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Can You Build Your Own Campervan? Build One In 11 Simple Steps

campervan conversion
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When it comes to owning your campervan, it can be an expensive investment and a struggle to finance. A great way to offset the cost is to build your own and take on the van conversion yourself. It is cheaper this way and you also get to create the perfect space for your kitchen and bedroom as well as all of your storage needs. 

However, we understand that taking on the task of building your own van can seem like an enormous undertaking. That is why we have composed our own 12-step guide to building your own campervan! 

Follow Our 11-Step Guide To Building Your Own Campervan 

Have you always dreamt of the camper van life but always put it to the back of your mind as being too expensive and just a dream? We are here to help you turn your dream into a reality! You can get stuck in even if you have limited experience with DIY, you can learn on the job – remember, patience is key.

Let’s get stuck in!

Step One: What Is Your Budget?

Before any big project you need to work out a realistic budget that you will be able to stick to. It is possible to convert a campervan with a small budget, it is all about finding the best deals and doing as much of the work yourself. 

Step Two: What Are The Best Vans For Van Life?

When it comes to choosing your van you need to find one that will suit your needs. Think about size and practicality here.

If you are wanting to be able to stand up in your van then you need to look for larger vehicles with a high roof like a Volkswagen Crafter or a Peugeot Boxer. You could also look at smaller vans like the VW T6 and consider fitting a pop-top roof. 

Also, you need to think about whether you will be a solo traveller or will you use your van to take your family away for weekends camping? 

campervan build layout

Step Three: What Layout Are You Looking For?

The layout of your van needs to be practical as well as include everything that you want. You need to consider what you are going to be using your van for and how many people are most likely going to be in it. If you plan on working in your van then it will be a good idea to include a workspace in your design.

Remember that you will need storage places, you don’t want to have to leave things on the floor as this creates clutter and potentially dangerous hazards when driving. Choosing the right bed here can make a huge difference. Beds such as the Rib 112 have plentiful storage underneath, which is also very easy to access when compared to others.  

Also, are you wanting a separate area in your van for a small bathroom? You need to think about where this will fit.

Step Four: Make Your List And Order Your Materials!

An important step is to get organised and write a list of everything that you are going to need and buy it all, online or in a shop. This is important when it comes to specific elements that you want in your van, like a kitchen and appliances. Remember, not all items are available next day. Made-to-order items such as kitchen units (add link) will often have a lead time.

Step Five: Now The Fun Begins – You Get To Strip The Van

Now is the time to get started on making your vision come to life. Remove everything you don’t need like any spare seats, seatbelts, light fixtures, carpet and flooring. Once you have done this, you have created the perfect blank space to get to work.

Step Six: Insulation Is Key!

Insulation for your van is imperative to create a space that is comfortable and sufficient. 

Properly insulating your walls and floors will keep the heat in and stop you from getting too cold at night when you are trying to sleep. For larger vans, you can use battens on your floor and fit insulation boards between them, you can then screw your plywood floor down into the battens. For the walls, you can use the same insulation boards, and then after this use a foil covering to act as a vapour barrier. On smaller vans such as the VW Transporter or Ford Transit Custom, an insulation board is not as practical to use due to the smaller tight spaces which are often more suited to the wool type insulation.

campervan build layout

Step Seven: Build the Framework and Furniture

The framework and furniture will be the foundation for the rest of your campervan. You need to think about where you will want your bed, kitchen, bathroom and living area. 

A top tip is to use masking tape to mark out where you want everything to go then you can see if things are too big or how practical it will all be once it is installed. From there you can make any necessary changes and adjustments.

A place that will need some of your attention is the kitchen space, you will spend a lot of time in this area so it needs to be the ideal campervan kitchen that is small enough to conserve space but has everything you need. 

Campervan kitchen pods are small and compact and easy to install. They are high-grade units that are suitable for many types of campervans. This is perfect for those looking for an equipped camper that doesn’t compromise comfort and space.

Step Eight: Electricity

Now is the time to give your van some life and install your electrical system! This is a vital step to making your van self-sufficient. 

To start you need to think about how much power you will be using, this will be the deciding factor as to what electrical system you will need. This can be as simple as a single 12v Leisure battery to power a few lights and a fridge. At the other end of the scale, this could be a full off-grid system (perfect for wild camping), this may include solar panels, multiple batteries, and an Inverter for 240v power whilst off-grid. The electric system may largely depend on budget. This is an area that can get expensive quickly. 

Step Nine: Plumbing

Before installing a water system you need to be realistic about how much water you are going to use, you don’t want to run out mid-washing up or halfway through your shower. Nor do you want an overkill system if you’re just going to make the odd cup of tea

Water tanks come in all shapes and sizes. You first need to decide if you are going to install the water tank internally or externally. If you are going to be in your van for a long period then go for a large water tank. Water systems can be as simple as a sub pump submerged in a small water container in one of your cupboards, to a large tank mounted under the van with a diaphragm pump and inline filters.

Step Ten: Gas

To make your van warm, and cosy and have the ability to cook you ideally need access to gas. The 2 main options here are either a small gas bottle located in one of the kitchen cupboards. This is the cheapest way and often sufficient for light use. If you are going to be using your van off-grid or heating water, then an underslung LPG tank can be the way to go. The initial costs will be more expensive and more involved on the installation side, but better suited to heavier use. Like most things that come with a little bit of risk, you should always use a professional to install the gas, it will need to be plumbed to your appliances, tested and signed off. 

Step Eleven: Make It Feel Like Home 

This is where the fun begins, you get to come up with the perfect interior for van life. 

All of your hard work has paid off and now is the time to make your van feel like a home!

The finishing touches are what will bring your van and your vision to life-making it the perfect sanctuary that reflects your unique personality. 

 

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