Whether you want to live the van life and actually live out of your van, or just want a camper that you’ll be able to use for long trips with the kids, you have two options to choose from. You can either buy a ready-made camper or transform a regular van into a camper.
While building your own camper can allow you to save, it can be an intimidating project if you aren’t familiar with camper conversion, or vehicles in general. However, with a little know-how and elbow grease, even someone with little to no experience can build the camper of their dreams. Here are the steps you’re going to have to take.
Find a Van
The first thing you’ll have to do is find a van. While you might’ve always dreamed of roaming the countryside in your Westfalia, you’re going to have to widen your horizons. Westfalias are in great demand at the moment because of the whole van living craze, and unless you have the money for it and budget is not an issue, there are tons of other options that will be just as good, just not with the same cool factor. Some might even be better for conversions, as they will offer more space, have more modern options, offer better fuel consumption, and have easier to find parts if you ever need to repair them.
Models to consider include Fiat Ducatos, Volkswagen Transporters, Ford Transit Customs, and Renault Trafics. All of these models can be easily converted and be found for around the same price or cheaper than an old Westfalia and will be much more reliable.
Get the Right Insurance
Know that you’re going to need special insurance for your van, and you’re going to have to take the possessions inside the vehicle into consideration as well. So, don’t go for the bare minimum coverage – get fully comprehensive cover.
If you want to save on insurance, you could use a site like Quotezone to compare van insurance between various providers. They will allow you to compare from their list of insurers and choose the best quote for you. They will also allow you to compare policies on the spot and see which insurer offers the best package for the price.
Get Your Must-Have List Down
You have to be realistic with what you want in your van if you’re going to do it yourself. So, you should have a clear list of things that you’ll absolutely need in your van. Check the things that you intend to use regularly on your trips. Most of the time, a comfortable bed and cooking/cleaning facilities are a given. But you could also consider more elaborate options like a shower or solar panels. You should also consider storage options for convenience.
Get the Right Tools
You will need to have the right tools and materials on hand for our build. Most installations can be made using nothing but 2X4s and plywood, so you’ll need plenty of these. In addition, you should have a good jigsaw, a drill, and always keep your measuring tape, spirit level, and masking tape close by.
Other materials you’ll need include insulation and cladding, batteries depending on the electricity that will be needed to run all the appliances, split charge relay, a fuse box with fuses and wires, and an inverter.
Get to Building
Now that you have the equipment on hand, you can start building. If you’re looking for inspiration, we suggest you start looking at floor plans online. If you’re looking for ideas, Pinterest has tons available complete with finished results, so you can have a clearer idea of what you can expect. However, if you want to come up with your own, there are a few things you should consider first.
First of all, you’ll need to have your priorities first. Know how much space you’re working with, and what permanent fixtures will need to be installed, like a bed, storage, and tables.
Next, you should weed out all the options and use mock-ups to tell how they will feel once finished. You can use scrap cardboard for this. And you should also try options you might not think you’ll like. You never know how they will end out once finished.
When it comes to building, always make sure that you use options that will allow you to make adjustments if needed. Never use glue; use screws if possible. Doing this will allow you to quickly make changes without tearing anything apart.
Building your own camper van is definitely a challenge, but one you can get over if you’re ready to put the work in. Follow these few simple tips and you should be able to build the camper of your dreams in no time.