why should you listen to me?

You shouldn’t, at least not immediately. I’m just another semi-anonymous nobody, with opinions.

Van builders come from all walks of life. Some approach it with a small budget and just build something that works, without caring about the execution, however those are in the minority. Most are DIYers with big dreams and some attention to detail and some experience, some are accomplished carpenters and excellent mechanically. How can you tell the difference?

Read also about why this site needs to exist.


Self-built and semi-“professional” built vans are pretty much unregulated. Exacerbating the problem is most/many are #vanlifers turned builders, that have decided they can repeat what they did for themselves and charge others for it, yet don’t take the time to understand construction techniques, rules/regulations, and good practices regarding building in a vehicle. That’s because there is no building inspector, and the FMVSS/NHTSA/DOT standards apply to the vehicle manufacturer, not to the upfitter. Even master upfitters are not licensed to any standard other than the vehicle manufacturer’s own.

Hopefully I can shed some light on what to do, and what not to do.

I am not a licensed electrician, nor a mechanical engineer, nor a union carpenter. I have not memorized IBC/IPC/NEC/NFPA codes or ANSI/SAE standards, but do make it a point to understand codes and standards, why they exist, and how to apply them in a van build.

While collecting thoughts for my build, I came across tons of bad ideas, and while I can share what I did, there’s more power in knowing what not to do to determine your own path (which I assume is why you are here). In due time, you’ll probably see me highlight my own “van folly”, which I will own up as part of my path to learning.

Read, read more, collect thoughts and opinions, ask questions, and make your own decision. Don’t follow advice blindly. That goes for everything.