Jumping into van life and living in a home on wheels doesn’t mean you need to give up comfort or modernity.
This book will guide you through every step, from choosing a van, to designing the layout, to plumbing and electrical systems, to self-building your new dream home — all in as little as 21 days.
We built our dream van with zero prior experience! Before the build, we had desk jobs — and had never even touched many of the tools we used.
We cover every step of the process with charts, lists, photos, and descriptions to help you design and build your own campervan or motorhome from scratch.
We spent 9 months planning for our build, scouring an overwhelming number of articles and videos for the best and most useful information. This book will save you months of research, and help you make fewer mistakes.
Yes, it’s absolutely possible! Even with zero previous experience in electrical, plumbing or carpentry, we built our first-ever van in 21 days.
STEP 1: FANS INSTALLATION:
If you’re planning on living in your van full-time or at least for longer than a weekend at a time, then having fans in your van is essential. It will help you keep the van cool when it’s hot and avoid smell and fumes build up when you cook.
STEP 2: SOLAR PANELS
Most campervans have between 1 and 3 solar panels. Each solar panel typically rates between 100W to 250W. You'll learn how to wire your solar panels and install them on your roof
STEP 3: ELECTRICAL ROUGHING:
This consists of laying out all wires that you will need for your van. It’s important to do this step early in the build because it’s obviously way easier to fit in cables before you put in the insulation and walls.
STEP 4: WALLS INSULATION
Insulation is important to keep your van temperate when it’s either cold or hot outside. It also helps reduce noise. There are many different ways (and opinions on how) to insulate your van - from foam boards, spray foam, fiberglass and reflective foil.
STEP 5: SHOWER FRAMING
If you’ve decided to build an indoor shower, then building the frame of it is the first step toward adding this (luxurious?) part of your build.
STEP 6: FRESH WATER TANK:
The fresh water tank will hold your fresh (i.e "clean") water. You can install the tank inside your van or underneath (recommended to save space). You'll learn how to secure the tank to the van and add a water gauge and plumbing fittings.
STEP 7: GREY WATER TANK
Grey water tanks are typically smaller than fresh water tanks since you can empty them regularly. We recommend using a water tank sender arm and gauge to monitor the water level so you can know when you need to empty it.
STEP 8: PLUMBING PART 1
Plumbing may seem overwhelming… but it’s actually pretty easy and fun!
We’ll guide you through each step of the plumbing, starting with the fresh water system, then the grey water.
STEP 9: ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
We will be guiding you through building your electrical system.
We will teach a simple process to help you build your custom electrical system.
CEILING INSULATION & FRAMING
Today, we'll tackle insulating the ceiling as well as framing the walls and ceiling. We found that doing them together makes the job easier.
STEP 11: HANGING CABINETS
Hanging cabinets are great for storing your towels, clothes, and food. You can also add lighting to make it extra cozy.
STEP 12: SHOWER TRAY & FAN
We'll now continue working on the indoor shower. We'll show you how to install the shower tray and drain. Then, we'll have a shower light and fan.
SHOWER WET PANELS & FRAMING
Today, we’ll be finishing our indoor shower! We will be adding the shower wet panels to make the inside of the shower waterproof.
And finally, we’ll finish framing the outside of the shower wall and add a door.
STEP 14: PLUMBING PART 2
We will now tackle the rest of the plumbing. Now, that the shower walls are in place, you will be able to hook up the shower mixer and shower head.
We will also layout the plumbing for the outdoor shower (if needed) and sink.
STEP 15: OUTDOOR SHOWER
Installing the outdoor shower, once you’ve done all the plumbing, is actually extremely easy.
You'll just need to cut another big hole in your van, but, by now, you should be an expert at that!
STEP 16: BED FRAME
Today, we'll show you how to build your bed frame.
We will be storing a lot of things underneath our bed frame so we're making it two "stories" so we can add drawers in the back.
STEP 17: PAINTING & STAINING
This step really makes your van come to life!
You will need multiple layers of stains and paint but the finish will really be worth it.
STEP 18: KITCHEN
We'll show you how to set up your kitchen, add countertops, drawers, a fridge and more.
STEP 19: SOFA
Today, we’ll be building a small sofa.
First, we’ll build the frame for it using structural timber. Then, we’ll build cushions that act as a hatch. We like this solution because it allows you to store a huge amount of goods underneath the sofa and the cushion / hatch makes it really easy to access.
STEP 20: STORAGE & FLOORS
Today, we'll build drawers for our back storage. Then, we'll tackle the flooring in our "kitchen"
STEP 21: FINISHES
You will likely have your own list of to-dos to make your van perfect, but we'll show several little additions we thought you might like to think about.