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Old 11-30-2022, 02:37 PM   #1
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DIY Pop Top / High Roof - Legalities & Safety?

Hi folks, I'm looking for opinions on the legal issues of DIY installing either a pop-top or a high roof onto a van. Do you have any worries about passing state/province vehicle safety inspections?

I've seen a number of DIY builds that have added a pop-top to their vans. I'm currently in the market for a van, and I'm thinking of going this route because I'm having trouble finding high-roof vans in my price range. As well, the shop installs for pop-tops are also too high of price for me (upwards of $5k-$15k I believe)... and so I thought that a DIY addition would be a good option. (Also, my preference is pop-top over high-top for the low profile, reduced footprint, etc., but I'm pretty open to either option.)

A number of other posts (for example, here and elsewhere) show pretty good DIY pop-top conversions. (Price-wise, I thought of contacting a local auto-wrecker to salvage an old top.) However, I haven't found any info about the legal/safety implications of the builds... I called my local (British Columbia) Vehicle Safety & Enforcement agency, and essentially they said: If you modify it, it'll need to pass a safety inspection; and the main criterion is structural integrity (*which is really vague though!).

Does anyone have experience with both the DIY conversion as well as the post-conversion insurance/safety bureaucracy? I don't want to cut the roof off my van, spend time installing a new roof, and then be told I need to take it to a mechanical engineer to spend huge cash $$$ to get it up to code.

If anyone has any thoughts or opinions, please do share! Thanks!
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Old 11-30-2022, 06:06 PM   #2
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These guys should be able to answer most of your questions, or at the least be able to point you in the right direction if none of our members can help.

Tufport™ – Head Office
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Old 12-19-2022, 05:01 PM   #3
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Hi shenrie, thanks!

I just got around to calling Tufport today, and their response was that basically they've never had to deal with anything to do with safety inspections. Although they only deal in hardtops (and not pop tops, which might arguably be less structurally sound), they also sell DIY take-home kits that you install yourself, and their sales staff said they've never had anyone need to have a safety inspection.

From this, it sounds like there shouldn't be any complications. I got the impression it was a bit of a grey area for ICBC.

Seems like an interesting thing, and maybe somewhat promising!
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Old 12-21-2022, 07:51 PM   #4
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I often hear of folks in Canada getting pulled over for possible illegal modifications and being issued a VI (vehicle inspection) ticket, that requires the vehicle to be brought to an inspection station where they seem to check every nut and bolt. Things like tires extending beyond the fender, a lack of mud flaps, lift kits, lights, the list is long. You might consider having a talk with an inspection station to see how they
feel about it.
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Old 12-21-2022, 10:55 PM   #5
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Iam also from BC and did a hightop conversion about 2 years ago. I did not change any insurance or anything. I'm not sure what would happen if you got a vehicle inspection.
My top came off a Wheel chair van so it isnt a sketchy wooden one like some of the ones you see. If you do it right there is no reason for the law to think its VI worthy.

Also if you get a top that doesn't have the high doors you do not need to cut any crucial braces. Leave the main braces behind the front and rear doors.

My top had the extended doors, so the rear of the top had a metal "roll cage" to add the structural support.
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Old 12-24-2022, 07:05 PM   #6
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Thanks to both of you, arctictraveller and carnott54, both really great points -- I haven't reached out to an actual inspection facility yet, so maybe I'll try them. This also helps me lean towards going with a hardtop rather than a pop-top if it's DIY (although all the junkyards in my local area have no campers available). Time will tell. Thanks, everyone!
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