Do you love traveling and having unique adventures? Are you ready to escape from the norm and make your own path?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, you need to make the switch from an old-fashioned automobile to an unconventional van. If you’re thinking about investing in a van conversion, you might be wondering whether to trick out your van or leave it more traditional. It depends on how you will be using your van.
Here’s an in-depth guide to the things you should consider.
Have a Budget
Creating a budget when you build a van will help keep your dreams from becoming a financial nightmare. Your budget should not only address the cost of materials, tools, and equipment but should also include an allowance for any contingencies or problems that come up.
If you are DIY-ing your conversion, you will also need to factor in the cost of labor, since it takes more time and effort to convert the van yourself. When setting your budget, it is important to be realistic.
Also, remember to include all items, like insurance, that are related to the van and its new configuration. Additionally, anticipating the monthly operating costs, such as fuel, maintenance, and storage, can help you create a complete budget.
Determine the Kind of Travel You Want to Do
If you’re thinking of van conversion to create your own special moving space, it’s important to first determine the kind of travel you want to do. Are you venturing out on long road trips and requiring storage for camping gear and supplies? Are you looking for a recreational vehicle that can also double as a weekend escape with friends and family?
Depending on your needs and lifestyle, you can tailor the van upgrades to your desired travel style. You may even want a self-contained and private living space to go on extended trips or even full-time van life.
Get Inspirations for Converting a Van
If you’re considering living in a van and are looking for inspiration, you’ll need the right guide. Look for inspiration that covers everything from picking the right materials to creating a livable, functional space, and includes detailed pictures to showcase the most successful projects and to inspire ideas for your own creation.
With help from this guide, you’ll be able to come up with the perfect design, maximizing the space and the available amenities. Even if you’re not an experienced builder, you’ll be able to achieve the exact van you’ve envisioned. You may check out these converted vans for inspiration.
Create a List of Must-Haves and Nice Things to Have
When you convert a van, having a well-thought-out list is key to making sure you have everything you need and don’t forget anything. Start by creating a list of must-haves for your van conversion.
This would include items like insulation, a solar panel kit, a water storage system, a mattress, and cargo space organization accessories. This list should also contain items that you need for personal comfort such as pillows, blankets, and a first-aid kit.
Once you have a list of the essential items, you can create a list of nice things to have. These items might include a bed frame, external lights, a portable stove, RV curtains, and an entertainment system. With these two lists compiled, you are one step closer to completing your van conversion.
Choose Your Van
Factors to consider in choosing a van include the type and size of the van, as well as the intended purpose. For example, if you’re planning to build a camper van, you’ll need a larger model to fit more passengers and luggage. A short-wheelbase model will provide better maneuverability in tight spaces.
Additionally, you’ll want to consider the age of your van and the engines available. The best bet is to buy a van that is relatively new and has a modern engine that’s proven reliable.
Finally, look into available warranty programs and ensure there’s a trusted mechanic in your area who can handle any repair needs. By taking the time to make the right choice, you’ll be sure to enjoy your tricked-out van for years to come.
Have a Workspace for Your Van Build
Having a workspace for your van build is essential for optimizing the overall success of the project. It allows you to work with all the tools and equipment necessary to complete the project, in an environment you are comfortable with.
You need to have a great space for all of the parts, tools, and materials necessary to complete the project. It might even provide living accommodations, should that become necessary. It will also enable you to store any completed work as well as keep a clean, organized environment as you work.
Design the Layout
Designing the layout is one of the main components of a van conversion and getting it just right is essential to making the most of the space. Remember, you don’t have too much space, to begin with. Thankfully, there are many efficient storage options and thoughtful designs to make use of the available space.
Think about what common activities you’re going to be doing in your van conversion, then design the layout with those activities in mind. Consider where the bed and storage compartments should be placed, where power sources should be allocated, and which pieces should be left to offer more open space. Think smartly when designing the layout and make sure functionality is the priority.
Gather Essential Supplies for Converting a Van
When embarking on this exciting project, it’s important to equip yourself with the essential supplies for success. Some of the essentials include all-purpose epoxy, an appropriate screwdriver set, electrical supplies, and a variety of tools to cut and shape materials. You also need van conversion kits and van accessories.
Depending on the project, you may also need solar equipment, plumbing supplies, and other specialized components. When selecting supplies, carefully consider the size and weight of the items as they can take up much-needed space and affect the vehicle’s performance.
