Van Build

We would love to introduce you to Percy the Precious Volkswagen. Our relationship began in July 2018 when we had a sudden urge to build a tiny home on wheels. He was the first van we looked at and while he didn’t come with all the bells and whistles, above all else, we knew he was the one.

He doesn’t like getting dirty, however, he never complains. He is definitely not a capable off-road vehicle, but that will never stop him from trying. He has quite a large rear end (4+ tonnes), yet somewhat resembles a camel when it comes to fuel. He is relatively young, with 150,000km’s on the clock. In short, he is perfect, and he is ours!

Finished Van

Converting a van from scratch was a challenging but very rewarding process. There were good times, bad times, the occasional tear shed, and many changes to the original plan. But hey, if you’re going to start an adventure you may as well start at the beginning.

The purpose of this article is to not only show you our van build journey but provide a little background on different topics and reasons for our choices. Showing our mistakes and learnings along the way.

If you would like to ask any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact. Whether it be about something we’ve done or something you want to do, we are always happy to assist in any way.

Side note: We apologize for the photography or lack thereof. This build was mainly worked on by Dylan and it’s hard to get action shots while using power tools… we also hadn’t planned on documenting this at the time. Good old hindsight.


Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room. That being, which van to buy? There are so many questions that need answering:

Big or small? Diesel or petrol? High roof or low? Transmission? Budget? The list goes on…

This is the most important and expensive decision you will make, and with so many factors. Do yourself a favour, DON’T rush this step. Our advice is to write a list of the things you need vs the things you want, prioritizing the things you need above all else. Using this list will enable you to start the planning process and assist greatly in figuring out how much space you need.

Following our own advice we chose a low roof, medium wheelbase Volkswagen Crafter and here’s why:

  • Most importantly, the bikes being stored inside was a must for security. As a result, a large van was required.
  • Volkswagen’s have a good name and this particular model is the cheaper brother of the Mercedes Sprinter.
  • The medium wheelbase was the perfect length. To clarify, big enough for two but not impractical.
  • Low roof wasn’t our first choice, but a high roof was hard to come by in a medium wheel base model, and time was running out! (Sometimes you have to make compromises.)
  • Diesel, very good on fuel for a 4+ Tonne vehicle.
  • Auto transmission.


Secondly, the fun can begin. Let your creative genius out and design your perfect interior. When it comes to designing, there are so many places to find inspiration. A couple of examples are Pinterest and Instagram. So don’t be worried if you lack a bit of creativity like us, you will be able to find an abundance of awesome ideas and layouts. If you aren’t already, start following some big names in the industry.

A personal favourite of ours is @van_boy_life  who provides daily posts and stories of so many different van builds. Mixing and matching ideas from here is one of the main sources we’ve used to fulfill our van life dreams.

Some advice of our own:

No one is the same! So why should converting a van be any different? Use the power of research to find unique ideas you love, blend them all together and create your own masterpiece.


Finally, the part no one wants to talk about… Unfortunately, this may cost more than you think – it did for us anyway. After purchasing our van, we budgeted 5k in the initial conversion cost and realised very quickly that we would blow it, we doubled it in fact. It can be done much cheaper, although if you want peace of mind and reliable gear, the cost of ‘camping’ may come as a surprise… Just a heads up!

We have split the build into 9 main topics as follows, but if you have any questions we haven’t covered feel free to get in touch.

This turned into quite a long-winded document, who knew there was so much involved in building little old Percy!? Feel free to skip to the topic you desire.


Van Build Topics