Van Build | DIY Camper Van Conversion

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Van Build | DIY Camper Van Conversion

Building our van is one of the most ambitious project we’ve ever done, but one of the most rewarding as well! We built ourselves a home and we’re proud of that. We’ve been doing the Vanlife full-time since August 2017… from the cold Canadian powder highway to colorful hot Mexico, our van has taken us to places we always dreamed about.

Below you’ll find all the details about our van conversion, but also extensive resources on how to build your own van: Guides, Tools, Calculators, Diagrams, Plans and more!

Happy build! 🙂
– Isabelle and Antoine

Van-Tour-Heading

Features

Van Tour

3D Model

Cost and Labor

Weight Summary

Repair Cost

Build Journal

Our Build Journal is a BIG DEAL! We obsessively documented the entire conversion process of our van: products, materials, build techniques, lessons learned, etc. Our Build Journal is presented sequentially and chronologically (pretty much in the same order as we built our van).

We're honored to be featured in

"The 9 Best Camper Vans of 2018"
Alongside OutsideVan , VW California , Winnebago Revel , Sportsmobile , and more. Wow! We're Speechless!

Tools and Calculators

Created to make your life easier.
Made with ❤️ from our van!

Van Electrical Calculator

Wire Gauge Calculator

Insulation Calculator

Diagrams and Plans

These are the plans we followed for our own van and that we've been using full time since 2017. Save time and take the guesswork out of the equation.
Build your van around systems that are safe, reliable and perform as they should.

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about us

Nice To Meet You.

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

102 thoughts on “Van Build | DIY Camper Van Conversion”

  1. Hi Antoine,
    I purchased your electrical diagram and it has been very helpful for us. Most other people ground their system directly to their van, but your diagram does not include that. Even with Google I’m having a hard time understanding the concept of a ground connection and why I would or would not need one. Do you have an article or could you explain why your system doesn’t need one and why another might?

    Reply
    • Dear Emily

      I only took a quick look at their electrical page.
      They do ground all their electrical loads. Its grounded to the negative pole of the battery.
      You always have to connect positive and negative cables to loads. depending on the current (ampere) you can use the car as negative (earth) or you better use the battery itself.
      So if you want to play it safe. connect your ground connections to the battery.

      all the best

      Reply
  2. There’s alot of information here. I am interested in doing a van build. The things that I will be using sometimes on a daily basis are:
    A gaming computer 4 hours
    A guitar amp (line 6 spider 150 watt into a 4 speaker cab)
    A mini fridge and/or freezer.
    Possibly a roof fan.

    I would be doing the cooking and bathroom stuff outside.

    Where do I start on what inverter , battery, what solar panel, and how much electricity would I be using?

    Reply
  3. Hi, Antoine

    I’m curious, what was the thinking behind getting 230amps Heavy Duty alternator with dual batteries and modified wiring? I’m very close to purchasing the same vehicle and wonder if you would suggest the same for me?

    Thanks, Patrick

    Reply
  4. Thank you for all the info!
    It’s a great website and very clear. I appreciate all the care and info – it’s definitely helping me make certain decisions.
    I want my van to be able to go into cold zones so that is a big benefit that you set up your van for colder weather. Most sites aren’t specific enough on this.
    I’m about to pick up my Promaster (FWD) and in the fall, begin my conversion. I’m really new to all this so there’s a lot of research and hoping my life experience translates to knowing my needs.
    I’m pretty sure I’m going with an electric cooktop, one burner, but you make a great case for propane (2 months is great for winter off-grid).
    You’ve got a full sized oven – do you use all 3 burners? Would you consider a smaller stove now that you been in the van for awhile? I like a roast every once on a while but cooktop cooking and a slow cooker might be enough for me. And it’s only me (older female). Any thoughts?
    I appreciate any suggestions.

    Reply
    • Hi!
      It’s very subjective, it totally depends on your cooking habits…

      We’re glad we went with that range (https://faroutride.com/wedgewood-vision-range-review/), it’s perfect for us. We do use the oven quite often (to make muffins, cookies, heat up pies or else, roast, etc.) and the 3 burners as well (we don’t use them simultaneously often, but it’s nice to have space to work with). It’s nice having a proper kitchen range being full-time in the van. For weekend adventures, it would probably be not necessary.

      Hope that helps! Good luck 🙂

      Reply
  5. Hi Antoine,

    This question might be more for Isabelle, depending on the cooking staff of the FarOuts. You guys have been cooking in the van for more than a year now, in a van sized not a home sized kitchen. I was wondering when you are going to start a new section on Van Life, the “Van Menu”. I bet by now, based on some of your pictures, you have some van favorites. We would be interested in your recipes, and also, what you think are your limitations? What is in your kitchen, physically, in terms of pots, pans, mixing bowls and gravy separators? (Did you cook a turkey at your Thanksgiving?) Are your dishes ceramic or plastic? Do you drink your beer out of proper glass pints? Are your coffee mugs fired or molded in plastic?

    Anyway, might be an interesting winter project…

    Cheers, Don

    PS. We ordered our van on the day before New Years. Mid height mid length in gem green. All the wiring options. Towing package. Power driver seat (may not be swivel able). Heated mirrors. Some other things, I dont remember.

    Reply
    • Hum… food for thought! Since we have stove & oven, I basically continue to cook like I used to at home. The kitchen is smaller but the countertop is spacious and we brought everything we needed to cook: 2 saucepans, 2 skillets, stainless steel/plastic bowls, strainers, graters, cooking tools, cookie sheet and metal muffin/cake/bread/lasagna pans. On top of that, I think it worth mentioning we dedicated quite a lot of space for our food; we have plenty of basic stuff such as flour, sugar, spices, etc. So, we’re not planning on having a “Van Menu” since I’m not cooking any special meals because we are living in a van…
      Also, we have Correlle plates/bowls (light and break-resistant), enamel steel/bamboo cups and plastic pint glasses. That’s pretty much it!

