How to make an RV from a van with your own hands

How to make an RV from a van with your own hands

Okay, let’s be honest. You watch a YouTube video about RVing and you want to do the same but have no knowledge of how and where to start. The next thing you have to do is to visit ZeRVs to choose a van but before doing this, there are a lot of things you should consider and this is exactly what we are going to discuss in this article.

Planning the layout of your new home is one of the most exciting parts of building a van. The possibilities are endless at this point in the build process, and it’s a lot of fun to imagine how everything will fit together.

But laying out your van effectively also takes forethought and some careful planning. You need to figure out how best to cram everything you need into a small space, all while keeping it comfortable and livable.

Here are some things to consider when planning your layout:

How to make an RV from a van with your own hands
  • How many people will be living in your van? One, two, three or more? Do you live with pets? More people means more bed space or additional convertible sleeping areas. And don’t forget that you’ll need enough open hangout space for everyone as well.
  • How tall are you? If you’re over 6’ tall, layouts where the bed goes across the van will prevent you from comfortably stretching out. But if you’re short, crosswise beds won’t be a problem.
  • How much storage space do you need? Do you have a lot of clothes, instruments, equipment, books, or other things you just can’t part with? We highly advise downsizing as much as possible, but you’ll need a place to store everything you’re bringing.
  • Do you want to have windows and natural lighting? Windows and natural light help your living space feel bright and open. But windows are less stealthy, and they also prevent you from putting in full-height furniture and storage areas. Some vans already have windows and some don’t, but you can always cover up existing ones or install your own.
  • Do you need somewhere to sit and work? If you do computer-based work on the road, consider including a comfortable seating area with a table in your layout. Tables are also great for meals and congregating.
  • Do you plan to cook inside your van? If you see yourself doing a lot of cooking, it’s a good idea to include a full kitchen with a water tank, counter, sink, fridge and stove. You’ll also want to include enough space for dry food storage.
  • Do you have large items like dirt bikes, surfboards, or mountain bikes that you need to haul? Some layouts include storage space for such items inside the van, or you can look at options for hitching them on.

Let’s assume you planned this for a long time but you need more knowledge so here we are going to explain not only what type of van to buy but also tips on how to convert it into a camper.

Choosing a van to buy

How to make an RV from a van with your own hands

Sellers on ZeRVs are offering all types of campers. From VW Vanawagon, Sprinter Van, Cargo van, High Top, Class B camper, and even school bus, they have everything there. What type of van to buy solely depends on your budget, how many people are living inside it, your height, the number of your stuff to carry, and other things. If you are alone, you can opt for a VW or Sprinter if you have a bigger budget. The Sprinter is also a good choice if you are a couple. If you have a big family then the school bus is the right vehicle for you. Remember that you are only buying a vehicle at this time and you need to have extra money for conversion. The budget on conversion also depends on many factors including the size of the van and what you want to do inside the van.

Basic needs and amenities

Basic needs and amenities is the first thing you have to consider. Beds and toilets are among them. If you have a small van, a shower could not be possible but if you have great planning and design, having a shower inside a VW is also possible. Take note that before you remove everything inside the van, make sure to have everything on paper. When I say paper, measure the whole internal area of the van and draw a plan based on that measurement. Measure the space needed for each furniture and amenities you want to put inside the vehicle. 

Do a thorough research

How to make an RV from a van with your own hands

There are dozens if not hundreds of van conversion videos on YouTube. Take time to search these videos especially those for the specific model you are planning to buy so you can see how they do it. You can also improve if you are not satisfied with what others are doing. Remember that these videos are your bread and butter. Most of these people don’t share the costs but you can always try to ask them the costs of materials. It’s better to have long-term planning before buying your first van. 

Where are you going?

Depending on what part of the world you are from, make sure that the interior of the van suits your needs when you travel. In Australia where the weather is always hot, air-conditioning is always needed as opposed to Europe and North America where you always need a heater due to cooler weather. You must consider this too. How big the stuff you are going to carry also depends on where you are going and how long are you going to travel (if you are not living full time in your van). If you plan to live full time inside your van you need a lot of storage. You must consider this in your design.

Budget and start of work

How to make an RV from a van with your own hands

After everything is said and done, the budget is always the main factor why many aspiring campers fail. The most common problem is when the conversion job starts. This is the main reason why you really take time to choose a van when browning ZeRVs because there might be something that costs a little and only needs a little improvement.  Many spend more than they planned to spend because they are not satisfied with the result. This is where planning is very important. 

Assuming you have really prepared well then get ready with your tools and start working. The job always concerns the internal side of the van. You can only alter the external side if you add solar panels or if you want to have a lifted roof for extra space. 

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