Can I build my own camper? (A complete guide)

In this short article, we will answer the following question: Can I build my own camper? We will guide you to build a camper step-by-step. 

Can I build my own camper?

Yes, you can build your own camper, and the good news is that you don’t even need experience or great handiness skills to do it.  Camper vans are those that have everything you need inside so that one can transport and live in them without having to spend more than food and gasoline, of course! 

It is a way of travelling with accommodation in tow, but without having to drive a very large vehicle or with as many restrictions to parking it as with the motorhome.

Why build your own camper:

  • Freedom of design;
  • It is cheaper than buying a new RV;
  • You can add as much furniture to it as you like;
  • The option of installing a shower (dry or wet bath);
  • The possibility to make it custom made. 

Of course, there are many, many other reasons why you should go ahead and finally build your own dream camper. To help you, we created this guide. 

Build your own camper: step by step

When launching into camperization, a series of considerations will have to be taken into account to ensure that, on the one hand, the van-home perfectly adapts to what one wants and, on the other, complies with all regulations. 

These are the first steps to undertake the task:

  1. Choice and purchase of the vehicle. The first thing to decide is what kind of vehicle is the one that best suits each one, since, having all its advantages and disadvantages, there is no one that is more recommended than another. One of the points to take into account is the size, which will depend on the number of people who are going to travel and sleep in the van.

With a smaller one, you will be sacrificing space to increase the manoeuvrability of the vehicle, with a larger one, you will lose manoeuvrability. If you are going to buy second-hand, you will also have to take into account the mileage, the years of age, the fuel, the state in which it is and that it is up to date both in the ITV and in the reviews.

Another option is to get a second-hand ambulance, which will surely be cheaper and, in addition, the electrical installation will already be done. Like everything, it depends on how far the budget can be stretched.

  1. Planning and interior design. Once you have the vehicle, it is essential to plan how space is going to be distributed, since if not, then the lamentations may arrive. It is just as important to anticipate where the lights, bathrooms and furniture will be placed since much of the decisions that are made later will depend on this.

To develop a 3D plan of the interior, there are several online tools that will facilitate the task, since they give a very real result and will be of great help to develop ideas.

  1. Insulation. To avoid being very cold in winter and suffocating heat in summer, it is necessary to insulate the interior of the vehicle. To do this, there are different materials, but one of the most recommended for its value for money is rock wool, which can be wrapped in plastic to also isolate it from moisture.

Before proceeding, it is advisable to leave the tubes and cable macaroni in place, as this will greatly simplify the subsequent electrical and plumbing installation. Once both the floor and the walls are insulated, the interior will have to be panelled.

To do this, it is important to use a material that supports the humidity and the weight of the furniture, but which in turn is not too heavy, since otherwise, it could end up increasing fuel consumption.

  1. Exterior elements. It is important, in the case of being a second-hand vehicle, to check the condition of the windows and skylights, as well as to decide if you want to add more. It is also advisable to include ventilation grills in the event that a refrigerator is to be installed indoors (which will have been decided in the planning).
  1. Electrical and plumbing installation. Thanks to the fact that the macaroni for the cables has been previously left, this task will be less burdensome. As for electricity, it is advisable to install a second battery under the seats to be able to use it when lighting the interior, plugging in an electrical appliance or charging electronic devices without having to leave the vehicle on.

For the plumbing, it will be necessary to decide whether to include a small bathroom with a shower and its corresponding heater and a mini portable chemical toilet similar to the one found in motorhomes. Depending on the use that will be given to the Camper, this installation is not important or, on the contrary, it is essential.

  1. Furniture and extras. When designing and building the furniture (it can also be purchased directly), it will be necessary to take into account what wood you want to use and the tools necessary to do so. The most advisable thing is to create structures that take advantage of all the small gaps and preferably folding to be able to collect or extend them depending on how you want to organize the space for each occasion.

Finally, you will also have to decide if you want to install solar panels, buy some type of heating (gas, stationary, firewood, etc.), what kind of mattress is the best.

  1. Homologation. Once all the modifications to the van have been completed, it will need to be homologated. Camperized vehicles must pass the extraordinary homologation check (every six months) unless anchoring systems have not been used in the installation, in which case the normal van check can be passed (every twelve months).

Before going to the review, an inspection will have to be passed and all the necessary documentation prepared: a conformity report from the official vehicle house, the camperization project carried out by a registered engineer and the assembly certificate in which it has been made.

  1. Insurance. As a Camper is a hybrid between car and home, it is possible that some doubts arise regarding the insurance to be contracted. WE recommend looking for one that takes into account the value of the camperization, that is, the furniture, batteries, solar panels, etc., since with common van insurance only the vehicle will be covered in case of robbery.

In addition, it is also important to contract a policy that includes the contents and luggage, in case it is damaged in an accident or stolen while the vehicle is parked.

Finally, to protect electronic devices such as cameras or laptops, sometimes it will be advisable to take out home insurance, but in these cases, it is best to inquire and ask questions before signing.

The bottom line

Of course, you can skip some of the above steps as it all depends on your vehicle, you can use the ones that are your priority, or add any other that you can think of; As you can see, the possibilities are endless, but with a little planning and ingenuity, you can bring to life a very complete vehicle, allowing you to live inside and travel around the world in great comfort.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments or questions about the content.

FAQ on Can I build my own camper?

What must be homologated in a camper?

The regulations say that every element that is fixed inside our van must be approved. This fixing can be with screws or simply glued. … So, if you want to build the interior of your camper without having to approve it, you will have to design the furniture so that it is not fixed.

How to homologate a van as a home?

In order to be approved as a camper or home, it is necessary to install at least the installation and legalization of a bed and a piece of furniture. With these two changes, we can now convert the van to a home van although we usually carry out many more reforms to make the van as comfortable as possible.

How hard is it to convert a van to a camper?

Some would say that converting a van to a camper is not hard at all, as long as you have all the right equipment and a good plan to follow.  If your intention is to convert the van into a home vehicle, it must have a good engine, offer great reliability and have spare parts that can be found easily.

References