How to build a Camper Van / Studio - DIY conversion (Step by step)

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00:00   |   Feb 18, 2018


How to build a Camper Van / Studio - DIY conversion  (Step by step)
How to build a Camper Van / Studio - DIY conversion  (Step by step) thumb How to build a Camper Van / Studio - DIY conversion  (Step by step) thumb How to build a Camper Van / Studio - DIY conversion  (Step by step) thumb


  • hey everyone welcome back to emerging alternatives
  • this is the second video and as promised it is the van build video
  • alright first let's roll the intro and then straight onto the video
  • enjoy guys!
  • and this is my new Renault Master, it's from 2007, it has 200,000 kilometers
  • and it's bright red. Let's see what we can do with it.
  • and first order of the day
  • we'll start with the windows
  • so there we go, first window in.
  • Next we're gonna go on the other side and do the second window
  • all right and that's done
  • also don't forget to give you a little swipe on the inside
  • because there are some particles from the cuts and those rust very quickly
  • alright so now that the windows are in place
  • I'll start on the inside. I'm going to take that out
  • Well, that's much brighter now!
  • Alright the floor is in.
  • We have, at the very bottom the strips of a foam (Polystyrene)
  • and then two centimeters of insulation - foam insulation.
  • then we have, the...
  • let's call it bubble wrap
  • And then we have the one centimeter plywood
  • And that will be the floor of the van.
  • And we're back now, the floor is finished and we're getting onto the electrical.
  • The solar panels are going to end up about here.
  • The cables will arrive from the roof and I'll get them directly to the floor, where I'll put my battery
  • And we're on the roof of the van.
  • we're putting the air extraction in
  • which will be... right about here. This is just above what will be the kitchen area
  • I always double, triple measure everything. And that's the 95 mil
  • Alright that's good
  • The problem is that I can't actually turn
  • so this is going to have to be plan B
  • Plan B is from the inside, but....
  • all right so it doesn't work much better from the inside
  • oops that was my only blade.
  • alright and we're on to plan and "C"; my blade broke
  • so I'm gonna do it by hand
  • this is the inside of the ventilation - the extraction
  • yeah it's perfect.
  • That was pretty tough, I'm tired!
  • and we're back on the roof and we are passing the cables through the roof
  • for the solar panels, using those those little metal thingies.
  • we're all done. The cables are through now just a little bit of cleanup and we're good.
  • Shall we insulate the van today?
  • getting onto the walls so this is the wool that I have
  • This is mineral and I think the other one that I have is is glass wool
  • all right, so I finished most of the sides here. as you can see with mineral wool
  • and I will be covering that later on with our multi-layer; reflecting multi-layer
  • which will start at the bottom and go in one piece all around.
  • As you can see the multi layer is on at the back of the van
  • I have put the side panels that came with the van when I bought it.
  • It's a process. It takes some time, but i'm happy to do it and it's it's taking shape slowly so yeah it's quite good.
  • then we're moving on to the side windows and
  • before putting the insulation in I will put a frame, a wooden frame to go around the window
  • not to reinforce it but to create a nice finish for the inside
  • and let's test this. see how it fits...
  • That's pretty good
  • That's a perfect cut.
  • pretty happy right now that's pretty cool. it took me a while to do all this
  • Now I can take it apart and and put the insulation in.
  • I've glued the wooden frame to the side of the van. and it's now drying and I'll be able to put
  • the insulation in, all around and then put the multi layer and then I'll put the side panel
  • and finally we're all done with the insulation on that side and the ceiling
  • now let's move on to the ceiling. this is my line to to get the the center right
  • and we're getting close to finishing on the ceiling and as you can see
  • those little cables coming outside are going to be for the lights.
  • They're the LEDs from Ikea that i'll try to hook up. and they're pretty flat.
  • And you just screw them onto the ceiling.
  • What are we on to today?
  • basically the installation is almost finished except on doors
  • I decided to add some pallet wood
  • because it's much easier to do the finish
  • and i just screwed on the pallets wood onto the wall.
  • and cut out the opening for the window
  • and i will do the same on this side as well. it doesn't need to go that low
  • it just needs to go till the height of the bed
  • and we also have the wires coming out of the wood
  • so I can get a switch here for the lights and otherwise that's it a nice finish
  • hey guys I'm in the process of building the bed frame
  • What I'm trying to do is figure out one spot on that side and find out the exact same
  • spot on the other side to make sure the bed is in the middle
