How I Design My RV Layout

concept sketch

Design and layout of a van conversion is a tricky proposition, as every available inch has a huge impact on the final livability of the van.

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The new 2016 Ford Transit cargo van is coming soon and there’s still a lot to do and prepare for the conversion. One of those things is the design and layout of the van. Over the past few months, I have been working on the layout towards a good and hopefully somewhat unique design.

ford transit concept sketchLooking at my last CAD drawing, I realized that so far these previous layouts were used to roughly size and allocate space for the appliances and furniture. It was time to redefine the sketch and make it more realistic.

I filled in the wheel wells (53.5″ width between both of them) and recognized immediately how much less usable space was available for what I had planned. rv toiletSpecifically the space between the bathroom and fridge became too narrow to comfortably walk through. That forced me to relocate the bathroom to the back of the cargo area, loosing the bike storage. That is unfortunate, but at least I would gain a wardrobe closet and a small kitchen closet. I could create some bike storage next to the sliding door, but that’s not such an elegant solution. As an alternative, I could use an outside bike rack, but then would loose out on stealthiness.
I have come closer to a decision on a toilet too: a cassette toilet has probably more benefits for me than a regular RV toilet. The conversion is designed for one person, so the size of the cassette is a non issue. Avoiding a black water tank AND a roof ventilation stack are a big plus for me. Moving the bathroom backwards has no impact on the location of the toilet, with access to the cassette from the rear.

This new location for the bathroom, also brings it closer to a possible ‘built-in’ ventilation opportunity, thus avoiding a second roof vent above the shower.


I do realize, that this layout work on paper or on the computer is only good enough for preliminary work and that the final plans have to be substantiated in the actual van, where layout can be correctly sized and all variables can be taken into account. One such variable is the gray water storage tank, that has to be located preferably between the shower and the sink. But I’m still unsure if I can assign some space underneath the floor of the van. That has to wait until the new van arrives!

As soon as the wood subfloor is in, I’ll use tape to precisely indicate the locations of the major design elements, to avoid any miscalculations.

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3 comments

    1. Dear Alex:

      Can you elaborate? Roof type, length, type of use. How much conversion will you do and how are you planning to use it?
      My basic premise is to have a regular van (stealthy) on the outside and a complete RV inside. I will take time for the conversion, as I want to document everything in (extreme) detail and share it here on the website.
      Wish you good luck and a lot of fun building it. If you keep me updated, maybe with pictures, I’ll publish here too!

      Van Williams

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