Converting your van into a home is not as difficult as it seems. With prudence and creativity, nothing is impossible. At least, you have a vehicle to start with. One of the best ways to get an idea of what it will take to convert your van into a home is guess what? By taking a look at some van homes!
You might be thinking that this task requires technical knowledge or experience, but it doesn’t. There are prefab options you can get elsewhere with installation service. But if you prefer a more customized design, you can hire a handyman near you.
Everything depends on your plan. When planning to convert your van into a home, you should follow a simple process. It is not bad to ask somebody or search online for useful resources like the article you are reading.
To help you, here are 7 tips to turn your van into a home:
Table of Contents
1. Know Your Budget
This is the most important part of the process. Your budget will determine the result of your van’s conversion. Of course, it‘s not enough you have some cash. It’s also important you know the estimated cost of converting your van depending on the result you have in mind.
Sure it would be ideal to just hire a company that can manage the entire process for you from scratch. However, this may cost you much higher as compared to buying the tools and the materials by yourself.
There are costs you need to take note of such as:
If you decide that you will convert your van into a home by yourself, make sure you have the right tools or equipment to do so. But if you believe that finances won’t be an issue, you can dive right into the conversion process.
2. Know Your Van
Whether your van is old or new, be aware of some of its features such as
- Available space
- Electrical connections
- Load capacity
- Risk factors
- Surface compatibility
- Removable body parts
- Repairable areas.
All these will tell you which to change and which to be preserved.
The available space will determine the size of furniture and appliances that fit the interior. Moreover, the location of the prefab sink and toilet must give way to customization of built-in cabinets that will accommodate some appliances.
This can be much easier if you know where to place the plugs and switches according to the existing location of electrical wiring. Also, consider the hazards involved in the installation of the cooking range or fridge.
Comfort and convenience may be your priority. However, don’t forget that your van may need some repairs in the future. There may be areas you will find hard to open in the future in case they need repairing. It is recommended to ask a mechanic if such repair is possible when a particular item is installed there permanently.
3. Design Your Needs
When you know what your van can offer your conversion, you can then design the interior based on your needs. Since the space is limited, everything you put inside must be functional. If you don’t need too many beds or too much legroom, you can incorporate some items that are more functional depending on your need.
In designing your van, it helps to measure the exact space that can be consumed by whatever will be installed there. This can be done by determining the standard models of appliance items you will have installed. Then, you create a miniature scale model of the design to experiment with how it looks and how you can move things around.
Your design must also coincide with your budget. It helps when you can invest more in customization. If there is a need to extend the roof vertically to reduce the clutter below, this can enhance the functionality of the space. Remember that you’re building a home out of your van.
4. Find the Right Location To Convert Your Van
It might be easy to make do with the very little space of your van’s interior, but it’s a different story if the place where your van’s conversion is being worked on is a very tight or narrow garage.
The success of converting your van lies in the convenience and flexibility of the location. This is why it is also worth considering renting a workspace for your conversion. There are location factors you should take into account like the weather, accessibility and more.
Also, ask yourself if the location is accessible for third-party service providers who you might hire to carry out some custom work.
5. Upgrade Your Van’s Energy Saving Mechanism
Inside our home, almost everything is powered by electricity. Such amount of energy consumed cannot be supplied by your van’s existing battery. You will need to install some energy-saving apparatus such as an inverter.
Some motorhome vehicle owners would only carry with them their conventional diesel-fueled generators and use them during a stopover. However, the size of generators varies depending on the model. Unfortunately, most of them consume a lot of space. Therefore, it is much better if the entire motorhome works the same as a smart home.
Nevertheless, you can install a solar pack that will power some of your van’s devices instead. You can also use an additional car battery to power the lighting and sound system.
Aside from these alternative options, nothing is ever greater than going green. Meaning, you can manually save energy by not using electricity when it is unnecessary to do so. Just make sure the ventilation inside is ideal (why is this ideal and important?)
6. Test Drive
The result of your conversion must be tested immediately so that you can address any potential problems right away. The first thing to focus on is the suspension and shock absorbers. Shock absorbers that are too soft can destroy or break anything inside as though you’re inside your home in the middle of an earthquake so be extra careful when driving on rough roads.
The next thing you should watch out for is the built-in wall panels and cabinets. Loose objects can fall out of the cabinets if not secured properly or can simply break against the built-in wall panels.
Lastly, check whether your family is comfortable during the trip. This is the main reason why you convert your van to a home. Observe whether the passenger inside would not have to wear a seat belt while dining or drinking some coffee. And anyone who is sleeping during the trip, ask of their experience. If the experience is unsatisfactory, don’t hesitate to bring the van back to the shop.
7. Update Your Van’s Insurance
Don’t forget that your van, when converted, is no longer the same registered van. The category should become “motorhome.” You can find an insurer that offers comprehensive coverage on converted vans.
Some insurers might have strict requirements. They will ask you for documents which you will need to get from government offices. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the documents that you will require in advance to save you from any negative outcomes.
If you don’t prefer fully comprehensive motorhome insurance, you can also choose a third party, or fire and theft insurance. The latter seems to be a necessary option.
Turning your van into a home should not necessarily be complicated. It should be as convenient as the outcome. If you still find it difficult to do so due to several factors such as time and other personal matters, there are van conversion companies that may be able to help you. They provide complete conversion service at a fixed cost. All you have to do is show or tell them what you want out of your van home and they will design it for you!
They will also help you in processing and updating your van’s insurance. The only challenge is to find the best one according to your requirement. But if you prefer to convert it by yourself, the tips above can greatly assist you in getting your van to home conversion started.