A stretch of endless roadway and the company of a good co-pilot is the dream for many people searching to road trip their way to adventures. For some, this dream stretches into months of driving, camping, and exploring different places. Whether the travel dream is months long or just for a few days, a cool ride can make the trip that much smoother.
A popular way of living out this traveller and camper dream is to convert an old van into a home on wheels. This makes for a place where it is possible to work, sleep, and live in a mobile apartment.
Making this dream a reality involves several steps and careful planning. The first, and possibly most important part, is setting a realistic budget for a renovation project. This helps in planning and making smart decisions in the van conversion process.
Finding the Right Van
Beyond budget, having the van itself is an understandably important aspect. There are many makes and models of vans that could make for a good mobile home. If the plan is to strip the van of interior and rebuild, the current aesthetic or condition might not matter that much.
Choosing a van with little to no current mechanical issues can help in the budgeting process. Finding the right van could take a while and should be carefully considered. There are many scrapyards or car buy-back locations where finding an older or damaged van is a possibility. A company specialising in car removal in Perth is a great example of one of these businesses.
Strip the Van
To really customise and make the van a home away from home, all internal fixtures should be stripped. Depending on the van’s original purpose, this might include caging or shelving. For others, it might mean seat removal.
Do also take out front seats and set them aside in a safe location – those will go back in later.
In the preparation phase, deep clean the van. Strip away dirt, grime, and dust build up in every inch of the van. Find rust spots and grind them away. This also includes tight corners where you might need a small wire brush to get rid of the rust.
It is important to thoroughly clean the van prior to painting or installing any new features. This deep clean presents an opportunity to get ahead of any future issues – like rust – which you can also prevent with anti-rust paint.
With temperatures bound to drop at some point in your travels, insulation is critical and essential for van conversion. There are several steps to this process that involve further research, or possibly even bringing in an expert for installation.
The next step in the conversion process is to break out the woodworking tools and create some flooring. This part could also be carpet depending on preference.
You first attach a subfloor to secure it to the metal floor. It is placed like a jigsaw puzzle with each piece cut to fit where it belongs. Then you work on filling, screw holes and caulk exposed seams.
Put Up Some Walls
To build walls, basically put up rectangles. Some areas will need to be curved to fit around wheel wells and other curved parts. Walls are secured using braces. This portion requires patience as every area needs to be covered by wood. This might mean making custom pieces for tight spaces and will require patience.
At this point, also think about interior builds over the wheel wells. This can later become the bed base, so make sure they are the desired height.
Design and Execute
Once all the foundational work is done, it is time to design and execute the interior of the new home. This includes a bed and living area as well as a kitchen. Don’t let the van size limit you – get creative!
A van kitchen can also double as a dining area. A bed can convert to a couch. Storage can be in the ceiling, tucked under the bed, built into a shelf, or elsewhere. A stool can also be a trashcan. The limit is your imagination.
Light It Up
The design aspect is truly dependent on personal preference in the van conversion process. Once that is done, it is time to return to the essentials. In this case, any lighting or appliance needs. Yes, a van can still have a working stove or other appliances. Some even have a dishwasher!
Creating energy for these can be done through solar panels on the roof of the van. Solar power can be wired into the van and then operate lights, stove, and other electrical appliances.
Once all of this is completed, revisit for some odds and ends. This might mean an exterior coat of paint, staining wood, or decorative accents. Have fun with it and make the van your home. Then, take the newly converted mobile home out for an adventure.