4 Easy Van Build Ideas: What I'd Change About My Van

Dee | Lady Bugout
by Dee | Lady Bugout

In the past, I’ve talked about all the things that I wouldn't change after three and a half years of van life.

This time, I'm going to talk about the things that I would change—because sometimes those items are just as important while sharing van build ideas with others.

We all learn from our successes and mistakes, and the lessons that we pick up during the DIY van build process are certainly no exception.

There are so many things to consider when working on van build layouts. Here are four things that I would change if I were starting a new van build from scratch based on my personal experiences.

Van build ideas

1. USB pump water containers

I used to have a water container that was about three and a half gallons of water, and I had a little USB pump that was connected to a food grade tube that went into that container.

It was very convenient because I could recharge it, and it worked really well.

Van build ideas

But, I eventually decided to change out my containers. Now, I have four four-liter containers for my water, and I like them better because they're light, they have a nice shape, they’re very thin, and they store in the cabinet well.

When they're being stored, they have a cap that you put on. It also came with a spigot, so I rotate the spigot out and put a cap on it instead when they're not in use.

What I like about these simple water containers most is that they’re one less thing that I have to charge and one less thing that I have to worry about.

Van build ideas

2. Platform bed

This might come as a shock, but something that I changed and love is moving my bed up front. I actually changed the whole orientation of my van so that I could put a little single fold-out chair bed where the passenger seat was taken out.

Van build ideas

My couch also folds out to a bed that’s on a platform with a metal frame that clicks into place, and that is where I originally slept.

But, I would have to pull it out and put it away every single day. While my new mattress is a little less comfortable than the original, I like both of them because they're not a dense foam that stores moisture or anything like that.

They air out rather quickly. And I use wool blankets as a mat covering, so I don't need to use sheets. It stays really clean, and I don't have a lot of moisture accumulating either.

Van build ideas

I love the platform bed so much as a bed, and I will occasionally still get it out, but I'm telling you, I love it just as much as a sofa couch, and I always have it made out now. I don't have to make it up and down every day.

I just have to do the one up front now which is much more simple. I think how you design your van, your sleeping situation, and your bed orientation is probably the most important choice that you make. You need to get a good night's sleep.

Van build ideas

3. Prefabricated cabinets

Another thing that I would change is that I’d do more custom work with my cabinets. Since I didn't have a shop or even the right tools to build my own cabinets, I opted to just get some prefabricated ones, and they serve me well enough.

But, I had to search quite a long time trying to get the right dimensions for my van and something that would scale to the space that I had available.

In essence, you can get limited a little bit when you do that because you have to fit things around the cabinets instead of the other way around.

Van build ideas

Oftentimes, you have to do a workaround when you don't customize cabinets from the beginning. I would also want to use real wood because these are press board, and I have to be a little more diligent about making sure that there's no standing water on them for long periods of time.

Van build ideas

4. Rubber flooring

Something else that I would change is the flooring. My van came with the custom rubber flooring that has little ridges in it, and that's probably because they’re easier to clean and the little grooves channel the water and dirt.

Van build ideas

I put carpeting over the rubber flooring for the time being, and that I would not change because it is so easy to maintain. I think if I had a pet, or if I did activities that led me to drag in mud and dirt, I would think differently.

I also do not have cold feet, which I hear a lot from people. I also have little area rugs where there’s more traffic, so I can keep the dirt and dust out from there as well.

Plus, I like it because I can sit on the floor, and it doesn't feel like you're on a floor. You're just on another surface that is comfortable.

Van build ideas

If I could, I would put down a plywood floor on top of the rubber floor so that it wouldn't have to deal with all the undulations. It doesn't bother me enough to do anything about it, but if I was going from square one, I would do the plywood floor instead with a carpet or an area rug over it.

Custom van builds

So those are the things that I would change or have already changed in my van. With custom van builds, they’re very specific to you, your needs, and what you plan to do in them.

But if you're in a similar situation and you’re looking for van build ideas before you get started with your build, or even afterwards when you’re still reconfiguring things, these four items are things that simply didn’t work for me.

What other items would you want to change? Leave your thoughts down below.

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