At first glance you may think this is just an ordinary van, as long as you ignore the smoke billowing out of what appears to be a makeshift chimney. We’ve got the inside scoop though, and we can tell you that, while this may once have been merely a means to get from point A to point B, it’s now an incredible mobile tiny home fully equipped for van life!
The man behind this DIY motorhome conversion is Dipa Vasudeva Das, a master craftsman and woodworker who clearly has a knack for custom van conversions. He calls this tiny home the “Earthship,” and it’s complete with all of the creature comforts you’d expect from a home, including space for his four-legged friend. Luckily for us, Dipa documented his entire van conversion so we get to take a look at this masterpiece step by step!
We’ve also including an FAQ at the bottom where we answer some of your questions about DIY motorhomes—what’s involved, how much they cost, and how best to get started.
But now, back to Dipa and his Earthship….
Here’s what he started with: a stripped-down van, a blank slate that would soon look very different…
Above you can see the blank canvas: an all-but-forgotten shell of a once busy work van.
Dipa began by cutting a hole in the ceiling of the van and installing a custom skylight, because no van build is complete without some sunshine! He then installed a solar system on the roof to supply his electricity. Before you ask, the answer is: yes, he did do this all himself. He’s quite talented, and if you’re planning on building your own tiny home on wheels, you might consult professionals about electricity, plumbing, and waste management if you’re uncomfortable (or unqualified!) doing it yourself.
After much planning, Dipa continued on to frame out the floor. This was all done according to his detailed plans for where cabinets, seating, and his bed would be placed.
He started by framing the floor, adding the various compartments and drawers for storage.
Then he framed the interior walls and added the wood paneling.
The finished product is nothing short of extraordinary!
He then framed the interior walls and added beautiful wood paneling to make the inside of his DIY mobile home look like just that: a home.
When building a tiny house, space is very much the most important thing to keep in mind. Because the idea is to maximize efficiency of all areas, things that take up a lot of space tend to be convertible for other uses. You can see below that Dipa has a large, full-length bed made of pillows and linens.
A detachable hammock seems like a perfect idea for the small space.
Pillows and linens arranged to provide a full-length bed when needed, or rolled up to provide a relaxing couch when he isn’t sleeping.
A comfortable place to sleep is of course a necessity in any home, but it also takes up quite a bit of room. To re-capture that precious space when he’s not sleeping, Dipa rolls up his sleeping quarters, and his bed is instantly transformed into a cozy couch. What was a bed for one becomes a couch for five or six, with room for VIPs (very important pooches) below on the floor.
Traditional prayer flags, hindu bells, a curtain, and other yogic decorations bring personality to the inside. And the skylight is just perfect.
There’s enough room to enjoy a cup of tea with five or six friends.
There’s even a cozy wood burning stove used for heating water, and providing extra warmth when needed. This stove is unsurprisingly dual purpose: it will provide some much-needed heat in colder months, and it can be used as a stovetop for some light cooking or for heating up water for tea or coffee.
A beautiful handmade entrance offers a hint of what’s behind the subdued white exterior of the van.
Pictured below is Dipa’s full kitchen set up, complete with counter space, a sink, and below-counter drawers. You’ll notice his storage containers are kept up on custom shelves and secured to prevent them from moving around when the van is in motion. When building your own van home it’s important to keep in mind that anything that can move around will move around when you’re driving unless there’s some way to secure it. Bungee cords work will in many cases, or you get fancy like Dipa did here and build custom shelves with racks to keep everything in place.
The rear of his van opens up to reveal a beautiful painting of the Earth (fitting for a van named “Earthship”), and a fold-out platform for sitting and enjoying the sun also doubles as a door to more storage. He amazingly has space for a bike in here with room to spare!
When writing inspiration hits or it’s time to get to work, Dipa can head to the passenger seat which has been outfitted with a beautiful wooden desk, perfect for a relaxing work space. To keep that space cool and out of direct sun, Dipa drapes a beautiful blanket over the windshield for some added privacy.
While the interior of his van build is gorgeous and serene, he spared nothing to put together an equally beautiful exterior as well. Check out these custom wooden doors, all handmade by this amazing DIYer, and note that the steps into this mobile getaway double as storage drawers. You have to love the efficiency of space here!
A neatly arranged slim shelf holds various tea canisters.
And while you’re at it, make some space for your hobbies! Dipa built a hidden cabinet beneath his bed/couch/dining area specifically for his musical instruments. Who said you can’t jam a little bit while enjoying life on the road?
And as if the use of one space for a bed, a couch, and storage for his instruments wasn’t enough, he can also convert the rear of his van to an even more private spot to work or relax.
h/t Tiny House Talk
For Dipa Vasudeva Das, every piece of this handmade vessel displays a mindful purpose. He brings a spiritual philosophy to his work that makes the final result even more special. Clearly, he was able to infuse every inch of this tiny rolling home with his personality, and he brings that sort of attention to detail to every project he does.
To learn more about his creation visit http://www.divinefactory.net/cs/earthship
Frequently asked questions about DIY motorhomes
What is a motorhome?
A motorhome is a kind of RV, or recreational vehicle, that typically includes a bed, kitchen, bathroom, and living area. There are 3 classes of motorhome. Class A motorhomes are the largest and most expensive option, often have slide-out rooms that increase living space, and can be up to 45 feet long. Class B motorhomes are smaller but still include most of the same amenities and are suitable for one or two people. And Class C motorhomes are a cross between Class A and Class B motorhomes and are between 20 and 40 feet. Class C motorhomes typically have a bunk over the cab of the vehicle.
Compared to a campervan, motorhomes are typically larger and have a division between the cab and the living space. Campervans are generally more basic.
How do you create a DIY motorhome?
Creating a DIY motorhome can be challenging but it’s not impossible, as Dipa shows with his Earthship. However, for DIY builds, a campervan is more appropriate than a motorhome, as they’re smaller and simpler. All you have to do is convert a standard van into somewhere you can live.
The style and design of your DIY campervan will depend on your budget. To convert it into a liveable space, you’ll need to fit windows, lay a floor, insulate, add ventilation, install electrics, and fit interior furnishings.
Is it cheaper to build your own motorhome?
It’s much cheaper to build your own motorhome or campervan than have one built for you or buy a brand new one. Not only can you design it to suit your unique needs and preferences, customising the layout and facilities according to your lifestyle, but you can also establish a budget, keeping costs down where necessary.
However, building your own campervan does take a lot of time and effort. Plus, when you buy a motorhome from a company, you can guarantee that the motorhome is compliant with all the necessary regulations and is road-worthy.
Buying a second-hand motorhome could be a good compromise.
How much does a DIY motorhome cost?
A DIY motorhome or campervan costs around $20,000 to build. However, you can also do it for a lot less. The exact cost of your van conversion will depend on what features you decide to install and the style of the build. The most expensive elements of a DIY motorhome include things like insulation and electrics, not to mention the cost of the van itself.
Meanwhile, a professional van conversion will set you back at least $30,000.
What should you look for when buying a used motorhome?
If you decide to buy a used or second-hand motorhome, there are a couple of things worth checking before agreeing to the sale.
Examine the wheels, trailer, and engine. Make sure the electrics and gas are in good condition. Check for rust or corrosion. Look out for any signs of damp or mould. And never buy a used motorhome without looking at it in person first.