  • the car isn't leveled on the ground the ground isn't leveled and the van isn't square at all
  • so it's like building something in a boat you know it's it's pretty tricky
  • this is the bar that will be the main structural part for the bed
  • it comes from my student bed and this was the bar that was in the middle
  • and it's adjustable so I just put it to the right size
  • so there's some wood all around so I can screw in directly the boards that will come on top directly in there
  • and on the inside at the back I have two pieces of wood
  • and one piece of metal on the inside that prevents it from bending
  • so that's solid as well
  • this is the top part of the bed, the top half and there's going to be a board
  • sliding on top here and making it a full-sized bed
  • and when it's like this this will be a couch
  • so we'll see how it goes I had it like
  • mostly I have a something in my mind about what I wanted the van to look like
  • but I kind of make it up as I go I face some problems and I basically
  • try to find solutions to whatever I have to make and sometimes there's an easy way
  • and sometimes it's a hard way and and most often I go for the easy way
  • because, you know, I'm not a carpenter and I try to make things as
  • solid as I can in the easiest way that I can as well.
  • this isn't some Japanese way of attaching would I put a screws everywhere
  • so there is screw there is glue there is everything I can find; so yeah it's not perfect
  • it's not always beautiful but it is what it is and it's holding so that's that's the main part
  • when you're building a van, just don't be surprised everything
  • like each piece of wood has to be made individually
  • you use your eye more than you use your logic and meter so you just if it looks good then then it is good
  • the structure for the kitchen cabinets is done. And we ill have a drawer on each side.
  • A big drawer here and here we'll have some doors
  • I hope everything works
  • it should be alright I've added this little bit in the middle just so everything stays into place
  • when they're sliding in and out. and those as well
  • I move down to the kitchen cabinets which I've made.
  • I haven't really filmed that because it's quite straightforward you know it's a couple
  • of boards together. I'm gonna show you but... there's no handles yet
  • so i have to grab on the sides to pull them out.
  • So yeah, they're uh they're made out of
  • of what is it like like IKEA kind of material like, you know like wood and glue
  • I don't know the name in English. This one which is like massive come on
  • there you go it's nice it's bulky it's heavy it's gonna be here for the next thousand years
  • Nice sound as well.
  • I've made some boxes to go underneath the seating area. those are
  • the boxes that will support the weight of the bed
  • when you're making boxes and
  • they're exactly the right size they only go one way they get in and they never
  • get out yeah I always forget to get those one or two
  • mils so they're actually they can actually slide and I did the mistake on
  • the first box and I had to take everything apart and I almost didn't do
  • it on the second one everywhere there's like two mil except on the width and
  • yeah still doesn't fit so I need to take it apart again and and get those two mils out
  • and today the van is in a bit of a mess as you can see full of
  • little off cuts of wood and the thing is I'm trying to fit a box here so I can
  • finally put some insulation into this so-called oven that is just above the
  • driving seat. When the Sun reflects here is just horrible this is just
  • horrible the whole van just becomes a sauna. So the goal is to put as much insulation
  • and some reflecting insulation to be able to reflect some of that heat
  • outside and make a box so I can put some stuff in there and yep that's it
  • What i've done here I'm not finished everywhere I still have to
  • work it out on this side but it was a bit of a mess here
  • and I took a piece of wood that I put underneath and stuck some of this
  • blanket from Ikea into it so this is jammed underneath using one of these and
  • and on the other side it's um it's jammed underneath the piece of wood so
  • the piece of wood comes here and holds it on the ceiling which makes it pretty nice finish
  • So I'm going to try to do a lot of the van like that, the non accessible
  • parts like where I can't really put any pieces of wood. so I try to do it like maybe
  • with double sided tape for now it has worked pretty well.
  • I will start painting
  • I'll start with the walls so everything will be white for now and I will put
  • some lasure so it's not too too thick and we can still see the wood through it
  • then I move on to some white paint and I'll do the frame the frames here the
  • frames here and the side of the boxes as well
  • so i'm on to the bed now I have screwed those boards to this parts over here the
  • goal is to put that metal bar and nail it so it stays on perfectly and holds
  • the boards together and it's going to be easier for the boards to slide it in and out
  • So the Box become the support
  • and slides all the way until the the angles get into one another and
