It Is All About the Process
If you are a fan of Freedom Vans it is likely because you have awed over one of the many, stunning builds that have been completed here. There is so much that goes into each build and we don’t often get to share the process of getting to the finished product. We all want to get to the beautiful, finished van and drive off into the sunset. But, for those who are just stepping into the beginning of this adventure of building out your van, we hope this offers some simple pieces of advice that makes this a more enjoyable experience for you!
You will get to hear from our team here in the Freedom Vans shop. To give some idea of what the crew in the Freedom Vans shop looks like, we have a carpentry lead, an electrician, a systems builder who focuses on plumbing, a metal fabricator, and a manager of our foundations team made up of four builders. On any given day the team could be installing a battery for a power system, fabricating a ladder for the exterior of a van, or laying down the flooring. We will also share some bits of advice for those taking on their own D.I.Y. conversions. In this blog, the team in the shop offers insight that will hopefully help those working through their own #vanhome projects.
It is not meant in a harsh way, but because of the puzzling nature of van building, some say that ‘not everyone can build vans’. It seems a big reason behind this is because it takes constant problem solving, in an endless feeling way. It is also not typical problems that they may run into, and a lot of it is much more creative problem solving. Working with such a small space and building in such a custom manner for each van means that each build could present wildly different problems and solutions.
Words from our Freedom Vans Crew
Co-founder and co-owner of Freedom Vans, Kyleigh, gave some insight from her experiences building out and living in vans with Tom, our other co-owner and co-founder here. They lived the van life before launching their business and much of their inspiration has come from personal experience. Kyleigh’s advice is to keep it simple in the start. Think about what you absolutely need, and remember that you can add on later. It is easier to add features into your van than it is to take out features that you don’t end up needing. This might be a little different for our team here in working with clients because we have such a big team to plan, design and build. But, for someone doing this themselves, it can be helpful to start with what you know you need, and add things that you want later.
Mark is the electrician of the shop and he is in charge of building power systems, fuse boxes, battery hookups, inverter systems, and all that good stuff. The power systems are his favorite thing to work on. Mark’s advice for those building out their own van is for people to take their time and ask a lot of questions. There are so many ways and approaches in van builds. He wants to remind people to not feel bad for doing something wrong or not knowing the exact right way to do something. Just ask a lot of questions and know that there’s many different ways to go about your project.
“…take your time and ask a lot of questions.”
“…you will have way more fun if you view your van build as a
constantly changing puzzle.’
Jeremy is the manager of our foundations team. He has been involved in a lot of building and also lived in his own van for a bit before joining the team here. His favorite project is doing some of the work that feels really tangible, like cutting out holes for windows. His piece of advice was to take time to consider your ventilation system and the placement of your stove. He emphasized the importance of good ventilation. He also thinks that having your kitchen galley set-up near your sliding door is important. It’s nice to be able to cook indoors or outdoors, he noted.
Syd is a van builder on the foundations team, and she’s been building out her own Astrovan for adventures. Her advice is that you will have way more fun if you view your van build as a constantly changing puzzle. Also, to plan for your projects to take 3 times as long as you think they will. It will be more enjoyable if you see it as constantly changing rather than being a fixed plan.
Tony installs the plumbing and also builds power systems. His advice was similar, and he emphasized – taking your time. Tony wanted to advise the D.I.Y. builder not be in a rush when completing certain tasks. If you rush you could end up causing more damage in your build later on, and it’s important to take your time.
Abby is our designer here who works closely with clients to design their build. She knows how much there is to think about in these conversions and her advice is to plan ahead. Plan ahead to avoid making mistakes. She noted the rookie mistake of installing your ceiling before you install the wiring for your vent fan. This one could also save a few headaches for the DIYer.
It sounds like there are a few take-aways from these bits of insight. Let’s have a short recap.
- Take your time (!!)
- Start simple.
- Plan ahead. (Draw out plans. Research other builds. Watch many Youtube videos.)
- Ask lots of questions.
- There are many ‘right’ ways to do something in your build.
- Don’t rush and make mistakes. Don’t cause potential damage.
As always, Freedom Vans wishes the best in your adventure! Don’t worry, you will get to drive your beautiful van off into the sunset. The process can be just as fun as the end result.