DIY Campervan Conversion in 6 Steps – How to Convert a Van into a Beach House on Wheels

After you have bought the van (in our case a 2002 Mercedes-Benz MB100) there are 6 simple steps that you should follow if you want to convert it into the camper van of your dreams!

You will need just a few basic tools and with the help of this post, and maybe at some stages the help of a friend, you should be able to have your camper van ready to hit the road after a few weeks of work.


  • 18V Impact Driver*
  • 18V Drill
  • Jigsaw
  • Timber screws
  • Drill Bits
  • Impact Driver Bit Set
  • PPE (Ear & eye protection)
  • Cutting Plier
  • Automotive Crimp Tool with Connectors
  • 10mm & 13mm Metric Wrench
  • Electrical Tape (Red & Black)
  • In line Standard Blade Fuse Holder + Fuses

* Just a drill would be enough but having an impact driver as well will help you to do the job faster.


Let’s get started:



In this step we suggest to draw your ideal camper van on to a piece of paper. This doesn’t have to be 100% accurate but will give you a general idea how you want your van to look like at the end of the process. Also, you will have a better idea where to locate the solar panel/s, 2nd battery, fridge, lights and kitchen, bed & storage area.

You can also check out hashtags like #vanlife #vanlifeideas #projectvanlife on Instagram to get some ideas.



After you have a general idea about the design, now it’s time to start working on your van. Make sure the van is empty, clean and ideally rust-free inside.

In case you want to put a sky light, windows and solar panels, now is the time to do it.

You will also have to put in the cables for the future ceiling lights (from the position of the 2nd battery to where the light switch will be and continue the cable to the position in ceiling where the lights will be), install the dual battery kit and add another cable from the 2nd battery to the position of the water pump in the kitchen area. All the cables, crimp tool, connectors and fuses we bought them at Jaycar Electronics.

We used a 160w Solar Panel 12V & a 20A Regulator from Ebay ($90). To install the solar panel to the camper van, we attached it to the roof racks with a Rola Drop & Turn Channel Bolt M8 x 28mm 4 Pack from Supercheap Auto ($30) and 4 L brackets from Bunnings ($4 each) using a metric wrench.

After, we drilled a hole in the roof to put the cable into the van to connect it to the regulator and from there directly to the 2nd battery. Once you are done make sure to put a lot of silicon around the hole to seal it.

We would also suggest to keep the solar panel, regulator and battery in line. Like this you will use as less cable and the shorter the cable the lower are the chances to lose energy on the way.

We bought the SCA 12V 140 AMP Dual Battery Kit at Supercheap Auto ($79.99). On YouTube and on the Supercheap Website they have a pretty good video that shows you how to install it. It’s pretty simple to do it by yourself.

Basically, what the Dual Battery Kit does is to recharge your 2nd battery from your main battery when the engine is on. As soon as you turn off the engine, the automatic switch will cut the power, so you don’t end up with a flat battery.

Using this system, will charge your 2nd battery while driving way faster than through the solar panel.



If you want to keep your camper van cosy during the winter months or cool during the summer time, we would highly recommend to put insulation on the floor, walls and ceiling.

We used Knauf Earthwool Insulation from Bunnings ($33 each roll) for the walls and ceiling, a super handy roll that can’t catch fire, has a great thermal performance and is easy to install.

For the floor you can use any foil insulation, but in our case, we decided to re-used the carpet that it was already in the van as an insulation. On top of that, we put plywood and a nice vinyl ($36.50 per meter).



Now it’s time to close the ceiling and walls with timber. First you would need to attach some timber to the metal of the van where the pine linings will be attached later on. We used Pine Primed Shiplap Lining Board ($19.25 each board) for both areas.

In this stage, you would need the help of a friend/partner to install the boards. Also make sure to drill a small hole in the board where you want the cables of the lights to come out from the ceiling. You will need this to install the lights later on there. Same in the wall where you want to install the switch for the lights.

Once the ceiling and the walls were done, we painted them with British Paints Clean And Protect Semi Gloss Interior Paint from Bunnings ($69.90). One coat is enough if you use pine linings that are already primed.

After this you are ready to build the bed, kitchen and storage.

You can build a set up where you can convert the bed into a living room situation. But we had this set up in our previous van and out of the 11 months living in it we actually used it once. Therefore, we decided to build a big double bed with 2 big drawers and a 55L Glacio Fridge/Freezer ($337) under it and a storage box beside it. We got a very comfy double size foam mattress from Clark Rubber ($169) and hipster bed sheets from kmart ($30).

In the kitchen we installed a Davanti Gas Stove and Oven Combo ($225), built some cabinets to store kitchen stuff and food. We also installed a sink ($58) and a tap ($65), we got both from Ebay.

For the bed as well as the kitchen we used CustomPine Matt White Melamine ($35 each). For the bench top in the kitchen we used 18mm Brown Acacia Oiled Panel ($46). We bought all the timber at Bunnings Warehouse and the best thing is they will also cut it for you.

To prevent the kitchen doors and drawers from opening while driving we used 8kg Magnetic Catches ($10), it also works a treat for the big storage boxes underneath the bed.



Now it’s time to put in the 140 AMP Deep Cycle Battery from Aussie Batteries ($279) and connect it to the inverter, the main battery of the car, solar panels, light switch, ceiling lights and fridge. For safety reasons we used fuses and installed them as close as possible to the 2nd battery. Other option would be to use a Switch Control Panel.

To have a few more power points we also installed a 240v Double Outlet Power Board with 4 USB Chargers and 2 power points which is connected to the inverter and can be turned on and off through the included remote control of the inverter.

We also got the 6 LED warm lights ($30) and the Giandel Pure Sine Wave Inverter 1.000W/2.000W with a remote control ($150) from Ebay.

Last but not least we installed and connected the 12V Seaflo RV Supreme Water Pump ($130 from a local Caravan Shop) in the kitchen with an emergency single switch ($6), just in case if something goes wrong.

For the clean water and grey water, we used two 20L water jerry cans from Bunnings ($18 each). For the grey water you could also drill a hole into the floor of the van and use a hose to get rid of the grey water directly to the ground outside of the van.



In this stage the van comes to life. As we didn’t have a living room situation yet, we decided to use the space in between the kitchen and the bed as a fold out living area. We installed a table that’s sliding out from underneath the bed and got two storage stools from Kmart ($16 each) which can be stored next to the fridge underneath the bed when not in use. It’s the perfect set up to have a nice brekkie or use it as an office work space. Also, we added two nice cushions ($3.5 each) from Kmart too.

For privacy, we bought 7m blackout curtain fabric from Spotlight ($11.50 per meter) which was more than enough. With the help of a friend we sewed some really nice curtains for all the windows as well as between the kitchen and front seats.

Just add some beach and vanlife accessories like signs, pictures, mugs, cushions, etc. and your Beach House on wheels is ready to hit the road.


All in all we only spend about $3500 AUD to convert the empty van into a beautiful Beach House on Wheels. Let us know if you have any questions, we are happy to help!


So, what are you waiting for?! Let’s go on an adVANture!

If you like our “Let’s go on an adVANture” graphic, feel free to download it here -> adVANture

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