Mobile Home on Wheels: Your Ultimate Travel Companion

Our Traveling house on wheels - a Ford Transit Vanbuild

Our passion for exhilarating adventures and discovering new destinations led us to seek a way to comfortably explore exciting locations with a minimalist approach and at a lower cost. We’ve been dreaming about van life and decided to take a leap and accept the challenges that come with it. In this post, I’m thrilled to share the compelling story of our Vanbuild dream and the reasons behind our decision to create a tiny home on wheels.

When choosing the perfect van for a camper van conversion, it’s essential to carefully consider your travel goals, interests, and financial situation. With numerous van models available, finding the ideal camper for your van life adventure requires evaluating these critical factors. One easily gets overwhelmed by the extensive options, but we knew from the start that we wanted a cargo van with a high roof. Altogether, an extended long wheelbase for ample space?

So we started the search until we found the right size in reasonably good condition. In this Vanbuild post, I will detail our Vanbuild experience and how we transformed a 2015 Ford Transit 2.2 TDCI into our mobile home on wheels.

Couple with their converted White Ford Transit 2.2 TDCI Mobile home.
Our converted White Ford Transit 2.2 TDCI Mobile home.

Meet Wandering Nomad

So, I will introduce you to the show’s star, our Wandering Nomad! She is a 2015 extra-long wheelbase high-roof Ford Transit 2.2. Cargo Van, and when I saw her, I was hooked. Impressive and beautiful, isn’t she? The Ford Cargo Van was too high to transport on a truck, so the dealer arranged for someone to drive her up from Cape Town to Gauteng.

Ford Transit Cargo Van
Ford Transit Cargo Van

The most exciting part of our van-building journey was deciding what we wanted in our home on wheels. Our goal was to have an entirely off-the-grid home tailored to our preferences.

Secondly, the layout of the cargo van converted to a camper must be determined. Take your time deciding on the design, as making changes will be costly and time-consuming.

Thirdly, accept that converting a van will take a long time and that there will be mistakes.

Here are the answers to frequently asked questions:

  • What is the difference between a Campervan and a Motorhome?
  • Why would anyone choose to travel in a motorized home?
  • Caravan vs Campervan?
  • Should I get a Caravan or Motorhome? Visit Benefits of travelling in a Motorhome.

What is a Camper? A campervan is a minor or compact motorized caravan. The difference between a motorhome and a campervan is minimal. An RV, short for recreational vehicle, is a motorized vehicle equipped with at least a bunk that converts into a bed with a motor. When it comes to motorhome must-have accessories, what is essential?

Motorhome: A motorhome is a larger caravan with a bed, a kitchen, and shower facilities. It is generally built on a long-wheelbase vehicle, making it more like a miniature home on wheels. Design your own tiny house. How exciting!

What is an RV? A recreational vehicle, abbreviated RV, is the popular name for motorized vehicles in America. It commonly refers to any vehicle equipped with at least a bed (or bunk, which converts into a bed). An RV can also be a trailer. Caravan: A caravan is an unpowered little house pulled by a powered vehicle and comes in different sizes.

We had to consider which brand would be the most cost-effective in the long run: Ford Transit vs. Mercedes Sprinter. Both have advantages and disadvantages. We would also have to see what second-hand Cargo Vans were available, as we wanted a longer wheelbase and taller height.

  • The Mercedes Sprinter van conversion is the ultimate choice for those who can afford one. Besides its looks and longevity, it is reliable and easy to drive. Con’s: Depending on where you plan to journey, it can become a problem if you need a mechanic and are hours away from a dealership.
  • The Ford Transit Van comes in various sizes (three different lengths and heights), and with its reliable engine, almost any mechanic shop would assist you if needed. Cons: Due to its curved roof, it is difficult to align the walls, ceiling, and cabinets. DIY Johan worked very hard to finish our Ford Transit perfectly with Shiplap.

Planning your Vanbuild

Rome wasn’t built in one day. Here is Johan’s DIY Campervan Conversion Guide.

Campervan conversion how to: Installing the windows was one of our first steps in planning to build a tiny house on wheels. Drilling and cutting holes in the Van was a nerve-racking experience. Joseph assisted us with the first few van window fittings, and Johan was confident about installing the other van window.

Two men are busy cutting holes in a Cargo van; whereafter they install the Van windows.
Van window fitting and Van window installation on Windows for Campervans

Install Campervan Flooring

Johan inspected the Van for rust and other damages shortly after the vehicle arrived. There was rust underneath the painted floor, so he had to strip the floor and remove the rust before applying treatment. After that, he followed a few steps to install the campervan floor insulation. However, installing the vinyl flooring on the campervan floor was one of the last steps in the Campervan DIY van conversion process.

