How To Build A Camper Van

An Actionable, Step-By-Step Van Conversion Guide For DIY Beginners

Table Of Contents

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Part 1.

How To Choose A Van

Welcome to van life!

If you haven’t yet purchased your vehicle, you might be asking yourself the following questions:

1.1 - "What type of vehicle should I get?"

The short answer? IT DEPENDS!

Just because we all do “van life” doesn’t mean we all travel in the same type of vehicle. There are SO MANY different options, such as:

  • New sprinter-type vans
  • Old cargo vans
  • Professional RVs
  • Traditional Combis & Vanagons
  • Truck campers
  • And more…
Four different types of vans for van life

To select the best vehicle for your unique van life involves thinking about a number of different factors, including:

  • Your budget
  • Interior space requirements
  • Exterior size
  • And more…

To help get you started, we put together a list of posts that should help you narrow down your van search.

1.2 - "How Much Does A Van Cost?"

The cost of a van can vary WILDLY.

If you scour the second hand market you can find vehicles selling for under $1,000. But if you want to buy new, be prepared to pay at least $30,000.

And within this price range you can find every kind of van possible. So it’s all about knowing what your budget is and how much you can afford.

We purchased our Ford Transit new from the local dealership. For more information about our buying experience, check out our posts below.


1.3 - "What Else Should I Know?"

Two of the most common questions we often hear people ask when trying to choose their van are whether 4x4s and high top vans are worth the extra investment.

Yes, these two options usually come at an added cost.

However, while we don’t think 4x4s are really required for most van life travelers, we would never settle for anything less than a van with a high roof.

Learn more below:

Do you need a high roof van for van life? (Banner post image)

Part 2.

Layout Planning

Great! You got your van and now it’s time to start planning your conversion build. Now is a great time to start asking yourself the following questions:

“How do I design a camper floor plan?
“Do I want a stealth camper van?”
“What type of bed do I want? Fixed or convertible?”
“Should I get a fridge and/or heater?”
“Should I install a toilet and/or shower room?”

 Below we cover the following topics in our van layout planning section.

Part 3.

Interior Design

Converting a campervan isn’t simply about hammering together some wood and connecting your batteries. Because of the very limited space inside a van, thinking about your camper’s interior design is a lot more important than most average homes. 

“How to begin designing the interior a camper van?”
“Which color I should paint for the walls?”
“Where do I place the LED lights?”
“Tips for camper van interior decoration?”

 Below we cover the following topics in our camper van interior design section.

Part 4.

The Foundation

Here is where we really start to get our hands dirty and start building our camper van interior. We call this section the “foundation” because it deals with everything before building our interior furniture.

Here we discuss:

How to properly insulate a camper van.
Putting in windows and a vent fan.
Installing a floor, walls, and a beautiful ceiling.

Check out each of our posts below for more information on each part of the van conversion process.

Part 5.

Electrical System

Assembling your own DIY electric system in your camper van can feel like a daunting task. With so many things to consider, a multitude of wires and components to buy, it can be confusing to know where to start. That’s why we created this step-by-step electric guide to get you from start to finish as quickly and effectively as possible.

In this section of our van build guide, we cover:

What electric wire sizes you need.
How to properly size your house battery system.
Everything you need to know about solar panels for camper vans.
Step-by-step installation guide to get everything connected and working.

Part 6.

Solar Panel System

Setting up your personal photovoltaic system (aka solar panels!) in your camper van is a fantastic way to become energy independent and live out your dreams of boondocking all throughout the countryside. Follow our posts below to get your van’s solar system up and running.

In our posts below you’ll learn:

Part 7.


You can now move on to building your camper van’s interior furniture.

Warning: Lot of sticky wood glue involved!

Check out our posts below for detailed instructions on how to build each furniture piece inside your van conversion.

Part 8.

Plumbing & Water System

Plumbing is nobody’s idea of a good time.

There are so many different products and tiny fittings to think about that building a plumbing system in your van can become a real ache.

But we hope this section of our van build guide will help smooth your plumbing job.

Final Thoughts: Build Your Perfect DIY Campervan

Building our campervan was a huge process that literally took blood, sweat, and tears. Every day felt like we were taking two steps forward and one step back. But in the end, on May 2019, we finished our van conversion and jetted off on our own van life adventure.

And If We Can Build A Campervan...

Converting our own DIY campervan with our own hands and ingenuity was one of the most rewarding accomplishments of our lives. And we genuinely believe that if we can build our own beautiful DIY campervan, so can you! Just make a plan, take it slow, and do the best work that you can. And when in doubt, learn from other’s build experiences.

We hope our “Build A Campervan” guide provides you with a solid foundation to convert your own van. And as always, if you have any questions or comments, please send us an email in the contacts page.

Van Interior Design
Camped In Sedona, Arizona
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