Planning your Build
Looking for support during your DIY build? Raynor love van builds and fuel our #vanlife by supporting other's conversion efforts. You can learn more about his DIY support services at RayOutfitted.com
There is a lot of content on Instagram, YouTube and Reddit for van builds. Many websites and blogs.
These are just some of our tips:
Know your van
If buying new or used - find the rust,items you need to repair and add on's you'll before purchasing. We highly recommend having a strong sense of your layout before purchasing.
We set out planning on getting a Ford Transit, but ended up with a Sprinter mostly because the largest Transit is the same size as the smallest Sprinter. We needed a bit more space. Everyone is different, DIY lets you build to suit you.
Factory auxiliary battery typically comes with a auto charge rely (ACR) which makes it easy for you to charge your battery bank while the engine is running
Our van didn't come with a factory heater (for when the engine is off) so we purchased an Espar heater. Installing this, if your van doesn't have a factory auxiliary fuel line, requires dropping your fuel tank.
Whenever possible, we recommend knowing what projects your signing yourself up for before you start the install process.
Order key components in advance.
Particularly if you are building on a tighter time frame (like we did), ordering items as soon as you have finalized your decision is really important. Items that can have a longer wait time: Solar panels, Batteries, Toilet, Flooring and Counter tops.
Plan your build timeline - order of operations matters!
For our build we went in the following order:
Installed Roof Vents
Floor (and then subfloor to protect it - don’t install final flooring yet)
Solar Roof Rack
Strapping on walls & ceiling
Finished ceiling & lights
Finished walls, sliding door and back doors
Interior Framing (Start at the back and work forward)
For us, that means starting with the bed frame. We positioned it as low as we could, while still enabling a bike in our "garage" (storage under fixed bed)
You need to run your wires for power at the same time
Built all cabinets, removed them, painted and then re-installed. This includes hardware - installed to confirm fit, then removed some parts to make painting easier. With no prior experience building cabinets, we were cautious!
Note: Others find it easier to ensure fit to build cabinets in place.
Battery bank, ACR & solar connection
After 12 months on the road we replaced the ACR with battery to battery charger
Install composting toilet
Install sink and water system
**Bring tools on the road with you, be prepared for roadside adjustments. Self-adhesive felt pads are awesome for reducing the squeaks and creaks. Expect things to break and need tightening.