Steps installing Campervan flooring #rust removal #install Van flooring plywood and then #Van flooring vinyl layer
Campervan flooring: #rust removal #install Van flooring plywood #Van flooring vinyl layer then #Van flooring vinyl layer.
Guy busy with van insulation Installing Van framing #rv framing before insulating cargo Van
Van insulation Installing Van framing

Van Insulation and Soundproofing

Proper insulation in your cargo van is crucial if you plan to live in it. However, the type of insulation you choose depends mainly on your budget. It’s essential to prepare in advance. Before installing any insulation, build the van’s framing and then install the ribs and spurs.

Insulation: Cargo van insulation materials help minimize heat and sound transfer and deal with mould issues. Although wool is the best campervan insulation, it is also costly. Insulation is one of the essential steps in van build.

Ford Transit Swivel Seat

After removing the original Ford passenger seat, we converted the box and installed a swivel. Now, the van swivel seat allows me to rotate, and I can work while he is driving with the installed swivel laptop table.

Bunk bed Motorhomes

Our accessible sleeper campervan bed seats can easily be converted into a comfortable king-size bed. The Campervan mattress is also more comfortable than our mattress at home. Overall, we have additional storage space to pack things away.

Our Ford Transit house on wheels #Vanbuild
Our Ford Transit Campervan Vanbuild

Campervan bathroom

We knew we wanted a Van with a bathroom and an actual toilet and basin. The bathroom Van conversion with a shower is known as a wet bath or wet floor, also known as a wet bath. In addition, I wanted tiles on the wall, although it adds weight to our Mobile home on wheels.

Johan took the time to enhance the bathroom by adding a double towel rail, a convenient rack for hand towels, and the existing bathroom cabinet. The washbasin offers ample space for soap, and a small dustbin beside the toilet provides convenient storage for toilet paper.

VanBuilt Cabinetry

Planning the conversion cabinets is a crucial step in any van build. Johan built a clothing cupboard for hanging jackets and shirts. The overhead cupboards, drawers, and cupboards below provide ample space for accessories, linen, utensils, and clothing. Johan designed the bunk beds in the van built to store items that are not used daily.

The specially crafted window sills provide plenty of room to set down your coffee, books, or any other items you usually keep on a bedside table. Nevertheless, installing the sills was a difficult task, as the Transit Campervan’s window frame was not perfectly square, presenting a challenge just like the rest of the van’s interior.

Completed Vanbuild image of Van building finishes #swivel table and chair #campervan bed as well as the shower.
Completed Van build

The Campervan bed frame is designed with a clever collapsible table between the two benches. This unique feature easily converts the Campervan bed seat into a comfortable bed. When it’s time to make the bed, the collapsible table collapses, and the back cushions of the two benches fit perfectly on the table, providing a snug-fit mattress. We also have small reading lights on both sides of the bed.

Our campervan mattress is constructed with 3 inches of high-density foam and includes a 1-inch memory foam topper.

We always make sure to use a mattress protector on our campervan mattress in addition to our regular bed linen.

The Motorhome Kitchen Countertop is an elegant and functional feature that we carefully selected for our motorhome. We are thrilled with our decision, as it adds a touch of luxury and provides exceptional comfort. To create additional workspace in our RV kitchen, we have chosen to use portable stoves that can be easily stored when not in use. Our well-equipped Vanbuild kitchen brings us immense satisfaction, with all the essential amenities at our fingertips, making our travels even more enjoyable.

Camper Kitchen Appliances

Best Campervan Fridges: When using a single-voltage-rated appliance, it is 56essential to ensure it operates at the same voltage as the country’s supply voltage. In South Africa, the standard supply voltage is 230V. The Snomaster fridge is sleek, black, compact, and one of the efficient 12V camping appliances with ample storage space.

It is suitable for caravans, mobile homes, and offices, making it the best fridge for a Camper van. Powered by SnoMaster’s high-performance compressor-based cooling system, the Snowmaster offers rapid internal cooling and is ideal for small living areas like those in a Campervan (vanbuild).

3-Way Fridge for Campervan: For campervans, a 3-way fridge can be powered by a 12-volt battery, 240-volt mains power, or an LPG gas cylinder. Unlike compressor fridges, which rely on a compressor unit for cooling, 3-way fridges are versatile, as they can utilize these three alternative power sources. This versatility makes them suitable for various settings and environments.

We have a Coffee maker, toaster, and microwave for making beverages and food. Although we don’t use a kettle for making coffee, we have a small camping kettle and a small gas stove for quickly boiling water for tea.