  • everything becomes flat and does it slides back in that is the question. Shall we try?
  • And pushing. And it should lift - perfect
  • And now. I need handles
  • it's was kind of hard getting a gripp on the bed when I pulled it out to test it so
  • what I'm going to do is put some handles and for that i'll be drilling some holes
  • and I'll be using some good old rope so I have two nice handles that I can use
  • to pull the bed and hopefully it works
  • How cool i that?
  • Yep adopted
  • There we go, the doors are fully insulated
  • this is wool, this is foam board, this is wool
  • Everything is jammed on the side as well as far as can
  • so yeah, good enough
  • an now i can put some wood on it
  • and plug the drill
  • alright and now i'll drill the other side
  • so i might want to check from time to time that I'm
  • not going through the doors. which is what i'm going to do now
  • and we're good. And the doors are done
  • looking good
  • and I'm doing a bit of the finishing so it looks good on the back of the van
  • putting some carpet on and it's pretty easy so I'm not gonna show it in details
  • but I'm using double-sided tape and cut the piece to size and just tape it and
  • just jam everything that I can in between the wood and the metal and
  • that's about it alright
  • so I went in bougth some colors for the doors and
  • basically all the openings so the doors here
  • the window frame over there and the door over here will be blue I'll give it a go
  • see how it looks it's the first first layer anyway if it looks good I'll leave it like that
  • if it doesn't I can always paint another color over it but yeah
  • it's taking shape a little bit the van is starting to look pretty good
  • I'm happy about it
  • I've always been pretty bad putting paint only on the top
  • of the brush and I always end up putting paints everywhere up to my hand which
  • isn't the best so i'll try to stay clean here alright let's go
  • oh that is very blue all right I've done like two boards with
  • blue and it's very very blue it would probably be a good idea to put a bit of
  • white in there. I'm gonna try to do a bit of a color mix. see if I can get
  • those blues a little lighter so I put a little bit of white in an old paint box and
  • I'll add some blue. see how it looks like
  • what do you think?
  • I think I'm gonna put a little bit of white in it not not like this this is
  • too too light this might be a little too light as well but that's that's too dark
  • that's too dark for me all right let's mix some white this is my blue, this is my white
  • you ready?
  • feeling like Tom Cruise in cocktail
  • let's check it out
  • Well, it is still blue that's for sure
  • it is a little better I think I can work with that let's paint
  • and we're done with the doors everything has been sanded down so the color isn't
  • too bright anymore which is good and it looks a little more rustic nice it's the
  • same on the other side also I've put those in so I need to paint those white
  • as well. there we go I need one of these here as well and oh
  • here I have added some bars with a little bit of an angle here so you can see the
  • cut and so I can have a nice grab and I can now slide those in and out easily
  • same this needs to be painted white those holes are for my electrical stuff
  • so that's gonna be like the charge controller USB charging 12 volt charging
  • and this will go right here so there will be a lock here lock here that will
  • prevent the bed from moving anywhere while I'm driving it shouldn't anyway but
  • if I break really hard it might just fly out
  • I just need to drill a hole now
  • let's do it
  • so I just put those in drilled some
  • holes put a little bit of pain so it doesn't show too much and so I'm not
  • gonna close it right now because obviously the paint it's wet but yeah it
  • does fit and so all good next
  • obviously it would have been easier to do it before I
  • put the ceiling on but I thought I was going to put some linen oil and just be
  • done with it and when I put the linen oil the ceiling turned yellow so I
  • decided to paint it so here we go
  • It's going to be brown blue and white
  • and moving on to the door
  • the side door which i've been neglecting for the past few weeks and
  • I wanted to do something else than just insulating so I've been doing some painting
  • yesterday I've done the frame yesterday afternoon
  • which actually takes a fair bit of time and I painted it before I put it in which
  • is a lot easier and yesterday I've done as well some insulating here I put in
  • some wool fitting in some wool and slide these closing those
  • insulation, insulation and then cladding everywhere until the bottom and then we'll paint it
  • white yep that's it let's do it
  • and we're three boards in I put this
  • one first because I want it to be aligned with the window and so far so
  • good it works well
  • see there's a I mean there's a fair bit of space here the tight space is here
  • but I will have enough as well so I should be fine
  • putting some lasure on the side door
  • It pretty much takes the yellow out of the wood
  • and I'll be sending this and changing the color to gray instead of brown
