2020 was a pivotal year for van life. With international travel coming to a near standstill, many travel enthusiasts took to the roads, some in RVs, but a significant number in custom-built DIY camper vans. The allure of camper vans is undeniable, especially when you consider the cost-effectiveness of building one yourself.

What is a Camper Van?

A camper van, at its core, is a van that’s been transformed into a mobile living space. Most camper vans come equipped with a sleeping area, a kitchenette, and some even boast toilets or full wet baths. The beauty of a DIY van build is that it can be crafted from virtually any type of van, ranging from a compact mini-van to a spacious sprinter van or even a mini-bus.

Top DIY Campervan Builds of 2020

DIY Stealth Camper

This 1994 GMC Rally STX 5.7l V8 is a testament to budget-friendly builds. With a total cost of just $5.5k for both the van and the build, it’s a steal. Features include:

  • Solar power
  • Permanent bed
  • Kitchen area
  • Workspace
  • Storage
  • Toilet

Owner Spotlight: Travis Coseentino, the mastermind behind this stealth van, works for Tiny Home Tours as a videographer. Living full-time in his van, he traverses the country, connecting with other tiny home enthusiasts.

Bus Shuttle Conversion Van

John and Ina’s 2004 Ford E-450 shuttle bus conversion is nothing short of impressive. Originally serving as a transport shuttle for the elderly, it’s now a fully-equipped mobile home. Highlights include:

  • Wet bath with a composting toilet
  • Ample storage
  • Separate kitchen area
  • Raised bed

Travel Tales: John, Ina, and their dog, Abbie, have journeyed across most of the USA and even ventured into Mexico.

Louis the Van

This hyper-modern, sleek van build is a sight to behold. Built on a black 159” wheelbase high-roof Dodge Ram Promaster 2500, its interiors are a blend of art and functionality. Standout features:

  • Tile-to-wood floor transition
  • Waterproof flooring with a low point drain
  • Convertible shower space
  • Onboard electric water heater

Builder’s Note: Seth and Scarlett from LTV Customs, a van life couple, are the brains behind this exquisite build.

DIY Promaster

Courtnie and Nate’s 2017 Ram Promaster 2500, built on the 159” wheelbase, is a cozy home on wheels. Designed with a white and brown theme, it exudes warmth and spaciousness. Key elements:

  • Farmhouse-style kitchen
  • Convertible U-shaped bed
  • Dedicated space for their dog

On the Road: This duo spends most of their time along the Southern California coast, embracing the van life.

Converted Minivan Camper

Kyle and Madison’s minivan conversion is a masterclass in optimizing space. While not their full-time residence, it’s perfect for weekend getaways. Features to note:

  • Convertible bed-couch setup
  • Underfloor storage
  • Kitchenette with sink and running water

Travel Bug: Self-proclaimed travel addicts, Kyle and Madison often share their adventures on Instagram and YouTube.

Super Sleek Camper Van DIY

Embodying luxury, this van build is reminiscent of a yacht. With marble countertops, a king-sized bed, and a bathroom, it’s a dream on wheels. Built by Peya over a year and a half, it’s based on a 2014 Ram Promaster 3500.

Convertible Bed Camper

Taylor and Kevin’s 2015 2500 Mercedes Sprinter Van is a marvel of design and functionality. The bed, which runs lengthwise from the back of the van, can be converted into a dinette-style booth.

DIY Ford Transit Camper

Named Wilson, this Ford Transit 250 campervan is reminiscent of a quaint cabin. With fresh and gray water tanks mounted underneath and a hot water heater, it’s built for convenience.

Rustic Van Conversion

This 1986 Westfalia DIY camper van conversion redefines rustic charm. With a DIY high-top built out of wood and a wood-burning stove, it’s a cozy retreat.

Big Bathroom DIY Camper

This 2018 Ford Transit van build is the epitome of luxury. With a partition wall, a stunning bathroom, and a sleek design, it’s a mobile haven.
The world of DIY campervan conversions is vast and varied. Each build reflects the personality, needs, and aspirations of its creator. In this segment, we’ll delve deeper into the nuances of campervan conversions, offering insights, tips, and addressing frequently asked questions.

The Anatomy of a Perfect Campervan Conversion

Every campervan conversion is unique, but there are certain elements that can elevate a build from good to great. Here’s a breakdown:

Choosing the Right Base Vehicle

Vehicle Type Pros Cons
Mini-van Compact, stealthy, fuel-efficient Limited space
Sprinter Van Spacious, high roof, customizable More expensive, less stealthy
Shuttle Bus Large space, unique layout Less fuel-efficient, requires more maintenance

Essential Features for Comfortable Living

Feature Importance
Insulation Crucial for temperature regulation
Ventilation Prevents condensation and ensures fresh air
Solar Panels Provides sustainable energy for appliances
Storage Solutions Maximizes space and keeps the van organized
Convertible Furniture Allows for multipurpose use of limited space

The Cost Factor

One of the most frequently asked questions is about the cost of a DIY campervan conversion. While the price can vary based on the vehicle, materials, and features chosen, here’s a rough estimate:

Item Estimated Cost
Base Vehicle $5,000 – $40,000
Insulation & Ventilation $500 – $2,000
Electrical Setup (including solar) $1,000 – $4,000
Interior Build (furniture, kitchen, bed) $2,000 – $10,000
Total $8,500 – $56,000

Frequently Asked Questions

The duration can vary based on the complexity of the build and the individual’s experience. On average, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

It’s essential to check local regulations regarding vehicle modifications, especially concerning electrical and plumbing installations. Additionally, some regions may have restrictions on where you can park and live in your campervan.

Regular vehicle maintenance is crucial. Additionally, the living space may need periodic checks, especially the electrical and plumbing systems.