Are you looking into converting your own van?
Here are 5 things you should know before taking the big step.
1. YOU MIGHT END UP SPENDING MORE THAN YOU THINK
Unless you’ve already budgeted every single material of your conversion, your project might cost you more than you initially thought. Camper van specific material can be SO overpriced it’s ridiculous. You will probably be able to spend less on some aspects of the conversion but might need to splurge on others (aka good battery, solar panels, decent insulation). Also you’ll find that all of those little extras you didn’t account for at first (eg. drill bits, electrical connectors, corner braces) will add up to form a considerable expense. Who new hardware could be this expensive?
2. YOU WILL THINK ABOUT YOUR CONVERSION ALL THE TIME
Especially if you’re planning to move into your van, the conversion will be a very important project for you. More than the physical energy that this will take, you should be aware of the mental energy you will be investing in it. From the research, the design and the build your brain will be constantly finding solutions to the problems you are facing. You’ll wake up thinking about your van and fall asleep thinking about it. Any time you’ll be out and about you’ll be scouting for ideas, materials and items you could implement in your project. If you see someone walking around the city with a massive pallet on their back, don’t judge, it could be you.
3. YOUR NEIGHBORS WILL HATE YOU
You know the feeling when it’s 9am on a Sunday morning and you hear someone on your retired neighborhood mowing their front garden when all you want is to sleep? You will be that retired neighbor. You will annoy everyone with your jigsawing, cutting and cursing. You will wake up super early to make the most out of a sunny day and fit your roof vent and you spend hours sanding a piece of wood when everybody is on their couch watching tv. The more rushed you are to finish the van, the more annoying you will be. Be a nice human, bring them cake.
4. YOUR LOCAL DIY SHOP WILL BECOME YOUR SECOND HOME
The sales assistants will recognize you and either smile at you or run from you (depending on how many questions you ask). You will spend a LOT of time on DIY shops, confused in front of the massive selection of screws, deciding which drawer slides are better and meditating on whether varnish would be better than wax on your kitchen cabinet. Most of the times, either on your way back from the shop on just when you are starting to do some work on your van, you’ll realize that you forgot to buy the thing you went in for or that the thing you got isn’t the right one. It sucks and it will happen. Often.
5. YOU WILL CRY OUT OF FRUSTRATION
Converting a van requires many skills, some you might already have some you might not. As with any kind of learning, you will make mistakes and you will be disappointed at yourself. You will try to make things work and they wont. You will cut your kitchen worktop just a little too much and you’ll have to do it again. Your lights won’t work, you will have to take everything out, check all the connections and refit everything only to realize that you didn’t earth the negative cable. You will have days where nothing goes the way it’s supposed to go and you’ll end up crying in your van hugging a screwdriver.
All of this sounds dreadful huh?
Don’t worry, it’s gonna be ok. Everybody was once a beginner.
You will eventually be able to wake up in your van, look around you and say to yourself:
I built this.
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4 thoughts on “5 things you should know BEFORE converting your van”
Yes, I recognize the feeling when it really works! And if it doesn’t…. I converted my Kangoo five times allready, and finally now it;s becoming the van I have in mind! And still, I tried some wintercamping and it was freezing; every morning waking up and thinking “this can be better, that is more convenient…..”, then making a cup of coffee, back in the sleeping bag with the little dog and keep smiling, cause it’s the van that you dreamed off and that you build!
Oh dear I can relate to this article so well! I’m not even done with my van conversion, but the time I’ve already spent in DIY shops, on Instagram hunting van conversion ideas and the garage making a lot of noise is ridiculous! 😀 the frustration is also quite high, because NOTHING ever works as you might have planned or expected it to and it ALWAYS takes longer than anticipated. But I’m super motivated by people like you, to see why I’m doing this and to always remember why it will be worth it. Thanks and keep it up!
YES Maren! Sending you a virtual pat on the shoulder 😀