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:

  1. 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.


  2. 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.


  3. Plan your build timeline - order of operations matters!

For our build we went in the following order:

  • Installed Roof Vents

  • Insulate

    • Floor (and then subfloor to protect it - don’t install final flooring yet)

    • Walls

  • Solar Roof Rack

  • Ceiling Insulation

  • Strapping on walls & ceiling

  • Finished ceiling & lights

  • Finished walls, sliding door and back doors

  • Painted walls

  • Installed heater

  • Finished Floors

  • 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

  • Decorate

  • Move in!

**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.