After taking the van home I was tasked with cleaning it up before I could even consider setting it up to live in or move in. Cleaning it up proved to be a monumental task in and of itself. The back was trashed with all sorts of candy, dirt, and other debris accumulated from the seven children the previous owner had. Additionally, the van reeked of cigarette smoke.
First I removed all the seats available in the van which gave me access to the entirety of the floor. Like and archaeologist I unearthed the layers and layers of candy wrappers and trinkets encrusted from the previous kids. This wasn’t a delicate operation and I soon pulled out multiple bags of trash.
The next major task was to vacuum every possible surface. This task went fairly quickly and the van was starting to look like it was in much better condition. I also used the time to take fairly detailed measurements of the van, to assist me when I started creating a layout.
It still reeked of smoke, which was something I wanted to get rid of even if I wasn’t planning on living in the van. In order to combat the smoke I decided to fight fire with fire. I shampooed every carpet surface, and with my luck chose the week in May where it decided to rain nonstop. After having everything finally dry out, which seemed to take FOREVER, I pulled out the big guns: chemicals.
On a sunny day I sprayed the entire van with a smoke removing spray. I unleashed the entire 8 ounces of smoke removing spray on the van and sealed everything shut. With all that working I began to spend more time planning my layout.
I spent a lot of time on reddit van dwelling community looking at different layouts. There are a fair number of astro dwellers there and some had some awesome setups. My favorite by far was this user’s build: http://imgur.com/a/17jA5
Considering I would be living in this van during the last semester of my college career I’d be spending a good deal of time in class or working on projects in labs. I also hoped to use van life in an attempt to get outside more. Based on the these few things I decided that the two things I would need were a place to sleep and a place to cook and do homework. Being 6’ 2”, it would be difficult for me to sleep in any other orientation other than along the length of the van. So I modeled my design similarly to the one I was fond of, with the bed running along the length of the van and a small kitchen/desk in the rear portion of the van.
Based on the criterion I had and the measurements I took earlier I was able to render 3D models. Since I’m still at my college, I used Solidworks to create the hull of my van and design my bunk and kitchen space. Upon finalizing a design, I was ready to start building.