Why You Should Reconsider a DIY Camper Van Conversion
Few trends have exploded in recent years like the world of converted camper vans. Sprinter van conversions have quickly gone from fringe lifestyle to mainstream craze.
As you scroll through the millions of #vanlife photos and videos on social media, you’ll likely see images of people enjoying luxurious vans off-grid in beautiful, remote locations. Without a doubt, traveling the world in a camper van has major appeal, especially during a time when many of us are feeling trapped at home.
As the trend has grown, so has the number of people who try to take on the project of converting a van themselves. Taking on a DIY van conversion might seem like a fun and rewarding project at first, but many people end up in over their heads.
Fortunately, the #vanlife craze has also spawned hundreds of new van conversion companies, many of which can help you realize your dream adventures without the headache of a DIY build.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important things you need to know about converting your own camper van. These are the pointers that so many aspiring van lifers wish they had known before starting on their own custom Sprinter van conversion.
It’s Not as Cheap as You Think
If there is a single reason why many people choose to take on a DIY van conversion, it’s money. Most people think that they can cut costs by building out a high roof van such as a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Ford Transit van, or Ram Promaster.
A lot of people start by mapping out a budget for their custom van build. You try to think of every component and all the materials that will go into building out your van. You factor in your composting toilet, your roof racks, solar panels, and even the components of your water system and electrical system. At this stage, you’re probably feeling pretty good about how much this project is going to cost.
As you dive in on the build, however, you’re likely to quickly realize just how many hidden costs are associated with a custom Sprinter van conversion.
There is always going to be specialized fasteners, adhesives, and other materials that you just can’t account for when you are planning your build – not to mention the costs associated with making mistakes and having to do things twice. These expenses add up fast, and can result in thousands of unplanned dollars spent by the time you have finished the project.
It’s Not as Easy as You Think
When all you’re seeing on social media are images of beautifully completed van builds, it’s easy to get sucked into wanting the finished product without considering how much work it takes to get there. Building an adventure van is a full-time job that requires a lot of expertise.
There are a lot of aspects of building out a camper van that are easily overlooked but very important to consider. One prime example is the challenge of building in a space that is not square. The interior walls of cargo vans are curved and irregular, with metal support beams all over the place and not a single right angle in sight.
Building a clean-looking and structurally sound camper conversion is an entirely different task than building something similar in a home or another square space.
The reality of building a camper van conversion is a lot less romantic than the idea of doing it. Unless you are one of the few people with the money, time, and skill to pull it off, you’re probably better off using a professional conversion company.
Safety is Critical
This brings us to our next point, and it’s a crucial one: It’s one thing to build a camper van that looks good and has good functionality. It’s another thing entirely to build one that is truly safe on the road.
Safety in a custom Sprinter van comes down to two main aspects: securing materials, and onboard systems.
Everything in the living area of your van build must be completely secure and structurally sound enough to stay put, even in the case of a crash. If items go flying during an accident, they could pose an extreme safety hazard to any passengers.
Additionally, all onboard systems need to be built in accordance with the highest safety standards. This includes any electrical components as well as any propane hoses and appliances.
Simply knowing that you should build your van out safely is not enough – you need to have the skills and knowledge required to follow through. An easy way to ruin a road trip is to stop suddenly when a deer crosses the road in front of you, only to have an overhead cabinet come flying off its fasteners!
What About Using a Professional Camper Van Builder?
If we haven’t yet scared you off from the world of camper vans altogether, you might be wondering how you can still take part in this attractive lifestyle without the burden of converting your own camper van.
Hiring a professional camper van conversion company is a great option for many people. You can work with conversion experts to get the van of your dreams.
Of course, all conversion companies are not created equal. Here at Muse & Co. Outdoors, we pride ourselves on the ability to offer our customers the following:
Our vans are built to meet stringent safety standards.
A lot of conversion companies try to cut costs by using inferior materials. Our vans are built to last, using the most eco-friendly, sustainable and high-quality materials throughout.
Expert design work
We’re different from a lot of camper van builders in that we offer a small line of pre-designed builds. We’ve poured our heart and soul into each of our models, and we’re confident in their ability. Plus, you still get plenty of opportunities to customize your van. Once you choose your model and options, you can relax while we build your dream rig.
A rolling asset
Camper vans hold their value extremely well, but like anything, they must be built to last. While you may be looking at a higher cost upfront when compared with trying to take on a DIY conversion, you should understand that a well-done professional build will hold its value far better than most DIY builds. Our vans utilize top-of-the-line materials and components, and are designed with rugged durability in mind.