Before we started our van build, we definitely underestimated the time it would take. We had hoped it would take us 5-6 weeks working full-time, 7 days a week but this blew out to around the 8-9 week mark.
We actually technically started our van build in a random carpark in Andorra while we were waiting around for the registration to be complete. We bought most of our major purchases in Andorra, so we decided to install the air vents, mounted the solar and did the majority of the insulation from the carpark.
We did the rest of the build in a a co-working space in Frankfurt, Germany. Here we were limited to being able to work during their opening hours, so this did cost us some time. They were meant to be open 6 days a week, however, during our 2 months they did close around 7 extra days so this again set us back roughly a week. On days off when we weren’t physically working, we spent them either shopping online or planning for our week ahead.
I think 3 months is a realistic timeframe to give yourselves for a full-time van build. Part-time will obviously take probably triple the time. Our van isn’t basic, we live very comfortably in it, so I definitely think if you are keeping things more simple it could be done a lot quicker.
Another thing we didn’t take into account for enough, was the fact we did our van build in a foreign, non-English speaking country. This meant trying to buy and find the products we were after was much harder as everything was in another language. We would go to the hardware store and spend a lot of time searching for what it was that we needed. They also have different products/brands than we are used to, so again, this took more research time to find exactly what we were after. We also struggled to get help from storeman at hardware stores in particular, as they spoke non to little English and we spoke only very basic German.
We were lucky that we had time to spare between when we had planned to finish the build and where we needed to be in time for the winter. Do yourself a favour and give yourself an extra few weeks than you initially anticipate. This will save you stressing over going over your timeframe and also risking rushing the finished product.
It is much better to spend the extra time now and do it properly than having to redo things in a few weeks, months or years time.
During the build, especially if it’s your first like ours was, things will go wrong and not go according to plan, but this is all part of the learning process so try not to be hard on yourselves or beat yourself down.
We definitely learnt a lot during our van build and would do and plan things differently next time. Sometimes making mistakes is the best way for you to learn. We have completed renovations since our build was originally completed. This was due to mould and living a winter in the alps. We wish we had known better from the start, and insulated better but we now know and it’s all fixed up and ready for another season of snowy conditions.
The knowledge we gained through doing our first van build, on our own, is honestly priceless and the feeling of accomplishment you get when you have the finished product is amazing!
We are looking forward to our next complete build in the next few years when we return to Australia. We always say how much easier it would of been in our home country, so hoping that will be the case!
Happy building guys!!!