• Michael Boalch

Van Design Software and Drawings (CAD)

Designing the layout of the van is crucial to getting the most out of your tiny space. Not only does it allow you to plan where everything goes, it allows you to identify how much of each material you need. We used a number of different software packages to design the van alongside some hand sketches to figure out our layout. Below we explain why we chose to design the van the way we did. As you are starting with an existing shell you will have some constraints to begin with. Taking some key dimensions (usually forming a cuboid of available space) will give you a rough idea of what space you have and you can fit your units etc within it. The diagram below is aimed at helping you get an idea of the space you have. But, before ordering materials or building anything remeasure to ensure it fits correctly!

Basic Van Survey

A very basic van survey essential dimensions. This will give you a good base to start space planning your van. Of course no van is a perfect cuboid and most are curved, but knowing these dimensions will help you plan your layout.

The truth is that a detailed survey of the van would take a very long time. Yes, you can get rough dimensions using a tape measure and laser measure, but the curves of the van and the voids between the metal make it very difficult to survey accurately. The cuboid above is only for a rough idea of what you can fit inside. Most people measure up their vans and cut timber to size on the go, which is the strategy we have adopted after realising each measurement we took was slightly off once certain bits had been cut. We left little to no tolerance and if something didn’t fit we chopped a bit off until it did! Before we bought a van we were thinking of designs for it, we were so desperate for a van that designing it seemed to be a way we could realise the dream beforehand! As we didn’t have a van we could have opted for anything. We did some research to find out about all of the vans to convert and the dimensions so we could figure out what would work best for us. In fact we created a post that compares potential vans for conversion!

Of course there is nothing wrong with a pen and paper, but to get a greater degree of accuracy using a computer is best. Van Design Software

1 – Google SketchUp SketchUp is a well known software that allows you to accurately design spaces to scale. There are 3 main pros to using SketchUp, firstly its really easy to use, secondly it is connected to Google warehouse which has millions of products like taps, furniture, vehicles (even vans!) and thirdly its free! – 2 – CAD Software (AutoCAD etc..) One of the most well know types of design software out there, mostly used for 2D drawings. CAD software comes in a variety of different guises, many of them are free. Check out this list of free CAD software. CAD allows you to accurately design spaces to scale and to dimensions that you choose. It’s great for testing out layouts and different options. 3 – Revit Probably the most advanced software in the list, Revit is used in the construction industry to coordinate the design between architects, engineers and other members of the project team. I (Michael) use it at work on a daily basis so it made sense to use it for our build. Revit is overkill for the job, but I find it much easier as I use it every day. All of the CAD images and drawings that are on our Instagram/website are from Revit. The main drawback with Revit is that it is expensive! Students can get free licences for three years so that is an option. You can also get a free 30 day trial, so if you are quick you can get it done! Learning how to use the software to design the van

All of the three programmes mentioned above will take some getting used to and some will be harder than others. SketchUp is by far the easiest, followed by CAD then Revit. I mostly taught myself to use all three using YouTube videos and blogs. has tutorials for all of the above and so does Udemy. BUT before paying for any tutorials get stuck in with the trial or free versions and use YouTube as much as possible! If you want us to help you design your van we are happy to do so, get in touch here.

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