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The Van Build

 

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I wanted to share with you some handy info about my van conversion. I have gathered the information that I am most often asked about such as how much it cost and how long it took. I hope you get some good value from this page and share it with others that may be interested! Thanks, enjoy 🙂

 

Click Here For The “Costs and Components Spreadsheet”

 

Joyce

This is Joyce, she is a 2010 Mercedes Sprinter 313, Long Wheel Base

This was when she first arrived before we had started any of the van conversion.

Sprinter Van lwb Euro 5

It took some hunting to find a decent van at the right price!

Sprinter Van lwb inside rear

It took blood, sweat and tears converting her into an off-grid campervan, but soon enough she would finally look like this:

4B7F5EAF-9A04-4924-A097-9012D4795B91

 

The Design

For the design process, I used SketchUp – https://www.sketchup.com/

It’s free, easy to learn and very useful! It’s perfect for designing your van conversion. 

A 3D design can really help you see any flaws in your design and fix them before it becomes a costly mistake. You can use the “tape measure” in SketchUp to measure any part of the design you like. This is so cool!

If you would like full access to my van conversion design with all the scale measurements and details then please See Here!

Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 21.01.35

 

Design Decisions

One of the first major decisions with a van conversion is “do I remove the bulkhead?” To help you decide I have listed the main considerations here: 

  • Being able to get into the back without having to pull over while driving is a huge benefit (if you have someone with you of course). Very efficient cuppa production 😉 Seriously though, you don’t want to have to be traipsing in and out, putting shoes on and off etc, especially in the winter.
  • Insulation is reduced a lot when removing the bulkhead. That big glass screen lets out a lot of heat in winter and is like a greenhouse in the summer! Still, there are ways around this simply by using thermal/reflective window covers and having a curtain between cab and home.
  • Seating – being able to have swivel seats really does open up the space and transforms the home in a matter of seconds. 
  • Safety – Initial thoughts are that the van is more secure with the bulkhead left in place. Yes, it does make it harder to break into the back, but there is a side door anyway so does it really make a difference? However, with the bulkhead removed if I was ever to find myself in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation, I can just drive away without having to expose myself to the outside monster! 

It is, of course, going to come down to personal preference and whatever best suits your needs.

Time – How Long did it Take?

I completed this van conversion from start to finish in 5 months, but not working on it all the time as I had a business to run and some holidays to enjoy. 

In total, I totted up 500 hours of labour, not including research, design and shopping for parts. 500 hours works out at about 3 months if it were a normal 5 days per week 9-5 kind of job. This could be done faster, but I was learning as I went. 

IMG_7020

Speaking of the good old 9-5, one of the reasons I did this build was that I always wanted my freedom. Freedom from having to work most of my life at something I didn’t like… I think it’s a human thing?

My plan was always to make enough money or to build a pretty much self-sustaining business that would allow me to spend the majority of my life doing just what I wanted. I basically failed at that so I decided to force myself to do something I had wanted to do for years. To earn money remotely! 

Anyway, this isn’t my life story it is about building a home from a van, I just wanted you to know ONE of the reasons why I took this giant step in lifestyle change. 

This was the first time I had ever attempted anything like this. So I made a lot of mistakes, but it all worked out well in the end! Of course, this gave me plenty of material to pass on to people taking on a similar challenge. “You don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.”

Costs, Parts & Materials

The total cost of the van conversion including the van, parts and materials was £16,847. It could be done cheaper and it could certainly be done more expensively!

I believe this cost to be somewhere in the bottom/middle of what people spend, but like I say it can be done cheaper. We were on a tight schedule so didn’t take much advantage of salvaging wood and parts for very cheap or even free as many people do. This build has everything we need to live off-grid pretty much anywhere we want 🙂 all for the price of renting a flat and paying bills for about 12-18 months! That’s the reality here.

I’m always asked where I bought stuff so I have included links to pretty much every tool, material and product that I used! 

