Getting Started

A few thing you should consider before starting to build our your own van.

Hey Everyone,
I’ve been working really hard on putting together a build guide to walk you through my process of building out my sprinter van. Keep in mind this is what I did in selecting the van and why I chose these options. It might not be the best way or the easiest way but its what I chose. Throughout this guide I am going to try and provide you with the reasons I chose what materials I chose, the tools used to complete each section, the estimated cost and the amount of time it took.

DifficultyExpert Duration5.5 months

Materials Used

A little background information

It was first in 2015 that I discovered the who #vanlife movement and it was through the “Home Is Where You Park It” Kickstarter campaign by Foster Huntington. After the first time I watched through the video I was instantly inspired about the lifestyle that was portrayed in the campaign video. This sparked what turned into almost a year of researching, planning, researching, planning before I finally pulled the trigger and purchased the van.

So Why Live in a Van?

Throughout this journey I discovered that people chose van life for a variety of reasons and for me choosing to live in a van was something that was fuelled by many factors in my life. For me it was mainly a combination of events that transpired in my life that some might say forced me to re evaluate what I was doing but I chose to say “gave me the opportunity” to take a real step back and figure out what it was that I really wanted out of life. What seems like an eternity ago but in reality is only a few short years ago I was (and still am) facing some unfortunate health issues and rather than take the necessary time to take care of myself I chose to consume myself with work….which inevitably caused my health to diminish. At the time I found it nearly impossible to take a step back and really take care of myself, by making the decision to not take care of myself it not only affected my work but it also affected my physical and mental health, attitude and over all well being.
It wasn’t until 2015 which found my entire immediate family in the hospital in a 6 month stretch where I took that step back and made the decision I couldn’t keep going forward like this and I needed to make some real changes. So for me VanLife was an opportunity for me to really find myself again and get back to doing the things in life I had missed and let pass me by for so many years prior. It has allowed me to really understand what is important and required to lead a fulfilling and satisfying life. Unfortunately my version of Vanlife comes with a few un welcomed complications and at some point in time Ill have to make the decision to return for my remaining treatment schedule, but until then I wouldn’t change a thing and have enjoyed every minute of it.

 The Beginning

As I mentioned before Im not going to go over all the pros and cons of every available option when building out your van. Instead Im going to go over what exactly I did through the process and why I made those decision and if I were to do things over again what changes I would potentially make. One word of caution is that when making the decision to build out your own van is that at some point in time you just need to START. Many people get caught in the research phase for WAY WAY too long and take it from me its impossible to learn everything. Your van will never be perfect and there will always be things you would have done differently… but if I never put a cap on the research process I would probably still be sitting in front of my computer starring at photos on forums and Instagram.
The van I chose for my build was a 2016 170WB Mercedes Benz Sprinter. When looking at cargo vans you have lots of options including but not limited to the Ford Transit, Dodge Promaster and the Mercedes Sprinter if you are looking at new vehicles and even more options if you are looking at getting something a few years older. So do your research on the van you are looking for and ensure its going to be a good fit for you.
Fortunately for me I was able to start my build with a brand new van and by no means is this required but after much deliberation and talking it over with family the decision was made that a new vehicle would not only speed up the build process but also provide a certain sense of reliability and comfort I was looking for.
So after making the decision to go with a Sprinter Van I had to decide what size of vehicle I wanted to have as the 2016 Sprinter comes in 3 sizes 144, 170 and 170 EXT. After lots of deliberating about what size van I should get I finally decided that the 170 WB sprinter was the best option for me. It not only allowed me the space to easily have a toilet and shower but also made it very easy to have another person or 2 jump in on the journey for a few days. So for me the 170 has been an awesome vehicle, the size although big has been easy to find parking and in most parking lots drives great and allows me enough storage to fit literally everything I need…. I even have 2 over head cabinet and one drawer that are completely empty…. So that being being said there have been on a few occasions where I thought maybe the 144 would have been just the right size for me, which would have given a little bit more flexibility, and maneuverability but honestly I think if I had to make the choice again today Id probably just take the extra space and go with the 170.

Tools Required

  • Tool 2
  • Tool 3
  • Tool 4
  • Tool 5

Install Process

Pro Tips

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