      Good luck with your build! Hopefully, the wait will not be too long before you receive the van!

      Reply
  6. Hi Guys.

    Well, our present 2000 E-150 is dead (and so unsafe that the mechanic won’t put it on a lift) so time to finally order a Transit.

    Some questions:

    after two years, what do you think of the heated mirrors?

    Re the ecoBoost engine, it seems to almost get the same MPG as the normal six. Forgetting cost, why would you go for it. I am worried about a turbo boasted engine.

    Lastly, why did you get a towing package? You don’t tow anything.

    Cheers, Don Kane

    Reply
    • Hi!
      The heated mirrors are great, I just wish the small bottom one (for blind spot) was heated too.
      Everyone who own an Transit with EcoBoost love it; there’s a lot of extra power. It’s a great engine. We didn’t go for it as we wanted to have a simple engine for reliability. I’m not saying the EcoBoost is not reliable; it’s just that more features means more opportunities for failure we thought.
      We got the tow package just in case; we’re not using it in fact.

      Hope that helps! Cheers!

      Reply
  7. When you were planning van choices, did you consider getting a low top transit and have a pop top installed like on a Sportmobile? The only thing I can see as a disadvantage getting a high top is that it could be difficult putting SUPs or kayaks up there. Also how does van handle cross winds?
    Great site, thanks for all the time you put into it!!

    Reply
    • Nothing against pop top, but for us it was out of question because:
      1) Winter. We ski so we want a fully insulated van.
      2) Full Time Living. It’s fine for “van-camping”, but for full time you want to minimize repetitive task; it gets irritating in the long run. We’re constantly going in-and-out of the van, having to pop it up/down each time would be annoying.

      Don’t worry about crosswinds, I think the rumors that high-roof are sensitive to wind comes from people who never drove one. Don’t get me wrong it’s a bit more effort than driving a car, but not that much.

      Reply
  8. Hi, how many miles have you put on the transit with what problems so far? I’m thinking of getting either the diesel engine or the one that you two got.

    Reply
  9. Do you think it worth to lift it? And you traveled a lot do you scrape the back a lot. I still not sure on the EX or the normal 148. It is just if I go little off road does travel well enough with your tires and not have to have it lifted to have the back part drag on Dips?

    Thank you again for sharing.

    Reply
  10. I can’t find accurate information anywhere on the transit’s ground clearance. Do you have exact specs? I even downloaded the owner’s manual and it doesn’t have it. One blog I found said 8.5″, same as Sprinter, but no official ford documentation I can find verifies that.

    Reply
  11. Ford Transit van has three body lengths. Ford calls them regular body (220 inches), extended body (236 inches), and long body (266 inches). The regular body sits on the regular wheelbase (130 inch) while the other two sit on the long wheelbase (148 inches). Base on your body code (R3X), your van is a long body (266 inches) instead of an extended body. Do you agree?

    The long body model is longer than the most popular full-sized pickup trucks, i.e., the extended cabs. The extended body is the same length as the double cab. Did you find parking and parking lot maneuver a little difficult? Thanks.

    Reply
    • We have the longest of all models. We don’t spend much time in urban area, but we always manage to find parking and to drive around town fairly easily. You get use to parallel too. Of course if you spend much time in cities, you might want to go a little smaller for more maneuverability…

      Cheers!

      Reply
  12. Your website is amazing! You are inspiring me to build a van similar to yours.

    The things that concern me most about this lifestyle are a) having to park at Walmart or KOA for most of the year because I’m not brave enough to find the good spots or drive into them, and b) being an older (62) single (but healthy) woman trying to build this van and then taking it into challenging places by myself. I’m a musician so would do a lot of music festivals and such, but I definitely want to chase some snow sometimes and explore the great outdoors.

    Do you often take your van out of cell phone range to park it? As if, if you got stuck you’d have to hike a good distance to get a phone connection to call for help?

    How many miles do you average each year?

    Sorry if I asked questions already answered.

    Thank you so much for sharing the details of what you are doing. I really enjoy reading about your adventure.
    Lauren

    Reply
  13. Hey guys,

    17 weeks and I finally got my black LWB HR van. It’s sweet and it’s BIG and the first thing I did was paint my hubcaps black and they look awesome!. A question for you: have you considered a bumper guard?

    Reply
  14. Bonjour,j’aimerais savoir si le Ford transit camper van est fabriquĂ© Ă  l’usine de Ford,Soit la transformation de simple fourgon Ă  camper van? Merci.

    Reply
    • Le Transit peut ĂŞtre commandĂ© en tant que CARGO (complètement vide, vĂ©hicule commerciale) ou en tant que vĂ©hicule PASSAGER (avec plusieurs rangĂ©s de sièges). Nous avons achetĂ© le Cargo et nous avons fait la transformation nous-mĂŞme tel que dĂ©crit ici: faroutride.com/build-journal

      Au plaisir!

      Reply
  15. Hey guys! Just took delivery of my factory-ordered 2018 van. May have made a mistake ordering the rear AC/heat, as it is a big unit sitting on the floor at the back, taking up room where the bike trays (road and Mtn bikes). I’m assuming you don’t have this unit – do you miss not having rear AC/heat? In the desert, would you want it? Obviously only runs when the engine is running.
    Will relay comments later on Scopema swivel seats, etc.

    Reply
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