You can see all costs and product links here UK & US:

Click Here For The “Costs and Components Spreadsheet”

Van Conversion Features

Below I have detailed some of my favourite and most effective features of the build. I highly recommend these designs and products:

The Ventilation System

The ventilation set up works an absolute dream! On the left below is the Fan-Tastic Fan and on the right is the Roof Vent. The fan is situated at the front of the van and the vent is above our bed at the rear. With the fan extracting it pulls so much air down through the vent above us that we can stay cool even in the hottest of climates. It was 40°C in Savilla and we were cool at night in bed with the fan only set to 2/3!

Rear shower

If you ride mountain bikes, kitesurf, surf, walk, rock climb, sunbathe then the quick disconnect rear shower is for you! Handy in so many situations and of course is great to shower with in the summer.

Sprinter Van Conversion garage rear QD shower with quick disconnect

Space Saving Shower

Our seat lid shower design that Marcela is sitting on here keeps the space in the van open, bright and airy. We actually don’t use the curtain anymore as it’s easy to just sit or crouch in the base and wash.

Solar Power

You know what I was saying about bills earlier on, well here is one being eliminated! In summer all of our electrical power comes from here and in winter it is shared between solar and split charging.

4X 100W Semi-Flew Panels 

40A MPPT Charge Controller

2X 140Ah Leisure Batteries

Full UK & US Components List Here!

IMG_7866

Heating

The diesel heater is so efficient, effective and controllable thanks to the 7-day timer. Being in the Alps at the moment it’s great to hear the heater start up automatically half an hour before it’s time to get out of bed 🙂

Eberspacher Diesel Heater

7 Day-Timer

The Bedroom

Simply so cosy, comfy and relaxing.

Sprinter Van Conversion campervan simba mattress

Want to Build Your Own?

home on wheels book cover
Check out the eBook detailing everything involved in this build!
* Easy step by step how to guide
* Gas, Electric, Water & Solar
* Links to all parts, materials and tools
* All costs broken down to help you budget for success
* How to save money
* Common, costly mistakes to avoid
* How to plan your conversion to get your dream built quickly and safely!  

Risk-free with the 30-day money back guarantee

10% of sales go to the homeless 

Get your copy with instant download here

Learn more about what’s in the ebook here

Click Here For The “Costs and Components Spreadsheet”

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  1. Lee S. (verified owner)

    Great to have a pdf to hand when planning a conversion.. undoubtably will save me time and money on my planned build..

    Cheers

    Lee

    Your Home on Wheels Guide + Scale Design BUNDLE!

  2. Sean Greaves (verified owner)

    Really enjoyed the book, some links to materials need updating but found the book very useful and the youtube channel as well

    Kitevanman’s Build Your Own Home on Wheels

  3. John (verified owner)

    Your purchase system is great

    Kitevanman’s Build Your Own Home on Wheels

  4. Anonymous (verified owner)

  5. Anthony (verified owner)

    Hi Alex & Marcela! I’m glad to see such project of turning a van into a motorhome like yours. Your project is certainly one of the best among your competitors! I am happy to buy your e-book about building a motorhome. But the only fail I found in your book: on the pp. 79-80 some pictures are absent. They’re about installing water level gauge. Could you fix the absence and send me fixed version of your e-book? Write me on my e-mail and I tell you my download ID

    Kitevanman’s Build Your Own Home on Wheels

  6. Andrew Pattern (verified owner)

  7. Mike L. (verified owner)

    Good info and detail .

    Kitevanman’s Build Your Own Home on Wheels

  8. Cassell Johnson (verified owner)

    A good guide thanks very much

    Kitevanman’s Build Your Own Home on Wheels

  9. Barry (verified owner)

    Lots of useful detail. Some of the diagrams useful.

    Kitevanman’s Build Your Own Home on Wheels

  10. Yves u. (verified owner)

    I would like to comment that the ordered book is not yet arrived.. Looking forward to receive it..

    Kitevanman’s Build Your Own Home on Wheels

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