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”


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:


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. 


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!



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”

See what people are saying

Based on 94 reviews
  1. Olivier (verified owner)

  2. Olivier (verified owner)

  3. Simon M. (verified owner)

    Excellent book. A really easy to follow guide to building your own off grid van. A long awaited purchase for me.

    Kitevanman's Build Your Own Home on WheelsKitevanman’s Build Your Own Home on Wheels

  4. Steve Flanagan (verified owner)

    Wicked little ebook – along with videos so good👍🏼

    Kitevanman's Build Your Own Home on WheelsKitevanman’s Build Your Own Home on Wheels

  5. norman underwood (verified owner)

    really awesome thank you

    Kitevanman's Build Your Own Home on WheelsKitevanman’s Build Your Own Home on Wheels

  6. John (verified owner)

  7. Patrick Kristiansen (verified owner)

    Hi Alex, I absolutely loved reading your book! It was so helpful, really useful and just the right guidance we need for when we start building our own van.

    I did receive an email about a new update to the book but there was no link to download it, so if you could maybe kindly send another email with a download link to the new version of the book, it would be much appreciated!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to make such an awesome book and really helping a lot of people fulfil their dreams. I know I just can’t wait to start traveling Europe in our van, so hopefully we can start building soon this summer and I will definitely keep in touch with how it goes.

    Kind regards
    Patrick Kristiansen

    Kitevanman's Build Your Own Home on WheelsKitevanman’s Build Your Own Home on Wheels

  8. Graham England (verified owner)

  9. Ben Jago (verified owner)

    Very helpful and interesting read. Very helpful customer service. 😉

    Kitevanman's Build Your Own Home on WheelsKitevanman’s Build Your Own Home on Wheels

  10. Phillip Wilkinson (verified owner)

    Amazing read and great information!

    Kitevanman's Build Your Own Home on WheelsKitevanman’s Build Your Own Home on Wheels

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