Have you already read our informative and inspiring article on mini houses on wheels between 2.2 and 17 m²? If not, we invite you to review them right away, especially if you are a travel / nature lover. If so, you’re probably already hooked on the idea of mobile living and all the freedoms it offers. You are already about to search the websites dedicated to him to praise your own, aren’t you? It is not necessary because we have a better solution for you. converted van in a motorhome to make yourself! Yes, it is quite possible, it is cheaper, it is easier to drive and park and it is essential!
What to expect before embarking on the “converted van” project?
Before we embark on the magnificent adventure of converting a pickup truck into a livable recreational motor home, there are a few important details that must be clarified. First, the information provided in the paragraphs below does not purport to form an exhaustive guide of steps to follow. Rather, they are a collection of practical tips and advice related to the process of building a campervan that you can adapt to your own specific situation.
Your unique experience may therefore differ significantly from what is described in the following general information depending on your budget, departure vehicle or specific requirements. There are, however, a lot of ideas that you will be able to borrow as they are or after you tweak them a bit. In our case, it’s a 2003 Chevrolet Express that will be converted into a motorhome, but yours would probably be a different model.
Then, no, carpentry experience is not required, although it can be quite useful to you. Fortunately, the conversion process of the campervan is conducive to learning general carpentry skills gradually. Each step is therefore based on what you have done previously. You are definitely going to make mistakes and it will take a long time, but that’s okay. By the end of it, you will have developed a new set of skills!
If, however, you feel frustrated at the very idea of putting together a campervan “from scratch”, you can use a wildcard by seeking advice and the occasional help from a friend more experienced in carpentry, whether he is an amateur or a professional. Of course, in the 21st century, you can still learn a lot of things just by watching a few video tutorials on Youtube.
How long does a do-it-yourself motorhome take?
Then plan for the long haul and arm yourself with a significant dose of patience. Start by recognizing that just like Rome, a campervan doesn’t happen overnight. So, depending on how much time you can afford to devote to this project, it can take anywhere from 3-4 months to 1 year or even longer. Logically, this is a very subjective question because a dilettante handyman otherwise employed full time could not invest the same hours as a freelance writer, for example.
It is therefore very likely that the work on your van will be intermittent and take longer than expected at first. That’s why we’ve got a few tips for you that will help speed up the process. For example, starting work in the summer when the days are longer and more pleasant to work outside will greatly increase your productivity. In addition, minimizing distractions and being less difficult in picking out details is also very “time-beneficial”. Above all, ask for the help of a faithful friend because “Two heads are better than one”, as well as 4 hands!
How much money to budget for a van converted from scratch?
Finally, we arrived at the most relevant question for the majority of enthusiasts to the idea of ”traveling inexpensively”. Exactly how much money does a campervan cost? Well, no surprises, it depends! First and foremost, your starting used van can cost anywhere from 5,000 to 50,000 euros, roughly speaking, depending on the make and model, year of manufacture, type of engine and fuel, mileage and overall condition, among many other determining factors.
Of course, that’s not all – then you have to budget a few thousand euros for materials and tools. But this aspect of investing is also very individual. Not only can you already have some necessary instruments or buy everything and start from scratch, but you can also be content with less expensive equipment or use only luxurious materials. Without even mentioning that we can swap certain objects, remove extras that have become unnecessary during the process, etc.
But there are people who out of necessity have converted their vans for just a few hundred dollars – it’s 100% possible. For each material and tool used, there are less expensive alternatives which can sometimes lead to significant savings. Modifying an old Ikea shelving unit instead of ordering or building custom custom cabinetry, using chipboard instead of plywood or birch solid wood and not painting them – these are all things that can dramatically reduce your costs.
Plan the layout of the DIY motorhome
There is a reason why pickup truck conversion projects are drastically different from each other. Each person has a unique set of requirements that determine the final image of their campervan. For example, a small individual can sleep quietly perpendicular to the walls of the van, but taller people will need a longer bed and therefore a totally different configuration of the available space.
Also, who plans to cook most of their meals, would place a lot of importance on the hob, refrigerator and pantry. Others, who are planning to eat out or go for ready-to-eat foods, might use this space for an entirely different thing. There is one thing, however, that all mini houses on wheels have in common: every square inch of space should be used optimally.
To do this, one must carefully plan the details and aim for multiple uses of one’s added facilities. Most often, your bed could turn into a sofa and / or provide additional storage, the dining table would be foldable or turn into a desk, you could retract a worktop or nest certain small objects etc. The key to getting the most out of a small space is finding 2 or 3 different ways to use a single piece of furniture.
A van fitted out and ready to go in just a few steps
1. Before adding, you must start with a blank canvas, ie remove all pre-existing devices from the van. Once the interior has been stripped down, it’s time to do a preliminary cleaning by sweeping up and removing the accumulated dirt.
2. Scan the entire interior for rusty spots and clean them well before treating them with a protective rust remover undercoat. Thoroughly clean the van by vacuuming up dust, wash the surfaces with soap and water and allow to ventilate well.
3. Tape off anything you don’t want painted using masking tape. Spray anti-rust spray paint on any exposed metal and finish with a final coat of special white metal paint.
4. After complete drying, insulate the floor, walls and ceiling by lining them with sheets of thin insulation. Add rigid foam insulation boards to cover the windows (if you have any).
5. Fill the remaining small gaps with expanding foam, allow to dry completely and trim the excess to even out the surfaces.
6. Cut out a paper stencil of the exact same shape and size as the floor of the van. Use this template to cut out the plywood subfloor. Install it with screws and cover it with linoleum or other covering of your choice.
Also think about the ventilation for a van fitted out without reproach
7. Point of No Return: Cut a hole in the van ceiling to insert a fan. If necessary, call a professional. Optionally, cover the ceiling with wood or another aesthetic material of your choice.
8. Doing the same as for the floor, make paper stencils so that you can then cover the foundations of the walls with plywood cut according to their outlines. It is around this stage that your campervan begins to take shape.
9. From the same material, make the bed frame with its storage boxes underneath, the worktops and table top, the shelves and the rest of the large “furniture” and basic structures according to your own initial drawings. . As logic goes, save the small items (like the 2-in-1 trash stool below) for last.
10. Finally, you must take care of the electrical installations, your water and gas supply (and in this specific case – the mounting of the solar collectors on the ceiling of the converted van). For safety reasons, hire a professional to perform these tasks.
This solar powered campervan is ready to explore the world!
Kitchen “shell” – compartments for water dispenser, hotplates and mini fridge
The final touches – a coat of white paint, addition of darkening blinds etc.
Check out other layout and decoration ideas for a van transformed into a motorhome:
For full instructions in English, visit the source used: thevanual.com