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What planning is needed before a van conversion

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

Some of you might have seen our channel has some spring 2020 projects. One of which is this 1988 Volkswagen T3. It had already received a full bodywork restoration before it arrived with us so our first job was to establish a plan and get started on cleaning the van ready for the sound deadening stage.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

The first stage to any van conversion is to have a good plan of what you want to achieve before you start work. Now we all change our minds and gather new inspirations along the way, but the fundamentals need to be clear.

Your build plan needs to take into account the following...

How many people will be staying in the van at once?

Sleeping arrangements take up take up a lot of space in a van and this needs to be considered. If there are more than two people staying in the van you might need to think about adding space such as a pop-top or awning.

Where am I planning on doing my cooking?

Having a dedicated plan on where you will be cooking is very important when it comes to planning what ventilation you need in your van. If you are planning on using a portable cooker outside then you need to plan a safe and secure storage solution for when you are on the road.

If you are planning on having a gas cooker or hob inside of the van then you need to work out where you are going to secure the gas bottle, where the gas bottle vents will go and where the piping will route. You will also need ventilation close by to the hob or cooker. It will create lots of condensation and you will need an opening window or ceiling vent close by to allow it to escape.

Where will I be staying when camping out in the van?

Now last but not least is the most important point on the list and one that can be broad in suggestions. We will talk about the 3 main points you will want to plan for.


The idea of setting off into the wilderness and camping out is exciting but you need to plan for it. You will need to spec your electrics to be able to power everything you need for the duration of your stay and also plan where these will be housed. Batteries and solar panels are large items and will need space planned for them.

When planning an off-grid van you will also need more storage than most. If you are planning on being away from shops and facilities you need to make sure you can carry all you need for your duration.


If you are planning on staying at campsites all the time then you need to plan for what you do and do not need. You might need to fit a 240v mains inlet socket and fused system to be able to take advantage of the campsites 240v hook up. But you are less likely to need to install shower and toilet systems as these will typically be available where you are staying.

Hot or cold climates

Your destinations climate is very important. You need to be prepped! If you are going to cold climates you will need sufficient insulation and a heating system. This needs to be your top priority in your plan as it could be the most important part of your safety.

Before you buy your van

Not only do you need to think of these points when planning your build but these also need to be considered before you buy your van. If you haven't sourced your van yet and would like more information then check out our blog 'what to consider when buying a van'.

Check out the first video in our T3 series where we tell you the plan for this build. Subscribe to the channel to follow the whole series.

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