Where do I start with my design ideas?

caravan_ designBuilding you own unique DIY concept is new and very different to simply going to a caravan dealer and buying a van. It can be challenging for those not familiar with the RV industry. It focuses on ‘what you want’ and ‘what will work best for you’ instead of ‘what someone else wants to sell you’.

DIY recommends taking your time with your planning and include the following:

  1. Start with a blank piece of paper (or use CAD if that is possible)  – draw a layout you like – just estimate the sizes of individual components at this stage.
  2. Your layout or floor-plan will largely determine the dimensions of your caravan – essentially you will need a floor length, width and ceiling height to see what size of ‘shell’ you will require.
  3. List the ‘must haves’ and ‘definitely don’t wants’ eg must have the bathroom near the bed, don’t want a cooker inside.
  4. List what you intend to do with the van and where you intend to go with it. Try to think outside the box – How many beds do you need? How severe off-road will you go? Do you need to carry any ‘toys’? How much water do you intend to carry? Do you prefer single or tandem axles?
  5. Visit your local Caravan and RV Shows to see what is available and pick up ideas that appeal to you. Many DIY projects are born simply because the features a customer wants are not all available in the same van!
  6. Your tow vehicle may determine the maximum mass of your caravan you are allowed to tow – do you need to upgrade your tow vehicle? Or if you are going to use your current vehicle – what is the maximum caravan mass we will have to work to?

Once you have this info – a draft layout- the length and weight- whether on or off-road use – you now have a the start of a draft specification and can do some sketches to see what it will look like.

DIY can help if you have any queries with your draft design  – simply email your drawings to nick@diycaravans.com.au and we will call you back when we are free.

The next step is to zoom in on the detail for each aspect of the design. It is helpful to draw up a list of materials you will require in your build and you will need to make sure each aspect of the design complements the others eg in your chassis design have you made it easy to run 12 volt cables and water pipes under the floor. More info can be found here.