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Best vans for builders

Home > About Arval > Insights > Best vans for builders

Best vans for builders

Monday, 2 July, 2018

In our guide we explain the best vans for builders.

When you’re in the building trade, you need your wheels to work as hard as you do. Your van is more than just a vehicle, it’s a vital part of your business for transporting all the tools and materials you need to get the job done.  Your second home. So, where do you start when it comes to finding the right van?


To buy or to lease your van?

Firstly, you need to decide whether to lease or buy. While many businesses still buy, leasing a van can be an easy, flexible option. You can select how long you want the lease to last and benefit from the buying power a leasing company can offer. Leasing helps you to spread the costs, and you don’t need to worry about depreciation. Through a lease package, you can also add  useful products to the monthly rental like  maintenance and insurance helping you to avoid any unplanned surprises which could blow your budget. To see how leasing could work out as a cost-effective option for you, read our guide to van leasing.


Finding the right van

The search for the perfect van starts with your business. Where the vehicle will spend most of its time operating, and what you will be carrying on a daily basis? The size and weight of a typical load will determine the size of the vehicle that will work for you.

TrustATrader, who pride themselves on only listing trustworthy traders on their website, offer this advice: “The type of van required is very much dependent on the trade use, if you require a lot of tools and have to transport heavy materials we recommend a short-wheel or long-wheel based van such as the Ford Transit or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. A smaller van such as the VW Caddy, is also suitable for a range of trades, where they are easier to drive and manoeuvre around urban areas.” MyJobQuote, who connect UK home owners with reliable trades people, make a very valuable point too: “Engine size is a massive thing to think about. If you’re going to be carrying heavy loads you need to make sure your engine is suitable. Too much strain on the engine can lead to problems later down the line.” Where you will be driving also has an impact on your van choice. Bark.com help over 500,000 tradespeople across the UK find work in their local area, and their Co-Founder Kai Feller says: “Regularly on construction sites? Look for a van that has four-wheel drive version for extra flexibility.”


We can help you choose

It's great to have recommendations from trusted people in the trade. But how do you know which is the right choice for you? To help you, we’ve put together a brief explanation on the different van sizes available on the market today.

Compact Vans

Compact Vans

A small van is no larger than a medium-sized car, so you won’t have to adjust to driving a large vehicle. They are deceptive because they look small but have a big load space which is easily accessible through side loading doors – so you don’t need to worry if there’s no room to load from the rear. Because of their size, they also offer good fuel consumption and are nimble around town – perfect if you’ll be doing a lot of shorter journeys.

Medium vans

Medium vans

Medium vans can carry up to 1.2 tonnes of cargo with a load space of 5-6 cubic metres but remain small enough to park in a parking bay or driveway. Something you need to consider if you want to park your van at home.  Matt Boatwright, Head of Direct Line for Business, “Builders may benefit from a medium panel van which could carry heavier loads and have rear and side doors, which will make it easier to load.”

The Ford Transit is the most common vehicle used by builders. MyJobQuote say, “We would recommend the Ford Transit, not only for the reliability, space and versatility of the vehicle, but for the overall value for money.” A great tip is to think outside the box and look for extra benefits. Bark.com’s top tip is: “The Ford Transit has tough plastic load floor covers that extend up the sides of the van. These will help reduce wear and tear on the load space, giving you a more durable option.”

Large vans

Large vans

Large vans are best if you need to transport larger and longer loads. They have high roofs so that you can also carry tall items and can stand in the load area to help load and unload. Because of their size, large vans have higher fuel consumption, making it a more expensive option. Another thing to bear in mind is that driving a large van is very different from driving a car. They are longer and heavier, so extra care must be taken when going around bends and corners particularly when fully loaded.

Pick ups

Pick ups

If you like the idea of driving a vehicle that is more like a car and you don’t need as much space for tools, a pickup is an affordable option. For the self-employed trader, pickups make a good choice if you want a hard-working vehicle that doubles up as the family car. Some pickups have a large double cab which seats 4 or 5 people. Bark.com says: “Will you be picking up colleagues for jobs? Then you’ll need a van that has the room for all those extra people. Look for vans that have a double cab or the option of extra seating.”

The Mitsubishi L200 (15 reg) pickup truck is a great example of a pickup that ticks all the boxes. Redband UK says “This workhorse is great for moving large items and can safely transport items of 6m in length. In the back there are ample rails for attaching hooks and straps, meaning any bulky items can be secured easily.” You can read our article on the benefits of pickup trucks vs vans for more information.

Choosing the right size

You can also watch our video about choosing the right size of van in the clip below.



Branding the vehicle

Many builders use their vehicle as a cost effective way to promote their business. This can range from a simple logo and contact details on the side or rear of the vehicle to a full wrap using company colours and branding. Specialist companies carry out this work and, if you lease your van through a major leasing company, they can organise this as part of the process.

“Your vehicle is a mobile billboard, seen by many people in your daily journeys (and when parked up). It makes sense to maximise the benefits of this, so having you company identity prominently displayed, along with key messages, emphasises your professionalism. And of course, your reputation and quality of work mirrors your vehicle”


Vehicle fit out

To carry tools and equipment in the safest and most space efficient way can require some additional racking and it’s really important to get this right as it comes in all shapes and sizes. Again, your leasing company can organise this for you to make sure you make the right choices and have the support of experts in this area.

“Many of the vehicles we supply are customised to fit the essential needs of the companies and artisans we supply. By having a well-laid out van, you minimise loss of materials and improve efficiencies – now, where did I put that?: damage to tools, materials and the vehicle itself, and demonstrates your care towards the high level of service you provide to your clients”


What else do I need to know about van leasing?

Contract hire is the most popular form of leasing. You select the length of the lease and the annual mileage you expect to complete and the leasing company will build this into a single monthly rental. You can also add other products and services into this monthly amount like servicing and maintenance cover, breakdown and insurance. You never own the vehicle so you hand it back at the end of the lease without the hassle of trying to sell it on the unpredictable used vehicle market. For more information on contract hire, read our article ‘What is Contract Hire?’.

“Contract hire simplifies your daily tasks – by ensuring the vehicle is fit-for-purpose for your jobs, allow you to concentrate on your business. Within our contract hire packages we can include the vehicle and the fit-out within it, your branding:  the maintenance and tyres for the vehicle: safety items such as licence checking; telematics, even the insurance of the vehicle - and all for a fixed monthly amount!”


The search starts here

Are you ready to find your perfect van? We can help you assess your options and make the best decisions, so you choose the very best van, or vans, for your business. To get in touch, just give us a call or email us and we’ll get straight on the case. And don’t forget to look at our van lease offers – there might be something that catches your eye.