About a year ago, a friend first told me that he was buying a “sprinter van” to live in. Knowing the friend, I laughed and shook my head at the prospect — something I’d later learned is called #VanLife. Come to find out, there’s a whole community out there of people who convert vans into tiny homes.
This page is mostly about how I built the van. It features:
- Memory-foam mattress couch/bed
- Blackout curtains, fan, and heater
- Foot/hand pump sink w/ 14 gal storage & 7 gal “gray”
- 510 Wh “theoretical” solar + 8.4 Kwh LiPO4 battery
- Hidden-away mini-toilet
- Swivel-seat passenger computer desk with monitor arm
Here’s a rough sense what it looks like inside:
Check out my instagram for recent shots of the van, or skip to the bottom to find links to each of the individual steps along the way.
Why a Van?
Imagine being able to park at the base of a ski mountain, the edge of the beach, or stop in a national park to see sunrise. With a well-equipped van, you can go nearly anywhere without losing the comfort of home.
Strange as it may seem, cargo vans perform the “tiny home” function well. While much smaller than RVs, they do not suffer many of the same limitations. Cargo vans are used ubiquitously as delivery vehicles, and can travel to / park in many places RVs cannot. Cargo vans also get much better gas milage than RVs and, with some planning, may be unconstrained by standard RV concerns (shore power, water, etc.).
Van conversions are still quite niche. There are companies which do professional conversions, but they’re very expensive and have a long waiting list. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I would enjoy the effort of creating a tiny home with my own two hands. Besides, most of the professional conversions I saw were too industrial and cold looking for me. Instead, I was most inspired by warm, homey designs.