build. Sometimes, however, our clients come to us with unique layouts and features that require more custom layout and design work. We can do this as well. In fact, we can really design and build just about anything. It all comes down to your budget and time.
Can you install extra windows and seats?
- Yes! In fact, in most cases, it’s better to bring us a bare metal cargo van that we can design with you to fit your specific needs. This includes installing swivel seats, benches, and extra windows.
How many people can a van drive (safely) and sleep (comfortably)?
- Firstly, vans should not be confused with RVs. Cargo vans, while perfect canvases for building super cool nano homes, only come in a few sizes, none of which are nearly as spacious as even shorter RVs. Having said that, we can and do build out longer wheelbase vans for families of 4-5, with various legal, safe seating options (including integrated seatbelts). Along with this, we can design and build various sleeping options to suit your family’s needs, including bunk-style beds, foldout couches, and roof tents. For the most part, if you require seating and sleeping arrangements for more than 5 people, we would need to speak with you further.
Why don't I just get an RV?
- Pump the brakes. It's called Vanlife isn't it? Vans give you the freedom to explore without hauling around a big, may we say ugly, contraption. An RV isn't going to get down the dirt road to the prime site next to the river.
Can you build bathrooms and showers?
- Yes, and...we can absolutely, unequivocally state with all confidence that MOST people do not need dedicated bathrooms in their vans. Depending on how you plan to use your van, you may perhaps want a toilet, which we often include in builds. But, before you start dialing in your bathroom tile choices, take a look at this van bathroom blog and give us a call. We're always super happy to talk people through this.
Do you install solar?
- Every day! All of the vans we build include separate batteries and electric systems designed specifically for the living space. Most of these also include solar in different configurations. That said not everyone needs solar as the batteries we install are charged while driving and can also be plugged into regular outlets. And, in many cases, our batteries will last 2-3 days (of regular use) without needing a charge.
How do you keep vans warm or cold?
All of our vans are outfitted with insulation and roof fans designed specifically for #vanlife. For those cold nights, we also offer heaters which connect to your van’s gas or diesel tank, sipping a drop at a time and create a super cozy space. For super hot environments, we can also install separate air conditioning systems on the roof.
What makes your vans special?
- Though there are plenty of good van builders out there, what we’re known for is building beautiful, warm, cozy, functional, organic-looking vans. To do this we use lots of wood for details, including wood wall panels and ceilings. And because wood can tend to tweak and shift over time, we weld our own bedframes and affix them to the van, using them as an anchor for all of that amazing wood. That way our van conversions are super durable and will stand the test of time...and your adventures.
What Does "Custom" Mean?
With the camper van boom at an all-time high, more and more van build ideas are floating around the internet. This leaves a lot of people wanting very specific builds in their vans – which isn’t necessarily bad if you plan to spend tens of thousands of dollars. I’m going to help you understand why the custom process is so expensive.
Here at The Vansmith, we have several standard builds that have tried and true layouts that incorporate all of the essential items for a user-friendly van build. Years of development has resulted in a very thought out and intricate systems placement, which has created a build that provides lots of storage and compact systems placements. Altering the cabinets that house your systems (water, electrical, heat, water heat) results in a large loss of storage as it would take months to reconfigure some of these systems. Our goal here at The Vansmith is to provide you with a functional, affordable, and aesthetically pleasing van that you can enjoy for years to come.
On average, a small alteration can run between $5K-$10K while a full-on custom van can add $50K-$100K to a build. If you choose to do custom, I would like to walk you through our process in making this happen.
- $5,000.00 Custom Van Build Deposit. Secure the deposit, this deposit is double the standard deposit and is also nonrefundable. The reason this deposit is double the standard, is it typically takes every bit of that deposit to get your ideas solidified and the CAD drawings in the computer finished and ready to cut. A custom job is a very involved process that will require attention and good communication.
- The Perfect Cut. Here at The Vansmith, quality is the name of the game. We don’t charge big bucks for no reason; we make sure that you are getting a high-quality product that is done right. So, if you decide to build a totally custom cabinet, we will first design it, send it to the CNC machine, cut it out of a cheaper material (like MDF), assemble the cabinet, then test fit it in the van. This allows us to make sure the systems and cabinet function perfectly and you get a product that you’re very happy with.
- TImeline. The entire process takes much longer than a standard build as the method of assembly is not the same as the builds that we consistently do. This results in a build that takes longer to complete and a completion date that is harder to forecast.
What We Think? We're always trying to save you money on your build, we're not in the habit of upselling custom work or trying to get you to pay for things you just don’t need. We believe the tried and true standards that we build are the best way to go and offer the best bang for your buck. And if you absolutely need to customize your van, start with small alterations to the standard layouts. This will be the most cost effective way to get that one of a kind look, and so you know, formica offers a staggering array of colors to easily customize your Vansmith build.
How do I start?
- To get started, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you’re looking for.
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