Take this camper van build as an example – it was converted by its owner, Anton Maroun. Anton is a music teacher turned van builder. As he said, he couldn't even hang a picture on a wall just a few years ago before starting the conversion. After being inspired by multiple friends starting their own conversions, he decided to give it a shot.
Typically, when we hear about a first-time DIY conversion, we don't really have high expectations – however, this unit looks fantastic, almost like a specialized company converted it.
Anton fittingly named his converted 2021 Ram ProMaster 3500 Extended "The Bamboo Bungalow." On the outside, it looks like your run-of-the-mill van with few accessories: a roof rack holding walkable 480 W solar panels. But once you step inside, you'll discover Anton's craftsmanship – I bet you wouldn't have believed this was his first time converting a van if I hadn't mentioned it.
The first area you'll be in once you enter is the kitchen. It's split into two parts and features a bunch of counter space via a black countertop and a black stainless steel sink with an extendable faucet and a filtered water faucet.
Anton came up with a simple yet clever solution for the sink's plumbing system. It's made up of a 7-gallon (26-liter) greywater tank, but here's the catch - Anton created a diverting system by installing a valve- whenever he uses biodegradable soap, he drains the water directly under the vehicle. However, if he uses normal soap or other substances that are harmful to the environment, he turns the valve, and the water from the sink ends up in the greywater tank, which he then dumps in designated sites.
Other notable kitchen features are various drawers and cabinets (including two overhead ones with gas struts) for storage, a huge flip-up countertop extension, and a dual-burner induction stove with a Dometic fridge underneath.
You'll find a spacious hanging closet with drawers underneath by the kitchen. Inside, Anton holds a Zero Breeze portable A/C unit.
At first glance, you might think this camper van doesn't have a bathroom. Well, it does, only it's hidden. A Laveo dry-flush toilet is held in a massive drawer under the closet, and a shower pan, covered by a mat, is just by the entrance. You can hang a curtain on hooks in the ceiling, and you're good to go to shower.
The lounge/bedroom area occupies the rest of the space inside this camper van. You'll notice two very long benches, a swivel table, and two windows, one on each side. Moreover, the LED strips integrated into the ceiling and under the benches are a beautiful touch that helps set a relaxing mood.
Underneath the bench on the passenger side, you'll discover the electrical system. It comprises an inverter, a DC-DC charger, which allows the system to charge while driving, and lithium batteries. Unfortunately, Anton didn't share the battery capacity. On the opposite side, Anton housed a 30-gallon (114-liter) freshwater tank and an electric water heater.
What looks like the ceiling above the lounge area is, in fact, an elevator bed mounted on a HappiJac system, which can be raised and lowered at the touch of a button. It has a queen-sized mattress. However, if you lower it all the way down, the sleeping space becomes king-size, as the mattress's backrest cushions provide additional room.
There are two significant advantages to this setup: you get a lot more room underneath, and you don't need to set up the bed every time you want to go to sleep, like in other camper vans. In fact, you don't even have to make the bed – just raise it out of sight.
Open the two rear doors, and you'll find the water fill for the freshwater tank and an outdoor shower on the left side. On the right, Anton installed a distribution panel for the electrical system.
You're probably eager to know how much the rig cost to build. If you're familiar with camper van builds, you know that costs can quickly add up, especially if you opt for high-quality components. For instance, Anton paid $5,000-$6,000 (€4,643-€5,572) just for the bamboo, and the roof rack cost a whopping $5,000.
So, we have around $11,000 (€10,215) so far, which is about as much as this skoolie cost. However, Anton managed to keep costs to a minimum, spending a total of $30,000 (€27,858) for the conversion, which is quite good considering the premium look and feel of the interior. However, that doesn't include the price of the van.