  • because I'm gonna do those gray and you can't really have like ten colors in the
  • same like tiny space
  • What do you like better ? brown or gray ?
  • yeah I like gray better
  • not the same light but it worked i shave my beard as well
  • Today i moved on to the floor so that's how it looks right now it's actually not too
  • bad but I will put this floor in. star over here
  • strip the paper press it in
  • i'm happy this morning it's freezing cold but work gets done
  • and now I can finally
  • put the LEDs on you know those IKEA thingy that I installed the cables for
  • and now I just have to plug them screw them and connect them to the battery and
  • it should work
  • ok I think I got it and the van is almost done and most of the things are
  • in as you can see the lights everything is painted those are in as well I just
  • need to put the LEDs that I haven't received yet I've decided to reinforce
  • the bed so when the bed is open it's it was a little soft I didn't want it to break
  • Bonsoir
  • I'm also working on reinforcing the inside just to make sure everything
  • is nice and strong so I'm adding this vertical here and over here as well I
  • have space for the bicycle and then the space for my storage which is good and
  • this is my battery mess I'm still working out the cables finally receive
  • my LEDs and they will go right here and on the other side so I've gotten
  • some monochrome LEDs 60 LED/m
  • I've just cut the LEDs to size and I'm going to glue them on to the wood
  • over here and around
  • awesome and I can dim little eyes as well 50% 25% or 100% I can make them
  • blink and all but you know I'm never gonna use that what I have here for the
  • back cause I want to put some lights in here so when it's dark I can access my
  • stuff a little bit of tape
  • you have the connection to the battery cable and we
  • have the connection to the switch and the connection to the LED now we just
  • have to set it up
  • okay so I've finished hooking up the LEDs in the back of the car they are
  • hooked up as well to the main line and they're connected together with the LEDs
  • on the ceiling that's a switch and the LEDs here we can just turn it on
  • and then I can adjust I think the brightness that's the one
  • until it turns off or not now I need to put all those cables nice and tight because
  • like everything here is a bit of a mess so I'll be hooking them up with those little things
  • this on the floor is going to be the deck on top of the van on the roof and this is old
  • pallet wood and that's what I've used on the inside so I will burn it as the
  • Japanese do and it's called shou Sugi Ban it's basically like burnt lightly
  • burn the wood on top and surface and it just prevents it from molding or getting
  • damaged with the weather so that's what I will try to do and then I'll put it on
  • the roof of the van all right let's do it
  • the boards are ready I've waited about a week, two weeks actually a little more
  • so it's rained on it to make sure everything is clean and
  • doesn't get any black anywhere and I'm pretty happy with the finish and now is
  • the time to put them on and they'll go on there
  • so that's going to be the time for the first solar panel
  • I've connected both of the solar panels together
  • and connect those to their cables running down to my van
  • so the plan is here these i'll put a bolt a spacer and put it through
  • put a bit of old tubes to prevent anything from moving with the vibrations
  • the roof is done look at that nice deck
  • so the van is about ten years old and the plastics are becoming gray
  • so what I'm doing is I'm using some product for bringing the plastic bag as they were
  • afterwards I'll be able to put some polish on the car and make the red come
  • back as well as you can see the difference here and here
  • I've been going at it for a couple of hours now
  • and i'm polishing the car. it's shiny
  • nice and shiny now. and see the red is coming back nicely
  • if you compare like this is done and this this isn't
  • done so you can see the difference over here over here over here oh yeah
  • done not done done not done done
  • i mean it's the final touch so i'm quite happy cause you know it all means that I'm getting towards the end
  • my job is nearly done for the van so quite happy where I finished putting the
  • polish on and the car is kinda shiny hey nice and red
  • that was a long video I hope you guys enjoyed it hope it
  • was useful give it a thumbs up if you liked it it's probably going to be some
  • more vanlife videos coming up so do subscribe to the channel do comments do
  • ask questions if you have some I'll try to answer them whether it's on the
  • comments or on the Facebook group or email me directly on the website once
  • again I hope it was useful guys thanks a lot for watching and I'll see you soon
  • on emerging alternatives see you guys bye
  • and if you haven't had a chance yet go
  • check out the intro video for the channel and there's a whole video as
  • well about the building of the roof it was quite a long process so I decided to
  • make a whole separate video about that so go check it out if you're interested
  • subscribe

