Hands-On Help with Design/Build


Hey Vanlife community!

I’m looking at purchasing a dodge sprinter and beginning a conversion, but I’m afraid if I do the build completely on my own, it may not turn out very professional. I have a good amount of knowledge in this category, but I am not the most skilled builder. I know there are companies who will do the build for you, but they are all too expensive.

I’m wondering if there is, not a company but perhaps an individual, who I could talk to that would be able to help me design the van and a step by step plan, or perhaps, even someone who lives in my area who would be interested in helping me with the build.


Greetings & Welcome!

You didn’t mention where you’re at…

Switching to simple, portable, modular builds was one of the best moves I’ve ever made, maybe something worth considering.


"Homelessness is vandwelling minus the romanticism. " ~ Terri Travels


This sounds like a much better idea then letting someone else build the van because you’ll learn a ton and it will be a better decision in the long run. However, if you’re down to spending a ton of time researching i’m sure you’ll find everything on the internet. Either you’re going to have to pay with your money(by hiring someone to mentor you), or your time (by researching your self). It’s up to you and depends on your financial situation.


If you go with the research option this forum along with others can help you out a ton with any specific questions you may have that are difficult/impossible to find online.


Welcome to the community @jakehenderson!

When I built out my Nissan NV2500, I chose a hybrid of DIY and hiring out contractors. I personally chose to hire a professional to do all the electrical and to install my vent fan and windows (basically everything that required cutting a hole in the van). I am very glad I hired out this work to someone who 100% knew what they were doing, because these are things that can really cause problems in the long-run if not done correctly. Things like carpentry, though difficult, don’t necessarily have to be done perfectly and you can always start with simple and upgrade later.

When it comes to design, I recommend cutting up cardboard to the size of your bed and cabinetry and taping it inside your van to get a solid feel for your layout. It sounds silly but it’s SO valuable to stand in the space and have a real understanding of what it will be like when it’s done.

I hope this helps!!


Where are you located?


Thank you VacayVans! Your response was very helpful. I think I’ll do something similar - some work on my own and hire out contractors for other parts.


Very true. That’s a good point. Thank you!


That’s a good perspective. Thank you for the feedback!


There are plenty of people through forums just like this one… I still spend dozens of hours every week talking/coaching people through questions/hurdles for free because I love the process and want to be helpful where I can.

I think it’s just a balance as a first time builder of diving far enough in to have specific questions you can ask here or by email/phone or around a campsite… or else you’re expecting someone else to do everything for you (but for free)- which is why van build businesses started in the first place. :wink:

If you don’t have all the skills/knowledge already, by far the most affordable way to complete the build (yet have a working/functioning home that won’t have to be rebuilt and/or catch on fire) is to act as your own “general contractor”, where you do the parts you are comfortable with and then hire out to subcontractors the parts that you’re not comfortable with.