If you have been following our story on Instagram or YouTube, you will have seen that we are now the proud owners of our very own off grid camper van. Getting to this stage has been a long time coming and we think sharing our journey will help you if you’re considering building your own off grid camper van or are looking for a van build company to work with.
Why an off grid camper van?
Since very early on in our relationship, Rebecca and I had wanted to convert a van into a mobile home. We would spend hours watching van tours on YouTube. With our love for travel, we would watch vlogs of the amazing places people camped in their vans and it made us want to be able to travel to these amazing places too. As remote workers we wanted to be able to charge our gear and work off grid in the van as we travelled, without the need to be on electrical hook up.
Researching our van build
As I mentioned above, we spent hours watching YouTube, but also attended multiple caravan, camping and motorhome shows to look at design layouts. We knew we wanted to do a van conversion and even sketched out many of our designs, but just didn’t feel our DIY skills were up to it. It was at this point we were lucky enough to attend the first ever Camp Quirky. I remember my excitement at getting to look around so many self-converted vans, some of which we had seen on YouTube. (We later decided to hire a Quirky Camper van for Camp Quirky 2018 and lived in MacIntyre for the festival.)
Coming back from that first Camp Quirky, we knew we wanted to have our own custom-built van, but we were feeling overwhelmed. Where would we start? What van would we get? What would we want inside? Would we convert a panel van or renovate an older motorhome? What size van would we get?
Rebecca and I would chat for hours in the evening about it all and even created Pinterest boards to help us decide. As we mulled over our ideas the timing couldn’t have been better when we received a newsletter from Quirky Campers about working with a van build company. We had all the ideas, but minimal van-building skills, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get our ideas together and see how feasible it would be to get our design created by a professional van conversion company. We sent off our email and were contacted by a couple of companies. One in particular that stood out was Off Grid Campers, the same company that owns and built Raelene, a van that Rebecca had fallen in love with at Camp Quirky 2018.
Our tips for researching your van build:
- Watch plenty of YouTube van tours and vanlife vlogs for ideas.
- Attend motorhome shows to get a feel for van sizes and layouts.
- Come to Camp Quirky (we would love to say hi).
- Pinterest is full of layout ideas and you can pin them to your own boards for inspiration.
The main thing is to take action. Buy a van! If you are looking for further help with choosing a van, I’ve put together a playlist of our videos on helping you get started with your van build.
Cost of an off grid camper van build
I’m not going to give a final figure for our camper van build, as the cost is all relative. One thing to bear in mind is that by working with a camper van conversion company, you are working with professionals who know what they are doing. This skill and knowledge is invaluable. It is this knowledge and the style of Off Grid Campers’ conversions that we love and are the main reasons we chose to work with them.
As a guide, you will want to decide on the following:
- Budget for your base van.
- Items you want inside (heating, solar and all the gadgets).
If you are not sure what you want to include in your van, you can contact Neville at Off Grid Campers and he will be able to send you a breakdown of options and an idea of cost. From here, you can decide what you feel is needed, what is nice to have, and what you would love to include in your wildest dreams. I recently met a guy that had a bath tub in his van.
Working with Off Grid Campers
So, what was it like working with Off Grid Campers? This is a question we have been asked a lot by our followers and people we have met while travelling. We both really enjoyed working with Neville and his team at Off Grid Campers. While we designed the layout, it was Neville and his team who made it happen. They came up with many solutions to ideas we had, e.g. making our old Coke and Pepsi crates into kitchen drawers, having a full-sized sink, and being able to include all the USB charging ports we wanted. (See the van tour)
How it works couldn’t be simpler
- Draw a simple layout.
- Contact Off Grid Campers for a quote.
- Buy a van (this is probably the scariest part as the project then becomes real).
- Drop the van off with Off Grid Campers.
- Off Grid Campers will begin by putting in the windows, insulation and first fix electrics.
- Visit your van and decide on the final layout that you want.
- Deliver any unique items you want to have included. (In our case we took our vintage Coke crates and handmade Mexican tiles to Neville on the same day we went to visit the van and decide the final layout.)
- Decide the colours/finishes you’d like to have on the wood.
- Work on any tweaks needed, pay your final payment and pick up your van ready for adventure.
- Enjoy the great outdoors in your off grid camper van
We found the process so enjoyable that we’re currently deciding whether we will convert a second van to hire out via Quirky Campers. If we do, we would be delighted to work with Off Grid Campers again and build a fully off grid camper van.
Our off grid camper van build progress
Images are copyright to Darren Meredith and Off Grid Campers (c) 2019