Haven’t we all dreamed of road travelling and living the greatest van life – packing everything, ditching the house landscaping project you’ve been working on all summer, putting on a patriotic T-shirt, and heading out on the wide road? Waking up anywhere you choose, feeling the sun on your face, the smell of the ocean or the mountain, and setting out on your journey for the day.
What you choose for your van life is totally up to you. Converting an ordinary van to a camper is a great way to go if you’re planning to live in a van full time, a quick break, a lengthy road trip, or exciting overseas travel plans. But, regardless of what car you have or can afford, living in a van is ultimately about independence, going against the norm, and living life to the fullest.
Your van is all about the pleasure of being out there. And we’re here to assist you with converting your van into a home so you can hit the road as quickly as possible!
So, you might be questioning if buying a new van and transforming it yourself is truly less expensive than purchasing a backpacker van that has already been converted. Even if you go on a short-string budget, creating and living in a campervan is a lot less expensive than staying in hotels all the time!
But how can you transform that used van into the perfect adventure house on wheels? This DIY article will assist you in picking your van, planning your decor, and installing necessary amenities. Below you’ll discover fantastic tips & tricks, thorough information, and step-by-step guidance, so let’s get started!
Benefits of Building Your Own Camping Van
Why should you build a camping van on your own if you can buy one? Why would you go through the bother of constructing it? These questions may arise in your mind while you consider purchasing a campervan.
We understand, they are reasonable questions.
This is why we prepared a short list of benefits of building your own campervan:
It Is Less Expensive
Constructing a campervan yourself would be much less expensive than purchasing one from a traveller, who typically charges hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. However, these are sometimes quite old vehicles with many kilometres on them. Purchasing an empty van from a car dealer is frequently far less costly and provides greater value for the money invested.
You Choose the Design
Buying a pre-designed van may result in less optimal space or a less satisfying design. However, creating your own campervan entails designing the interior and building it just like you’ve always dreamed. This means it will be totally tailored to your requirements, and you will be considerably happier as a result!
You Will Improve Your Building Skills
Decorating and constructing a campervan on your own entails acquiring new skills and honing existing ones, which may lead to increased confidence. You’ll learn how to use tools effectively, build a bed, and arrange everything in such a tiny place, which will make the project unique.
You Can Get a Great Price for it if You Sell It
After the transformation is done, the vehicle will be more valuable, and you will be able to profit from it, selling it for a better price. The better it is built, the more it will cost.
How To Build а DIY Camping Van
So, you want to construct a camping van? A brilliant idea!
If you’ve decided to design a campervan but don’t have a lot of spare money or time, we’ve got you covered! Below you will find practical tips and steps to help you build your camping van on a tight budget.
We’ll go over it step by step, so let’s get on with it!
Choose Your Van
Buying a van is the first and most significant step. There are several van types and models available, and the ideal one for you is determined by your wants and requirements.
Determine your budget, and then the easiest way to go is to browse online first. Examine different internet markets or Facebook groups. This is a smart method to see what is available and fits your budget.
Some vans offer more room, some are ideal for stealth camping, and there are also possibilities if you are searching for something already converted that will require minimum effort to go on the road.
To assist you in making your decision, we’ve compiled a list of the most prevalent types:
Volkswagen campers are probably the most well-known vans in the community. The majority of them have a pop-up roof and a pre-built interior. They also have significant support and a moderator community. The disadvantages might be the frequent mechanical maintenance and the hefty expense.
Sprinter vans are particularly well-known for their internal height, length, and boxier design, making them perfect for creating a roomy, efficient living area. One of their finest features is the large inside room, ideal for tall people; diesel engines offer excellent gas mileage and are very reliable. The disadvantages include the high startup costs and the pricey parts.
Cargo vans are ideal for covert camping. They are ideal for urban camping, and the maintenance components are less expensive. On the other hand, they don’t offer much height, and it’s difficult to buy a used one with low mileage.
High-Top Conversion Vans
These vans come standard with some fairly cool features, such as high-tops, big leather seats, lighting fixtures, and a TV. If you’re not particular about what kind of a van you want, this may be all you need to begin. And, if you convert it yourself, the high top provides a plethora of storage choices that other vans do not.
These vehicles are very reasonably priced. Because most conversion van owners don’t use them as their everyday car, older lower-mileage vans in good shape aren’t hard to come by for a reasonable price.
Class B Vans
A Class B camper is an excellent option to consider if you want to start travelling immediately. These vans usually are move-in ready, and unless there are any technical difficulties, shouldn’t require any customization before hitting the road. They are quite tall and provide a lot of space and storage, but frequently need RV-specific maintenance.
After you’ve purchased your vehicle, it’s time to clean it thoroughly. If it’s empty, you can easily reach every corner, but you might not be able to clean specific places later if they’ve accumulated. And if there are any items that you will not use, dispose of them. It takes around two hours to clean.
Take Measurements and Make a Plan
One of the most enjoyable aspects of creating a camping van conversion is designing the arrangement of your new home. At this stage in the construction process, the options are unlimited, and it’s a lot of fun to picture how everything will come together.