We have a portable electric double-plate Snappychef, which we use mostly inside, to assist us in making food. We also invested in a beautiful CADAC 2 Cook Deluxe 2 Plate Stove designed to offer cooking flexibility. It features an independent, non-stick reversible ribbed/flat grill plate, allowing for quick heat-up times and the choice of grilling or frying.

Simultaneously, the Cadac 2 Cook 2 Pro Deluxe stove can be used for cooking with a pot, adding a layer of versatility to your culinary experience. As a backup, we also have a small one-plate gas stove.

Omnia Oven for Vanlife: How does an Omnia oven work, and how can you cook in one? We use an Omnia Oven and cannot recommend it enough. From baking cakes to cookies and even potato chips, the Omnia Oven is one of the best RV cooking accessories.

When cooking with an Omnia, it’s crucial to maintain a low to medium heat to ensure even heat distribution and prevent excessive bottom heat. This may necessitate longer cooking times compared to conventional ovens. The heat emitted from the base disperses evenly along the bottom, ensuring thorough cooking of the food’s bottom and sides. Simultaneously, the central aperture directs heat upwards, effectively cooking the top portion of the food.

RV Kitchen accessories are essential tools and utensils used in daily food preparation and serving. These items include pestles and mortars, which are used for grinding spices, as well as measuring spoons and a variety of utensils. Additionally, kitchen accessories encompass a range of appliances, dishes, and cookware used for preparing and serving food and storing food before or after preparation.

  • Silicone ice trays
  • can- and bottle opener
  • cutting board
  • Meat tong
  • Salad Tongs
  • Egg lifter
  • lightweight hand beater
  • spatulas
  • Mixing bowls
  • cheese grater
  • Wooden spoon
  • measuring spoons
  • Measuring cup
  • Collapsible Colander
  • marinade brush
  • Versatile knife
  • Vegetable knives (2)
  • Meat knife
  • serving spoons
  • cutlery
  • Pots (2)
  • Versatile Pan
  • Trivets
  • Table Cloth

Also, remember to bring kitchen clothes and a sponge for washing dishes, drying clothes, and cleaning clothes. Remember a sponge and chamois to clean the Van and Jimny. The best vacuum cleaner for RVs is a small 12V.

  • RV Interior cleaning supplies
  • Thetford toilet cleaner
  • Toilet freshener
  • Antibacterial cleaner
  • Handy Andy cleaning spray
  • dishwashing liquid
  • Bar of Sunlight soap
  • Laundry washing powder
  • Washing pecks and washing line

The Camper table bed for Van Conversion features two cosy Campervan bed seats. There is also a large swivel table where we eat comfortably and ample cupboard space for dining clothes, plates and dinnerware. Johan primarily used marine plywood for the bunks and cabinets.

The Bed for Van Conversion

At night, we effortlessly convert the dining room into a spacious campervan bed. Small, flexible, wall-mounted bedside lamps are on both sides of our bed, and the window sills provide enough space for items one typically keeps on a bedside table.

A man sitting in his completed Vanbuild. Campervan accessories include Lightweight tiles in shower and backsplash.
Completed Cargovan

We have one duvet insert, a set of sheets, a blanket, and our cushions. If we’re going somewhere chilly, we also bring a second blanket. As for towels, we have one set, including two bath towels, one small towel, and a face cloth. We have two swimming towels plus Dashuri’s towel (our Jack Russel).

Vanbuild Extra’s

12V Campervan Heater

Ford Transit Roof rack

We had a sturdy custom aluminium roof rack installed on our Ford Transit. It’s strong enough for us to sit on and enjoy the beautiful view while having a picnic and watching the sunset. Furthermore, Johan added a powerful 450-watt solar panel during the Vanbuild, which allowed us to go entirely off the grid during our travels.

Campervan Awning

Our van now boasts a new Ford Transit awning. The awning has a sturdy aluminium F45L Fiamma design, complete with a convenient mechanical roller for effortless opening and closing. It’s important to note that while the Fiamma awning is great for fair weather, it’s unsuitable for strong winds as it cannot withstand them.

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Pin for later
Our Ford Transit Vanbuild
Van Life Journey in Wandering Nomad

Watch this space to find out more about the following:

  • Our Conversion van-building process
  • Step-by-step guide on the Van building you want.
  • Required Accessories for a Camper.
  • How to choose the right Appliances for your Van conversion.

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3 Comments

  1. Beautiful and creative work, who is the man behind this amazing 🚌?What challenges did he experience during the renovation process and how where they overcome? 😃