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Van Or Ute: How To Choose The Best Plumbing Vehicle
20 February, 2023 by
Forge Plumbing

If you thought choosing a trade was a tough decision, you will face a number of decisions when you become a plumber.

The decisions can be endless from what brand of tools to invest into whether or not you'll start your own business or be a subbie? Will you focus on drain cleaning and the residential maintenance side of plumbing or hone in on commercial and industrial construction sites?

And then you will have daily decisions of what you'll have for smoko and what time you'll knock off if the job all goes to plan.

Another decision that can polarize plumbers is choosing the right vehicle. A ute or a van or a 4wd converted into a workhorse?

The right vehicle will differ for every plumber because it will come down to:

  • The type of work you'll be doing on a regular basis 
  • Types of tools and materials needed for your chosen work 
  • Financial costs not just for the vehicle but the on-road and insurance costs 
  • Location and area of where you'll be working the most will it do high km or be solely focused in your local area? 
  • Functionality and practicality are important factors in choosing the right vehicle for a plumber. 

Let's explore the benefits of the two most common vehicles used by plumbers the ute and van.


Let's be honest, a ute can be a much more appealing mode of transport than a van. 

A ute can come in a dual cab configuration, which is beneficial for taking apprentices or other work colleagues to job sites. It can even benefit your family if you need to pick up kids from school or decide to have a family night at the drive-in theatre. 

The roomier cab can also offer extra space for fixtures, materials, tools or even administrative equipment (ie iPads, EFTPOS machines etc) that needs to be safely contained in the vehicle rather than in the tray or toolboxes. 

The benefit of a ute is its customisation. Accessories like racks and canopies can be fitted to the tray. Toolboxes can be installed and configured to maximize the space in the tray. Voids between toolboxes on the tray can also provide additional space for carrying bulkier gear or removing waste from sites.


A van screams maintenance plumber (let's be honest!), but it's a practical option to keep all your gear contained in an enclosed vehicle. Thank goodness for maintenance plumbers because the muck they deal with requires the bravest of stomachs. 

Vans can be a budget-friendly option for tradies as there is no need to invest in costly canopies or customized toolboxes because the internal space can be fitted out just how you need it. 

A van for plumbers can be a great choice as it 

  • Conceals all fixtures, fittings and tools within the van itself, which reduces the risk of theft 
  • Offers vertical space for custom shelving to organise fittings and tools for easy retrieval 
  • Weatherproof as everything is contained in the van, so no need to worry about covering tools 

Vans do come with their limitations though. As they are compact, the enclosed space is all you have, and while you could be brilliant at tetris, a van isn't ideal for delivering large amounts of fixtures or picking up drainage materials to be delivered to a construction site. 

The slide door and back door offers limitations on the length and width of items that can be physically put in the van. Vans also offer limited seating at the front, so not ideal for carpooling. However, it makes the perfect vehicle choice if you prefer to travel alone. 

If you're a sole trader or a one-person business, a van may be the perfect workhorse for your business. It's also important to consider how the vehicle will operate with heavier loads and greater distances. Various vehicle brands will deliver under pressure and are known to have longevity, however, others may require trading in pre-maturely or may be costly to maintain and fix. 

Thinking about the long-term and bigger picture can help you decide which vehicle to invest in. 

The best thing about being a plumber; you can change the vehicle as you become more experienced in your trade and as income capabilities increase. What you choose now, will eventually need updating in the future. You can try one of each to decide which vehicle works best for your work circumstances.

Forge Plumbing 20 February, 2023
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