However, efficiently putting up your van needs some effort and meticulous design. You must figure out how to fit everything you want and need into a limited area while being comfy and habitable.
Here are some things to think about while designing your configuration:
- How many people will be living in your van?
- What is their height?
- What additional storage do you require?
- Do you want windows and daylighting?
- Do you need a workspace?
- Do you need a kitchen?
When designing your layout, be sure to account for the weight distribution of your vehicle. This implies you should avoid stacking heavy objects (batteries, water tanks, etc.) on one side.
When living in a compact place, it’s a good idea to incorporate multi-functional products wherever feasible. A kitchenette, for example, may be used to provide structural support for a sizable pull-out bed frame.
Planning your design with numerous uses in mind for everything will allow you to incorporate all of the functionality you want while also creating a pleasant and attractive environment.
A well-thought-out strategy will save you a lot of time and hassle. The most straightforward approach to begin is to consider the essentials:
- The Bed: What size do you prefer, and what kind of RV bedding would you need? Which side of the van do you want it to be? Do you want it to be foldable or partially detachable to be used as seats?
- The Kitchen: Do you require a sink? Do you prefer a refrigerator or a cooling box? Are you planning on cooking inside? What is the size of the equipment you want to set in the kitchen?
- The Bathroom: Would you prefer a restroom or a portable toilet? Where would you like to build it, and how much space do you require?
- The Storage: How much storage space do you require? You may need more than you think because you accumulate a lot of items while travelling. Underneath the bed is a great area to add storage.
- The Electricity: Do you require any electrical outputs, how many, and where do you want to put them? Or do you wish to utilize an extension cable in conjunction with a power strip? Perhaps some solar panels as well?
- The Exterior: Perhaps you want to add a tent on the rooftop, a ladder on the side of the van, and maybe wrought iron railings for extra safety?
- Tools and assets: Is it possible to produce the items you designed? What materials do you want to utilize for the interior? Is it your intention to use wood? Perhaps unbreakable glass for the windows? Do you wish to buy tools, rent or borrow them? Do you require diamond grinding wheels?
Build an Electricity System
Playing with electricity is risky, so better be sure you know what you’re doing before getting started. If you have any electrician contacts, this is an excellent moment to seek their assistance.
Every do-it-yourself solar system needs a few key elements: solar panels, batteries, charge controllers, battery monitors, inverters, wiring and fuses. You may purchase solar kits that include everything you require except batteries and inverters.
To begin the installation, you’ll need to put your solar panels on the top of your van and run wire inside. Then it’s just a question of connecting the dots and tying everything together.
Install the Flooring
If there is an existing carpet on the floor, don’t remove it. Because the floor will serve as the foundation for the entire camper, it’s a good idea to have a wood bottom.
Cut off all of the curves and corners with a jigsaw. Then, drill a hole through the wood and the van’s bottom and secure it with screws. Be cautious where you drill and fix the floor since there may be hoses and tubing beneath the vehicle that you don’t want to harm.
Set the Foundation
Following the installation of the flooring, the framework must be constructed. We recommend placing the bed in the back so that you can construct some large drawers beneath to store all of your clothing. Then you should build the frame and place the mattress.
Design the Interior
When building a camper, this phase is particularly individual because it depends entirely on the style and layout you have chosen. We recommend getting as much inspiration as you can from Pinterest. Your interior design must be functional for your lifestyle.
All of your customized camper’s chosen components must be produced and installed. A sink, tap, water storage, burner, chopping room, and storage space for food and top culinary tools are all required in the kitchen.
Some people require a fully equipped bathroom in their van, with a shower and toilet, while others prefer a toilet hidden inside a bench. Some people are content with neither; this is entirely up to personal taste, but if you design an internal shower area, make sure it is waterproof.
You may also want drawers for clothes storage, a seating space, a table, extra passenger seats, surfboard or bike storage, heating or air conditioning. The list could be eternal. Just keep in mind that sometimes it’s better to have some freedom to move around when you’re inside.
When converting a campervan from the ground up, you want it to resemble a home, so don’t scrimp on the details that make it feel so. Install some fairy lights, hang some artwork, display your favorite images, or paint some details on your walls.
Designing a camping van means so many hours and so much effort spent on it that you want everything in it to be perfect. You must enjoy the home you’re in; after all, you’ll be spending a lot of time in your custom-built house!
Are You Ready to Start Building Your Own Camping Van?
We hope this DIY article on building a campervan was useful to you. Before you start, we recommend doing some additional reading and research, particularly on the electrical aspect of things.
Terry Tateossian, Founding Partner of Socialfix Media is a fourth-generation entrepreneur who is recognized as an Inc. 5000 America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies, Forbes’ Top Women in Business, Fastest Growing Women Presidents by WPO, and 40 Under 40 Business Leaders by NJBIZ. Terry has been featured for outstanding leadership and career accomplishments in numerous industry publications as an engineer, a thought-leader in technology, and an innovator in the field of marketing. But her favorite and toughest earned title is being “Mom” to her 2 children.