10 DIY Campervan Conversion Mistakes to Avoid

By Dave Webb on May 19th, 2022

Doing a DIY campervan conversion may sound like a great idea and for the most part it is, however, there are many things that you should be mindful of, especially if you haven’t done a conversion before. 

There are a lot of mistakes that someone inexperienced can make when trying to convert your own campervan. In this post we look at the common DIY campervan conversion mistakes you should avoid. 

1. Not Inspecting the Van Thoroughly Before Purchasing

Many people think they can just buy a cheap van and convert it easily, so this is exactly what they do only to run into an endless pile of problems with the vehicle. Buying the base van is certainly not the hardest part of a conversion, but it can be the most crucial one. 

When looking at a van to purchase for a conversion always make sure you inspect the vehicle you’re about to purchase inside and out. Some of the things you should look out for include worn down seatbelts, any visible rust on the chassis, underneath the vehicle and inside the engine bay, as well as any oil or fuel leaks. You should also make sure the van has a detailed MOT history and record of any repairs that have been made. 

2. Don’t Compromise On Insulation

We know that you want to optimise the space in your van to a maximum but as we already mentioned in a previous post, insulation is an essential part of any campervan conversion. Lack of proper insulation will not only make it so you burn more fuel trying to heat up your van, but it can also lead to problems with condensation that down the line can become problems with rust. 

3. Treat Floor Rust Before Resurfacing

Speaking of rust, if there’s any of it on the chassis of your vehicle, particularly the floor, make sure you treat it before laying down any insulation and new surface on the floor. Once your van conversion has been completed it would be very hard and expensive to fix any rust issues. 

Another thing to look for is any holes that have been drilled on the floor when screwing down gas fixtures or other equipment. Ideally you want those to be filled in before you lay down the boards or lino for your floor. 

4. Measure Twice Before Installing Anything

It’s easy to make a mistake when measuring your space for any fixtures such as windows, but it’s really hard to fix said mistakes once the hole has been cut out. Always double and even triple measure before cutting anything. You might think that a few millimetres difference isn’t a big deal but it will be once the window is installed and there’s a draught coming in because it doesn’t fit properly. 

5. Carefully Plan Your Layout

With the limited space available in a van you want to optimise the use of whatever space you have. This is why you shouldn’t rush when it comes to the layout in your converted campervan. Carefully plan where you want everything to go so that there aren’t any annoying gaps or unutilised space.

Try to plan where all of the utilities such as gas and water tanks will go first because this will give you a better idea of what you can do with the rest of the space. Make sure your gas and water utilities are easily accessible when you need to refill them, otherwise you might end up having to do awkward gym exercises every time you have to take the tanks out. 

You should also think about the sleeping arrangement, particularly if you will be travelling in the van with kids. You want there to be enough space for everyone to sleep comfortably. If you’re thinking of installing foldable beds, plan your space accordingly so there’s enough space to unfold them. Additionally, the beds will take up the most space in your van so planning their layout incorrectly will greatly affect the rest of the layout.  

6. Install Any Wires Before Insulation

A common mistake made by people doing DIY campervan conversion is installing the insulation before even thinking about the electrical wiring. This is bad because once you have the insulation on you have to undo everything just to hook up the wires which causes additional costs in the form of time and materials. 

Carefully plan where your wires need to go and hook everything up before you start covering them with layers of insulation materials and plasterboard. Making sure your electrics are all safe and working will save you lots of problems in the future, because any issue that needs to be fixed will result in tearing apart the whole van. 

7. Use Proper Tools for the Job

We know it’s tempting to try and ‘make do’ with whatever tools you have at hand, but trust us when we say – using the proper tools will save you a lot of time, effort and wasted materials. You might have to spend a bit of money on upgrading your tool box, but it’ll all be worth it in the end. 

8. Invest in a Good Heater

Keeping your van warm in winter can be a rather difficult task, which is why a good heater is essential for any van conversion. In addition to providing comfort and heat it will also help prevent and damp build-up that can lead to mould forming in your van. 

There are different options for heating sources to choose from for your van. A gas or diesel heater, however, might be the most effective for a campervan because it offers instant heat. 

9. Make Sure There is Good Airflow

People often overlook airflow in their van and end up with black spots or mould, so this is certainly something you want to think about when planning a DIY campervan conversion. Ideally, you want there to be constant air circulation through your van so there is a lower chance of dampness. 

One way to achieve that is by having small air vents on the side of your van so that fresh air can flow through your van even if the windows are closed.

 10. Be Mindful of Weight Restrictions

All the different materials, furniture pieces, utilities, luggage and so on that go into the back of a self-built campervan add up, so you want to keep an eye on the weight limits. Depending on the type of driving licence you have there will be a certain limit on the size of vehicle you can drive. If your licence says you can legally drive vehicles under 3.5T, then you have to ensure that the overall weight of your van doesn’t go above this. 

This is very important because certain vehicles can be unsafe to drive if they exceed a certain weight. If you go above the legal weight limit, then you can encounter a hefty fine and the authorities can make you remove any number of items until your vehicle reaches the legal limit. 

Converting your own campervan can be a very exciting but also stressful job. If you want to avoid the hassle and stress of it as well as spare yourself some headaches it might be best to go for a campervan that comes fully equipped. Our Redline campervan conversions feature all the essentials you need and the interior can also be customised to your liking. Browse our campervan line today or contact us for more information!

Written by

Dave Webb

Redline Campers