Download subtitle


How to convert a van into a camper/ video production studio. I hope this step by step video is useful to many of you. Time stamps bellow:
# Windows
# Bulkhead
# / # Floor
# Wires
# Roof ventilation
# Insulation
# Ceiling
# / # Ikea LEDs
# Pallet wood walls
# Bed Frame / # & # Sliding bed
# Kitchen
# / # Carpeting
# / # / # Painting
# Back doors / # Side door
# Charging station
# LED strips
# Wooden deck
# Solar panels
# Plastics and van polish

Music by Joakim Karud http://youtube.com/joakimkarud

The Emerging Alternatives van is what makes filming on the road possible. It both severs as a mobile studio and a tiny living space. Its color quickly gave it the stage name" Red".

It's mostly made of reclaimed wood and was originally inspired by the typical Norwegian Rorbu (small wooden cabin used by fishermen). The wooden deck on top of the van is made in the Japanese way of preserving wood with fire called Shou Sugi Ban (charred wood). There are two 100W solar panels on the roof making it a good off grid camper and providing enough electricity to power the cameras and laptop required for the making of the videos. I decided to share the van conversion with the community hoping it will inspire potential van-builders and travelers.

This video is as descriptive as I could make it without boring everybody to death. Do leave a comment with your questions if you have some. I'll do my best to answer them. If there are a lot of the same questions coming up, i'll do a Q&A.

This is a 100% DIY van. It was a long process and I didn't really know what to expect. I often had to change ideas, adapt and find solutions to problems I could not have thought about before the start. I was already pretty good with my hands and enjoyed building things, but this van build was definitely a first.

There will be some more van life videos coming up on the channel, a van tour and extra little van build videos if there are frequent questions coming up, but the channel won't be focused only on that subject. I'd like to also make content on alternative living, like tiny house and minimalist living rather than just camper vans as living a nomadic life ins't really sustainable in the long run (speaking from experience).

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to do a van conversion.

Once again do ask questions or share with us your van build ideas in the comments.

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Website: https://www.emergingalternatives.com/

Video gear list:

Panasonic GH4
14/140 lens
DJI Mavic pro
Gopro 4 Silver
Rode Lavalier Mic for smartphones
Lav mic windscreen (Dead Cat)
Superlux HD668B Dynamic Semi-Open Headphones