I starting building the type of vans we do because no other builder we found focused on family oriented, daily driver, modular builds. It's not that other builders don't do these kinds of builds, its just not their main focus and they just did not understand what a family type van would need and wanted you to buy an empty van and build the entire thing out to a tune of a $50k+ build. Everyone focuses on what I refer to as "van life" builds that people live out of and focus on vans for 2 not more than 2 that really just wanted a better way to camp. I really needed a van that could transport my family, use as a cargo van, and elevate my camping to "glamping" and be more comfortable in poor weather similar to the old VW Weekender vans built in the 90's but in a modern safer platform.
Sprinter Crew with sink, fridge, adjustable bed, front dinette area
Simple however doesn't mean cheap. Vans are expensive to buy and expensive to build with hundreds of hours of work in our typical build and tens of thousands of dollars in parts. They can be built in various price levels, like anything else, however the more you want the more it costs of course. Its still like building a house on wheels. We have done very simple vans under 10k with just a bed, some windows, and a dinette area and of course more with our typical build between $20-35k. To keep costs down I start with vans that have seating, flooring, walls, headliner and basically are turn key from the start as a van with seating. We elevate the use of the van adding storage, bed, dining area, ventilation, and further by adding aux power, insulation/sound deadening, solar, and even a heater in some cases for cold weather or damp conditions camping. All of it removable. This not only makes the van flexible in use, but increases resale value and comfort because its like a Swiss Army knife. Some compromises are necessary of course because you can only fit so much in a tiny area especially with seating and most importantly roof for gear you can actually get to when you want it. You cannot have it all but you can have 80% of what I call an "RV type build". Our build blogs cover extensively some of our more fully featured builds and what we do and why. We as well have articles on building the van in stages as well and other helpful posts.
Sprinter Passenger Van-flexible seating, adjustable removable bed, front dinette, and storage
Ford Transit Mid Roof Crew with lots of storage
Our builds are for real life. You look at all the Instagram posts and you don't really see how the vans are actually used. It looks so big. Add people and gear and things get very tight fast. If not configured properly just trying to go to sleep or lay down and relax, or sit down and have a snack or meal can be a challenge. Not in our builds. Double bunk beds look awesome but where do you actually put your stuff? Its gets ugly. We feel there is a right way an a wrong way if you have to have 4 beds in a high roof van. It just never worked for me functionally well. One of the reasons why my personal vans always have Pop Tops. That's why we build the vans the way we do, you need storage and you don't want to have to move everything around and it needs to be organized.
Sprinter Van Lots of Storage in various storage lockers and rigid storage bags, all removable.
High Roof Sprinter. Storage- This is reality on a trip, you can't fit this stuff when you have double bunks, kids, cooler...Pop Top solves this for sure or storage solutions become key. You can see clearly in this example why a bed platform and storage area under the bed is really important. We have ways to maximize storage and sleeping areas with and without a Pop Top. Check our our blog posts.