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Building Your Camper: A DIY Adventure in 8 Steps

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

Building Your Camper: A DIY Adventure in 8 Steps


When it comes to camping, having a camper that suits your needs and budget can greatly enhance your outdoor experience. However, commercially available campers can be quite expensive and may not offer t

he customization options you desire. That's why building your camper can be a rewarding and cost-effective alternative. In this blog, I will take you through my journey of building a camper from scratch, sharing tips and insights along the way.

Step 1: Set a Budget:

Before embarking on any DIY project, it's crucial to establish a budget. Depending on the size and features you want for your camper, consider allocating between $2,000 and $5,000. In my case, I aimed for a budget under $1,000 since I already had a trailer to work with.

Step 2: Create a Design:

Designing your camper is where your creativity can shine. Consider your space requirements and the amenities you desire. In my case, I decided to repurpose a Space Trailer by removing the roof canopy and installing it on top of the cabin to provide more headroom. I also incorporated sliding windows on the side walls and a hatchback for versatility. Remember, your design should be tailored to your specific needs and preferences.

The Cabin: Interior:

When it comes to the interior, simplicity, and functionality were my priorities. I incorporated storage cabinets, a fold-up bed that doubled as a couch, folding tables, and netted pockets for convenience. Insulation and ventilation were essential considerations to ensure comfort during various weather conditions. While I didn't install an elaborate electrical system, I added an external electric plug for campground hook-ups and utilized solar-powered lights and a portable generator.


The exterior of my camper became a canvas for creativity. After considering various options, I chose to paint a unique day and night scene using wood dye, giving my camper a distinct identity. Additionally, I applied several coats of boat varnish to protect the exterior from the elements. The goal was to build a lightweight yet sturdy camper, keeping the total weight under 1,000 pounds.

Step 3: Build the Floor:

Building the floor involved using 3/4" pine for framing and sandwiching 3/4" foam board insulation between two layers of 1/4" plywood skins. I prioritized durability and protection by sealing the underside with epoxy resin and applying polyurethane varnish to the top surface. This ensured a solid foundation for the rest of the camper.

Step 4: Build the Walls:

The walls followed a similar construction process as the floor, with framing, insulation, and plywood skins. I used 1/4" plywood for the exterior and interior skins, and 1/2" CDX plywood for the framing. Dado joints were incorporated for stability, and careful attention was given to the placement of windows for natural light and ventilation.

Step 5: Preparing and Installing the Roof Canopy:

To maximize headroom, I removed the roof canopy from the trailer and installed it on top of the cabin. The aerodynamic canopy design eliminated the need to build a separate roof, simplifying the installation process. I insulated and painted the canopy.

Step 6: Installing The Hatch:

The hatchback feature in my design provided additional functionality. I utilized the tailgate for our dog to sleep on and installed a hatchback tent for extra sleeping space. This added versatility and made camping with our furry companion more comfortable.

Step 7: Exterior Finish:

After considering different options, I decided to paint a day and night scene on the exterior of the camper using wood dye. This allowed me to express my creativity while providing protection against the elements. Several coats of boat varnish ensured the longevity of the finish. I waterproofed the corners and all openings with sealant and aluminum corner bindings.

Step 8: Accessories and Finishing Touches:

I added various accessories such as folding tables, storage net pockets, and solar-powered lights to complete the camper. These small touches made the camper more functional and enhanced our camping experience.


Building your own camper is an exciting DIY project that offers the freedom to create a personalized space while staying within your budget. By following the steps outlined in this blog, you can embark on your adventure and construct a camper that reflects your unique style and needs. The sense of accomplishment and ownership you'll feel when camping in a camper you built yourself is truly rewarding. So, don't wait any longer—start planning, designing, and building your dream camper today!

To get my step-by-step plans of building a camper you can download my full plans for free. Go to my website and click on the My Camper link down below on my homepage. When on the My Camper page go to the bottom and click DOWNLOAD.

Happy camping!

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