Are you looking to convert your van into a campervan? Buying a campervan outright can be incredibly expensive, which is why some people choose to repurpose a van instead! Campervan conversion can be a great way to take that roadtrip you always dreamed of, at a much lower price.
If you’ve not tried converting a vehicle before, and chances are that you haven’t, you may be wondering about the best place to start. We’ve therefore created a simple guide to van conversion below!
Before you get carried away, buying up loads of materials, not to mention the van itself, it’s essential to plan your conversion. Do some research into things like the best van for a camper conversion, as well as how much the whole undertaking will cost.
For instance, when it comes to the best type of van to convert, you should think about the lengths of the trips you’re planning to take, how many people will be using the van, as well as how much storage you might need, factoring in your intended activities and required gear.
It goes without saying that a larger family would need a bigger van, as would anyone hoping to fit items like climbing gear and surfboards into their van. And if you intend to live in your converted van, and therefore need a shower, toilet, and seating area, amongst other essentials, you certainly couldn’t buy a tiny little van!
In terms of how much it will cost to convert a campervan, according to ClimbingVan, the company that authored The Van Conversion Bible, the average cost of conversion is between £1,000 and £5,000 for a small van, and between £2,000 and £10,000 for a large van. And if you were to average out every size of van, the typical cost of a camper van conversion would be £4,600.
Design Your Campervan
Once you’ve done some research, you can start designing your campervan. The main thing to keep in mind when doing this is what you intend to use the campervan for. Do you need lots of storage space? How about a functioning bathroom? Are you planning to cook inside your campervan? Cost will also be a factor here, as generally speaking, the more features you add, the more expensive it will get.
After thinking about what you’d like to include in your campervan, you’ll then need to work out the logistics. Measure the space you have available inside the van, and calculate how much room each feature will take up. Bigger features, such as the bed, should be factored in first, and you can then fit smaller features into the remaining space.
Try to be creative with space when designing your campervan. As space is at a premium, see if you’re able to tuck things away, or give them a dual purpose. Your seating area could be hinged against the wall of the van, for instance, or perhaps some seats could fold down to provide a table top.
Write a Shopping List
Now that you’ve designed your campervan, it’s time to go shopping. Of course knowing what you need to buy can be tricky, especially if you’ve not built anything like this before. And the first thing you should consider buying may surprise you – a subscription to a digital platform like Adobe Illustrator. This will allow you to design a comprehensive layout for your van, and ensure making edits is simple. You should be able to get a free 30 day trial, if you’d rather not pay for extended use.
You might also wish to invest in a CAD package, which will allow you to turn 2D designs into 3D. While some of these packages can be expensive, there are free ones available that should be suitable for your needs. For instance SketchUp has a free package that has all the features you’d require to model your campervan.
In terms of the tools you’ll need to convert your van, a sliding mitre saw can save you hours, as it allows you to cut clean, straight edges easily. A jigsaw is also recommended, which can cut more curved edges and finer details. If you get a high quality jigsaw, it should additionally be able to cut through the steel panels of your van, should you want to create windows. An eclectic screwdriver and bit set are essential things to add to your list too!
Build Your Campervan
So, how do you start building your campervan? It’s a good idea to begin with any exterior work, such as windows, a skylight, or solar panels first. That way, when you move on to the insulation and cladding, you won’t need to worry about making any holes in the van! In regards to insulating your van, the main components you’ll need include wool insulation, sound deadening, a vapour barrier, and thermal insulation board. With cladding, you can simply use thin sheets of plywood, or you might want to use strips of cladding for a more cosy aesthetic.
If you’re planning to include electrics in your campervan, this will probably be the most expensive part of the build. It may also be the most daunting! The best thing to do is find a comprehensive guide, and watch videos on YouTube, so that you can see how it’s done. The same also applies to installing a water system.
Once the water and electrics are in place, you can move on to the actual layout of your campervan. This is where you’ll build all of your physical structures, such as the bed setup, bench seating, as well as kitchen surfaces and cupboards. If you’ve planned these structures already, it should simply be a matter of measuring, cutting, and installing them!
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