Prep Your Van
Although converting a van takes time and hard work, taking the necessary steps to prepare the van will save resources and potential problems in the conversion process. Prepping your van includes assessing the van’s condition, cleaning, repairing any necessary components, and making sure the safety features are up to standard.
Once the van is prepared, the next step is to decide what the conversion will include—furniture, kitchen elements, and other home amenities, for example. It is important to come up with a plan so that the desired effect is attained with practicality. Understanding the tricks and tips for prepping the van is one of the key elements for achieving the best results with a van conversion — such as this in-depth guide to van conversion.
Customize the Interior of a Van
Customize the interior of the van with unique accessories, furniture pieces, and decor that reflect one’s individual style. Decide how to best use the space and be creative in how to incorporate certain features.
Utilizing insulation techniques is one of the most important parts when you convert a van. Insulation helps to keep the interior of your van warm during winter nights and cool during summer days.
The insulation material depends on a few factors such as climate, budget, and anticipated usage. For example, if your van conversion will be used for extended camping adventures in cooler climates then thicker and more robust insulation with a higher R-value may be preferable such as Thinsulate or Reflectix-type materials.
Adding insulation is not as difficult as it may seem, even for someone that is not familiar with DIY projects. It is important to make sure the material is installed properly and that all gaps are covered.
In terms of expenses, you can spend as little or as much as you like. It all comes down to what your budget and needs are. Regardless, insulation is a key factor for anyone looking to do a successful van conversion.
Flooring is the basis of creating a van livable, so it is important to make the right decision. Vinyl is a popular option for van conversion flooring because it is waterproof, and provides a safe yet stylish look.
Carpet can also provide warmth, making it a cozy option for creating a living space, although it is not as durable as vinyl. Laminate and tile are more modern, but more expensive options that can create stunning interior aesthetics.
An important design tool when picking out flooring is to consider the environment in which the van will be used, as different materials may be more or less suitable. Ultimately, the goal should be to select flooring that is aesthetically pleasing and is also durable, and safe.
Batteries are an important component of a successful van conversion. Without batteries, the van cannot power the electricity and appliances you want to use in the van.
Having additional batteries is an advantage. It gives you more power storage and more flexibility when it comes to being off-grid.
The most power-dense, lightweight, and cost-effective batteries for van conversions are lithium-ion batteries. With a lithium-ion battery, you can store up to three times the amount of energy as a lead-acid battery. Also, these only weigh a fraction of the lead-acid battery’s weight.
Additionally, by utilizing solar power, the lithium-ion battery will continuously be recharged on a daily basis. Battery banks can be set up with a minimum of two batteries, but having higher-capacity battery banks will ensure you do not run out of power while you’re out of town.
Windows are one of the key elements for successfully converting your van into a comfortable and enjoyable living space. When it comes to selecting the right windows for your conversion, there are several considerations to take into account, such as insulation and size.
Insulation should be factored in to reduce heat, noise, water, and dust. At the same time, a window should allow for a degree of natural light and airflow. You should also choose a window size that allows the van to look and feel like the living space, while still allowing a good amount of natural light.
Propane and diesel can also be used to create a great heating system. Alternatives such as an electrical heating system might also be worthy of consideration. When selecting the base systems and fixtures, it’s important to remember how you are going to be using the van.
Lastly, temperature control should also be taken into account to ensure your vehicle not only stays warm but is also safe for use. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution; be sure to research your options and make the best decision for your needs.
Maximize Safety and Security
Van conversions tend to be complex, involving a variety of components, such as electrical wiring and plumbing, that can put passengers in danger if not done properly. Therefore, the first thing to consider when converting your van is to install safety and security products. You must have carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms, and motion sensors.
Next, use high-quality materials for the conversion itself. Make sure to choose materials that are flame-retardant and water-resistant.
Make use of rustproof screws to ensure durability and stability. Additionally, look into purchasing interior security devices, including door locks and window grilles.
Add Versatile Storage Solutions
By adding secure, lightweight, and flexible storage solutions, you can make the most of your van space. Multi-purpose storage solutions such as space-saving fold-out bed/table units maximize space. This also provides versatility to suit multiple uses.
Are You Finally Making an Investment in Van Conversion?
You are probably quite excited to experience living in a van. Also, having a camper van can take you to places while enjoying the comfort of being in a home.
Van conversion is a fun and rewarding pastime that anyone with an adventurous spirit and some elbow grease can undertake. With the right tools and information, you can turn your plain-jane van into an oasis on wheels that is all your own.