Converting a van without considering the build order is like trying to cook lobster thermidor
without a recipe; you might get there, but it'll be a messy and stressful process. In this article we will look at the step by step process for how to convert your van into a campervan - from the very start to the very end. This build order guide will be your roadmap so you know exactly where you sit in the overall process. By the end you will have a really good idea of everything that is involved in a van conversion and how long you can expect it to take. I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for many years, I'm the author of The Van Conversion Newsletter, van conversion instructor at Udemy, and the proud owner of a beautiful self-build campervan called Beans. So let's jump in and have a look at your van conversion build order!
Build order overview (9 step process)
Note: Before we hop in, you might want to grab yourself a wiring diagram which you can get for free by signing up to The Van Conversion Newsletter (the wiring diagram gets sent to you straight away!).
Step 1: Planning
Take precise measurements of your van
Do many design iterations; on paper or using a software like Vanspace3D
Tape the floor of your van with masking tape so you know where everything will go!
I wrote an in-depth article on how to design your van conversion here.
b. Plan the project
A goal without a plan is merely a dream. Use a gantt chart, kanban board, todo list, or any other productivity tools to ensure you stay on top of your build and do the work!.
I wrote an in-depth article on project management for van conversions here. I've been a software developer, project manager, and CEO in the past - so take my word on this one: PLAN!
Step 2: Preparation
Get your van to a garage for a routine checkup before you begin - doubtless there will be things that need attention!
b. Clean out the van
Remove anything that was in the van when you bought it (builder's shelves, etc.)
Remove the bulkhead
c. De-rust the van
De-rust the van before doing anything (rust remover, wire brush, and metal paint)
I wrote an article on removing rust from your campervan here.
d. Install a swivel seat / captain's chair (optional)
e. Install a window
Cut a hole in the side of your van and slap a window on there!
I wrote an article on how to install a window in your campervan, which you can find here.
f. Install a fan
Cut a hole in the roof of the van and pop a fan in (I used a Propex HS2000 heater)
I wrote an article on how to install a fan in your campervan, which you can find here.
g. Install the plethora of inlets required
Install a gas inlet (if you are using a refillable gas bottle) - read the guide
Install a fresh water inlet (optional) - read the guide
Install a solar panel inlet (for the cables coming from the solar panels on the roof) - read the guide
Install the heater inlets (two needed for the Propex HS2000: exhaust and fresh air inlet)
Install the mains electrical inlet (shore power) - read the guide
Install a toilet cassette inlet (optional)
h. Install an awning (optional)
You need to do this before cladding your van as the awning must be bolted on!
i. Soundproof your van
Stop the rattles - Dodo deadmat is the most popular option for sound-deadening a campervan.
I wrote an article about how to sound deaden your van here.
j. Install a ladder and/or spare wheel (optional)
The ladder is highly optional - I probably didn't need one, though it's useful for clearing snow off the solar panels. Read the guide here.
The spare wheel is pretty important if you don't already have one installed. Read the guide here.